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THE INHABITANTS OF BIRMINGHAM,
REFUTATION OF SEVERAL CHARGES,
The Diffenters and Unitarians.
BY THE REV. MR. MADAN.
LETTERS TO THE REV. EDWARD BURN,
Confiderations on the Differences of Opinion among
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, fhewing all
MR. MADAN'S TEXT.
Ne fævi Magne facerdos. VIRGIL.
PRINTED BY J. THOMPSON;
AND SOLD BY J. JOHNSON, ST. PAUL'S CHURCH-YARD, LONDON.
OTH the writing of thefe Familiar Letters, and the demand that has been for them, were equally unexpected by me. I fhould certainly have contented myself with the publication of my Sermon on the Corporation and Test Acts, if I had not been called forth to say something more by the injurious representation that was given of the Diffenters in general, with manifest allusions to myself in particular, by Mr. Madan, a clergyman highly and justly respected in the place where I live.
Alfo, as his reflections were not confined to the fubject of the above mentioned Acts, there was an evident call upon me to give light on those other fubjects 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 Diffenters, and especially of the Unitarians, and alfo to fhew my neighbours the real conftitution of that church of which he was fo ftrenuous 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 occafion of giving it was not fought for by myself.
Though thefe 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 confequence of this, befides a republication of all the feparate Parts (five in all) of which they originally confifted, 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, occafioned by his to me, has been nearly equal to that
for the Familiar Letters, especially on account of Extracts from the Preface having been printed feparately, and sent from this place to every member of the House of Commons, and to all the bifhops, immediately before the late debate on the fubject of the Corporation and Teft Acts. Highly unfair and fhameful as that proceeding was, it is even applauded by Mr. Madan in his Letter to me; fo blind can party fpirit make men to the true colour of their own conduct, and that of their friends. Letters to Mr. Burn being, in feveral respects, fimilar to the Familiar Letters, and the fubject being resumed in them, it has been thought adviseable to reprint them together, rather than feparately. 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 ufe, 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 difcuffion; and the names only being changed, the defcriptions will equally fuit other perfons, and other places. The circumstances relating to the Diffenters at Birmingham are by no means peculiar to this place; and fuch 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 refpects truly valuable. With these confiderations, 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 circumftances, to draw the attention of their particular neighbours to important fubjects. For where writers and their connections are known, more perfons will read, and of course will be impreffed, by their publications, than where they are altogether unknown. A pamphlet, or a fermon, that deferves no notice with refpect 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 fo ably written, would fufficiently engage the attention of all. Befides, there are prejudices against fome men, and their writings, which do not affect others. What I have done at Birmingham, may be confidered as a specimen of what I wish to see done by other perfons in other places.
To what I have written on the fubject of subscription, I would add that, judging by appearances, the clergy are now made to fubfcribe to what it is impoffible that many of them can be acquainted with, and what, I will venture to fay, they would all condemn if they were.
In the thirty fixth Article, they are made to affert that "the book of confecration of the archbishops, &c. lately fet forth in the time of Ed"ward the VI. doth contain all things neceffary to "fuch confecration and ordering; neither hath it
any thing that of itself is fuperftitious and ungodly. "And therefore whofoever are confecrated, or "ordered, according to the rites of that book "fince the fecond year of the forenamed king Ed"ward unto this time, or hereafter fhall be confe"crated, and ordered, according to the fame rites,