Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 31.djvu/171

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

was a ‘clever and plausible performance,’ ‘written in a spirit of affected friendship for presbyterians,’ but ‘full of unworthy insinuations and unfounded charges.’ It was immediately reprinted in London. Joseph Boyse replied on behalf of presbyterianism in his ‘Remarks’ on the ‘Discourse,’ which King immediately answered in ‘An Admonition to the Dissenting Inhabitants of the Diocese of Derry.’ King denied that he wished to stir up old animosities, and declared himself solely anxious to remove the objections of those who refused to attend the established church. Boyse's ‘Vindication’ of his ‘Remarks’ and King's ‘Second Admonition’ closed the controversy so far as the chief combatants were concerned. But King's strictures on the ignorance of many presbyterians as to their own creed and the inadequacy of the means provided for their religious instruction stimulated the presbyterians to new and effective exertions.

Meanwhile King sought more profitably to meet the religious requirements of a colony of Scottish highlanders who had recently settled in the barony of Inishowen by providing them with clergymen able to speak their own language, and at a later period he promoted the teaching of Irish at Trinity College. In the parliament of 1695 he supported the penal legislation against the Roman catholics, opposed the Toleration Bill, and was one of the seven bishops and seven lay lords who in 1697 protested against the act to confirm the Articles of Limerick. He strongly resented the growing interference of the English parliament in Irish affairs, and chiefly for this reason opposed the bill for the preservation of the king's person in 1697. He denounced, too, the taxation by parliament of the clergy without their consent, and strenuously urged the necessity of summoning convocation. King's private letters of the time of Queen Mary's death, 1694, reveal his deep sense of the prevailing laxity in matters of religion. A severe attack of gout in the spring of 1696 nearly proved fatal, and led to a rumour that he was dead.

With the work of his diocese King managed to combine the preparation of his magnum opus, ‘De Origine Mali,’ which was published in 1702 simultaneously in Dublin and London, with a dedication to Sir Robert Southwell. The work attempts, on a Lockean basis, to reconcile the existence of evil, and particularly of moral evil, with the idea of an omnipotent and beneficent deity. It attracted immediate attention on the continent, where it was favourably noticed in ‘Les Nouvelles de la République des Lettres’ (May and June 1703), at that time under the editorship of Jacques Bernard. The review was criticised by Bayle adversely to King in his ‘Réponse aux Questions d'un Provincial’ (chaps. lxxiv–xcii.) Bernard replied in ‘Nouvelles de la République,’ January 1706, and Bayle, having read King's book, made several new observations upon it, which were published after his death in ‘Réponse aux Questions d'un Provincial,’ vol. v. Leibnitz also published a criticism ‘Adnotationes in librum De Origine Mali haud ita pridem in Anglia evulgatum,’ which was mainly directed to a confutation of King's doctrine of free will (Opera, ed. L. Dutens, i. 430–69; also Lettre xvi. à M. Thos. Burnet, ib. vi. 285). And J. C. Wolff, in his work ‘Manichæismus ante Manichæos’ (Hamburg, 1707), devotes considerable space to King's arguments. In England the book appears to have been neglected till it was translated by Edmund Law, afterwards bishop of Carlisle, in 1729, and the translation probably suggested to Pope some of the ideas contained in his ‘Essay on Man.’

On 11 March 1702–3 King was by letters patent translated to the archbishopric of Dublin, in succession to Narcissus Marsh [q. v.] The appropriations and impropriations of ecclesiastical property in the diocese were very numerous, and King at once recognised how formidable an obstacle these would present to any attempt at reformation. In order the better to assert his authority in the matter, he therefore insisted on being enthroned by the dean and chapter of Christ Church, who alone appropriated twenty-seven parishes, many of them being not supplied at all, and most of them very indifferently. The dean and chapter refused to comply. King held a visitation, and in their absence pronounced sentence of contumacy against them. The case was transferred to England, and an inhibition was obtained against him in chancery. King thereupon appealed to the English House of Lords, and after much controversy the case was finally decided in 1724 in his favour. The dean and chapter then joined him in making provision for the cures dependent on them. Meanwhile King had been labouring successfully to promote the welfare of his diocese by building new and rebuilding old parish churches, by supplying them with capable clergymen, and by making better provision for their livelihood, partly by annexing the prebends of St. Patrick's as they fell vacant to the vicarages from which they had become separated, and partly by establishing a fund for the purchase of glebes and impropriate tithes. His endeavours to obtain for the church of Ireland the restoration of the first-fruits and twentieth parts brought him into close relationship with