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viewing him a man capable of judging, I was persuaded that the various reports raised were false, and I was willing to hope the best: he told me, moreover, that they were going to build him a place, and he wished me much to come down to Chatham. I told the gentleman of the various reports I had heard; he affirmed that they were all false. I then asked how he came to write to my people and not to me? and why he promised to come to me and dispute the point, and did not? &c. Mr. Davis strongly defended and vindicated him, and told me that he should come to me. To which I replied, that, if the reports be false, he is an injured man; and, if so, and he goes on and prospers, I will come down to Chatham, and will assist him in any thing I can.
Some time after this a letter came. At the time of its coming I was not at home. My wife, having received it, laid it up for me, and forgeting to give it me, I knew nothing of the appointment; and so he came, in company with Mr. Davis, while I was gone to High Wycombe, where I had been previously engaged for a fortnight before, so that I saw him not. At my return my wife informed me who had been to see me, and gave me the letter he had sent. His coming I thought looked well: but I was soon informed, by Olliff and Barret, that all that I had formerly thought of the man and his doctrines was true; and others informed me that some persons who know me, but are ng friends of mine, were secretly rejoicing;
saying, that Mr. Vessey would shortly take up his pen against me, and that I should have work enough to maintain my standing with such an antagonist. These various reports drove me to desire of his congregation at Woolwich an honest and punctual account of the doctrines that he preached, of the spirit that he discovered, of the effects of it upon them, and of the life that he lived; and such an account as they would give me leave to publish, with their names affixed to it This request of mine was made in the month of May last; and in the month of June I received the following letter, signed by eleven persons; and, although there were several of his friends at the church-meeting who refused to sign it when it was read before them, yet every one of them acknowledged that the account was true.
TO THE REV. MR. HUNTINGTON.
Woolwich, June 14, 1792. WE, the under-mentioned members of the church at Woolwich, who, through mercy, have experienced the goodness of our God and Saviour, in rending, by the effectual working of the Spirit, that vail of error from off our understandings which Satan and our deceitful hearts had drawn us under, through the instrumentality of our late pastor, Mr. Vessey, having heard that he hath, by various means, both in word and letter, ' endeavoured to
extricate himself from under the charges brought against him by us, respecting the errors he advanced while at Woolwich, have judged it necessary to send you an account of his sentiments, which he publicly and privately taught amongst us, with the arguments he made use of to establish them: which, if you think proper, you are at liberty to publish, with our names unto it; seeing that many are staggered, and others blinded, through the feigned words he is spreading abroad as a cloak to cover over the hyprocrisy he is actuated with, lest the errors he taught amongst us should be made manifest.
About two years, or upwards, before he withdrew himself from officiating amongst us, several circumstances took place, which were, in some measure, made a means of opening our eyes to a discovery of the hypocrisy of his conduct. The first of which arose from some charges brought against his wife respecting her outward walk; which, after examination into, and being satisfied therein, it was brought before the church, and stated unto them, the majority of which agreed with him to her being suspended, which was accordingly done; but, notwithstanding his thus agreeing to it, he told us before we parted, that he was firmly persuaded that she was innocent of that which was alleged against her. Some time after this one of the church raised a contention respecting the decrees of God; on which account a church-meeting was called. During the interval
the man had a private conference with Mr, Vessey; the substance of which was, Whether God ordained every event that takes place in time, which arises through the entrance of sin into the world? Or whether he only foreknew that such events would happen, and therefore permitted them? Which last was the man's opinion. On the next evening, after preaching, having entered into conversation with Mr. Vessey respecting that which had passed between him and the man the night before, we found, to our astonishment, and contrary to that which he had oftentimes preached, that he justified the man in what he had asserted, and declared that it was his sentiments; upon which one of the members, Mr. Short, asked him, Whether or not the means that were instrumental in the death of Christ were not absolutely determined as well as foreknown by God, the same as the death itself? To which, after some hesitation, he said, No: he believed they were only foreknown, and therefore permitted. To which reply it was answered, Then, if that be the case, the using, or not using, of these means must wholly depend upon the free-will of man, and therefore might be fulfilled, or not fulfilled; which was no better than Arminianism to suppose. On the Monday evening following we met together, with the rest of the church, to come to some settlement respecting the matter in hand. After prayer unto the Lord for direction therein, we called upon the man to give us an account of the error he believed we were in; the substance
of which was this : That to affirm every event was ordained of God, was a damnable error, and came from hell; for it made God the author of sin; and that those who held such doctrines could have no sorrow on the account of evil; for that, he said, would be rebelling against God; and contrary to that which we believed. To which Mr. Vessey assented, and somewhat angrily said, at the conclusion of our meeting, that, if we opposed him thus in the aforesaid matter, a little thing would drive him away. The next evening following he took these words for his text, “ And of some have compassion, making a difference," Jude. Which discourse he levelled at those of us who had opposed him the night before; wherein he endeavoured, though attended with a good deal of evident confusion, which we perceived him in, to separate the secret will of God into two distinct parts. The one he called his permissive will; which, he said, had to do with those events he foreknew would terminate evil. The other he called his decretive will; which, he said, had to do with those events that were brought about through the immediate operation of his Spirit, The substance of the argument he drew up to support his idea of a permissive will in God, founded upon his foreknowledge only, without any effectual determination, was, that many words were made use of which were agreeable to the scriptures, though they were not expressed together therein. Thus God is declared to be a sovereign, and grace