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An Original Letter of Remonstrance to Richard Baxter, on his treatment of the Unitarians : with some Account of Gilbert Clerke, the supposed Author.
HE following letter was lately left his Fellowship after the Comin Dr. Williams's Library. It is with- of conscience to take the degree of out an address, but it is evident that Bachelor of Divinity to which the stait was sent to Baxter. There is no tutes obliged him. On quitting the date, and only the initials G. C. These University, he retired,one authority says appear to stand for Gilbert Clerke, generally, into Northamptonshire, with whose history, opinions and style, another says to Stamford, where, it is the letter perfectly agrees. The read- added, he lived long. By the death ers of the Monthly Repository will be of his elder brother, about the time of pleased with this hitherto unpublished his giving up his Fellowship, he came production of one of the early English into possession of an estate of £40. Unitarians, which will, perhaps, be per annum, which was looked upon rendered still more interesting by such by his friends as a providential blesa brief account of the supposed author sing, he being thus saved from want. as the transcriber has been able to He died some time between the years compile. Should any reader be able 1695 and 1698.1 to give further information concerning Nelson gives this candid character this learned author, the communica- of Clerke: His learuing lay chiefly tion of it to this work will be esteemed in the mathematics, but he was also a favour, and will facilitate the inqui- esteemed a very good Grecian, and a ries of the present writer, who is mak- great scripturist. He chiefly consulted' ing collections towards a history of the modern critics, when he read the English Unitarianism, the final use to Bible, not omitting the Polonians, or he made of which will depend upon else trusted to his own invention and the ultimate success of his researches. sagacity in that part of divinity, with
GILBERT CLERKE was the son of out ever advising with the ancients, John Clerke, school-master, of Up- of whom he had a very low esteem. pingham, in the county of Rutland. He thought the controversy between He was admitted into Sidney College, us and the Church of Rome not worCambridge, in the year 1641, being thy his study; because the errors of then scarcely fifteen years of age. In the · Papists seemed to him so gross 1648, he took the degree of M. A., and palpable, as 'not to need it. He and was made Fellow of the house. betook himself, therefore, to read the At the age of twenty-five, he received (1651) Presbyterian orders, and his allowance in the college was there. (8vo. 2nd edition, 1714, p. 512, from
Nelson, in his Life of Bishop Bull, upon augmented, as the statutes re
whom the above particulars are derived. quire for those that are ordained
+ Grounds and Occasions of the Conpriests. He was created proctor of troversy, concerning the Unity of God, the University the next year. He &c. By a Divine of the Church of En.
gland, 4to. 1698, p. 17. This is the 4th
tract in the 5th volume of the old Unita• There is no reference to Clerke in rian Tracts, a volume exceedingly scarce, Daxter's Life and Times, Reliq. Baxt. and until very lately hardly kuown to be fol.; nor is the name in the biographical in existence. dictionaries, except as it is introduced | The writer ascertains this fact from carorily in the biography of Bishop Bull. a comparison of dates. Clerke's last Is the great work now publishing at known publication, to be presently speciParis, Gilbert Clerke is confounded with fied, appeared in the year 1695, and the Leclerc., See Biographie Universelle, &c. tract, just quoted, dated 1698, refers to Art. Bull, T. VI. p. 250.
him as amongst deceased Unitarians.
Socinian writers, whence he became, sem Synodi Nicenæ, anthore Gilberto in the main, a Socinian; yet be did Clerkė, Anglo. Argumentum Posnot symbolize with them in their er- tremi: vera et antiqua Fides de Dirors, touching the Divine attributes; vinitate Christi explicata et asserta, upon which account he would some contra D. Bulli Judicium Ecclesiæ Catime say, he was no Socinian. Some, tholicæ, &c. per Anonymum, Anno also, to whom he was personally Domini, 1695.” known, have excepted the point of An answer to Clerke was found the Satisfaction, for he seemed, indeed, amongst Dr. Grabe's papers, in the to have had some particular notions of hand-writing of Bishop Bull, and was his own about this matter. He was a published in the 3rd volume of Bull's man of an open and frank disposition, Sermons and Discourses, (8vo. 1714,) but withal too bold, and easily to be entitled, Breves Animadversiones, &c., heated; otherwise, the conduct of his or, as the title of the translation, which life was sober and regular, not ble- precedes the Latin work in the vomished with any remarkable immora- lume, runs, “ The Consubstantiality lịty, but rather abounding with good and the Coeternity of the Son of God works, which he earnestly pressed. with the Father, asserted; or some He was very busy and zealous in de- few Animadversions on a Treatise of fending those new principles which he Mr. Gilbert Clerke, entitled Ante-Nie had taken up, and which the gross cenismus, so far as the said Author absurdities of the Antinomian system, pretends to Answer Dr. George Bull's then much in vogue, had probably Defence of the Nicene Faith," &c. contributed more than a little to fling Clerke published his name to his him into.”
tracts, says Nelson,* " as not being The “ Divine of the Church of En. ashamed or afraid to own what he had gland” says, that he was " well known written, because he took it to be and esteemed by Dr. Cumberland, the the very cause of God and of his Unity Reverend Bishop of Peterborough, against all sorts of Polytheists." The who used to speak of him by the name biographer adds,t that the “ three of Honest Gilbert." +
tracts came out together, that so the Of his works, the following titles Unitarians might thereby take an occaare known : De Plenitudine Mundi, sion to boast of a complete answer in Lond. 1660. 8vo.-De Restitutione Latin” to all that Bishop Bull had Corporum. Lond. 1662. 8vo. The written in the Trinitarian controversy. Spot Dial. Lond. 1687. 4to. I Distinct from these, probably, is
LETTER, &c. another work referred to by Nelson, Sr, as follows: “He was for certain an excellent mathematician, his book such a man as 1, was about five yeares
You may possibly remember 'ye upon Mr. Oughtred's Clavis being since with you in your chamber, to much valued by the ablest judges in expostulate with you about a paso that part of learning." §
Two Latin tracts are all the theo- sage in your Cure of Church Divilogical works of Clerke that the pre- and "Mahumetans together'; now I
sions, in which you joyned Socinians sent writer has discovered: they were send this letter mach upon ye same published, with a third, by an anony- errand. Some are of opinion y. you mous hand, under the title, “ Trac- have utterly overthrowne D'. Stilling. tatus Tres : Quorum qui prior Ante fleet in your Second Defence, & I Nicenismus dicitur; is exhibet testimonia Patrum Ante-Nicenorum, in oecasional discourse with a Stafford
am one of y# My meditations upon quibus elucet sensus Ecclesiæ Pric shire Divine & D’. Templar's sermæro-Catholicæ quoad Articulum de Trinitate. In secundo brevis Responsio about episcopacy are very suitable to
mon (not long after I was with you) ordinatur ad D. G. Bulli, Defensio
wherein as I graunt not only
Bishops, but Presbyters & Deacons • Nelson, ut sup. pp. 511, 512. too, in great churches if need be, so I + Grounds, &c. p. 17.
These are taken from Watt's Biblio. theca.
* Ut sup. p. 501. § Nelson, p. 512.
+ P. 502.
Treatment of the Unitærians: with some Account of Gilbert Clerke. 67 prore ye ye Diocesses of ye primitive were mainly intended against AntinoBishops were not in Apostolica! times, mian imputation or satisfaction, & & but in few places long after, nor little ugainst such as eyther of you ought they to be now any greater than mantaine. I well remember y in
Te people might have recourse to some of your bookes you say y many their Bishops and these to their peo- men are Antinonians, who would litple. I have asked some of about 60 tle be thought so. D!. Stillingf: in a yeares of age, & they have confessed booke of the sufferings of Xi maketh ihat they never saw a Bishop in their a great bluster against them, after lives, and yet I live not above halfe himselfe had yielded up ye maine fort y length of ye diocesse fro_Peter- contended for, himself denieing as to bo'roy. I denie not Arch-Bp. & a rigorous legal satisfaction, both ye primates as magistrates or y® King's idem and tuntundem. But S'., you visitours, needing no other ordination may remember what a hideous name than his majesties commission, nor an Arminian was lately, & now they president Bro. by consent of ye church- are ye prime sonnes of ye Church of es, for order's sake as there may be England, & very few are now offepded sccasion : 0 likewise upon those for difference in those opinions : why words, Dic ecclesiæ, &c., 1 prove y might not a little more time, bring
Catholiqae governing Church is a ye Socinians. (who beleive in God Popish chimæra, impossible & con- through Xt as offering a sacrifice of tradictioas, nor is there any such thing suffering obedience for ye sinnes of ye as national governing church, & to world. & as an exalted Saviour,) into say, y people may not worship God, some tolerable favour, if such as you till whole nations are agreed in uni- did not so stigmatize y? Some are formity of doctrine, discipline, formes so uncharitable or so ignorant as to and rites, or no otherwise, is one of say y Socinians are scarce Xtians,
most injurious & factious princi- although they beleive Jesus to be yo ples in ye world. It hath been ye Christ, and therefore in St. John's sacrilegious practice of men to usurpe judgement are borne of God: they yf words Biskop & Church, & then place ye divinity of Xt in his unction, to load their adversaries with these not much opposeing humane additions great names.
but as they obscure this or seeme to But to come to the errand of this be inconsistent with it, and therefore paper, I see ye both you & Dr. in Justin Martyr's opinion may be still make no scruple to reckon reckoned amongst orthodox ChrisSocinians (as they are commonly call- tians. I have gone under y naine I ed, who owne not Socinus for a mas- confesse, but upon fuller acquaintance, ter, but a fellow-servent,) with Turks, I have not found much dislike from Atheists & Papists. You should doe ye better sort, nor would any of our well to consider of this point a little ministers scruple to gett me to preach better than I doubt you have, before for yTM, & therefore sure had somewhat you censure so much : upon impartial a better opinion of me than a Mahusearch you may find them to be (as I metan or an Atheist. As for their beliere they are) y best sort of Xtians opinion about ye Trinity, weh hath & ye best reformned, although Soci- given ye most offence, as I remember aus had his errours, especially about your selfe in your former answer to God's prescience of future Contin. D'. Still
: doth dislike yo damnatory gents ; & did not Luther erre fouly part of ye Creed of Athanasias, so in the point of Consubstantiation? doth Mr. Alsop in his answer, so doth By such words, you make people afraid D'. Taylour in his Libertie of Proph:. to search into the truth, & bring ye And some divines 'of ye Church of professours of it under persecution, England doe refuse to reade it. Can & Fou two are the more inexcusable, any thing be more certaine and evident because y' in one of ye cheife points than this, viz. y' ye Ffather is before which have given offence, you both ye Sonne and ye Sonne before ye
very little from thers. I am Holy Spirit, who speaketh not of very well assured, y' their writings himselfe but what he heareth? What
ever quirks or scholastick niceties
may be invented, such was y opinion • Stillingfeet..
of ye Antients, as a man so well versed
in Antiquitie as you are cannot but terie of godlinesse, as Tyndall sth
Treatment of the Unitarians: with some Account of Gilberi Clerke. 69 list doth affect an anadiplôsis ; if so, basely deserted. And I thinke we are those copies must needs be best wcb, now upon a prime instance of aposas Erasmus observes, reade thus, viz. tacy, out of wch it must needs be hard that ich was made in him was life; to emerge till ye translations be amendand so Tertullian reades universally: ed. I say these words, Joh. viii. 58, but light & life are to be understood should be thus rendred, before he be all over yt Gospel evangelically. Be- Abraham I am He, i. e. ye Messias sides ye world yt was made or was ye should come into ye world, before making by him, v. 10, if it had not ye prophecie conteined in Abraham's been long of themselves, was such as name concerning ye calling of ye Genwere capable of comprehending ye tiles should be fulfilled ; see ye use of light, s. 5, of receiving him, v. 12, xyw eiges in Joh. viii. 24, 28, & xiii. and knowing him, v. ll; ergo, ye 19. Evangelist is not telling over againe How doe people runne away with ye glory of Moses his first creation, it ye ye second person tooke our nathough he allude to yatwch was a ture upon him, from Heb. ii. 16, He type of this. As to ye word flesh, v. tooke not on him ye nature of Angels, 14, tras made flesh or was flesh, so which should be rendered, as in the Joach. Camerar'. i. e. a mortal man, margin, he taketh not hold of ye Angels.
subject to humane infirmities and suf- Ye like may be said of many other fering in ye flesh : that word is so places as to translations or copies, used by ye same evangelist, 1 Joh: iv. weh make it hard to gett out of this 2, Every spirit who confesseth Jesus part of the Babylonick captivity & Christ who came in flesh (so ye words may render ye carnal part of ye Proshonld be translated, meaning suffer- testants, who wilfully shutt their eyes ings, wch ye Gnostiques refused to un- against all further reformation, as the dergoe): it is well knowne yt epithets number of ye Beast, acting over ye conteine some reason appertaineing to second part to ye same tune. ye subject unto wch they are joyned, Sr, I have not written those things and ye scope of ye place; but see Gal. (wch may be had better from Socinus is. 13, 14, and many other places, contra Vujekum, Schlictingius, Crelespecially 1 Tim. iii. ult. great is the lius, &c.) to you to challenge you now mysterie of Godlinesse which was in your old age, after so long prepos. manifested in or by flesh, (see ye Sy- session ; I hope the Lord will forgive riack and vulgar Latin, Grotius, &c.) you, considering how you come by viz. by Xi and his apostles, in much your opinion & what good service you infirmitie of ye flesh, as appeares by have otherwise done ye church by ye opposition, viz. justified in spirit, your unwearied labours in many parviz. by infinite miracles; wh mysterie ticulars, & I doubt not but from sinof Godlinesse, though it was glori- cere & candid principles. I suppose ously received, yet ye spirit spake ex- you doe not intend to challendge my pressely + ye it should be supplanted Lords ye Bishops, but only to apoloby a mysterie of iniquitie, and be as gise & mollifie them a little, as I would
doe you, if it may not cast too great an See ye Oxford Gr. Testam.
odium upon you to be, it may be, but # Sir, may I be so ffree with you as
a charitable inan to Socinians, of wch without censure of ffanaticism to tell you number yet I might perhaps fairly yt mostly since I saw you, with God's denie myself to be, I holding three helpe, I have found out and given (as I persons in the Trinity, wch Socinus am persuaded) very good proofe of very many types of this grand apostacy. í Judges xv. 2. The two golden calves, say in general that all the history of ye of ye patriarchs of Rome and ConstantiOld Test: is allegorical of ye great Pro- nople. But to speake much, I cannot vidences of Gud concerning the church, now; and to say a little is to spoyle all. symbolically as to things past, and so on When this mysticall sense shall be typically to things future. Thus I say throughly understood, farewell Pope. I Ft Samson with his three women were do believe yć this sense of ye Old Test: types of the apostolical, the imperial and will be ye greatest demonstration in ye the apostaticall states of ye church of ye world against all atheists, infidels and New Test:. Gideon was a type of the papists. However, let not these things apostles, and Abimelech of ye bishop of be any prejudice against what I have said Rome : so was Samson's companion, in this paper.