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LTHOUGH the worship in this place is conducted on a plan very different to that which is practised in most Dissenting congregations ; yet, as the society belonging to it was constituted on the principles of religious liberty, and that grand article of Protestant dissent, the unlawfulness of requiring subscription to human articles of faith; and moreover, seeing it was first formed by persons who were in connexion with the church of England, but renounced her commmunion, and some of them her emoluments; we think it has a fair claim to a distinguished place in a history of Dissenting churches. The founder of this society was the Rev. Theophilus Lindsey, M. A. formerly a minister in the church of England, and beneficed at Catterick, in Yorkshire; but entertaining different views of certain doctrines from those enjoined him in the articles and liturgy of the church of England, he could no longer join in her public service, without violating his conscience. He, therefore, resigned his living, and at the same time his ministry in the national church, in the year 1779, and published an apology for his conduct. Several respectable clergymen followed Mr. Lindsey's exainple about the same time, by resigning their stations in the church.(D) Their objections were
(D) Among these we may reckon the late learned Dr. John Jebb, who left the church about the same time that Mr. Lindsey did, and after resigning his preferments in the church, devoted himself to the practice of physic.--Dr. William Robertson, whom Mr. Lindsey calls, “ the aged and venerable father of unitarian nonconformity of our days ;" * who died teacher of a free-school at Wolverhampton, in his 79th year, May 20,
Historical View of the Unitarian Doctrine, p. 477.
chiefly against the article of the Trinity, and those doctrines commonly known by the name of Calvinism. However widely we may differ from these gentlemen upon those points which were the immediate cause of their secession ; we cannot but highly applaud their conduct as a rare instance of integrity well worthy the imitation of all denominations of Christians. And we put it to the consciences of those gentlemen who continue to subscribe articles which they do not believe, how they can reconcile their conduct with the genius of Christianity, which requires truth in the inward parts; and with that common honesty which so essentially affects the morals of mankind. By the encouragement and assistance of several persons who were inimical to trinitarian forms of worship, Mr. Lindsey was enabled to provide a teniporary place of worship, which he opened April 17, 1774. Previously to this, he had received private letters from several persons then unknown, and applications from others, signifying their desire of becoming members of a society founded upon unitarian principles. By these gradual steps a society was formed; which being increased by the accession of others of the same sentiments, a more conve
1783.---Dr. William Chambers, rector of Achurch, in Northamptonshire.Mr. Tyrrwhit, of Jesus College, Cambridge. -Mr. Evanson, of Tewkes. bury.--Mr. Henry Maty, chaplain to Lord Surmont, the English Ambas. sador at Paris.--Mr. Harris, who resigned the living of Hanwood, in Shrop. shire, with two perpetual curacies: and John Disney, D.D. F. S. A. who relinquished the rectory of Panton, and vicarage of Swinderby, Lincolnshire. We have a more recent instance of the same upright conduct in the late pious and learned Mr. David Simpson, well known to the Chistian world for his many excellent writings. He was minister of the New Church at Macclesfield, in Cheshire, but, altering his sentiments with respect to the constitution of the church, which he thought corrupt, he determined to resign his situation in it, but so mysterious are the ways of Providence, only twelve hours before he was to have taken his farewell of his beloved people, this valuable man was called to the world of spirits, March 24, 1799. He left behind him an account of the rease ns of his conduct, which was published by his son ; annexed to his “ Plea for Religion, and the Sacred Writings."
nient place to meet in became necessary: and in the latter end of the year 1777, a purchase being made of the premises called Essex-House, (e) the present chapel was erected; and opened for public worship March 28, 1778. “The design of its first founders and benefactors (says Mr. Lindsey), was, as the disciples of Jesus Christ, and in conformity to his example and directions, to celebrate and perpetuate the worship of the one only God of the universe." Mr. Lindsey being incapacitated from preaching, on account of a disorder that affected his mouth, resigned the pastoral office in 1793, into the hands of his colleague, Dr. John Disney. In 1804, this gentleman also resigned his situation, and was succeeded by Mr. Belsham, from Hackney, who is the present minister. The congregation at this place is respectable and numerous. A liturgy is read, being the one altered by Dr. Clarke, with some further alterations by Mr. Lindsey, to render it better adapted to anti-trinitarian worship. The succession of ministers at this place is as follows:
(c) At the dissolution of the order of Knights Templars, that part of their lands which composed the OuterTemple, was bestowed on the Prior and Ca. nons Regular, of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, who disposed of them in 1324, to Walter, Bishop of Exeter, who erected thereon a stately edifice, as a city mansion for himself and his successors, which he called Exeter-House, This being afterwards alienated, came to the noble families of Paget and Leicester, and at last to that of Essex. It being afterwards pulled down, Essex-street was build upon the site.