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derived from the good conduct and worthy character of its ministers. He desired peace and union, and attempted to show, that, whatever might be the abuses of the established church, they were not such as to interfere with the essentials of religion, nor as ought to drive any serious christian from its outward forms and usages. He did not make it his object so much to prove the truth of doctrines, or the propriety of particular ceremonies, as to show, on the ground assumed by dissenters themselves, that no doctrines or ceremonies of the church were a necessary bar to such a conformity, as would ensure peace and harmony among christians. This was stating the argument on broad and liberal principles. It was pursued with candour and forcible reasoning; but it will scarcely be denied, that the author sometimes lays a heavy tax on his ingenuity, and refines upon his subject in a manner more plausible than convincing. The discussion, however, was serviceable to the interests of religion. It excited public attention, and proved to both parties, that the differences between them were much fewer in number, and less in importance, than they had imagined. It had a tendency to promote inquiry, remove prejudice, and encourage mutual respect and esteem. There is no better method of subduing the rancour of party spirit, than to make men perfectly acquainted with each other's sentiments. They will always discover, that they are not so far asunder, as a lively fancy and a few exaggerated representations had induced them to suppose. Hoadly next entered the lists of controversy with bishop Atterbury, respecting the tendency of virtue and morality to promote the present happiness of man. In a published sermon, Atterbury had maintained, that, if there were no life after the present, the condition of man would be worse than that of the brutes, and that the best men would often be the most miserable. Hoadly considered this a dangerous doctrine, and opposed to the nature and true dignity of virtue. He proved it to be a sound position in morals, that virtue will always be in some degree its own reward, and that, under any conditions of human existence, the best men will be on the whole the most happy. The controversy took a wide range, and several of Atterbury’s sentiments were attacked as unscriptural, and inconsistent with themselves. In short, there were but few points of agreement between these eminent men. They disputed on passive obedience, and other topics peculiar to the religious and political state of the times. Hoadly was in favour of the sentence of perpetual exile passed against Atterbury by the House of Lords, on a charge of being engaged in a conspiracy to restore the Stuart family. In the year 1717 Hoadly preached before the king his celebrated Sermon on the Nature of the Kingdom, or Church, of Christ. With this discourse
commenced the famous Bangorian Controversy, so called from the circumstance of the author's being at that time bishop of Bangor. As this sermon embraced all the important topics then pertaining to the relations subsisting between church and state, it brought into action, on one side or another, many of the most able and learned men in the kingdom. No controversy, probably, ever attracted so much attention for the time it continued, nor enlisted so large a number of combatants. Hoadly was attacked from every quarter. He was put upon his defence against Sherlock, Snape, Hare, Potter, Wake, Cannon, Law, and a host of others. In all these contests he acquitted himself with great dignity and credit. It was the purpose of the author, in the sermon which gave occasion to this controversy, to make it appear from the Scriptures, that the kingdom of Christ is in all respects a spiritual kingdom, in which Christ himself is the only king and lawgiver. Temporal governments and laws have no just control in this kingdom. The authority of Christ and his Apostles demands our undivided respect and submission. Human penalties and encouragements to enforce religious assent are not consistent with the principles of the Gospel. They may produce a unity of profession, but not of faith; they may make hyp crites, but not sincere christians.
These sentiments were thought by many to be a direct attack on all religious establishments, and especially on that of the church of England. They were not intended as such by the author. He approved establishments under certain conditions and modifications, and defended most ably all that was defensible in the English church. Yet we cannot wonder, that tenets like these should have met with strenuous opposition from the credulous and timid on the one hand, and from the discerning, bigoted, and suspicious on the other.
So great was the offence taken by the body of the clergy at the sentiments contained in this sermon, that it was resolved to proceed against the author in Convocation, as soon as it should be convened. The Lower House appointed a committee to draw up a Representation, which was unanimously accepted. But, when the king saw to what unreasonable lengths the clergy were suffering themselves to be carried, he exercised his royal authority, and prorogued the Convocation, before the subject was brought into the Upper House. At this period may be dated the downfall of the Convocation. It has never met since, except on business of form; and if the Bangorian Controversy had resulted in no other good, it would have been no trifling achievement to destroy
the power of this engine of persecution and ecclesiastical tyranny.
A short time before this controversy commenced, Hoadly wrote a Dedication to the Pope, which, for a deep knowledge of human nature, for wit and grave satire, has seldom been surpassed. It was prefixed to a short treatise by Sir Richard Steele, entitled, The Romish Ecclesiastical History of late Years. This work professes to be a translation of an Italian manuscript, giving an account of the ceremonies attending a canonization of saints at Rome. The original narrative is occasionally broken by humorous descriptions and pointed reflections of the translator, designed to place in a strong light the absurdity and imposture of those ceremonies. The Dedication appeared in Steele's name, and went out to the public as his own, although some few persons were in the secret.
When the real author was generally known, Steele was severely censured, particularly by Hare and Swift, for shining in this borrowed dress. Hare, as the account says, “ looked with an evil eye on this piece, as if his own province of wit were invaded ;” and Swift could not let so good an opportunity pass without taking his usual mode of revenge by hooking the matter into a rhyme, in which he holds up Steele as one,
who owned what others writ, And flourished by imputed wit.
The Dedication never was published in Hoadly's name during his lifetime, but it is contained in the