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LETTERS FROM THE REV. ROBERT TAYLOR, THE DEISTICAL CLERGYMAN OF THE ES
THE readers of the Republican will recognize this gentleman, as the one lately persecuted in Dublin. His arrival in London may be hailed as an important accession to the AntiChristian cause. We will not quarrel with Mr. T. about tenets. It is enough for all purposes of present utility, that, in his operations, and in his mind, he is and will be an AntiChristian. As far as The Republican can be made the medium of doing it, we shall bring this Gentleman fully before the British public. It seems as if we are to have a Deistical Church! Well, it will do for the present, so as we have no tithes nor forced support with it.
TO MR. R. CARLILE, DORCHESTER GAOL.
June 5, 1824.
THOUGH I am a clergyman of the Church of England, in full orders, a graduate of the University of Cambridge, have been for several years a sincere and very popular preacher of the evangelical doctrines, and have never incurred at any time, nor deserved any sentence of ecclesiastical censure-and therefore will never yield, nor suffer to have wrested from me, the indelible character of priesthood; the resignation of which on my part, or the seizure of which by our opponents-would be taken to imply some moral culpability, or that there was something in me, that I might wish to conceal-I dare openly avow, that I am your friend, that I am an unbeliever in the Christian doctrine altogether, and that from my soul-I look on Christianity to be the greatest curse that ever befel the human race, and to oppose and counteract it by all possible means, the greatest duty incumbent on every wise and good man; in which duty, with God's help, you shall not see me failing. But we must adjust means to our end, and adapt our operations to circumstances-our end is benevolent, we seek to promote the happiness of our fellow creatures-we oppose only that dogmatism and tyranny, which have occasioned the misery of millions of our fellow creatures, and which never yet gave a real satisfaction of heart to their equally-to-be-pitied oppressors.
Then let us not contend with their weapons-let us not become dogmatical ourselves.
My own experience would condemn me, should I ever express a sentiment of triumph or exultation, over those many sincere and good hearted men, whom I have left in the bondage from which it is my happiness to be emancipated. I am conscious to myself that through the long course of my Christian education, and my faithful services as a minister of the Church of England, I was, as I now am, perfectly sincere, and never shut my mind, nor hardened my heart against any argument that was ever presented to me in the shape of courtesy and love—and when Deism took that form, it took me, heart and all. Had I been dealt with, with what proud assumption of superiority which the consciousness of intellectual emancipation is too apt to inspire, had I been required to write myself, a fool, a knave, or a bigot, for believing-1 should have continued a believer for ever. hope, therefore, my dear Sir, that you will accept this as a plea in mitigation at least of your judgment against your mistaken persecutors and as a justification of those mild and conciliatory methods which my feelings, as well as my understanding, will lead me to adopt in the same glorious cause, and to the same benevolent end, for which you have the honour of being a sufferer. I send you herewith the six numbers of the Clerical Review, which I published under circumstances of peculiar difficulty and discouragement in Dublin. I had to deal with time-serving, timid, and vastly inaccurate printers; and frequently had the mortification of seeing my best sentences so badly punctuated, or so ignorantly cut and altered, by the management of the printer to escape prosecution, as to sacrifice in one or two instances even the grammatical constructions. You will know how to make allowances for this, and judge from what it is, what I could have wished it to have been. It produced however under all exceptions the most happy effects, and I shall rejoice in seeing those effects extended in the use you may make of it. I submit it to your judgment, entirely. You have here also, Pontius Pilate's Appeal, which will bring us into better acquaintance, and shew you what I have been doing, and suffering, for the cause in another part of the world, as I trust you will soon hear of my success in the plan of operations so different from your own, but so entirely aiming at the same end, which the Society of Universal Benevolence has sent me to London to prosecute. Most heartily your friend, most resolutely determined to make your enemies right sick of the measures they have adopted against you; and devoted to the cause of God and of natural religion,
I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
No. 2, Water Lane, Fleet Street.
The following letter was received in answer to a request to be allowed to print.
TO MR. R. CARLILE, DORCHESTER GAOL.
June 10, 1824. Ir any thing which I have done or written may have tended to alleviate the horrors of an unjust imprisonment, or to pour the balm of hope and consolation on the mind of one who has been "persecuted for righteousness sake,"-I feel, in the reflection on it, a satisfaction of heart, which no blame nor praise of man can diminish or augment. I attach not myself to your opinions; but I sympathize with your sufferings. I sincerely believe in God, in providence, and in the immortality of the soul, as demonstrable truth resting on the evidence of reason only, as I do believe with like sincerity, that Christianity is altogether as false as God is true, and its establishment and prevalence, the greatest curse that ever befel the human race. As for any communications you have received, or may receive from me, they are your property, and I shall be happy if they prove serviceable to you. I have never done an act in all my life, which I could wish to have concealed, or overlooked by God or man.
I am, Dear Sir,
Your faithful Friend and Servant,
No. 2, Water Lane, Fleet Street.
The following brief sketch of Mr. Taylor's life and character, is taken from a pamphlet entitled "Pontius Pilate's Appeal, &c." lately published in Dublin.
The Reverend R. Taylor was born at Edmonton, near London; no tongue would be found to attaint him with the whisper of an error-sometimes perhaps he may have been a little less of the Christian, but always and every inch a gentleman.-Previous to his entering college, enjoying the friendship and patronage of Sir Astley Cooper, he perfected himself in anatomy and surgery, and his name will be found as having passed with honor a public examination, and obtained the diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons. With this meretorious testimony of talent and of learning, he entered at St. John's College, Cambridge, and at the
first yearly examination, when the son of the great Herschel, afterwards senior wrangler, and the present Astronomer Royal at the Cape of Good Hope, were his competitors, Mr. Taylor was neither the second nor the third--and the Reverend Charles Semeon of King's College, whose lecturcs Mr. T. regularly attended, probably recollects at this day, that in the department of literature over which he presided, Mr. Taylor was the facile princeps, and had no competitor at all. The testimonies of Mr. Taylor's collegiate life, (and they are of the highest order) are in the hands of the bishop of Chichester, by whom Mr. Taylor was ordained first deacon, and after a few months, priest. In the year 1813, he was appointed to the curacy of Midhurst, to which was added the little rectory of Lynch in the County of Sussex. Mr. Taylor, with peace of conscience and entire affection of all his parishioners, discharged the duties of his ministry until about the middle of the summer of 1818, in the most exemplary and excellent spirit of Christianity: of which testimonies exist at this day in the hands of Dr. Gaskin the Secretary of the Society of Christian Knowledge, and of the Bishop of London, to whom every circumstance of Mr. Taylor's clerical life and conduct was communicated. It was in the year 1818, that Mr. Taylor's extensive reading and deep reflection, led him to adopt the opinions of Bolingbroke, Hume and Gibbon: and when no discovery could have been made against him but by himself when he might have continued to enjoy the liberal emoluments of his church, and have hid the sentiments of a Deist, as thousands do, under the inviolable covert of the sacerdotal robe, he made a voluntary surrender of his ecclesiastical preferment into the hands of his diocesan, stating "that his peace of conscience would not allow him to preach to others what he no longer continued to believe himself, and that in laying down his clerical preferments, he trusted in that, as in the whole tenor of his life, to acquit himself to God and his own conscience, as a wise and good man."
This act of self-denial, this "proud disdain of interest's sordid bribe," which, in a Theophilus Lindsey-in a Whitfield or a Westley, or in any blind fanatic who had only swopt sides and past over from one set of visionaries to another, would have been ex-. tolled as the height of virtue, and applauded to the very echo that should applaud again, was, in Mr. Taylor, every thing that was atrocious, and taken to be the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost. Mr. T. after committing this error, engaged the remains of his paternal property in a school at Bristol, which he purchased without security for the title by which the premises were held; and thus defrauded, was obliged to seek as a tutor in a school the necessities of raiment, bed, and food. He visited Ireland solely to conceal his fall in life, and to enable him to bear with the more philosophy, the humility of his situation, where he was less likely to be reminded of his former respectability. He be
came assistant in Mr. Jones's school at Nutgrove, Rathfarnham, and how he acquitted himself in that situation-as well as a full account of the cruelty and malevolence of Archbishop Magee, who actually hunted him out even of this last asylum, will be found in a pamphlet written by Mr. Taylor himself on the subject, and sold at the office of Bull, the Printer of the antidote, on Redmond's Hill. And thus the man persecuted by bishops, reviled by editors, and about to be torn in pieces by saints, is entirely before the public. Behold the man of whom the chief priests have said he hath spoken blasphemy-behold the man whose destruction the methodists have sought and wished. Search him in every clause, weigh him in every grain, you will find him a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil and none can condemn him who would have acquitted an individual not more innocent, or for whom the question could be asked with juster confidence-" Why, what evil hath he done?"
If it be necessary to Mr. Taylor's vindication to speak of the character of those who have received the sarcastic epithet of his disciples, it will be found that there are none amongst them that will deny him, none that will betray him, none that will forsake him; no perjurors, no traitors, and no liars. They are the most amiable and excellent men on earth, the most loyal subjects, the most faithful, most honourable, most virtuous of mankind: and if this moral superiority, which their conviction of the absolute truth and perfection of the principles which they hold in common with Mr. Taylor, has given them, provoke your hostility, dispute the pre-eminence with them-not by slandering and reviling, not by bitterness, spitefulness, persecuting, preaching and praying, in which you must always have the say to yourselves, but by paying them back in turn some portion of the love and generosity which they feel towards you, and by endeavouring to be as kind, as noble, as good, and as liberal as they are.
NOTWITHSTANDING the sanctity of our religion, says Tully the Roman, no crime is more common with us than sacrilege: but was it ever heard of, that an EGYTIAN violated the temple of a cat, an ibis, or a crocodile? There is no torture, an EGYTIAN would not undergo, says the same author, rather than injure an ibis, a crocodile, a dog, or a cat.
There occurs, I own, a difficulty in the EGYTIAN system of theology; as indeed, few systems of theology are entirely free