1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Leland, John (theologian)

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LELAND, JOHN (1691–1766), English Nonconformist divine, was born at Wigan, Lancashire, and educated in Dublin, where he made such progress that in 1716, without having attended any college or hall, he was appointed first assistant and afterwards sole pastor of a congregation of Presbyterians in New Row. This office he continued to fill until his death on the 16th of January 1766. He received the degree of D.D. from Aberdeen in 1739. His first publication was A Defence of Christianity (1733), in reply to Matthew Tindal’s Christianity as old as the Creation; it was succeeded by his Divine Authority of the Old and New Testaments asserted (1738), in answer to The Moral Philosopher of Thomas Morgan; in 1741 he published two volumes, in the form of two letters, being Remarks on [H. Dodwell’s] Christianity not founded on Argument; and in 1753 Reflexions on the late Lord Bolingbroke’s Letters on the Study and Use of History. His View of the Principal Deistical Writers that have appeared in England was published in 1754–1756. This is the chief work of Leland—“most worthy, painstaking and commonplace of divines,” as Sir Leslie Stephen called him—and in spite of many defects and inconsistencies is indispensable to every student of the deistic movement of the 18th century.

His Discourses on various Subjects, with a Life prefixed, was published posthumously (4 vols., 1768–1789).