Bp. Beilby Porteus

James Beattie to Beilby Porteus, 4 August 1774; Forbes, Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 1:359-60.

My religious opinions would no doubt, if I were to declare them, sufficiently account for, and vindicate, my becoming a member of the Church of England: and I flatter myself, that my studies, way of life, and habits of thinking, have always been such as would not disqualify me for an Ecclesiastical profession. If I were to become a clergyman, the Church of England would certainly be my choice; as I think, that, in regard to church-government, and church-service, it has many great and peculiar advantages. And I am so far from having any natural disinclination to holy orders, that I have several times, at different periods of my life, been disposed to enter into them, and have directed my studies accordingly. Various accidents, however, prevented me; some of them pretty remarkable, and such as I think I might, without presumption, ascribe to a particular interposition of providence.

The offer, now made me, is great and generous beyond all expectation. I am well aware of all the advantages and honours that would attend my accepting, and yet, I find myself obliged, in conscience, to decline it.