on their own ideas of the nature and design of baptism, and was averse from changing into a symbol and instrument of division, an ordinance which was designed as an emblem and means of universal charity; though it should be at the expense of a strict adherence to order in the observance of the Christian institutions. After Mr. Foster had been a number of years minister at Barbican, it was proposed to open and enlarge their communion by the admission of those who differed from the congregation on the questions concerning baptisin; but the motion was lost. This inclined Mr. Foster to dissolve his connection with that church, and to accept an invitation, in 1744, to succeed the judicious and amiable Dr. Jeremiah Hunt, in the pastoral charge of the Independent Church at Pinners'Hall*. He preached his first sermon there Jan. 6, 1745.

In 1746 Mr. Foster was called to an office which proved a severe trial of his tenderness and benevolence. This was, at the request of the unfortunate nobleman the Earl of Kilmarnock, who had been concerned in the rebellion the year before, to assist his preparation for death. The case of the Peer, and the affecting offices to which he was called, are supposed to have made deep impressions on his sympathising heart. These were aggravated by the conduct and reflections of some dissentng ministers--the Rev. Mr. Pickering, and the Rev. Mr. Wilson, both popular preachers of the day; the former a pastor of an Independent Church, in Jewin-street; the other, of a Calvinistic Baptist congregation in Goodman's-fields, who laboured to give the world an ill idea of his conduct, because his advices and counsels were not formed according to their systems-because he thought it sufficient to recommend his Lordship to a firm reliance on the mercy and goodness of God in Christ Jesus..

From that time Mr.. Foster's vivacity declined, till April, 1750, when he was visited with a violent disorder, from which he never entirely recovered, though he continued to preach occasionally till January 5, 1752. Three days after, a paralytic shock so impaired his faculties, that he never regained his vigour, but, with some intervals only of mitigation, drew out his existence, in a very debilitated state of body and mind, for twenty-two months, till the 5th of November, 1753; when, in consequence of another severe stroke of the palsy, cu or eleven days before, (which, however, left him sensible and calm, though it struck all his right side), he breathed his Jast. It was observed, that he never once discovered, in his


* On the information of a deceased Friend.

most sensible seasons of reflection, any the least uneasiness with his theological system; but to the last spoke with great dissatisfaction of the narrow and confined schemes of the divine mercy.'

[To be concluded in our next.]



To the Editor of the Monthly Repository.

I shall thank you to preserve in your Repository a letter from Dr. Priestley, which was written to me on the following occasion. I happened, in 1792, to be a delegate from the Dissenters in Essex, who, like their brethren in the other counties, had united with the deputies from the dissenting congregations in and about London, to consider of a renewed application to Parliament for the Repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts. At the first meeting of the Committee in Essex after the Birmingham riots, they unanimously voted an address to Dr. Priestley, which I had the pleasure of conveying to him. In the course of the address, they hinted at their great differences with him upon theological questions, for they were almost exclusively Calvinistic. To this circumstance, as you will perceive, Dr. Priestley refers.

These friendly intercourses among Christians of different sentiments would very naturally give an alarm to the more zealous among the orthodox. Such an alarm appears, from the preface to that work, to have produced "The Calvinistic and Socinian Systems compared," from the answers to which * we are indebted for two able and gratifying representations of what Unitarians must become whenever they are so happy as to do justice to their own principles.

I remain, Sir, your's,

Clapton, Jan. 4, 1807,

" SIR,

"I beg you would return my thanks, in the most respectful man ner, to the Committee of Protestant Dissenters in Essex, for their very acceptable address to me. It is more particularly pleasing to me, as a proof that difference of sentiment, on subjects of const

* By Dr. Toulmin and Mr. Kentish.


derable importance in religion, does not always lessen a regard to the common principles of Christianity and humanity, which indeed are of ininitely more value than all those with respect to which we differ. With such sentiments as those contained in this address, áll Christians may consider one another as brethren, and feel a common interest in all that befals them; and this will gradually tend to lessen party spirit in this world, and fit us for meeting in a better.

"I am, with much respect, Sir, your very humble servant,
Clapton, Feb. 17, 1792.


To the Editor of the Monthly Repository.

THE "Inquirer," in the Monthly Repository for Novem ber, is desirous of having whatever information any of your readers can give him concerning Mons. Pilloniere. He asks, first, What is his history? Is there any satisfactory account of it on record? Did he continue a Protestant to the end of his life? And, lastly, was he in communion with the Church of England?

In giving the following short but imperfect account, I must inform your correspondent, that it is taken from a pamphlet in my possession, published by M. Pilloniere himself (in the year 1717), in justification of his character, and in proof of the sincerity of his conversion from Popery to the Protestant faith; for the one had been violently attacked, and the other called in question by Dr. Snape and other bigotted persons.

It does not appear where or when he was born; but that his father resided at Morlaix in Brittany; and, from several incidental observations scattered through his work, it may be inferred that he was a person of no inconsiderable respectability; and young Pilloniere was placed by him amongst the Jesuits at Paris for his instruction, where he continued for about two years, and then of his own accord, before he was fifteen years of age, and contrary to the intentions of his father, entered himself as one of their order. He afterwards became tutor to the young Marquis du Roueve, nephew to the Duke de la Force; and after he abandoned the Jesuits, he was received by the Duke into his family. During his noviciate, he says his time was wholly employed" (as is their custom)" in a perpetual train of superstitious and devout trifles."

When we consider the efforts made by the elder Jesuits to

Vol. I. p. 575

instil into his mind the grand principle of their order-blind obedience and afterwards his zeal in defending their absurdities (though attended with a doubtful inquisitiveness respecting the arcana of their different systems), we must perceive him to be an extraordinary instance of the power of truth in dispelfing the most rooted prejudices and erroneous preconceived opinions, where a person has resolution enough to keep the mind guarded, yet open to conviction; for after harassing his mind with the fooleries of Fathers Hardouin, Tourtemine †, &c. &c. and then again with the system of F. Malebranche, he beeame a rational, consistent Protestant, and that of the first order; one of the greatest advocates in his time for the right of private judgment; and one of the most determined opposers of persecution, under whatever form she appeared in-whether in that of the monk, the Episcopalian priest, or the sleekfaced son of the Conventiele.

After giving a particular account of his contests with friends and enemies, we find him at length abjuring the errors of his church, and manfully maintaining those truly apostolical, mild, charitable Christian principles, which would render him an oriament to any age or nation. Abandoned by his father, an exile from his country, we find him a refugee in Holland: here he joined the church of the Arminians, and adds, “not so much because their doctrines, summed up in the Five Articles, appeared to me agreeable to the New Testament, as because they were of all Protestants the leasi chargeable with the uncha ritable spirit of Popery, professing to receive and to communicate with all those who profess to believe the Scriptures to be the word of God, and live according to it"-a fine example for our modern sons of orthodoxy.

It appears while in Holland he published a work against Popish superstition; and likewise, at the request of the learned Le Clerc, he undertook a French translation of "Grotius on the Christian Religion." He likewise wrote, and presented to his Majesty George F. at the Hague, in 1714, when on his journey to England, a poem on his accession to the Crown, and after that, (in England,) another upon his coronation.

Notwithstanding the kind offer of his friends in Holland to entrust him with a considerable sum of money to settle in trade

The motto of the Jesuits.

In the midst even of his uncertainties, he appears to have had no small portion of humour in entrapping the then contending Fathers, and playing off in an artful manner their absurd conccits against each other-p. 12 and 13.

Of the excellencies of the private character of this great man he speaks in the most affectionate manner, to whom, he says, he is indebted for the removal af almost all those clouds that darkened his understanding.

there, he determined to follow his Majesty, in hopes of meeting with something more agreeable to his inclinations and former way of living. He accordingly embarked for England, carrying with him a recommendatory letter from M. Le Clerc to the then Bishop of Salisbury.

After he had been about six months in England, he was induced to accept the office of a French teacher in a school at Croydon, kept by Mr. Mills. This was during the time of the Rebellion; and while here, amongst other things, he translated into French the four Sermons of Bishop Hoadly against the free-thinkers-Dr. Clark's work "On the Existence and Attributes of God”—and designed to go on in translating his second volume of Boyle's "Lectures on the Truth of the Christian Religion; "none of which," says he, "should I ever have voluntarily undertaken to trouble myself about, had I put on, as I am falsely and barbarously accused, the air of a freethinker."

After he left Mr. Mills, he was so strongly recommended to the patronage of that excellent prelate, Bishop Hoadly, as to induce him to take Mons. Pilloniere into his family; and the Bishop, in a preface to the work from whence this account of M. Pilloniere is taken, gives the strongest testimony to the uprightness of his character, as well as his full conviction of the sincerity of his abandoning the Catholic faith.

On his first coming to England, he communicated with the Calvinistical Church in the Little Savoy, in which the Liturgy of the Church of England was used, and, after that, with the Church of England very frequently. Here, as far as relates to M. Pilloniere himself, the account terminates. How long he lived, where he died, and whether he continued a Protestant to the end of his life, it is not in my power to satisfy the "Inquirer." I can only speak for myself, and say, that in reading. attentively the account he has given of himself, I perceive a mind so enlarged with rational and consistent views of Christianity, together with that true Christian spirit, the absence of which, in late years, we have had too much reason to deplore, both amongst Churchmen and Dissenters, that I am persuaded within myself, such a mind could hardly ever revert back to the abominable tenets and absurd practices of that Church from which he so much gloried in being emancipated. It might be farther added, that the persecutions he endured, the privations and sufferings of various kinds, the desertions of intimate friends, the dissolution of endearing connections, and the endearing name of father turned into that of enemy, are so many presumptive proofs of the sincerity of his adherence to the Protestant faith.


« VorigeDoorgaan »