Page images

might hope to exercife themfelves. Our Author's reafoning, on this head, is equivocal and inconclufive. The bill moved by Sir John Philipps was, according to his own ftating, to regulate the practice of Secretaries of State iffuing warrants' gene rally, not in cafes of libels only: now, it is no juftification of the Minority to fay, that because they held the general warrant for apprehending and feizing the Authors, Printers and Publifhers of a feditious Libel, together with their papers, to be illegal, therefore they could not vote for a bill to regulate the practice in other general cafes.


Admitting, however, that they held the iffuing of warrants from Secretaries of State to be illegal in all cafes, the motion of Sir John Philipps, as stated by our Author, did not preclude them from fupporting that opinion. The bill being to regulate the practice only, it was ftill open for them to conteft the right: and they are inexcufeable for neglecting fo fair an opportunity. We all know upon what an unfettled foundation perfonal liberty ftands, in this and many other refpects. The common law has been variously expounded, and nothing can admit of greater latitude in conftruction than the claufe in Magna Charta, which fays, that no man fhall be imprifoned, &c. but by judgment of his Peers, OR the law of the land. Under thefe general words, the law of the land, INFORMATIONS are juftified, and many other practices are vindicated, which call for redrefs. Magna Charta is a fine found for patriots to rattle in the ears of the vulgar, but, as it ftands, it is in reality what Oliver Cromwell contemptuously called it. It would have been a talk worthy of real patriots, instead of leaving illegal warrants uncenfured in any cafes, to have fettled by legislative authority, whether fuch warrants are wholly illegal; if not, to have afcertained in what cafes, and in what manner they are to iffue. Our Author argues weakly, in fuppofing that a jury would attend to the particular circumftances of a cafe juftified by neceffity. For the warrants are either legal or illegal; if illegal, no circumstances can inAuence the verdict of a jury on their oaths, farther than in mitigation of damages. In fhort, it is effential to liberty that fo important a point fhould not be left open to be determined by dubious conftruction, or contradictory authorities. If fuch warrants are in any cafes legal, let thofe cafes be ascertained: if they are totally illegal, let them be fo declared: and this declaration will prejudice no right at common law, for it is no uncommon thing to have fuch right confirmed by the sanction of a ftatute.

The Writer in the next place juftifies the houfe for: proceeding by way of motion: for which he produces feveral prece


dents; and having thus gone through the feveral charges against the Mority, he concludes in the following fpirited ftrain.


Let thofe then learn, if there be any yet fenfible to the feelings, and open to the call of national liberty, that it ap pearing, in the courfe of the proceedings againft Wilkes, that a fubject had been taken into cuftody by a general warrant of apprehenfion, iffued by Lord Halifax, his papers feized, and his perfon kept in clofeft cuftody, upon the charge of a feditious libel, the public inftantly took the alarm, and the illegality of fuch warrants, and fuch cuftody, in fuch an offence, became univer fally the topic of difcourfe, and ground of apprehenfion and complaint. When therefore the proceedings against Mr. Wilkes were finifhed, when the honour of the crown and the dignity of parliament, traduced and injured by the licentious paper complained of, were both vindicated and fatisfied, and not till after the expulfion; two gentlemen of diftinguished worth, talents and confequence in their country, ftepped forth; expreffed their opinion of the illegality of the proceedings of Lord Halifax, and took that method, which to them feemed the best, of bringing the great question, which had fo much interefted the minds of all ranks of men, and upon which, they alleged, they thought the effence of private and perfonal liberty depended, to an amicable debate and candid difcuffion, for the fatisfaction of this age, and, as they trufted, for the fecurity of future times.

The house adopted the idea: the adminiftration acquiefced; a day was named; the miniftry called for various papers, and volumes of Records; and when the hour of debate came on, Sir William Meredith moved the following question, "That a general warrant for apprehending and seizing the Authors, Printers, and Publishers of a feditious Libel, together with their Papers, is not warranted by law."

It is faid, and univerfally believed, that in the debate neither the Minifter himself, nor the Attorney General defended the legality of the warrant. The M. of G. and many others who voted for adjourning the debate, exprefly declared their deteftation of the practice, and their fenfe of the neceffity of preventing à measure fo dangerous to liberty; and the whole defence of that day confifted in arguing upon the impropriety of deciding in parliament a question then depending in a court of judicature. They, who maintained the propriety and neceffity of the motion, endeavoured to fhew the fallacy of this reafoning, and dwelt upon the importance of the queftion, the violence of the proceeding, the power of parliament exercifed in fimilar cafes, and the reproach of leaving the liberty of the fubject, in a cafe of fuch notoriety, fufpended by a court of law, upon the pretence L2


of bills of exceptions, which, when examined, would be found to turn upon other points, and where the decifion, in this matter of univerfal intereft, might be long kept in fufpence, at the will even of the very party accufed. Upon a motion being made for adjourning the debate for four months, the numbers were found to be 234 for the queftion and 220 against it; by which this great conftitutional queftion, perhaps the most important that ever animated the fpirit of a free people, has been put, as it is now phrafed, into a due courfe of trial at law; in confequence of which candid reference every method has been taken, to delay the fuit, and to avoid decifion. Some feem to think it not impoffible, that the caufe may be thus put off till the next feffion, in which cafe I am free to declare, I think the Minority of 220 will deferve every calumny, which they have hitherto undefervedly borne, if they do not make this great question the very first meafure of the year; hopeless, as the public would then be, of any redrefs or decifion, from the candor of the minifter, or from the courfe of law.'

In this we heartily agree with the writer; and we will add, that every fincere friend to freedom without doors fhould concur in expofing the cruelty and hardfhip of fuch arbitrary seizures, which would even difgrace a Turkish vizier. Whatever may be the event of a trial at law, our patriot fhould procure a legislative condemnation of fuch proceedings, and fecure the fubject from the probability of fuch grievous oppreffion for the future, by the fanction of a folemn act.



For AUGUST, 1764.

Art. 1. An Attempt to restore the fupreme Worship of God the Fa ther Almighty. Written for the Use of poor Chriftians. By George Williams, a Livery Servant. Svo. 6d, Becket.


Ta time when grofs ignorance of the truths of religion, on the one hand, and fanaticilin on the other, have fpread fo far among the lower claffes of people in this country, it is a pleasure to see a perfon in fo low a station as that of a domeftic fervant, ufing the liberty wherewith God hath made him free, and enquiring with a manly and becom ing freedom, into the fundamental doctrines of Christianity.-He tells us, that he has confidered the Athanafian doctrine of the Trinity above twenty years, and has read the most diftinguished Defenders upon it.• Believe me, fays he, they have not one text of Scriptare; not an ar


gument but has been overthrown; not an objection but has been anfwered over and over again.'

He feems, indeed, to be well acquainted with the controverfy, to have read fome of the best Writers on cach fide of the queftion, and, what is of till greater importance, to have carefully ftudied his Bible, and to have taken his notions from thence. And indeed we cannot help faying, on this occafion, that the Athanafian doctrine appears to us, to have fo little foundation in Scripture, that we think it impoffible for a fincere and candid Enquirer, of plain, common fenfe, and unacquainted with modern Creeds and fyftems, to find it in the New Teftament. It is well known, and we can appeal to the teftimony of one of the greateft Divines of the prefent age, for the truth of what we are going to mention, that when Job the African was in this country, and was asked, after reading the New Teftament, whether he found any fuch doctrine in it or not, he exprefsly declared he did not, and was astonished that those who took their notions from Scripture, fhould entertain fuch an opinion.

The manner in which our intelligent Footman proceeds, is this.→ He produces a few plain texts out of the New Teftament, and refers to a great many more, in order to prove that God, the Father Almighty, is the only true God; after which he lays before his Readers fome paffages from the writings of Dr. Waterland, Dr. Bennet, Dr. M'Donnel, and other Defenders of the Athanafian scheme; he then points out fome of the evils which, he thinks, flow from the Athanafian creed and doctrine; and, like a man of candour, gives us thofe texts which feem to differ from the doctrine he contends for, with a few pertinent obfervations upon them.

GEORGE earneftly exhorts his Chriftian Brethren to have nothing to do with the Athanafian creed, which he calls a damning herefy, an abominable relick of Popery, and which, he fays, is ftuffed with damna tion, blafphemy, contradiction, and abfurdity. If his manner of writing, in fome few places, borders upon coarfenefs, the liberal and candid Reader will confider his education; and fuch as condemn it, ought to remember, that thofe Divines who have appeared in defence of the doctrine which is here oppofed, have written in a much more illiberal manner than George Williams has done, and are much more inexcusable.

As we had fome doubt, whether this pamphlet was really the production of a Livery Servant, we made enquiry into the fact, and received the following fatisfactory account; viz. That the Author of this commendable attempt, was born on the bank of Milford Haven (his father a common failor) in the year 1711; that all the school-education be ever had, was from an old woman, who just taught him to read in the Pfalter; that he has been a fervant in one family forty years, (a circumftance that reflects great honour on his private character) tho' a place of fmall profit; that by managing his wages, low as they were, to the best advantage, he has been enabled to expend about fixty pounds in books and mathematical inftruments,—his leisure hours having been, for about twenty years paft, employed in reading, and the study of Philofophy: and that the refidence of the family in which he lives, is at Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, This note by d.

He concludes his piece with fome very fhrewd and pertinent queries, a few of which we shall lay before our Readers in his own words.

Whether we, the lower clafs of Chriftians, have not as good a right to enquire into the fenfe of Scripture, and the explication of any doctrine, as the high and learned ?

What does the Church worship? or, in other words-the Church in her first article, Athanafian creed, &c. having made the one fupreme God, a compofition of Father, Son, and Holy Ghoft: Quere, Wher we pray to God the Father Almighty, through Jefus Chrift, what does the Church mean by the words God and Chrift?

Whether the ufe of abfurd, and unintelligible terms, be honouring God, and doing fervice to religion?

Whether the Athanafian Creed can poffibly be thought a Chriftiani prepration for the facrament of the Lord's Supper?

Whether thofe that reprefent the Deity under the figure of a Triangle, be not guilty of the breach of the fecond commandment?-As Dr. Bennet, &c. &c. ?

Where is the Holy Ghost directly called God or Lord in the Bible? And where is he invocated, or fo much as a fingle petition put up to


Our bleffed Saviour has told us, that he came into the world to fpeak the truth; and to teach us the will of his Father who is in hea ven; if fo, Query, How came he not to tell us, that the three Perfons the one God, and to be worshipped as the one God? nor fuffer his Dif ciples to inform us of it?-What! he that laid down his life to fave us, and yet fuffer us to perifh eternally!


Because the Father, Son, and Holy Ghoft are fometimes mentioned together, as concerned in bringing about the falvation of men; therefore the Athanafians will have it, that the three perfons are the one God. Query Whether, by the fame way of arguing, God may not be proved to be Nine Pefons? viz Rev. i. 4. Grace be to you and peace from him which is, and which was, and which is to come and from the feven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jefus Christ who is the faithful Witness.Then, if the Father, Chrift, and the feven Spirits be equally divine, the worship will run thus: O holy, blessed, and glorious NINITY! NINE Perfons and one God, have mercy upon us, &c.-This worship may be proved as plain from the New Teftament, as O holy, bleffed, and glorious Trinity, three Perfons and one God, &c..


Whether it be not the duty of UNITARIANS to apply to King and Parliament, to get the Liturgy altered according to the New Teltament; and if that cannot be obtained, then, whether they have not a right to fet up a church of their own, on Gospel Principles Well faid, honeft GEORGE!

• Whether it be not better to put a flop to what is called Propagating the Gospel in foreign Parts, till fuch time as the Reformers return to Gafpel worship?

[ocr errors]


Art. 2. An Enquiry (by way of Essay) into the Origin of feudat Tenures, and the Rights of eventual Succeffion to Lands in Primo geaiture only, as the Laws of England now fland. By a Mem


« PreviousContinue »