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Account of fome late Proceedings in the
thren by the toleration act. Many who voted for the application little fufpected that the words" to take off the fubfcription," implied, or authorized the committee to put in a human fubfcription, in the new act they fought, and to be enforced with every penal law as the former. But the committee happened to have different ideas, and, accordingly, after a month's deliberation, they offered to the legislature, without once confulting their conftituents, fuch a declaration of faith as fuited themselves (the judicious Dr. Price excepted.) This declaration was propofed, however, in the name of all their brethren; and in a circular letter thro' the kingdom they proceeded fo far, as to tell the country minifters, that if the magiftrate required them to fubfcribe this new religious teft," they ought to do it."
Numbers wondered at the infatuation, precipitancy, and domination of the leaders in this momentous affair. The teft neceffarily divided the body of minifters. Some fecretly lamented, others openly oppofed, the meafures and the bill. The toleration fought was evidently partial.-The terms on which 'twas afked, dishonourable to Proteftant Dif. fenters, It threw them into the hands of the magiftrate, and tended to keep up the obnoxious diftinction of subscribers and non-fubfcribers-It ftill preferved in full force the cruel laws against the laft and thus many were left helpless and hopeless, expofed, by their own brethren, to poverty, imprisonment and ruin, at every informer's and magiftrate's pleasure. Other minifters condemned the mode adopted by the committee, thinking it to be levelled at the truth of the doctrines of the former teft; and if a test must be eftablished, they were for the old one.
The unhappy controverfy among the body in 1719, 1720, &c. feemed to be quite forgotten; when, manyof the most eminent minifters refused to fubfcribe what they verily believed to be important truths, judging the demand to be injurious to the rights of confcience, and an act of treason against Christ, the only head of the Chriftian Church. Mr. Pierce, of Exeter (who well understood the fubject of religious liberty, and fuffered much for it) told the chief fubfcribers to his fupport, (how much more would he the magi ftrate from whom he received nothing) "if they made it a religious teft that three and two made five, I would refufe to fubfcribe to it." The reafons he gave for his ftiffness, the prefent fubfcription committee will do well to confider-refute them they cannot; nor fhew where Chrift hath prescribed any fuch course as they took. They propofed a religious teft to be impofed by the magiftrate on themselves and their brethren; and fome of them, who had evenwritten against his authority in facris,
became zealous advocates for it, Neither the ftrong oppofition the bill met with in the general body of minifters, and from other quarters, nor its deferved fate in the House of Lords, fo far awakened them, as to fee and advance to the old,ftrong, and only tenable poft.
A fccond application was renewed in 1773, on the former ill chofen and very exceptionable ground; but that the committee might have lefs oppofition, they now included the old teft with the new one, in their bill, that minifters who came to the magiftrate to qualify might have the alternative of fubfcribing which they pleased. This mode of proceeding they chriftened, the common principle of liberty, and feriously faid to their country brethren, "this is thought to be fomething more expressive of our great principle.+" A large part of the general body ftill oppofed the committee's plan, and the more it was examined, the weakness of its friends became more expofed. It was demonftrated that the first principles of Proteftant Diffenters, and of Christianity,were abandoned by them; and that they were feeking the enlargement of their own legal fecurity, though no terror was near them, at the imminent peril of numbers of their brethren. A church adverfary acknowledged, "it was too little to ask." The very fame principles by which the committee juftified a conformity to their new religious fubfcription, were proved to be equally decifive for that already eftablished, and which they were chofen to remove; and the fame arguments which juftified punishing the difobedient in one cafe, were equally cogent in the other. Several minifters who were for the first application, to their honour nobly declared against the fecond; and befides the great numbers through the kingdom, most of the Effex minifters were firmly united in the great common principle of religious liberty, and declared against any application for relief clogged with a religious teft. The fecond bill was thrown out of the House of Lords, according to its defert, and the general expectation.
March 23, 1774, the general body again met, when it was agreed that the great object of the late applications to Parliament should not be given up-the oppofers of the former modes hoping that if the body were influenced to again apply, it would be for an effectual relief of ALL, and not as before, to leave hundreds of brethren, who underftood, and confcientiously adhered to their principles, exposed to penal laws by an act of their feeking: by a vote, the committee were alfo then refrained from proceeding in an application, till the body had determined on the mode. The "taking off the religious fubfcription, required by the toleration act," was now not thought fufficiently explicit, efpe
+ Mr. Pickard's Circular Letter of Feb
Letter to the diffenting minifters.
Body of London Diffenting Minifters.
Cially as, in the face of that refolution, the committee had propofed another fubfcription, as the condition of preaching the Gofpel of Christ, with fecurity from fines and imprifonment. The body met again, Nov. 30, to determine what fhould be the mode of proceeding in a future application, and after a debate of three hours, adjourned to Dec. 7; on which day, after another three hours debate about the common principle of liberty, not having yet difcovered it, they adjourned to the 11th of January, 1775.
The question was now acknowledged by even the Secretary of the fubfcription com mittee, in a pompous circular letter to the body," to involve in it the fafety of the prefent generation, and of generations yet unborn," and three days, with all the intervening time of adjournments, were fcarcely fufficient to determine what was firft refolved en in about an bour, and to settle a mode, which the committee thought themselves entitled to without their conftituents. At the opening of the firft of these three days debate, one of the confiftent friends of religious liberty moved,
"That any country brethren, who shall be willing to attend any meeting of the general body on the bufines of an application to Parliament, be permitted to attend to speak and vote on that bufinefs."
But although the minifters in the country were equally interested in the affair with thofe of London, the previous question was infifted on by fome of the committee, whether that queftion fhould be put or not; when, by the vote of a majority, the impartial and reafonable motion was difmiffed, and all the country brethren could obtain was, admiffion, but be
The two first days debate were cool and folid; Dr. Price and Mr. John Palmer difsinguished themselves, and did great homour to the cause of religious liberty: they lafhed round and round the miferable circle of their opponents occafional arguments and temporary expedients: invention was exhaufted, reafon fatigued, and experience, it might have been expected, would have given judgment; but predilection and felf-will were not to be conquered. The leaders of the late applications would not face about, nor ftop fhort and do no more. The difgrace of yielding, or retreating, was too much they chofe to continue in their fwamp, and the poor pretence of "getting what they could," made them continue the fight, for a phantom to themfelves, but a real Trojan berfe to all their non-fubfcribing brethren.
The third and laft day's debate was very unlike the two former; fo that fome prefent concluded, that the preceding calmness was a fineffe to foothe those who were against a religious fubfcription; but they adhered to their principles, whether men frowned or smiled: perfonal complaints and reproaches were utter
ed by fome, but the great pains which they themselves had been at (tho' happily unfuccefsful) to prejudice the characters of their brethren who acted on principle, and to inflame their friends against them, were forgotten. At laft, a queftion to this purport was moved for by the chairman of the committee,
That the committee renew their application to Parliament the firit favourable opportunity, on the former ground, PROVIDED it fhall appear to them that there is no probability of fuccefs without a declaration.
Another of the committee feconded it, and the brethren who had argued against the former ground, were now charged with doing it merely for the fake of oppofition; and that while they objected to one plan, they did not intend to propofe another. Dr. Mayo proved this charge to be groundlefs, as he had defired a fenior minifter to open the third day's debate with the following motion :
"That the mode of proceeding in a future application to Parliament for the relief of Proteftant Diffenting minifters, tutors, and schoolmasters, be for a teral repeal of the penal laws now exifting against them."
The gentleman declined the request, fearing it might be conftrued as feeking to haften on a decifive refolution, before the momentous affair was thoroughly difcuffed.Thus, the other motion was first made, which Dr. Mo wished might be withdrawn, for his, which was then read. He urged, that the former mode of proceeding was unfavourable to the cause of religious liberty, and the ground had been proved untenable and dangerous; that an application for the repeal of the penal laws against them, would prevent any farther debate on the authority of the magiftrate in facris, or refpecting religious doctrines and opinions; that it plainly appeared to be the only mode in which the body of city and country minifters could poffibly unite; a mode that would alfo produce a fair trial of our friends in Parliament, and of the good will of adminiftration towards Proteftant Diffenting minifters, with the affurance of which from two regium donum men, the first minute for the late applications was ushered into the body.
As the laft motion could not obtain admittance, the provifo in the chairman of the committee's motion was ftrongly objected to, as ufelefs, and calculated for a decoy the mover honourably declared, that he did not think himself or the committee obliged by it to carry in a bill to Parliament to try the probability of fuccefs without a decla ration; befides, the body muft know, that he had in a circular letter, dated May 22d, 1773, informed all the country minifters, in the joint names of the committee, that to apply without a declaration would not only be ineffectual, but defeat the whole defign." What the committee's whole d'fign was, they can best explain; but the whole defign of the
Defcription of the River Thames.
body of minifters fhould be "to obtain effectual relief for ALL," and not countenance fome to seek the enlargement of their own fecurity, and emoluments, at the peril of their brethren. This whole and only confiftent defign is entirely defeated, by applying with a declaration; furely, they who build their own toleration on what is fubverfive of the rights of human nature, the headship of Chrift, and the peace and safety of their Chriftian brethren, ought to confider whether they are confiftent Proteftant Diffenters, or do love their neighbour as themfelves.
Not being able to expunge the ufeless pro vifo, the words " to them" were strongly ob jected to, as devolving the whole on the committee, and precluding the body from exercifing any wildom, judgment, or authority in the affair. The following amendment was propofed, "Provided it shall appear to the general body, &c." inftead of "to them" (the committee). But numbers are oftentimes fuperior to arguments; the first question was repeatedly called for, and on a divifion thirty-three were for, fixteen against it. The interefting affair was thus decided, with only half the body of minifters prefent; of thofe who were abfent, fome of the most aged and refpectable were against the partial mode; and feveral who did attend met with fuch treatment, that it is expected they will no more give their opinion, advice, or pretence. Should the committee, however, apply
upon the former ground, a CASE is prepared
The Apostle Peter, because he was to be
P. S. Please to record the names of the
For the LONDON MAGAZINE.
A DESCRIPTION of the RIVER THAMES. HE THAMES (the rife and fource of which are fo accurately delineated in the annexed, expenfive engraving) is the principal river in Great Britain; and tho it is not to be compared for the length of its courfe to the Danube and Rhine, yet for its various windings it equals them in beauty, and for the excellency of its water, its navigableness for fhips of large burthen, and the vast riches conftantly paffing upon it, conveyed from all parts of the world, it far exceeds all rivers of the universe.
Its name is derived from the Thame and Ifis which join in one ftream at Dorchefter in Oxfordshire; from thence the united ftream continues its courfe, and is joined by feveral other rivers-and waters Wallingford, Reading, Marlow, Windfor, Staines, Kingfton, where the tide reaches it, and other places, in its way to Weftminfter and London. Below the old bridge, it is covered for miles with vast numbers of fhips, of all burthens and from all nations and continuing its courfe to the fea, it increafes to a great breadth at Gravefend, and receives the Medway not far from its mouth.
Its magnitude about London was formerly much beyond what it is at prefent. As fea Mells were formed in digging for a founda
tion of St. Paul's church, after the fire of
The first mention of a bridge over the