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THE INHABITANTS OF BIRMINGHAM,
REFUTATION OF SEVERAL CHARGES,
The Dissenters and Unitarians.
BY THE REV. MR. MADAN.
LETTERS TO THE REV. EDWARD BURN,
In Answer to his on the Infallibility of the Apostolic
Considerations on the Differences of Opinion among
Christians, which originally accompanied the Reply
THE SECOND EDITION, WITH SOME ADDITIONS
BY JOSEPH PRIESTLEY, L.L.D. F.R.S.
To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all
MR. MADAN'S TEXT.
PRINTED BY F. THOMPSON;
OTH the writing of these Familiar Letters,
and the demand that has been for them, were equally unexpected by me. I should certainly have contented myself with the publication of my Sermon on the Corporation and Test Airs, if I had not been called forth to say something more by the injurious representation that was given of the Dissenters in general, with manifest allusions to myself in particular, by Mr. Madan, a clergyman highly and justly respected in the place where I live.
Also, as his reflections were not confined to the subject of the above mentioned Acts, there was an evident call upon me to give light on those other subjects on which he appeared to me to have thrown darkness. I therefore thought it highly proper to correct the views that he had given of the principles of the Disfenters, and especially of the Unitarians, and also to shew my neighbours the real constitution of that church of which he was so strenuous an advocate. If the principles of the Diffenters, and of the Unitarians, appear to advantage on the comparison, it is an advantage which they derive from truth, and the occasion of giving it was not sought for by iyself.
Though these Letters were never advertised in any London Newspaper, they have, by some means or other, been more generally known, and read, then most of my publications. In consequence of this, besides a republication of all the separate Parts (five in all) of which they originally consisted, I have now thought proper to republish the whole in an uniform manner, with a few additions and corrections.
The demand for the Letters to Mr. Burn, occasioned by his to me, has been nearly equal to that A
for the Familiar Letters, especially on account of Extracts from the Preface having been printed separately, and sent from this place to every member of the House of Commons, and to all the bishops, immediately before the late debate on the subject of the Corporation and Test Acts. Highly unfair and shameful as that proceeding was, it is even applauded by Mr. Madan in his Letter to me; so blind can party spirit make men to the true colour of their own conduct, and that of their friends. These Letters to Mr. Burn being, in several respects, fimilar to the Familiar Letters, and the subject being resumed in them, it has been thought adviseable to reprint them together, rather than separately. It must be remembered, however, that the publication of them preceded that of the Familiar Letters.
Though this is properly a local controversy, yet on this republication, for more general use, it has been thought proper to retain most of the local circumstances; partly because it would not have been easy to separate them from the rest, and also because they tend to interest the reader in the discussion; and the names only being changed, the descriptions will equally suit other persons, and other places. The circumstances relating to the Diffenters at Birmingham are by no means peculiar to this place ; and such clergymen as Mr. Madan, and Mr. Burn, are to be found in many places. Bigotry and prejudice abound too much even in this enlightened age, and affect many characters in other respects truly valuable. With these considerations, which candour and justice require, the observations in these Letters will be of as much use in one part of the kingdom as in another.
It is to be wished, however, that the friends of religious liberty and free inquiry, would take ad
vantage of all local circumstances, to draw the attention of their particular neighbours to important fubjects. For where writers and their connections are known, more persons will read, and of course will be impressed, by their publications, than where they are altogether unknown. A pamphlet, or a fermon, that deserves no notice with respect to its general argument, and the knowledge of which will never reach the nation at large, may with great propriety be answered in the place, or neighbourhood, in which it was published. Thus may a whole country be instructed by parts, in a number of local publications, when no one treatise, though ever so ably written, would sufficiently engage the attention of all. Besides, there are prejudices against some men, and their writings, which do not affect others. What I have done at Birmingham, may be considered as a specimen of what I wish to see done by other persons in other places.
To what I have written on the subject of subscription, I would add that, judging by appearances, the clergy are now made to subscribe to what it is impossible that many of them can be acquainted with, , and what, I will venture to say, they would all condemn if they were.
In the thirty sixth Article, they are made to asfert that “the book of confecration of the arch
bishops, &c. lately set forth in the time of Ed“ ward the VI. doth contain all things necessary to “ such confecration and ordering; neither hath it “ any thing that of itself is superstitious and ungodly. « And therefore whosoever are consecrated, or “ ordered, according to the rites of that book “ since the second year of the forenamed king Ed“ward unto this time, or hereafter shall be conse
crated, and ordered, according to the same rites,