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our civil liberties; and as your worst enemies cannot deny your Lordship to be qualified in that respect, even to a degree of eminency, what your particular sentiments are in some of the controversies of religion, is wholly out of the question; and I should be sorry, for the sake of the electors, should your Lordship find it necessary to vindicate yourself, against any assertions of this kind, in order to secure your interest with them; for that must unavoidably though your Lordship mean not so) derive reproach upon them, and arraign their judyments as a sort of weak men, and very riskilial in characters; as if it should be objected against a general of corrsummale courage and conduct, that he is noi a good metaphysician, or doth not understand the llebreza points.
“ I speak not this from an apprehension, that your Lordship has any opinions in religion that render you obnoxious, or that you need be shy of owning upon proper occasions. I have reason to think you have examined religion, and formed your creed with some care and exactne s; in the mean time, what have the voters at B--k to do in this matter? I cannot discern the obligation we are under, even in religions societies and churches, to pry into our brethren's sentimenta, especially m the abstruser questions of religiou ; in which most of them I am confident, must, upon examination, if they answer uprightly, return a non liquet : And, I must confess, when I see any busy this way, making a scrutiny into other Christian breasts, and going about in quest of heretics, I presently have the idea of an old Rabbi starting up before me, or of a Pharisæus truncatus, or some such composition of pricke, selfsuffieiency, and censoriousness ; and when this is done in any of the duovoaTL of religion, as is often the case, in things w bich it hath pleased God in his wisdom to place out of our reach, the apprla causala of the divine nature and government i is more assuming and dangerons : but when we carry the humour into politics, and are for inaking our ow) opinions and dictates, not only the rest of other people's orthodoxy, but of their qualification for a civil trust, the usurpation is still worse."
Mr. Bennet's MEMORIAL did not pass without animadversions, from an anonymous anthor ; who expressed his great surprise, that, though the “Memorial" had made its second appearance in the world, no one had vouchsafed it the favour of
answer. Mr. Bennet thought, that as this wr ter, his greater condescension and goodness had resolved to do it,
he himself must not be so defective in point of manners, as not to pay him his acknowledgments. There accordingly came from the press in 1723, “A Defence of the Memorial of the Reformation, against the exceptions of Presbyterian prejudice displayed by a hearty wellwisher of the Established Church : with a particular inquiry into the authors and abettors of the Irish massacre : A vindication of Mr. Baxter and others, with a reference to the story of the Marquis of Antrim, against the accusations of Mr. Thomas Cart, of the Bath, in his "Irish massacre set in a clear light;' and a detection of the forgeries published by Dr. Hollingworth, concerning Mr. Henderson's recantation and character of King Charles on his death bed.”
In 1724, or 1725, Mr. Bennet's most celebrated work made its appearance, under the title of “The Christian Oratory; or, the Devotion of the Closet displayed.” The pious author chiefly proposed in this treatise, to enlarge the method of devotion; to carry it through more particulars than is usual; and accordingly he insisted chiefly upon those branches of devotion that are less known, and are generally omitted in books of deyotion ; such, as the manner of reading the scriptures, as a part of worship; meditation, stated and occasional ; psalmody, &c. aiming to furnish the Christian with a more complete plan and scheme of closet religion. “Whatever defects somo may find, and others make in the performance," says the author, “ I am satisfied I cannot be said actum agere, to do what has been often done before, and build on others' foundations."
“ The nature of this work,” he subjoins, “ manifestly points out the persons for whose service it is intended, viz. CHRISTIANS; and these not in name only, that take up with a form of godliness, denying the power : Nor Christians of the lowest form, of a Laodicean spirit, that have scarce zeal enough to carry them daily into their oratories; and with them the things that remain are ready to die: But true Christians, and Christians of some attainments and warmth in religion, that are under the influence and authority of it; that believe and live for eternity, and think nothing of importance that terminates in the present world ; that are labouring, whether present or absent, to be accepted of God; whom no state of things much moves, so they may finish their course with joy; that are so far from making a jest of communion and intercourse with God, that they attend the thing as their chief solace and highest enjoyment, triumphing thercin more than in all riches, and the peculiar treasure of Kings and provinces. These are
the persons to whose service the following essay is devoted, and with whom chiefly I expect any good reception; and with them I leave it, waiting for the blessing of heaven, to which I recommend it and them."
The friend, who preached Mr. Bennet's funeral sermon, portraying his devotional spirit, adds, “I have reason to say is Christian Oratory,' wherein you may observe much of the noble breathings of a pious soul winging for heaven, was only a transcript of his own, and the rules there laid down were copied from his practice.'
After Mr. Bennet's death, Dr. Latham, of Sunderland, published from the author's manuscripts, “ The second Part of the Christian Oratory; or, the Extraordinary. Devotions of the Closet displayed ;" 1728. The discourses, which form this volume are, I. Of fastings. II. Of thanksgivings. III. Of ejaculatory prayer,
IV. Of joining in public prayer. V. Of the unity of the church. VI. Of the exaltation of Christ. VII. Of receiving evil as well as good at the hand of God. VIII. Of charity. And the xiii. chap. of the ist Epistle to the Corinthians, paraphrased in blank verse by another hand. The two first discourses only had been completely prepared for publication. They corresponded to the plan of devotion, which the author himself observed ; for he kept days of fastings and thanksgivings, usually every month, and sometimes more frequently. At the conclusion of these solemnities, the Editor tells us, Mr. Bennet makes, sometimes, in his diary, these reficctions: “No comforts like those of religion. I find it a great deal better to have my mind warmed and enlivened by serious prayer, than by any other means."
The two following discourses were annexed, because they had some affinity with the preceding subjects; and were full of the same spirit of piety. The other sermons were added, because the Editor judged, that they well deserved to see the light.
The “ Christian Oratory" has many good quotations from modern authors, says Dr. Doddridge; but it would have been an improvement of the work, if some of the specimens had been omitted, and the plan baừ been fully completed in a single volume.* It has passed through various editions ; particularly the first part; of which a large impression, sold at a very reduced price, was printed at the expense of a society
• Preaching Lectures, MS.
of gentlemen, about the year 1756. A judicious selection frcio it would be a valuable and useful help to devotion, and companion of religious retirement. Another posthumous work, published by the same Ediror, as was the foregoing, appeared in 1730, entitled, “ Discourses on the Truth, Inspiration, and C seluless of the Scripures."
There was another publication of Mr. Bennet's which oughe not to be omitted, namely, “ Irenicum : or a Review of some late Controversies about the trinity, private judgment, churchauthority, &c. wherein the right of Christians to judge for themselves in watters of religion is vindicated, and objections answered: some reinarks concerning fundamentals are offered, and the certain and only terms of peace and union are laid down. With an appendi", vindicating the Apostle Paul and the rights of conscience from the misrepresentations of the Dean of Worcester, 1729.--In necessariis unitas, in non necessariis libertas, in utrisque charitas."
66 The title of this last piece is given at length,” says an anonymous writer, “because it is but little known. It is so excellent as well to deserve being republished. It consists of 124 pages, 8vo. small print **?
The nature and tendency of Mr. Bennet's writings indicate the turn and dispositions of his mind, as at once devout and benevolent; and show to what objects his studies and pen were directed.
His person was of the larger size, but agreeable and graceful; his aspect cuinely, and his countenance recommending; his mental endowments were of the superior class, combining a quick apprehension, a ready wit, a solid judgment, and a happy memory. His thoughits were ckar, strong, and penetraiing, which he had the skill of digesting and methodizing, so as to display and urge an argument in its utmost force and strength, as he could deliver himself with a free and commanding elocution, His deportment was always decently grave, though on occasions he could be innocently pleasant. His temper was sedate and serene;
tender, compassionate and universally benevolent. He united with tenderness, prudence, and undaunted resolution, which appeared in the wisdom and fidelity of his management, in matters of church government and discipline, so as to command an affectionate respect. His social virtues, as a relative and a friend, were conciliating and eminent. Ile seemed, we are tod, # “ Protestant Dissenters' Magazine,” for October, 1798, p. 364, 365.
to have no other regard to this world, than as a sphere of usefulness ; and was always forming schemes of personal or public benefit, for the accomplishment of which, his prudence, courage and zeal singularly qualified him. His expenses, in showing hospitality and relieving distress, were great; and his acts of charity numerous. His principles, as to ruligious distinctions, were catholic; and his love was not confined to any set or party of Christians. “ He regarded the appearances of sincere religion, more than any distinguishing names and characters; and exceedingly valued a good man and a man of in-, tegrity, to what denomination soever he belonged.”
His sense of religion was genuine, deep and habitual; and went far into the secret and retired parts of a devotional life. His first engagements in the morning, it appeared from his diary, consisted in spending an hour in secret converse with God, by reading the scriptures, meditation and prayer; at night another hour was given to the same exercises, uniting with them a review of the day, a strict cxamination how every hour had been employed, and suitable reflections as occasion required, humbling himself, adoring the goodness of God, renewing his sacred purposes, exciting himself to greater usefulness and imploring the divine conduct, direction and help. It was also his custom, when at home to retire, before or after dinner, for a short prayer; and when abroad to send up an ejaculatory address to heaven. Such was his uniform practice; and, besides the days of fasting and thanksgiving already mentioned, as observed by himself in private, he often $olemnized such days with the members of bis church, sometimes in his own house, and at other times in the congregation. By these means he acquired a temper of niad holy and hcavenly in a high degree.*
J. T. August 20th, 1807.
* N. B. The above Memoir is chiefly drawn from the Funeral Sermon for Mr. Bennet, preached at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, September ist, 1726, by the Rev. Isaac Worthington. This gentleman was pastor of the congregation of Protestant Dissenters, in the city of Durham. He received his academical Icarning from the Rev. Mr. Frankland, into whose seminary, at Rathnal, he enteret April 2, 1691. He was ordained 26th May, 1698. When, and where he died, and other particulars relative to his history, the writer of this has no means of ascertaining