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HISTORY OF THE CONFERENCE
AT SALTERS HALL, ON THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, in 1719.
As the present year is the first the west country. The Aame of centenary of an event of great angry contention first broke out importance in the annals of Non- at Exeter, in 1718-19, among the conformity, it may not be im Presbyterian body in that city. proper to present our readers There were three united congrewith a succinct account of a con- gations, and four ministers, viz. ference, which has been render the Rev. Messrs. Withers, ed memorable by the baneful Joseph Hallet, James Pierce, and influence it has produced in the John Lavington. The labours of denomination, the most distin- these ministers, says Mr. Pierce, guished at that time among Pro- were well accepted, until the testant Dissenters;--the ENG- controversy arose about the exLISH PRESBYTERIANS.
plication of the doctrine of the Salters’-hall Meeting-house, be- Trinity.* For the sake of imparlonging to the Presbyterians, is tiality, the account shall be given situated in Salters’-hall-court, in his words. “The gentlemen,” Cannon-street, London. At the says he, “who used to manage the period above referred to, the temporal affairs of the congregaRev. W. Tong, an eminent mi- tion, were pleased, some time nister, was the pastor of the ago, to send for seven minis. church. The present ministers | ters in the country, and desire are the Rev. W. B. Collyer, D.D. their advice. These were the and the Rev. Henry Lacey. They reverend persons following:are both of the Independent de Messrs. Ball of Honiton, Horsham nomination; the former being of Topsham, Hall and Moore of pastor of a church at Peckham, Tiverton, Waldrond of Ottery, and the other of a church at Eveleigh of Crediton, and ManPlaistow.
ston of Lympstone. None of the The cause of the conference ejected ministers' side were adalluded to, was the revival of the vised with, or knew any thing of Arian heresy in England, at the their being sent for, till they beginning of the eighteenth cen- came, being men picked out as fit tury, by the writings of Emlyn, for the purpose. Had an equal Clark, and Whiston. These number been chosen
on both principles were very zealously and successfully propagated in * Case of the Ministers ejected, p. 6.
sides, some good might have I urged them not to be hasty, been expected.—But these mi- telling them, there were heads of nisters, who were really parties advice under the consideration in the controversy, pursued no of the whole body of the London designs for peace. The paper ministers, which were shortly exof advice they drew up, was not pected, and might be the means drawn up, after a hearing of us of healing us. They answered, [Mr. Pierce and Mr. Hallet), nor they had nothing to do with was it communicated by them to them; nor would they wait for us, but accidentally fell into our them; those advices not being hands while they were scattering the advices of the Presbyterian it about the country in a circular ministers; but the addition of letter. Nay, though I insisted the Anabaptists to one side made upon it to three of them, that a majority: though I am since they should give no advice re- | informed they were divided, as lating to me, without first hearing well as the other denominations, what I had to say; yet did they ten on the one side and nine on never give us a hearing.
the other. “We thought they had no “ I desired that we might have more right to draw up tests for us time to give our answer; but was than
had for them; and leave told we must do it presently. it for God and the world to judge, Mr. H. told them, he heard there whether they have acted' a chris- was in the press a book written tian and brotherly part in what by four eminent ministers in Lonthey have done against us.
don, and desired that we might «Wednesday, March 4, they see whether that which was came hither the second time; and shortly expected 'would satisfy the next day the four ministers us. * Nothing of this nature availwere desired to meet the gentle- eth. There was no attempt made men; which accordingly they to charge us with denying the did. Then the paper the seven true and proper Divinity of the had drawn up and subscribed Son of God, even in the true was read to us, which shall here- sense of the article; so that we after be published at large. "It had not fair dealing in that reconsisted of three articles, the spect. For here was nothing second of which was
laid to our charge, supported by were urged with, and was this: witnesses: 'butan inquisition That the denying the true and was as truly set up, to rack our proper Divinity of the Son of consciences, and search out the God, viz. that he is one God with secret sense of our minds, as
the Father, is an error of that ever there was in Spain or Pornature, [that is, an error which tugal. I challenged 'then thus: is a sufficient foundation for the Gentlemen, is there any single people to withdraw from the expression you can any of you communion of their ministers charge me with using, either in holding it,] contrary to the doc- praying or preaching, that has trine of the holy scriptures, and been disagreeable to the scripthe common faith of the reformed churches.
* This was afterwards published, en“ Then was it put to us, whe- titled "The Doctrine of the ever-blessed ther we owned that the Son of Rev. "Messrs. Tong. Robinson, Smith,
Trinity stated and defended," by the God was one God with the Father. and Reynolds.
tures ? No one offering to allege place, offered them this explicaany, I added, " Then, gentle-tion in the words of Bishop Pearmen,
I take you to record, that son,'. Though the Father and the you have no such to accuse me Son are two distinct persons, yet of To which I was answered since the Son is of and from the by one of them : Stop there, we Father, as the fountain of the do not say so. Then said I, I Deity, and intimately united with desire to know what it is, that I him, I conceive, in this sense, he may clear myself. All the an- may be said to be one with the swer to which was, That they Father.' This would not be acdid not come prepared for that. cepted; and so they said they I cannot but think this was dis- were for withdrawing from us, but ingenuous. To deal thus with a were for parting amicably. I told man, is to wound his reputation, | them, they knew I had several without giving him room to vin. times declared, that in case they dicate himself, let him be ever could heal the breach, and conso innocent; which is the worst tinue to hold communion with sort of calumniating.
one another, 'I should be very "I then told them, as to their glad to be laid aside, if that articles I would own that Christ would be the means to make and the Father were one,
because peace; and that I continued in he said so.
They asked if I the same mind still. And I said would own they were one God?
m; Gentlemen, you see I I answered, “If they would turn cannot do what 'yon
desire; is me to the text where it was said there any thing I can do beside, so, I would own it:' but I had that will be of service to the over and over declared, I would peace of the church ?!! But I subscribe no religious tests at all had no answer. There were seve that were not expressed in scrip-ral of them which were much more ture words : that if they made it modest than the rest, and would a religious test that three and two have been glad if counsels
' of make five, I would refuse to sub. peace had been followed And scribe. And I' gave this reason when we got up to go away, I for my stiffness : • That I verily said to one who I saw was trou. believed that the worst mischief bled, Sir, I put it to you ; Do had been done to the church of you believe that the gentlemen God by imposing unscriptural [the seven ministers] who drew creeds, or tests, upon men; and this paper, did it with a design that now God had stirred up a to heal?' He would not say so ; noble spirit in men, in whom we but answered, “ He believed they little expected it, to plead against did it with a design for the glory impositions; and therefore I could of God. He desired us then not in conscience give up the li- not to depart, but let them withberty they were so bravely de- draw and consult. We staid fending. They said, Then they some time, and then one of them had my answer. Mr. Hallet then returned, " and brought us this next refused in like manner to civil answer (though some of them give his assent. Theu Mr. John declare they knew not of it), Lavington, who had as great a " That if we had no more to say hand in kindling the flame as any to the gentlemen, they had no man, roundly gave his assent. more to say to us;" and so we And Mr. Withers, in the last parted.”
From this time Mr. Pierce and land. Nor can we in conscience Mr. Hallet were prevented from join with those ministers who preaching in their usual place of decline to defend those truths worship; but were told they (though requested to do so) when might preach" at the little meet- they are openly attacked; but ing; and Mr. Withers, who had rather countenance and encounow offered farther to subscribe rage the advances of those errors, the Nicene creed, might preach by declaring for a SUBORDINAat that near the Bow."*
TION, &c. The gentlemen who composed “ Upon all occasions we are the managing committee, pub- ready to demonstrate a Christian lished "An Answer to Mr. Pierce's temper to those who differ from State of the Case;" to which Mr. us, and to maintain a brotherly Pierce published a reply, entitled love towards them. As we are “ The State of the Case defend- not for imposing our sentiments, ed.” Some other pamphlets were on them, or persecuting them in published at Exeter, * Arius de- any respect for what opinions tected and confuted,” and “ The THEY may hold; so we only Innocent vindicated.”
insist on our own liberty of worThat our readers may have the shipping God agreeably to our whole case at Exeter before them, consciences, and of hearing those the statement of the committee ministers, who will preach and must also be presented. They defend the faith which we have
“ The violence and artifice received, and which we think wherewith the attempts made most agreeable to the word of against the ever blessed TRINITY God.”—Signed, were carried on, and the strange James White John Stephens progress it had of late made, B. Brindley John Vowles especially among the youth here, Anth. Vicary Edm. Cock necessitated us to proceed with S. Munckley Mark Burridg that expedition to prevent many Fran. Lydston H. Waldrond ill consequences that we were in T. Jeffery
John Pyon.t fear of Nor could we think it
While these things were transreasonable, that such as declined
acting at Exeter, the fame to declare their own faith, could
spread itself to London. The be supposed competent advisers
general body of London ministers,
consisting of Presbyterians, In“We assure you we have a dependents, and Baptists, bad hearty concern for the
of the churches, and for the repu- advice on this very important
been applied to from Exeter for tation of our ministers; but we subject. A committee of that dare not give up so great an ar
body drew up
“ Advices for proticle of our faith, as is that of
moting Peace," and a meeting the proper Deity of the Son and HOLY GHOST, which we appre- ters'-Hall Meeting, on February
was specially convened at Salhend fully held forth in the są. 19, 1718-19, to deliberate and cred scriptures, aş expressed in the fifth and sixth answers in the
agree upon these articles. The
assembly was numerous, and after Assembly's Catechism, or in the first article of the church of Eng
+ Letter from Exeter to the Rev.
Jeremiah Smith, and the subscribing * Case of Ministers, &c. p. 7-15.
the Rev. Joshua Oldfield, D.D. against perseeution, come up had been appointed Moderator, stairs !" To which another reit was agreed to proceed with the joined, “You that are for the discussion paragraph by, para- doctrine of the Trinity, stay begraph, without any division, or low!" The Rev. Thomas Bradany considerable appearance of bury, who had proposed this hands to the contrary.
measure, was hissed in the As. On Friday the 24th, was a se sembly; and though this indecent cond meeting, at which time the conduct was reproved, yet the names of all present were set person added, “ he hoped there down, and then called over, one would be no occasion for hissing.” by one; each denomination being Mr. Bradbury was understood by to approve or disapprove of such some to have said, “You that as were reported to belong to are for the doctrine of the Trinity, them ; and exceptions were als are desired to stay below; and lowed to be made against any you that are against it, to go up whose presence might be object into the gallery.” He, however, ed to. After this, matters were satisfied the Assembly that his debated for several hours, and at words were, “ You that are for last a question was agreed to be declaring your faith in the docput, for the decision of which a trine of the Trinity, if any are division was found necessary. above, you are desired to come This question was,
“ Whether a down; and those of you who are declaration concerning the Tri- not for declaring, are desired to nity, should not be inserted in go up.". After the confusion' the Paper of Advices ?”. Those was hushed, the Assembly dewho were against this declaration clared that Mr. Bradbury had being inserted, went into the gal- given them satisfaction; and lery, to the number of 57; those passed a vote, “ That in future who were for it staid below, no person be censured before he to the number of 53. Thus a be called upon to explain bimmajority of four appeared to self." carry the question in favour of The next meeting, March 3, the conduct of Messrs. Pierce and was opened by loud complaints Hallet.
by some of the majority, that On this occasion much warmth. they were under a charge without was manifested. One minister doors, as if they were against the
“ Whether they came doctrine of the Trinity. These there to be contradicted by were answered by others of the Anabaptist teachers ?" It was minority, that all ground of susreplied, " The persons they aim. picion might be removed, and at
not Anabaptist the world be satisfied, by the teachers, but Baptist ministers, Assembly making and subscribof which name they were not ing an immediate declaration of ashamed; but the former appel- their faith in the Holy Trinity, lation, denoted re-baptism, which they disowned.” As those mi- Mr. Bradbury was so provoked by the
* There is a traditionary report, that nisters who were against the de. indecent hissing which he received, that claration respecting the Trinity he tartly replied, "I have been pleading being introduced into the Arti- the cause of him who bruised the head cles, were going into the gallery, fore that the deed of the serpent should
of the serpent; it is not wonderful there. one cried out, “ You that are hiss!"