If I had believed Christianity to be false, no worldly considerations whatever could have induced me to have wrote so much to make the world believe that it is true. And if it be true, it is not an indifferent matter whether men receive or reject it. As for my own part, I have studied the books of Scripture, and more especially the New Testament, for above thirty years. From thence I have taken my notions of Christianity, and of the evidence of it. I have read the objections of the infidels, and have found that their acquaintance with the Scriptures is but very superficial; that they have no steady principles of their own; and that their design is to pull down Christianity, without giving the world any other scheme of religion or morals instead of it. I am, indeed, convinced  that the anti-revelationists are, in general, unfair writers, and have no good views; yet I am very thankful that this controversy has broke out and been carried on to such a length in my time; because I should otherwise never have seen the objections placed in so strong a light, nor cleared up so fully, and to such rational satisfaction. I should never have understood my Bible so well; never have seen the arguments for the divine original of it placed in such a variety of views; nor have apprehended the evidences to have been so very strong, extensive, and numerous. I have with great pleasure observed, that many things against which the enemies of Revelation have objected, have, upon a more narrow inspection, turned out beauties instead of blemishes, and arguments in favour of Christianity instead of objections against it. And I am not without hope, that the writers who have of late so openly and in such great numbers appeared against revelation, are paving the way for a more general and extensive spread of it. For if Christians of different denominations would but give up what they cannot rationally defend, and return to the Scriptures as the sole standard of revealed religion, then would Christianity, pure uncorrupted Christianity, appear in its genuine simplicity and native excellence. Jews, Heathens, and Mahometans, would be struck with the amiable nature and abundant evidence of it, and well-minded Deists be induced to admire and embrace it. After repeated examination, I am persuaded that the Christian religion, as it lies uncorrupted in the Scriptures, is of divine original. And the  more I have examined into the nature and evidence of it, the more I am convinced of the divine mission of Jesus and of the truth of the Gospel.In 1740, Mr. Benson was chosen pastor of the congregation of Protestant Dissenters in Crutched Friars, on the death of Dr. William Harris, in which situation he remained for the rest of his active life. For some years (as has already been stated) he was associated in this charge with the celebrated Dr. Lardner, until that eminent theologian and true Christian was induced by his increasing deafness and other infirmities, which, in his opinion, incapacitated him for the service of the public congregation, to withdraw from the pulpit, and devote himself entirely to those labours of the study and of the pen, in the results of which the Christian world has so largely partaken, and will ever continue to partake. Both during their official connexion, and ever after, these two eminent men continued in the greatest harmony and friendship, notwithstanding a slight difference in their views on some minor points of theological criticism, as well as on some doctrinal questions; Benson being an Arian, while Lardner was a believer in the simple humanity of Christ. By their friendly communication they mutually contributed to the improvement of each other's productions; and it is stated by our author's biographer, Dr. Amory, that, if the correspondence between them upon these subjects were published, the freedom and politeness with which they debated several points wherein they differed, would prove a good specimen of the proper spirit and manner of conducting such discussions.  They were neither of them bound by any pledge to abide by the dogmas or to support at all hazards the interests of any sect or party, and had no personal views of their own which could be forwarded by their espousing one side rather than the other of any controverted questions; or, if they had, their minds were superior to all such unworthy considerations. Truth, and truth only, was the object of their joint pursuit; and they were happily exempted from the influence of all temptations which worldly interests of any kind might have thrown in their way to hesitate in following her footsteps wherever they appeared to lead. These are privileges cheaply purchased by an exclusion from the emoluments and honours of the establishment, or from that sort of popularity which can be acquired by going along with the multitude. Those who succeed them in the privileges as well as the privations (so far as any minor inconveniences they are exposed to deserve that name) of this lot, will, we trust, ever shew themselves ready to meet the one, and avail themselves of the other, in the same honest, manly, and independent spirit; improving both, so as to render them instrumental to their progress in religious knowledge and all other graces of the Christian character. Whatever difficulties or discouragements in other ways they may have to encounter, may they ever be thankful to a kind Providence, which has protected them from many snares and perils with which others have to contend in the full exercise of that liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free! In 1742, Mr. Benson was a second time married,  to Mary, daughter of Mr. William Kettle, of Birmingham; at which place he some time afterwards declined an invitation to settle, as colleague with Mr. Bourn in the pastoral charge of the ‘New Meeting,’ since served by Priestley, Toulmin, and other eminent men. In 1743 appeared ‘The Reasonableness of Christianity, as delivered in the Scriptures.’ The more immediate object of this work was to refute a well-known deistical publication which was then recent, entitled ‘Christianity not founded on Argument;’ the writer of which had somewhat insidiously taken advantage of the disposition of some advocates of revelation to decry reason altogether in matters of religion, and to consider it as exclusively addressed to the affections and feelings. The fair inference from which seemed to be, that the Gospel, which did not address itself to the understanding, was unfit to stand in an appeal to the tribunal of reason, or to endure the test of a rigid and impartial examination. This treatise is drawn up in the form of dialogue, and the argument on the side of revelation is, on the whole, ably and well managed, though it is certainly open to the usual objection to controversial works written on this plan, that the opponent is too commonly a mere man of straw, and is very far from giving such a view of his own case as any real opponent would be satisfied with. All readers, except the most careless or prejudiced, are sure to be struck with this; and the consequence of such one-sided ex parte statements is apt to be a reaction in the mind of the reader, who has no means of rightly estimating how much of the real strength of the opponent's  cause is kept back by his not having an opportunity of actually answering for himself. No man, however honest or candid, can be relied upon for giving such an account of the arguments which do not convince himself, as will or ought to satisfy either an opponent or the public. In 1746, Mr. Benson received the degree of D. D. from the University of Aberdeen, which at that period, apparently in part through the influence of Mr. David Fordyce, shewed a frequent disposition to bestow this academical compliment on the leading divines of the liberal school among the English dissenters. It appears, from a letter written to Dr. Benson by Mr. Fordyce, that there had been a design to send him a diploma from the University of Glasgow; (his own Alma Mater;) but an opposition was made to this, because some persons there considered him as unsound; and one of the members of the university, when the scheme was mentioned, ‘spoke of him with abhorrence as an avowed Socinian.’ This was a mistake; for Dr. Benson never went beyond Arianism: but theological calumniators, when their object is to excite prejudice, are ready enough to select the epithet which appears best suited for their purpose, without being over-nice in their inquiries about its correctness. The success which had attended our author's labours on St. Paul's Epistles, and the favourable reception they had met with from the learned world, encouraged him to proceed in applying the same method to the seven commonly called Catholic Epistles. His commentaries on these appeared at different periods between the years 1738 and 1749. The paraphrase and notes are framed on  the same plan as before; and several valuable critical dissertations are added, particularly an Essay to reconcile the doctrine of the Apostles Paul and James on the subject of Justification by Faith; in which he shews that, by ‘the works of the law,’ St. Paul meant the ritual law of Moses, by the most diligent and scrupulous observance of which he declares that no flesh living can be justified. The subjects of the other dissertations are, an examination of what is meant by Christ's preaching to the spirits in prison (1 Peter III. 19); on the text of the three heavenly witnesses (1 John, v. 7); and on the distinction between the sin unto death and the sin not unto death (1 John v. 16). This work was also well received, and a second edition of the whole appeared in 1756, with some additional dissertations. His valuable contributions to sacred literature procured for our author the friendship and esteem of many persons of the highest eminence in the Established Church as well as among the Dissenters. On the Continent also they enjoyed a high reputation; and the Exposition of St. James's Epistle had the honour of being translated into Latin by the celebrated J. D. Michaelis, who had proposed to translate the entire work, but was prevented by other engagements. These extensive critical labours on the Christian Scriptures did not prevent Dr. Benson from devoting himself diligently to the performance of his duties as a preacher and pastor. On the contrary, circumstanced as he was, we may naturally conclude that the two occupations would materially favour and facilitate each other. The scripture critic, who is at the same time engaged in  the important office of a Christian minister, will be less in danger of pursuing his work, as some may perhaps have done, merely as a business of scholarship and literary research; while, earnestly desirous to bring all the aids of learning and critical acuteness which he can command to illustrate its beauties, enforce its arguments, trace its allusions, and explain its occasional obscurities, he will ever remember that the main end and purpose of his labour in commenting on the word of God, is to promote its practical efficacy in improving the hearts and lives of those to whom it is addressed. On the other hand, in common with many others who have enjoyed similar advantages, Dr. Benson was, happily, under no temptation to abandon the character of a critic and theologian in his preparation for the pulpit; to keep back from his people the result of his inquiries in the closet, or to veil them, as some have done, in obscure and ambiguous language, in order to maintain a delusive reputation for what is called orthodoxy. As he had laid himself under no obligations to adhere through life to a certain specified formula of man's construction, so his hearers were ready to grant him the liberty which they used themselves, and to receive with candour his unreserved communications of what appeared to him to be the truth as it is in Jesus. Of Dr. Benson's manner as a preacher, his biographers have left us no account. The character of his style in his other compositions, correct and perspicuous, but perfectly plain, and devoid of studied ornament or appeals to the passions, leads us to conclude that he did not aim at the reputation of a popular preacher; and his congregation  was small, though select and highly intelligent. ‘His natural temper (says Dr. Amory) prevented his excelling in a warm and pathetic address to the passions of his hearers. But this he endeavoured to compensate by the evidence and seriousness with which he recommended, from the Scriptures, universal piety, righteousness, and holiness of heart and life, and the necessity of acquiring and practising these; shewing the danger of trusting to any other expedients for obtaining the favour of God, and the blessedness of heaven, without personal holiness and obedience. A method of preaching not improper for convincing, converting, and edifying the hearers, especially when enforced by a suitable practice.’ (Memoir, p. XIII.) In 1747, Dr. Benson printed a volume of ‘Sermons on several important Subjects.’ A letter which he received from Dr. Herring, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, in acknowledgment of a presentation copy, accompanied with congratulations on his recent elevation to the primacy, has been preserved, and merits insertion, as a model of that liberal and truly Christian spirit which we could wish to find in all stations, and more especially in one of such high dignity and extensive influence.
Another letter, in the same spirit, from the author's namesake, Dr. Benson, Bishop of Gloucester, is given by Dr. Amory, and is inserted here, as illustrating the sort of intercourse which was then permitted between church dignitaries and dissenting ministers of eminence.
We may add to the author's friends and occasional correspondents among distinguished churchmen, Hoadley, Butler, and Law,—names which may rather be said to confer honour on the elevated stations to which they were raised, than to receive honour from them. In the list of subscribers to Dr. Benson's posthumous History of the Life of Christ, we also observe the Bishops of Lichfield and Worcester; Shute Barrington, afterwards Bishop of Durham; Newcome, then Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford, afterwards  Archbishop of Armagh; figuring along with Lardner, Fleming, Kippis, Price, and many other ‘Reverends by courtesy’ of that day, but as good bishops as themselves notwithstanding. When, however, we contrast these things with the strange outcry which has recently been excited, when two bishops subscribed to a volume of sermons published by a Unitarian minister, we are constrained to acknowledge our apprehension that, in some respects, the former times were better than these. In the year 1754, Dr. Benson published a Summary of the Evidences of Christ's Resurrection, in which he reduces the accounts given by the four Evangelists into one harmonized narrative; and examines, with great ability and acuteness, the objections which have been proposed by unbelievers against this part of the Gospel history. In particular, he illustrates very satisfactorily the important inference from the diversity of these narratives, that it clearly appears from hence that we cannot have here a concerted story, but the testimony of four really independent witnesses, who relate the event as such witnesses may be expected to do, dwelling more particularly some upon one portion of the history, some upon another, while circumstances minutely related by one are altogether passed over by the rest. It is well known that this is a subject which has exercised the ingenuity of various writers, who have adopted different hypotheses, some more, some less probable. Dr. Benson's mode of combining the accounts proceeds on the supposition that Mary Magdalene and the other women, after going together to the sepulchre the  first time, very early in the morning, separated on their return after seeing the angels and the stone rolled away from the mouth of the sepulchre; that Mary Magdalene went to inform Peter and John, while the other women announced what had happened to the rest of the apostles;— and that, afterwards, both parties again visited the sepulchre, at which time they had their respective interviews with our Lord. The Monthly Reviewers characterize this tract, in their notice of its first appearance, in the following terms:— ‘The reader will here find a more clear and satisfactory view of this subject, and that in a much narrower compass than is any where else to be met with.’ Dr. Benson's station and well-deserved eminence and reputation, both as a divine and a man of letters, not only afforded him an opportunity of enjoying for himself the full practical benefit of religious liberty and free inquiry, but enabled him to encourage and assist young aspirants in the same honourable course, especially when labouring under difficulties arising from the opposition or jealousy of persons with less enlarged and liberal views. Several of those who in a later age became eminent lights of the church, had to acknowledge the kindness and assistance of Dr. Benson, as in other ways, so likewise in the direction of their private studies. For several years he had one or more residing with him, who, having finished their university or academical education, were desirous of obtaining, under his direction, a more critical acquaintance with the sacred writings. One of these was the wellknown Dr. Macknight, author of a Harmony of  the Gospels, a New Translation of the Epistles, &c. Another, less known to fame, but not less worthy, though the shortness of his mortal career did not afford him the opportunity of acquiring such extensive reputation, was Mr. John Alexander, of Birmingham, who is mentioned by Dr. Priestley, in his Memoirs, as his favourite fellow student, and a young man of very high and distinguished attainments. He died in 1765, in the 30th year of his age. He published nothing in his lifetime, except a few contributions to the periodicals of the day; but he left behind him a very valuable Paraphrase on the fifteenth Chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, which, with some other pieces, was published after his death by the Rev. John Palmer. During the latter years of his life, Dr. Benson appeared less frequently before the public. Indeed, his health was latterly much impaired; and he found it necessary; at length, to quit the public exercise of the ministry in the beginning of the year 1762. It was the hope of his friends that his life might have been prolonged in a peaceful retirement for the further prosecution of his theological pursuits and the pleasing intercourse of society. But his strength declined rapidly, and on the 6th of April, 1762, in the sixty-third year of his age, he was called away from the scene of his earthly labours. Dr. Benson was not a man of brilliant genius, but of sound learning, unwearied diligence, and a truly liberal, enlightened, and Christian spirit. He was a thoroughly consistent Protestant dissenter, on the only grounds on which either Protestantism or Dissent can be successfully vindicated,  namely, the sole authority of Christ as head over all things to his church, the sufficiency of the scriptures as a rule of faith, and the right of individual inquiry and judgment. This right he claimed for himself, and was ever ready to concede to others. ‘As a minister of the Gospel of Christ,3 he studied the scriptures with indefatigable attention, and explained them with freedom and impartiality. As a friend, he always exercised to others what he expected from them—a generous plainness and freedom, void of all dissimulation and hypocrisy. While he was candid to the opinions of others, he was stedfast in his own, for he entertained no sentiments which had not cost him a long and conscientious examination. As a preacher, he preferred those points in which all Christians agree before those in which they differ; and instead of urging matters of doubtful disputation, he enforced the grand duties of practical religion, as being of absolute and eternal importance.’ Dr. Benson left in manuscript a History of the Life of Jesus Christ, taken from the New Testament; with Observations and Reflections proper to illustrate the excellence of his character, and the divinity of his mission and religion. This work was published by subscription after his death, in one large volume in 4to. Though, perhaps, in some places unnecessarily diffuse, and containing some doctrinal views which are open to objection, it forms, on the whole, a very valuable contribution to our stock of practical divinity. The reflections are chiefly of a popular cast, and  well adapted, for the most part, to suggest the most desirable practical improvement to be derived from meditating on the events of our Lord's life, and the leading features of his character. They also furnish satisfactory answers to many of the most plausible and frequently urged objections which are likely to fall in the way of the general reader. In this point of view, the chapter on miracles, and that on the resurrection, which is a reprint of the dissertation already mentioned, are particularly valuable and judicious. To this volume is prefixed a memoir of the author, by Dr. Amory, the editor, from which the materials of the preceding article have been chiefly derived.