Letter

Scope and Content

From [Mr Slaughter] to [John F]etcher]. Slaughter had no design in his visit on Tuesday evening to enter into any dispute ‘but only to vindicate myself from slander and misrepresentation and to declare that in a late sermon you had charged us with holding and teaching a doctrine that we abhor and detest; and I do here solemnly declare that I never had in my whole life any dispute with either Papist or Protestant upon the subject of Justification, till I heard several people in the neighbourhood complain either to me or in my hearing, that you in your sermons entirely excluded good works in the Article of Salvation. I will give an instance of one who was very much inclined to be your friend and join you in bringing about a reformation of manners in the neighbourhood, I mean the late Mr Serjt[?] Hayward, who complained of the broaching of the above mentioned doctrine in the hearing of a gentleman of this parish, who is your constant follower, to whom I appeal for the truth of what I say. For my own part I never said anything worse upon hearing the above mentioned complaints than "that your audience must certainly misunderstand your true meaning”.

But to cut the matter in dispute to short… place your terms of justification where you please, for my part I shall always think it a dangerous doctrine, that salvation is to be obtained by faith alone because St Paul includes charity. To this you will answer "that it must be a faith working by love " – what is this more than wrangling[?] upon words and acknowledging works to be necessary[?]. [The words that appear in italics are inserted below the line in the original and it is unclear to where they belong in the passage.] The two precepts of charity being the love of God above all things and our neighbours as ourselves. But as I am afraid that none of us are without sin, I shall (with the current testimony of the Old and New Testament) make bold to include REPENTANCE as an absolute requisite to SALVATION.

As you were pleased to mention in your sermon… that excluding "the merits of Christ and trusting to their own works was a doctrine too often taught by Protestants also”, I answer that the Protestants never learned that doctrine from the Catholics, and if any of the Madeley Protestants hold that doctrine it lies upon them to name the Catholic that has endeavoured to pervert them to the belief of so damnable a tenet, or upon you Sir to make some reparation for the injustice you have done to a set of people who desire nothing more than to serve Almighty God… by charging them with holding a doctrine that they hate, abhor and detest.

But as you thought proper to turn the discourse of Tuesday evening to more genial topics than I designed and was pleased to favour me with a kind of threat by saying, "That what I had said, I should hear of hereafter”, and telling your audience that had cursed[?] the Pope, the Council of Trent and the whole Church of Rome, in saying what I did relating to images.

Now Sir, be pleased to read what follows and you will find great store of the same sort of weapons put into your hands by me against myself, which if you please, you may transmit to the Pope and whole College of Cardinals…’

There follows a long list of curses from the bible, eg ‘Cursed is he that worships any brazen God…’. Many of these have anti-Catholic slant.

[Written in the margin of the document in a different hand is the following comment:] ‘The words mentioned a [in] the dispute between Mr Slaughter and the Vicar of Madeley by the first were cursed is every one that boweth down to an image.’