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constancy; and whose interests you have interwoven with your own. It becomes therefore, I am persuaded, a consideration of some moment to Englishmen at large, to be supplied with some measure of determination, whether one, thus sanctified in the estimation of his countrymen, thus assuming the dignified office of a religious censor in society, be indeed entitled to this large tribute of admiration, and illuminated with that knowledge of his subject, which has a claim to ensure his precepts a reverend acceptation with his disciples.
"It was my primary intention to examine your publication in detail", but, your funda
t Mr. Wakefield thus remarks in another place, Wilberforce I believe most sincerely to be a very religiously disposed, well-intentioned, sensible, and conscientious person; and I greatly honour him for these excellencies. But he supposes, with a very pitiable infatuation, that war and bloodshed will enter into association with the promotion of vital Christianity: a conceit which I endeavoured to expose as a most horrible and pernicious error."
Intended" Address to the Judges," p. 6.
u Mr. Wilberforce's Treatise was afterwards noticed by two able writers who entered into a more elaborate examination of that work than Mr. Wakefield undertook, or than his ardour of composition and his other occupations would probably have allowed him to execute. See "A Review of Mr. Wilberforce's Treatise in Letters to a Lady, by Thomas Belsham, 1798," and "Letters to William Wilberforce, Esq
mental principles are, in my judgment, so essentially erroneous, your whole conception of the gospel so absolutely incompatible with the undisputed conduct and with the unequivocal dictates of Christ himself, as to render such a specific discussion of your sentiments an undertaking of inextricable and hopeless perplexity."
Mr. Wakefield proceeds "to delineate some striking features of genuine Christianity, from the conduct and character of our Saviour himself: and from his precepts," remarking that "the relief of human misery in all its varieties and complications of distress, the reformation of the vicious, the instruction of the ignorant, the confirmation of the virtuous, the consolation of the meek, the encouragement of the docile, the generous and indignant reprobation of demure hypocrisy; these godlike purposes, as the sole means of personal happiness, by fulfilling the will of his Father and our Father, of his God and our God, through active benevolence to the workmanship of the Creator, was the grand rule of conduct to the man of Nazareth; was the sole occupation of his
M. P. on the doctrine of Hereditary Depravity, by a Layman,
"Letter, &c." p. 1-4.
thoughts, the unceasing employment of his time, the devoted purpose of his life. The virtues and graces of the gospel, like those of its illustrious founder, are activity and exercise, not torpid influences, and indolent sensations: no stagnant pool of devotional mummeries, of insipid mysticism, that cumbers the ground, and pollutes the atmosphere; but a salubrious expansion of living waters, dispersing health, animation, and fertility, through the earth, and springing up into everlasting life."y
Among those who recollect the political events of the period at which the Letter to Mr. Wilberforce was written, it will excite no surprise that a person of Mr. Wakefield's acute feelings, with his views of war in general, and of the late war especially, should express himself as to the conduct of its supporters with an ardour which some may deem indiscreet and extravagant. We forbear, for obvious reasons,
* See further upon this subject a Letter from Mr. Wakefield, dated Nov. 16, 1780, in Appendix A.
y" Letter, &c." p. 8-10.
z Of some expressions in this pamphlet, the then Attorney General endeavoured to take advantage on the trial of Mr. Cuthell the Bookseller. On this conduct of his prosecutor Mr. Wakefield has these observations. "My letter to Mr. Wil
to quote the representations on this subject which he thought it his duty to lay before the public. We rather close our notice of this pamphlet with the Author's apology for a stile of composition, on account of which he has been so often censured by contemporary writers and periodical critics.
"According to my own conceptions of the subject under contemplation, I have assigned proper words to their proper places. If the language be deemed in any respect too harsh and pointed, it must be so deemed with reference only to the feelings of the censurer; for I could find no adequate image of my own in any other. Out of the abundance of my heart my mouth hath spoken. If crimes of the deepest dye, under the colour of Christian sanctity, can
berforce has been mentioned more than once in the course of these proceedings as a libel, with an aggravation of such epithets as betray acrimonious passion rather than sober reason, ignorant prejudice more than liberal information. I do apprehend, (and I wish correction, if mistaken) that in these courts, where evidence and precedents, and verdicts, and conceded maxims, are the sole criteria of all authorized decisions, the lawyer, who denounces in judicial language the publication, on which no legal inquisition has taken place, as a most foul and infamous libel, thus erecting his own private fancies into axioms of law, is guilty, not merely of a very coarse illiberality, but of a most indefensible professional indecorum."
Intended" Address to the Judges," p. 3—5:
be stigmatized by any terms of reproach more than commensurate to their deserts, I grudge no man the enjoyment of this opinion, but amidst the invectives of foes, and the remonstrances of friends, continue to retain my own, and silently transfer from myself, on deliberate and deep conviction, the disproportion in this case to some erroneous principle of action in my objectors. The genuine correspondencies of words and things, and the reality of moral distinctions, will still subsist in spite of the prudery, fastidiousness, or mistaken candour of mankind, and will neither be confounded nor disrespected with impunity."a
a A Letter, &c." pp. 66, 67.