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Within a few doors of the place where Mr. Haldane's people assemble, there is held a meeting of a very different description. The people who compose this society call themselves Free Thinking Christians. They separated many years ago from Mr. Vidler's church, in Parliament-court; their principal leader being a Mr. James Thompson. They assembled for some years at a private house in the Old 'Change; but for the last two years, or thereabouts, have met in a large room, nearly opposite the church, in Cateaton-street. They discard the forms of public worship, and meet rather for debate, or to discuss subjects, connected indeed with theology, but intended to undermine the doctrines of revelation, and erect a sceptical indifference upon the ruins of Christian Faith. In the course of the last winter, the Bishop of London made an attempt to put down their meeting, and the Lord Mayor sent an injunction for that purpose. At this time their room was not licensed, but having since obtained one, they now meet quietly. Their meetings are held only during the winter season, and on a Sunday evening. The contiguity of this place to the one in connexion with Mr. Haldane, very forcibly brings to our recollection some lines written by the celebrated Daniel De Foe:
Wherever Go erects a house of prayer,
• The True Born Englishman: A satire.
LDERMANBURY, situated at the north-west end of Caieaton-street, is of very ancient date, being at least as old as Edward the Confessor. It received its name from the Guildhall, which stood there before the erection of the present one at the upper end of King.street. From the church of St. Mary, in Aldermanbury, was ejected, in 1662, that famous Puritan Divine, Mr. Edmund Calamy, whose son of the same name, gathered a congregation of Nonconformists in this parish ; the same that met upwards of a century in the Old Jewry, and is now about to remove to Jewinstreet. During the time of Oliver Cromwell, the Baptists had a meeting-house in Aldermanbury; but the bare mention of the circuinstance is all that is recorded concerning it. About fourscore years ago, there existed an Independent congregation under the care of Mr. Thomas Charlton, whose place of meeting is said to have been in Aldermanbury, but the precise spot is not mentioned. We take this to have been the same with the Independent church at Plasterers’-Hall, which will presently fall under our notice ; and where we shall again introduce the name of Mr. Charlton
BREWERS'-Hall is a good building, nearly adjoining to Plasterers'-Hall, in Addle-street, Aldermanbury. It has a genteel entrance into a large court, paved with free-stone, and cloistered; the building above being supported by handsome pillars. The company was incorporated by Henry VI. in 1438, and anciently bore the arms of Archbishop Becket. This was one of the city halls let out to the Nonconformists, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; but only a small portion of its history is now to be recovered. Towards the commencement of the latter period, it was occupied by an Independent congregation under the care of Mr. Richard Paine, who removed his people hence to Lorimers'-Hall, and afterwards to Petticoat-lane. The Baptists appear to have occupied this place in 1738 ; and this little is all the information we possess relating to Brewers'Hall.
LASTERERS'-Hall a neat building, situated on the north-west side of Addle-street, was in ancient times the hall belonging to the Pinners; which company, says Stow, “ being not worth a pin," was in his time gone to decay. The Piasterers were in corporated hy Henry VII. in 1501.
Their hall was also let out to the Nonconformists for a meeting-house. At the Revolution it was occupied by an Independent congregation under the care of Mr. John Faldo, one of the silenced ministers. This society was first formed under the labours of Mr. Nathanael Partridge, one of the ejected ministers of St. Albans, who removing to London, preached many years at a meeting-house in Old-streetsquare. Mr. Faldo, who succeeded him, removed his people to Plasterers’-Hall. With the name of Mr. Faldo's successor we are unacquainted; but some years afterwards Mr. Thomas Charlton was the pastor of this church, and with him it became extinct, upwards of threescore years ago. We will now present the reader with a brief account of these ministers, in the following order :
NATHANAEL PARTRIDGE, of whom very little account can be procured, was ejected in 1662, as Dr. Calamy supposes, from the church of St. Michael, in the town of St. Albans, Hertfordshire. This is confirmed by the following entry in Newcourt : John Cole, A. M. 3 Mar. 1662, per non-subscriptionem ultimi Vicarii.* Mr. Partridge having once preached at St. Albans, upon these words, Rev. Üï. 18. Anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see, a poor man, who was as blind in mind as he was in body, went afterwards to his house, and asked him very soberly, “ where he might get that' ointment to cure his blindness ?"
• Newcourt's Repertorum, vol. i. p. 788.
PLASTERERS'-HALL. - Independent, Extinct,
Though Dr. Calamy, who records this anecdote, has given us no account of the conversation that ensued, there is no doubt but Mr. Partridge improved the opportunity for convincing the man of his ignorance, and referring him to that spiritual light of which his mind was hitherto so totally destitute.
After his ejectment, Mr. Partridge removed to London, where he gathered a congregation, which assembled for divine worship at a meeting-house in Old-streetsquare, where he preached many years. During this period he was a great sufferer for nonconformity. Being apprehended for preaching, he was committed prisoner to Newgate, and confined there six months. But though deprived of his liberty, his enemies could not extinguish his usefulness, He took great pains with the condemned prisoners, and met with good success. Mr. Partridge died in a good old age, on the 6th of August, 1684 Mr. Christopher Nesse published au elegy upon the occasion; which containing some lines against court measures, he was forced for a time to abscond, in order to conceal himself from the messengers, who were very busily employed in hunting after him.* Of Mr, Partridge there is a very scarce mezzotinto portrait, which has been copied for the last edition of the “Nonconformists' Memorial.”
John Faldo was born in the year 1633, and received his education in the University of Cambridge. During the commonwealth he became a chaplain in the army. When the Uniformity Act took place, he was not in possession of any benefice, and therefore not ejected; but he was silenced by that unnatural law, as were many hundred faithful ministers besides. Upon the death of Mr. Nathanael Partridge, in 1684, he was chosen to succeed him as pastor of a nonconformist congregation, in Old-street-square ; but after some time, he removed his people to Plasterers'-Hall.