Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/50

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420 SIR JOHN LESLIE.


tent for preventing Mr Leslie's induction into the office of professor ; with full power, in the event of his induction, to prosecute for his ejection from said of- fice in any competent court, civil or ecclesiastical." Immediately after this paper was given in and its bearers had left the hall, the council elected Mr Leslie.

At the meeting of the presbytery of Edinburgh on the 27th, the committee of the city clergy gave in a representation stating these transactions, along with a copy of their protest, and requested the reverend court to take such steps in the matter as they might judge proper. It was here determined by vote to carry the affair before the synod ; a step formally necessary for bringing it under the decision of the highest national church court, the general assembly.

At the meeting of this court, on the 22nd of May, the case of Mr Leslie came before it in the shape of a complaint by the Rev. Sir Henry Moncrieffand other members of the synod, against the reference of the case to the general assembly. It was thus apparent that the leaders of the more zealously pious party of the church had taken the part of Mr Leslie against their accustomed opponents. The interest which the public could not have failed to entertain respecting the question, even if confined to its native merits, was excited to an uncommon de- gree by this complication of the phenomenon. The case, nevertheless, furnished only an unusually striking example of what must always be the result of a party system in any deliberative body. It happened to be convenient for the " mod- erate " party on this particular occasion, to show an anxious desire for the purity of faith and doctrine ; and for this purpose they raked up a negative title in the Edinburgh clergy to be consulted in the exercise of the town-council patronage, which had not been acted upon for twenty-six years, during which time several of the very men now prosecuting had been elected to chairs in the university without regard to it. It was equally convenient for the evangelical party, though adverse to all their usual principles, to regard the suspected infidelity of Mr Leslie with a lenient and apologetic spirit, in order that they might be in their usual position regarding their opponents, and because they hoped to gain i triumph for themselves in the non-success of a prosecution, which they could easily see rested upon no valid grounds, and could hardly, in the face of public opinion, be carried to its utmost extent, even though a majority of servile votes could have been obtained for the purpose.

In the course of the long debate which followed the introduction of the case, some very strong testimonies were brought forward in favour of Mr Leslie's moral and religious character. A letter from the minister of Largo testified that, during the two past years, while Mr Leslie resided in the parish, he had paid a becoming respect to religion, and that, if great abilities highly improved, an un- stained moral character, and a tender discharge of every filial duty, recommend to confidence and esteem, these belonged to him. Another letter, from the clergyman of the neighbouring parish, after remarking that insinuations of the kind disseminated respecting Mr Leslie, yielded but a contemptible support to any cause, stated the following particulars : " I have lived in habits of intimacy with Mr Leslie for some time past; I have had an opportunity of knowing his religious and political sentiments ; I have been furnished, in short, witli satisfac- tory evidence of his attachment to our ecclesiastical and civil establishment. His father officiated long as a worthy elder of our church : his son was once a student of divinity ; and though he has not prosecuted his theological studies, having been much engaged in other literary pursuits, I never heard that he had ceased to respect the doctrines or discipline of the church of Scotland. On the contrary, the leading doctrines of Christianity he regards with reverence."

There was also read a letter from Mr Leslie to a friend, of date, February