NINE months are now elapsed since the first publication of this letter; in all which time Mr. W. has neither apologized for the misdemeanor which occasioned his hearing from me in this public manner, nor attempted answer the charges entered against him. Judging, probably, that the former would be too condescending in one who has erected himself into the leader of a sect, and that the latter would prove rather too difficult a task, and involve him in a subsequent train of fresh detections, he has prudently omitted both.
Some of his followers, however, have not been so tamely inactive, on this occasion, as their pastor. Anxious, at once, to palliate his offence and to screen his timidity, several penny and two-penny defences have successively appeared: wherein the anonymous scribblers wretchedly endeavored to gather up, and put together, the fragments of a shattered reputation. The very printers, the mid-wives who handed these "insects of a day" into public existence, were ashamed to subjoin their names at the bottom of the title pages.Two lay-preachers, in particular, have feebly taken up the cudgels for their master. Of one I shall say very little, as he writes with some degree of decency. Of the other I shall not say much; for both his talents and his morals sink him far below the dignity of chastisement. This illiterate "haberdasher of small wares" entitles his penny effusion, as well as I remember, "A Letter of thanks to the Reverend Mr. Toplady, in the Names of all the hardened Sinners in London and Westminster." The poor creature, it is plain from his title-page, aims at humour; and yet unhappily for such a design, he is in reality but too literally qualified to act as secretary in chief to the sinners of London and Westminster. For he has given very numerous and ample proofs of his own sinnership, and that there can hardly exist, in those two cities, a more atrocious sinner than himself. I will not pollute this paper with a recital of his crimes. They who know the man are no strangers to his communication. Though a doctrinal Pharisee, his life has, long ago, evinced him a practical Sadducee. Surely, Arminianism is likely to flourish mainly under the auspices of such able and virtuous advocates!
And so much for Mr. Wesley's redoubtable subalterns.
What image of their fury can we form?
Dullness and rage. A puddle in a storm.
If my advice carries any weight with them, they will carefully peruse their spelling-books before they make another sally from the press. As to themselves and their refined productions, I mean to take no farther notice of either. I am quite of Mr. Gay's opinion;
To shoot at crows is powder thrown away.
I had almost forgot the monthly reviewers. One word concerning them, and I have done. The two reverend gentlemen who are hired to dissect and characterize whatever comes within the divinity-department, a calendis ad calendas, would fain have it, in their superficial strictures on the first edition of this letter, than I am angry with Mr. Wesley. If, by anger, the ingenious animadverters mean a just and becoming disapprobation of Mr. Wesley's lying abridgment, and of the surreptitious manner in which he smuggled it into the world, I acknowledge myself, in this respect, angry. I hope the reverend reviewers will not, in their turn, be angry too, at seeing themselves tacked to the list of Mr. Wesley's allies: since, in their mode of representing my dispute (or, to adopt their own military term, my battle) with that gentleman, they seem to rank themselves in the number of his seconds. The reason is obvious. Mr. W. is a red-hot Arminian: and the sagacious doctors can discern, with half an eye, that Arminianism lies within a bow-shot of Socinianism and Deism. Yet, notwithstanding the alliance is thus not altogether unnatural, why should these two divines, who are, certainly, possessed of abilities which might do honour to human nature, by a narrow, sordid attachment to party, render those abilities less respectable?
January, 9 1771.