Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

(6)

to draw the inference. Behold the trembling fugitive escaped from the dagger of the affaffin, caft upon our shore in utter want, imploring bleffings upon the nation which received him when he fled to it without permiffion; is this a time to enter into debate with him, upon points that it would have been impoffible for him to defend without wounding the feelings of his protectors? I leave you to draw the inference, and fhall only obferve, that the cafe is far ftronger with respect to Ifrael, for they did not return to this land without permiffion.

All fuch confiderations, however, have no weight with fuch lovers of debate, as was the late Dr. Priestley, and he challenged the Jews to enter into the dif cuffion, and his challenge was accepted by the late Mr. David Levi; but you will perceive by his book that he was acting contrary to the opinion, and in oppofition to the principles of his nation, in accepting the challenge of this hero of debate.

The Jews, as fuch, are under no control in this land, as to their religion; they ftand, in this respect, upon the fame ground as every other diffenter from the establishment, and you muft well know that a diffenting minifter has no power over the members of his congregation, further than that difference and respect extends, which every one fhould pay to his inftructor. If advice is not asked; if a diffenter chooses to engage in any religious or irreligious controverfy, his minifter has no power to prevent him. This was precifely the cafe with Mr. David Levi.

Before

Before a challenge is given, the CONSEQUENCES which may refult therefrom fhould be well confidered; Dr. Prieftley fhould have counted the cost, (Luke xiv 28.) and as he did not, I will endeavour to count it for him :-What HARM can refult to MYSELF, the Doctor might fay, from giving this challege? I can fee none; if I fucceed, and can draw the Jews into the Priestlinian party, it will be a triumph indeed! It will be alfo a heavier blow than any I have ever yet given to the church of England.

The Doctor fhould not have clofed his reckoning fo foon, and proceeded to action; he fhould have confidered, that if his challenge were accepted, it would, in the very nature of things, occafion words to be used which muft wound the feelings of every true Chriftian; how is it poffible that this could be avoided? Did he request the Jews to hear what he had to fay, and to accept his ftatement without reply? He did not; he invited them, he challenged them to difcuffion of the difference of opinion exifting between us and their nation. We do believe in our bleffed Lord and Saviour Jefus Chrift, who afferted his divine miffion, and declared himself to be the Meffiah. If any one afferts that he is not the Meffiah, what follows? What is he who affumes a character that does not belong to him, especially fuch a character as the Meffiah, the Son, the anointed of JEHOVAH? Pfalm ii. 2, 7. I will not ftain my paper with the HORRIBLE WORD. It is true, that Dr. Prieftley might with reafon be lefs influenced by this confideration than most others who retain the name of Chriftians.

Chriftians. Long before he gave this challenge to the Jews, he had been bufily engaged in endeavouring to tear out of the New Teftament all thofe paffages which we confider as the moft precious parts of the Christian doctrine; it was, therefore, no wonder that he had no apprehenfions upon this point; he had endeavoured to degrade him whom he called his Saviour, almoft, if not quite, to a level with himself; no wonder then that he felt no concern as to any reproaches that he might give occafion to be repeated against

him.

I will myself confefs, that when I read Mr. David Levi's answer to Dr. Priestley, my feelings would not fuffer me to go through with it. I fhut the book when I came to a part where he whom my foul loveth was grievously reproached and calumniated; but who was most to blame? Was it Mr. David Levi, or was it Dr. Prieftley? Did not Dr. Prieftley know that in the very nature of things fuch must be the confequence? He that kindles the fire is anfwerable for the mifchief.

Whatever dulnefs of fenfation might have existed in the tough heart of Dr. Priestley, yet there were thofe who felt much as I did; I fhall instance the Rev. Anfelem Bayly, LL. D. Sub-Dean of his Majefty's chapels, a man who ardently wifhed well to the Jewish nation, as is manifest from the following note in his Hebrew and English Bible. It is a note on the 31ft chapter of Jeremiah. "This is an astonishing "chapter, worthy the ferious confideration of the Jew and Chriftian; it should lead them to look

66 upon

upon one another as brethren, heirs of the fame "promifes, and children of one common father; "therefore not to abhor, but receive each other with "mutual love and affistance, notwithstanding they

66

may differ in fome particular doctrines and opinions. "Civility, humanity, juftice, honour, kindnefs, and "charity, are due to all."

The wounded feelings of this friend to the Jewish nation, are manifeft in a letter which he wrote to Mr. David Levi; I have not seen this letter, but fufficient for my purpose may be gathered from Mr. Levi's reply to it. From this it is plain that fome intercourfe had formerly fubfifted between them, which was thus interrupted, and unhappily like one I could name; he, who had called him felf the friend of Mr. David Levi, loft his temper, as appears by the following words: "I would not have used sharpness "towards you for the love I bear you, had you not "ufed audacioufnefs and contempt towards my Lord "and Master, whom, and whofe caufe, I regard "more than property, honours, and life itself. I "hope you will afk his pardon, or, at leaft, ever"more be filent before him: on thefe conditions only I remain your friend, firmer than ever; but 6 if

66

you offer again to touch his NAME, WORD, and CHARACTER, with profane lips and profane hands, "I WILL TEAR YOU TO PIECES, YOU AND YOUR "SACRA LINGUA." He accufes Mr. David Levi of FIBBING, in alleging that Dr. Priestley had invited the Jewish nation to an amicable difcuffion of the evidences of Christianity; his words are thefe :"Here,

B

Here, Mr. Sincere Inquirer after Truth, you fib "again. It doth not appear that Dr. Prieftley, in "his letters, invites the Jews to any difcuffion of the ❝evidences of Christianity, but to a mere and fimple

acceptance of it."-Thefe things give Mr. David Levi a great advantage over him in his reply; he appeals to the public, and tranfcribes the title of Dr. Priestley's letters in these words: "LETTERS "TO THE JEWS, INVITING THEM TO AN AMICA66 BLE DISCUSSION OF THE EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY, BY JOSEPH PRIESTLEY."

r

In counting the coft, Dr. Priestley should also have taken into the account the injury that the Jewish nation might probably fuftain by the difcuffion. Is it no evil for ftrangers to become leffened in the good opinion and kind wifhes of thofe among whom they are permitted to fojourn? Surely it is a moft ferious injury; but in order to obferve the extent of it, it will become neceffary to confider the law of the land in which we live.

There is no diftinction made in the law of this land between the Jew or the Chriftian, who may speak reproachfully of Chrift. It is true, that by the A&t of 9 and 10 Wm. III. ch. 32, it is enacted, "That if any "person EDUCATED IN, OR HAVING MADE PRO

[ocr errors]

FESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, fhall, by writing, printing, teaching, or advisedly fpeak❝ing, deny the Chriftian religion to be true, or the "Holy Scriptures to be of divine authority," he fhall fuffer certain pains and penalties therein fpecified; and again, by the fame act, certain doctrines

are

« ForrigeFortsæt »