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became his favourite pursuit. For his knowledge of geometry, trigonometry, and algebra, he was indebted to the instructions of a Mr. Needham. After continuing some years at Nottingham, engaged in a secular employment, he removed to London.
In the metropolis, Mr. Fleming contracted an intimacy with the Rev. John Holt, who was afterwards, for a number of years, one of the tutors in the Dissenting academy at Warrington. This gentleman greatly assisted and encouraged him in his studies; and by his advice, he further improved himself in classical knowledge, particularly in an acquaintance with the Greek and Hebrew languages. At this time, he does not appear to have determined upon the ministerial profession. He had, however, laid that foundation of learning and kpowledge, that abundantly qualified him to enter upon it with respectability.
Previously to his engaging in the ministry among Protestant Dissenters, his abilities and acquirements attracted the notice of Dr. Thomas, afterwards Bishop of Winchester, who was desirous of providing for him in the established church. With this view, he recommended him to the regard of Sir George Fleming, then Bishop of Carlisle, who sent him a presentation to a living in Cumberland, with the
promise of a further ample provision. At the same time, Dr. Thomas apprehending his circumstances to be narrow, very benevolently made him an offer of advancing a handsome sum to defray the expences of his removal to so great a dis
Mr. Fleming was not wanting in grateful acknowledgments to these worthy prelates, for their liberal offers; which were made at a time when he had very pressing reasons for embracing them. For having inarried early, he had a wife and several children to maintai; and having quitted the secular employment in which he had engaged for several years, he was destitute of all resources to provide for them. But as he entertained conscientious scruples against complying with the terms of conformity, which, after the most ma
ture deliberation, he found invincible, he was obliged, as an honest man, to decline the proposals of his compassionate and friendly patrons. In forming his determination upon this subject, he was encouraged by the magnanimity of his wife, who gave him the fullest and tenderest assurances of her cheerful readiness to undergo the most extreme hardships, rather than obtain relief at the expence of his integrity and peace.
From this time he resolved to engage in the work of the ministry among Protestant Dissenters.
Not long afterwards, he commenced his pulpit labours, by preaching occasionally in different places in the country, and near the metropolis. Upon the death of Mr. John Munckley, in 1738, he was chosen to succeed him as pastor of the congregation in Bartholomew-close. To that people he had a very honourable recommendation by Dr. Avery, who had been one of their ministers. Soon after his election, he was ordained to the pastoral office, in the manner generally practised by Dissenters; being recommended to the favour of God, and the affectionate regard of his people. On this occasion he would not consent to deliver other confession of faith, than a general declaration of his belief in the revelation of the gospel. He also refused to submit to the ceremony of imposition of hands, considering it not to be of any just meaning, where no extraordinary gifts are, or can be communicated.
Mr. Fleming continued to officiate in this situation till the year 1753, when on the declining health of Dr. Foster, then minister to the morning society at Pinners'-Hall, he was appointed to the office of assistant-preacher, still officiating in the afternoon at Bartholomew-close. Upon the death of Dr. Foster, which happened not long afterwards, he was chosen to succeed to the pastoral office, being warnly recommended by his predecessor. It was not long after this appoitment, before the society in Bartholomewclose, being greatly reduced, and that chiefly by the death
PINNERS': HALL. — Independent, Extinct.
of its aged members, was dissolved, most of the remaining few uniting themselves to the society at Pinners'-Hall; where Dr. Fleming (who had now received the degree of Doctor of Divinity) continued to officiate, till disabled by the growing infirmities of far advanced age, which did not wholly lay him aside till within some months short of two years before his death. This last event took place, July 21, 1779, in the 81st year of his age. Mr. John Palmer preached his funeral sermon, at New Broad-street, from 2 Cor. i. 12. For our rejoicing is this, &c.
Dr. Fleming, in early life, enlisted himself under the banners of Socinus, and ever afterwards, became a zealous champion for the tenets of that reformer. This gave a peculiar cast to his temper and character, and frequently involved him in disputes with his brethren. He has been greatly extolled as an able and judicious defender of divine revelation. This, however, must be understood chiefly of the facts upon which revelation is founded; for as to its doctrines, they most of them afforded him subject of ridicule, and he was determined to believe no more than his reason could fathom. His printed sermons afford the most wretched specimens of divinity; and he has shewn low easily the plainest passages of scripture can be perverted. The enmity he discovered to those doctrines which are the peculiar glory of the gospel dispensation, occasioned many of his brethren, and those not Calvinists, to discourage his labours, and treat him with coolness. Of this he grievously complains; but to the friends of the Saviour, it will be ground for rejoicing, that the Presbyterians in general were not then prepared to relinquish their attachment to the main truths of the gospel. Dr. Fleming must be allowed the praise of integrity; and he avowed his principles with great openness and frankness. His learning, though considerable, was by no means profound; but he possessed an acute and vigorous understanding. In the cause of civil and religious liberty, he engaged with great ardour ; and he considered
the interposition of human power in matters of religion, as the principal source of the corruptions of Christianity Though Dr. Fleming was neglected and discountenanced by the bulk of his brethren, he, nevertheless, enjoyed the friendship and esteem of a few, whose sentiments were congenial with his own. Among these, the most conspicuous were Dr. Hunt, and Dr. Larduer. With the latter he frequently corresponded by letter, notwithstanding they lived but a few doors from each other, in Hoxton-square.
Dr. Fleming, as far as regarded the number of his publications, may be set down as a very considerable author. For nearly half a century, almost each succeeding year produced at least one pamphlet, and often more. These are most of them upon temporary subjects, and, consequently now but little known. Several of his pieces being published without his name, were but little noticed at the time ; others, however, were better received; and some of them are said to be curious and valuable. His writings would have been more generally acceptable, had they been free from a certain quaintness and obscurity of style. Aiming at originality and strength of expression, he often lost perspicuity, and never attained to elegance. There are instances, also, in which he was singular, not to say whimsical, in his positions. * Dr. Fleming appears to have had an uncommon itch for disputing; and as he set down for fools and enthusiasts, all who were not Socinians, many eminent Divines, as well as laymen, were the objects of his animadversion. Of this number were Watts, Bradbury, Pike, Whitefield, Wesley, Bishop Sherlock, Soame Jenyns, &c. but it does not appear that any of them undertook to answer his writings. Against Chubb, the Deist, he advocated the cause of Christianity; and by way of stricture upon some writings of Watts, Bishop Sherlock, and others, he defended Socinianism. With Mr. Cornthwaite, a Sabbatarian Baptist, he
Kippis's Life of Lardner, p. 96.
maintained a controversy upon the observance of the seventhday Sabbath ; and he pleaded for the baptism of infants, in opposition to Mr. Joseph Burroughs, a learned minister among the General Baptists. Some of his writings are directed to the defence of civil and religious liberty; and others to maintain the priuciples of Protestant Dissenters, against the claims of ecclesiastical establishments.* Of his several pieces, a catalogue shall be given in the note below. (D)
• Mr. Palmer's Sermon on the Death of Dr. Fleming. (v) Works.— The following is a list of most of the pieces published by Dr. Fleming.-1. An Essay on public Worship. 1729 -2. An Answer to the Dispute Adjusted, on the Repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts. 1732.-3. The Jesuit Unmasked, on the Death of Charles I. 1735.-4. St. Paul's Heretic : or, several Characteristics of an Heretic, &c, 1735.-5. The fourth Commandment abrogated by the Gospel. 1736.-6. A plain and rational Account of the Law of the Sabbath, in Defence of the former. 1736.-7. A Letter to Dr. Cobden, in Defence of Dissenters. 1738.-8. Remarks on Mr. Thomas Chubb's Dissertation on Providence, 1738.-9. Remarks on his Vindication of the true Gospel. 1739.-10. Delays dangerous about the Repeal of the Test Act. 1739.11. Some Thoughts upon the Grounds of Man's Expectations of a future State, from the Principles of Reason, &c. 1739.-12. Animadversions on T. Chubb's Discourse on Miracles. 1741.-13. Plea for Infants. 1742,14. A Catholic Epistle, &c. 1744.-15. The Religion of Nature not set up in Opposition to the Word of God, nor the Religion of Jesus in Oppo. sition to the Religion of Nature. 1744.–16. The Pædo-Baptist defended against Mr. Burroughs. 1745.-17. An Essay on Redemption. 1743.18. An earnest Address to Britons. 1745.-19. The Immorality of profane Swearing. 1746.-20. Truth and modern Deism at Variance, against Chubb. To which is added, Remarks on Dr. Watts's Treatise, entitled, “ The Glory of Christ as God-man." 1746.-21. A modem Plan, upon which the Minds and Manners of Youth may be found. 1748.-22. A Comment on Warburton's Alliance between Church and State. 1748.-23. True Deism the Basis of Christianity, in Answer to Chubb. 1749.- 24. "A Letter to the Lay-Expositor, in Defence of his Comment on Warburton's Alliance. 1749.–25. The Character of Thomas Bradbury, taken from his own Pen. 1749.-26. A Manual for common Christians; or, plain Reasons for Infant Baptism. 1750.-27. The Economy of the Sexes, on Divorce, Poligamy, and Celibacy. 1751.-28. An apologetical View of the moral and religious Sentiments of the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Bolingbroke. 1752.-29. Theopbilus to Gaius, against Forms of Prayer. 1753.-30. A