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Mr. Fleming that he finds fault, at the outset of his pamphlet, with the title of Mr. Pike's book; charging him with copying the scripture phrase “ A Form of Sound Words,” and affixing it to a system of opinions merely human. He is, also, very angry with the five fathers, for recommending it to any besides Cavinistical families; and concludes the good old gentlemen were nodding under the soporific prejudice; with a few more illnatured reflections. But this zealous writer forgot, that every charge which he brought against Mr. Pike, and his five soporifics, falls with additional weight upon
himself. The title of a former book of his own, is " A Scale of first Principles, religious and moral, proper for the Life and Sentiment of Man; chiefly calculated for the service of Youth : Designed upon the Model of Dr. Worthington's Form of Sound Words.” That Mr. Fleming should condemn Mr. Pike for designating a human composition by a scriptural name, while he allows of the same thing in Dr. Worthington, seems not a little inconsistent. But it serves to shew that Calvinists are not the only bigots in the world.
The next circumstance we have to mention in Mr. Pike's life, is of an unpleasant nature, and leads us to mourn over those contentions and divisions that too often prevail, even among Christians. Mr. Sandeman's Letters on Theron and Aspasio, first printed in 1757, made a considerable noise in the religious world. Not long after their publication, they were introduced to the notice of several persons who were members of Mr. Pike's church, and eagerly recommended them to their acquaintance. Mr. Pike himself read them with a mixture of satisfaction and displeasure; and having obtained intelligence how to convey a letter to the author, commenced an epistolary correspondence with bim, Jan. 17, 1758. In answer to Mr. Sandeman's reply, Mr. Pike drew up a second letter, in which he expressed great dislike to the spirit of that author's writings, and put several queries to him of great importance. After some interval, Mr. Sande,
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man replied to this letter, in a manner that
gave great satisfaction to Mr. Pike's people, who were privy to the controversy, and watched it with attention. Mr. Pike's third letter, declaring the sense his people entertained of Mr. Sandeman's doctrine, together with the comfortable and evangelical influence it had upon their experience, produced another letter from Mr. Sandeman, which is the sixth in the correspondence. Upon the reception of this letter, Mr. Pike drew up a reply in short-hand, pointing out the unsuitable censures of Mr. Sandeman, and shewing how inconsistent they were with the spirit of Christian charity. But before he had transcribed it, such a furious opposition arose to Mr. Sandeman's principles, as greatly alarmed Mr. Pike, who judged it most prudent to suppress the letter.
The gradual alteration in Mr. Pike's views, in the course of the above correspondence, being attended with a similar change in the minds of his people, greatly encouraged him; and, for some time, he went on preaching the doctrine of free grace, with much comfort and satisfaction. About this time, great inquiry was made into the principles and practices of such churches in Scotland, as were formed upon similar principles. This occasioned Mr. Pike to adopt the method of reading and expounding the scriptures every Lord's-day; and to introduce, agreeably to the primitive practice, a weekly communion at the Lord's table. He, also, went about to visit the church, and converse with the members upon the subject of the glorious hope of the gospel, and the nature of Christian experience resulting froni thence. In the course of these visits, be found the church, with some few exceptions, very generally delighted and satistied with his ministry. In this situation, matters continued till August, or September, 1758. About this time, a rumour was spread abroad, that Mr. Pike had departed from the faith; and it was strengthened by some discreditable reports, which, however, were absolute falsehoods. Sonie sermons he delivered in his turn at Pinners'-Hall Lecture,
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during the course of this year, gave great offence. Two of these, entitled, “ Saving Grace, Sovereign Grace," he published. But they were far from adding to his reputation in the eyes of his brethren ; and, in short, the tide ran so high against him, that, ultimately, he was excluded the lecture. This hasty step confirmed the popular odium against him, and very probaby laid the foundation of much of the uneasiness he afterwards experienced.
Some of the members of Mr. Pike's church growing dissatisfied, expressed their uneasiness, by a partial withdrawment from his ministry. in time, the dissatisfaction increased, and several church meetings were held upon the occasion. At length, the contentions ran so high, that Mr. Pike found it absolutely necessary to distinguish between his friends and his enemies. In order to this, at a church meeting, held Oct. 9, 1759, he earnestly requested to know who were satisfied with his preaching, and who were not ! But the question was overruled, and the meeting adjourned for a fortnight. In the interim, a pamphlet came forth, entitled, “ Reflections on an Epistolary Correspondence, &c. By W.F." (William Fuller, a member of the church). It was designed to point out the dangerous tendency of Mr. Sandeman's doctrines, and adapted to sink the reputation of Mr. Pike, who immediately set about writing an answer. It appeared towards the close of 1759, and was entitled, “ Free Grace indeed.” In this pamphlet, which he distributed among the members of his church, he took a full and clear view of his principles. Matters having arrived at that pitch, that an accommodation became next to impossible, Mr. Pike's friends thought that the best way to terminate all disputes would be, by a peaceable separation. And in order to ascertain which side had the majority, it was proposed to the church to make a renewal of their union. For this purpose Mr. Pike drew up a short paper, stating, that, as there appeared no other method of restoring peace and harmony, than by renewing their union, it was expedient that such as
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approved his ministry, should signify it by affixing their names. At a church-meeting, held Jan. 13, 1760, this paper was signed by seventeen of the brethren, which, with the addition of his own name, formed a majority of one.
In the mean time, a pamphlet came forth, addressed to Mr. Pike, and entitled “ The Scripture account of Justifying Faith: interspersed with reflections on some Modern Sentiments in Religion, by T. U.;" that is, Thomas Uffington, a member of the church, and one of Mr. Pike's opponents. This pamphlet appears to be written with ability, but Mr. Pike censures it, as replete with declamation and defamation. An answer to it was drawn up by Mr. John Dove, and published with the title of “ Rational Religion distinguished from that which is Enthusiastic.” The disputes still continuing, Mr. Pike and his friends determined, at length, to proceed in a more summary way, and at a church-meet. ing, held April 21, 1760, the following question was moved and seconded : “ That those who have not revived their union under the pastoral care of Mr. Samuel Pike, be excluded the membership of the church.” The number of votes was equal, there being seventeen on each side; but Mr. Pike having the casting vote gained the majority. There were now violent contentions for the meeting-house and its temporalities; but Mr. Pike and his friends, liaving possession, as well as a majority of votes, refused to give them up. The opposite party then withdrew, and being accommodated on one part of the day with the meeting-house in Little St. Helen's, formed themselves into a separate church, and shortly afterwards invited Mr. Barber of Basingstoke to become their pastor. Both parties published a narrative of the separation; and thus their unhappy disputes subsided.(P)
(P) In 1761, and some following years, Mr. Pike and his church were engaged in a long and expensive law-suit, for the recovery of a sum of money bequeathed to the society at the Three Cranes, in 1710, by a Mr. John Bankes. The legacy was twelve pounds per annum. It was suffered to rua many years in arrears, and the law expences for its recovery wese 1011, In id.!!
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Mr. Pike being now in quiet possession of the meetinghouse, continued his ministry without any material variation. He had now, indeed, but a small auditory, they were, however, pretty well united in sentiment, and, therefore, gave him no uneasiness. All this while, Mr. Pike was only a doctrinal Sandemanian; but after some time, he began to entertain serious thoughts on the propriety of edopting some of their practices, and, at length, coming wholly into their views, he resigned his connexion with the congregation at the Three Cranes, in the year 1765. Shortly after, he joined the Sandemanian society, at Bull and Mouth-Street, St. Martins-le-Grand; and published a particular account of the practices observed in that church. His talents being tried and approved, he was soon called to the office of an elder, and laboured with great acceptance in that society. After some time, he was sent to a congregation in that connexion at Trowbridge, in Wiltshire, where he preached nearly two years till his death.
As to record the failings and weaknesses of worthy and eminent persons, is at all times a painful task, so, when there is any solid ground for contradicting unfounded reports to the prejudice of their characters, it is, to the generous mind, a source of inexpressible satisfaction. This pleasure is experienced by the writer, in no common degree, as it regards the subject of the present narrative. In common, with many other persons, he had long imbibed a notion that Mr. Pike, towards the close of life, had contracted a habit as destructive to the preservation of his health, as it was disgraceful to his character as a Christian. To be better understood, it is currently reported, that after his removal to Trowbridge, he indulged in the habit of excessive drinking. But, upon the credit of a person who resided in the same town, who was his most intimate friend, and almost daily visitor, we can assure the reader, that it is utterly without foundation. The scandalous report originated in a servant girl, who abused his kindness, and proved an unworthy character,