Leslie, Charles

Leslie, Charles a prominent writer in the political and theological controversies of the 17th century, was the son of bishop John Leslie, of the Irish sees of Raphoe and Clogher, and was born in Ireland about 1650, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. His course in life was very eccentric. In 1671 he went to England to study law, but in a few years turned himself to divinity, was admitted into orders, and settling in Ireland, became chancellor of Connor. He was living in Ireland at the time of the Revolution, and distinguished himself in some disputations with the Roman Catholics on the side of the Protestant Church. Though a zealous Protestant, he scrupled to renounce his allegiance to king James, and to acknowledge king William as his rightful sovereign. There was thus an end to his prospects in the Church, and, leaving Ireland, he went to England, and there employed himself in writing many of his controversial works, especially those on the political state of the country. When James II was dead, Leslie transferred his allegiance to his son, the Pretender; and, as he made frequent visits to the courts of the exiled princes, he so far fell under suspicion at home that he thought proper to leave England, and join himself openly to the court of the Pretender, then at Bar-le-Duc. He was still a zealous Protestant. and had in that court a private chapel, in which he was accustomed to officiate as a minister of the Protestant Church of England. When the Pretender removed to Italy, Leslie accompanied him; but, becoming at length sensible of the strangeness of his position, a Protestant clergyman in the court of a zealous Roman Catholic, and age coming on, and with it the natural desire of dying in the land which had given him birth, he sought and obtained from the government of king George I, in 1721, permission to return. He died at Glaslough, in the county of Monaghan, in 1722. Leslie's writings in the political controversies of the time were all in support of high monarchical principles. His theological writings were controversial; they have been distributed into the six following classes: those against, 1, the Quakers; 2, the Presbyterians; 3, the Deists; 4, the Jews; 5, the Socinians; and, 6, the Papists. Some of them, especially the book entitled A short and easy Method with the Deists, are still read and held in esteem. Towards the close of his life he collected his theological writings, and published them in two folio volumes (1721). They were reprinted at Oxford (1832, 7 vols. 8vo). His other numerous works have not been published uniformly. Among them we notice A View of the Times, their Principles and Practices, etc. (2d ed. Lond. 1750, 6 vols. 12mo): — The Massacre of Glencoe (Anon., Lond. 1703, 4to) — The Axe laid to the Root of Christianity, etc. (Lond. 1706, 4to): — Querela, temporum, or the Danger of the Church of England (Lond. 1695, 4to): — A Letter, etc., against the sacramental Test (Lond. 1708, 4to): — Answer to the Remarks on his first Dialogue against the Socinians. Bayle styles him a man of great merit and learning, and adds that he was the first who wrote in Great Britain against the fanaticism of Madame Bourignon: his books, he further says, are much esteemed, and especially his treatise The Snake in the Grass. Salmon observes that his works must transmit him to posterity as a man thoroughly learned and truly pious. Dr. Hickes says that he made more converts to a sound faith and holy life than any man of the age in which he lived; that his consummate learning, attended by the lowest humility, the strictest piety without the least tincture of narrowness, a conversation to the last degree lively and spirited, vet to the last degree innocent, made him the delight of mankind. See Biog. Brit.; Encyc. Brit.; Jones, Christ. Biog.; Engl. Cyclop. s.v.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. 2:1825; Allibone, Dictionary of British and American Authors, vol. 2. s.v.

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