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From the Accession of George the Third, to the Year
One Thousand Eight Hundred and Eight.
AN ACCOUNT, OF NEW SECTS WHICH AROSE DUR
ING THIS PERIOD, THEIR DISTINGUISHING
Irit is painful to observe that the diversities of human opinion, perpetually increasing the number of sects, render it necessary to devote a chapter to their rise in every division of our history; it affords some consolation to reflect that we have now to notice but two new denominations, a smaller number than have been recorded in either of the former periods. The divi. sion which took place among the Wesleyan methodists after the death of their founder, has indeed produced what is called the methodist new connexion; but the formation of a separate body being attended with little or no change in doctrine, discipline, spirit, or practice demands no distinct section. This chapter, therefore, will only contain an account of the Sandemanians and Swedenborgians.
It has fallen to the lot of the loudest declaimer against popular ministers, to acquire so much popu. larity as to found a sect, which by wearing his name perpetuates his celebrity. But those congregations which in England are known by the denomination of Sandemanians, from Robert Sandeman, to whose labours they owe their existence, are in Scotland called independents, or Glasites, John Glas having several years before laid the foundation of the sect in the north. Accident, however, or the irresistible custom of society, rather than the vanity of the founders, gave these personal names to a commu. nion, whose members prefer that of Christians or disciples to any other denomination.
The difficulty of exhibiting a correct, instructive statement of the peculiar sentiments of a religious sect, is felt with peculiar force, when the Sandema. pians are to be held up to public view ; for the differences which separate them from other Christians are in many instances so subtile as to be invisible to ordinary sight. In Scotland the Glasites were at first regarded, not without reason, as a species of independents, who differed from those in England, only in the date and country of their origin, and in the degree of importance which a new sect naturally attaches to its peculiarities. But when, instead of forming a federal union with the independents in England, they erected new churches among them, not only distinct, but alien from all others, it became manifest that their separation from the Scotch estab, Jishment was produced by other causes than a disa approbation of presbyterian principles.
They are, however, as well as the baptists, strictly independents. The sentiments of Dr. Owen, the most celebrated defender of that denomination, 'were adopted by Glas, and given in a new form, without due acknowledgement, in his." Testimony of the King of the Martyrs.” . It is remarkable, too, that as the articles of the church of England are quoted by English independents, in defence of congregational churches, so Mr. Glas appeals to the Scotch confession of faith in support of his independent principles. « Our reformers taking their notions of the church only from the word of God, acknowledge no other church of Christ besides the universal, but congregations; as is to be seen in the Scotch confession of faith, article eighteenth, where we have these words: “ Wheresoever then these former notes! are seen, and of any time continue (be the number never so few, about two or three), there, without all doubt, is the true church of Christ, who according to his promise; is in the midst of them; not that universal, of which we have before spoken, but particular, such as were in Corinthus, Galatia, Ephesus, and other places, where the ministry was planted by Paul, and were of himself named the churches of God; and such churches we, the inhabitants of the realm of Scotland, professors of Christ Jesus, have in our towns and places reformed".”.
I These notes are, 1. The true preaching of the word of God; 2. The right administration of the sacraments of Christ Jesus; 3, Ecclesiastical discipline, uprightly administered as God's Word prescribes. m Glas's Works, vol. I. p. 169. ..
Maintaining these sentiments of the first congregational churches with peculiar ardour, and condemning with equal severity all national establishments of religion, as essentially hostile to the kingdom of Christ, the Glasites were, from their origin, known by the appellation of Scotchi independents".
Upon their system of discipline they engrafted some doctrinal peculiarities, which have rendered them like the Ishmaelites, men of war, every where dwelling in the presence of enemies, their hand against every man and every mans hand against them. It was not, indeed, by departing from the orthodox creed, on the subject of the Trinity, the person of Christ, the mode of acceptance with God, or the doctrine of salvation by grace, that they differed from the original independents; for on all these points they are zealously calvinistical. The abstract nature of faith, was the apple of discord, which separated them from those with whom they agreed in the grand outlines of doctrine and discipline. The wisdom which inspired the Scriptures had framed no technical definition of faith, contented with giving such devotional and practical statements of every doctrine and every grace, as should most effectually answer the purposes both of information and utility. But the founders of the Sandemanian system, conceiving that they had detected errors in the prevalent opinion, at once defined faith to be " a mere belief of the truth," and pronounced all who supposed it to include any approbation of heart, enemies to the grace of the Gospel. The sole requisite to justification, or acceptance with God, says Mr. Sande.nan, is the work finished by Christ in
* The Encyclopædia Britannica, in the article Independents, confounds them with the Sandemanians or Glasites,
bis death, proved by his resurrection to be all sufficient to justify the guilty, that the whole benefit of this event is conveyed to men only by the apostolic report concerning it, that every one who understands this report to be true, or is persuaded that the event actually happened as testified by the apostles, is justified, and finds relief to his guilty conscience, not by finding any favourable symptom about his heart, but by finding their report to be true; that the event itself which is reported becomes his relief, so soon as it stands true in his mind, and accordingly becomes his faith.” . While the Sandemanians refuse to hold communion with any who do not perfectly agree with them in maintaining the sovereign election of grace, and the sufficiency of Christ's righteousness to justify the most guilty who credit the testimony of the Gospel, they are far from approving of the antinomian tenet, that believers are under no obligations of duty or obedience. On the contrary, they are distinguished by the strenuousness with which they insist on the necessity of keeping the ordinances and commands of Jesus Christ, in order to entitle any one to the privileges and esteem of a Christian. Together with the propriety of practising the forbearance enjoined by the Redeemer in private offences among the members of a church, they maintain also the necessity of putting away at once those who fall into gross sin. An excommunicated member may be restored on profession of repentance; but should he again relapse into sin, so as to be a second time excommunicated, he would be restored no more; as they say that the Scriptures, the only guide in ecclesiastical affairs, give no sanc. tion to any second restoration, nor could we have better evidence of repentance than that which we