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(6) to draw the inference. Behold the trembling fugitive escaped from the dagger of the assassin, cast upon our fhore in utter want, imploring blessings upon the nation which received him when he fled to it without permission; is this a time to enter into debate with him, upon points that it would have been impossible for him to defend without wounding the feelings of his protectors ? I leave you to draw the inference, and shall only observe, that the case is far stronger with respect to Israel, for they did not return to this land without permission.
All such considerations, however, have no weight with such lovers of debate, as was the late Dr. Priestley, and he challenged the Jews to enter into the difcussion, 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 opposition to the principles of his nation, in accepting the challenge of this hero of debate.
The Jews, as such, are under no control in this land, as to their religion ; they stand, in this respect, upon the same ground as every other dissenter from the establishment, and you must well know that a dissenting minister has no power over the members of his congregation, further than that difference and respect extends, which every one should pay to his instructor. If advice is not asked ; if a difsenter chooses to engage in any religious or irreligious controversy, his minister has no power to prevent him. This was precisely the case with Mr. David Levi.
Before a challenge is given, the CONSEQUENCES which may result therefrom should be well confidered ; Dr. Priestley should have counted the cost, (Luke xiv 28.) and as he did not, I will endeavour to count it for him :- What HARM can result to MYself, the Doctor might fay, from giving this challege? I can see none; if I succeed, and can draw the Jews into the Priestlinian party, it will be a triumph indeed! It will be also a heavier blow than have ever yet given to the church of England.
The Doctor should not have closed his reckoning so soon, and proceeded to action; he fhould have confidered, that if his challenge were accepted, it would, in the very nature of things, occasion words to be used which must wound the feelings of every true Chriftian; how is it possible that this could be avoided ? Did he request the Jews to hear what he had to say, and to accept his statement without reply? He did not; he invited them, he challenged them to discussion of the difference of opinion existing between us and their nation. We do believe in our bleffed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who asserted his divine mission, and declared himself to be the Messiah. If any one asserts that he is not the Mefliah, what follows ? What is he who assumes a character that does not belong to him, especially such a character as the Messiah, the Son, the anointed of JeHOVAH? Psalm ii. 2, 7. I will not stain my paper with the HORRIBLE WORD. It is true, that Dr. Priestley might with reason be less influenced by this confideration than most others who retain the name of
Christians. Long before he gave this challenge to the Jews, he had been busily engaged in endeavouring to tear out of the New Testament all those passages which we consider as the most precious parts of the Christian doctrine ; it was, therefore, no wonder that he had no apprehensions upon this point ; he had endeavoured to degrade him whom he called his Saviour, almost, if not quite, to a level with himself; no wonder then that he felt no concern as to any reproaches that he might give occasion to be repeated against him.
I will myself confess, 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 soul loveth was grievously reproached and calumniated; but who was most to blame? Was it Mr. David Levi, or was it Dr. Priestley ? Did not Dr. Priestley know that in the very nature of things such must be the consequence? He that kindles the fire is answerable for the mischief.
Whatever dulness of sensation might have existed in the tough heart of Dr. Priestley, yet there were those who felt much as I did; I shall instance the Rev. Anselem Bayly, LL. D. Sub-Dean of his Majesty's chapels, a man who ardently wished well to the Jewish nation, as is manifest from the following note in his Hebrew and English Bible. It is a note on the 31st chapter of Jeremiah. 66 This is an astonishing “ chapter, worthy the serious consideration of the
Jew and Christian; it should lead them to look upon one another as brethren, heirs of the fame
promises, and children of one common father ; “ therefore not to abhor, but receive each other with 66 mutual love and assistance, notwithstanding they
may differ in some particular doctrines and opinions. 66. Civility, humanity, justice, honour, kindness, and “ charity, are due to all.”
The wounded feelings of this friend to the Jewish nation, are manifest 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 some intercourse had formerly subsisted between them, which was thus interrupted, and unhappily like one I could name; he, who had called himself the friend of Mr. David Levi, lost his temper, as appears by the following words : “ I would not have used sharpness “ towards you for the love I bear “ used audaciousness and contempt towards my
Lord 66 and Master, whom, and whose cause, I regard
more than property, honours, and life itself. I 66 hope you will ask his pardon, or, at least, ever6 more be filent before him : on these conditions “ only I remain your friend, firmer than ever ; but as if you
offer again to touch his name, word, and " CHARACTER, with profane lips and profane hands, , 66 I WILL TEAR YOU TO PIECES, YOU AND YOUR " Sacra LINGUA.”—He accuses Mr. David Levi of FIBBING, in alleging that Dr. Priestley had invited the Jewish nation to an amicable discussion of the evidences of Christianity; his words are these :
t? Here, Mr. Sincere Inquirer after Truth, you fib 66 again. It doth not appear that Dr. Priestley, in € his letters, invites the Jews to any discussion of the “ evidences of Christianity, but to a mere and simple
acceptance of it.”—These things give Mr. David Levi a great advantage over him in his reply; he appeals to the public, and transcribes the title of Dr. Priestley's letters in these words : « LETTERS
TO THE JEWS, INVITING THEM TO AN AMICA-
In counting the cost, Dr. Priestley should also have taken into the account the injury that the Jewish nation might probably sustain by the discussion. Is it no evil for strangers to become lessened in the good opinion and kind wishes of those among whom they are permitted to sojourn? Surely it is a most serious injury; but in order to observe the extent of it, it will become neceffary to consider the law of the land in which we live.
There is no distinction made in the law of this land between the Jew or the Christian, who may speak reproachfully of Christ. It is true, that by the A& of 9 and 10 Wm. III. ch. 32, it is enacted, " That if any
person EDUCATED IN, OR HAVING MADE PRO66 FESSION OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, Ihall,
by writing, printing, teaching, or advisedly speak6 ing, deny the Christian religion to be true, or the 66 Holy Scriptures to be of divine authority," he shall suffer certain pains and penalties therein fpecified; and again, by the same act, certain doctrines