by Samuel Pike
Edited by Ruben Boiler
SAMUEL PIKE, the author of the following Tract, was born about the year 1717 at Ramsey, in Wiltshire. In his early life, in the obscurity of a country village, he acquired the elements of literary and theological knowledge, and discovered that enlightened piety and that love of truth, which characterised him through life. At a suitable age he entered the academy in London for preparatory study for the ministry. The learned John Eames, F.R.S., was his scientific tutor; and Mr. John Hubbard directed his theological studies. After completing his academical course, he became pastor of a congregation at Henley on the Thames, where he remained for a few years. In 1747 he was called to London, to succeed Mr. John Hill, whose Sermons are still highly esteemed, as minister of the Independent church meeting in Three Cranes, Thames Street, and was soon after chosen (then a high honour) one of the preachers of the Merchants' Lecture, Pinner's Hall. He also, for some time, in conjunction with Mr. Samuel Hayward, conducted a course of Casuistical Lectures on the Lord's day evenings, which was afterwards published under the title of 'Cases of Conscience,' and has passed through a number of editions. Some time after his settlement in London he opened an academy, in which he instructed a number of young men in the languages, in natural philosophy, and in theology. In 1753 he published a work entitled 'Philosophia Sacra; or, The Principles of Natural Philosophy, extracted from Divine Revelation.' The work discovered learning and ingenuity, but being based on a false principle, has, like the other illustrations and defenses of Hutchinsonianism, fallen into not unmerited neglect. In the year 1755, he published, under the title, 'A Form of Sound Words,' an excellent analysis and explication of the Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism. The 'Letters on Theron and Aspasio,' by Sandeman, first published in 1757, attracted Mr. Pike's attention, and his study of these subjects led him to modify considerably his views respecting the nature of faith, and the manner in which it answers the purposes assigned to it in the plan of salvation. This change of opinion led, through a course of unpleasant controversy, to the termination of his ministerial relation with the church in Three Cranes' Court, in the year 1765. Soon after he joined the Sandemanian or Glassite church in Bull and Mouth street, who called him to the office of the eldership among them; he afterwards removed to a congregation in that connection in Trowbridge, in his native county, where he laboured with much acceptance, till the infirmities of a premature old age came on him; and after a short confinement he died in the spring of 1773, at the age of 56 years. Calumnious reports were circulated as to his having contracted intemperate habits, and it was said he died under a cloud; but his biographer, Walter Wilson, Esq., no way prejudiced in his favour by attachment to his peculiar views, states that 'he can assure his readers that such reports were utterly without foundation; and that he with great satisfaction takes the opportunity of publicly contradicting a report so calamitous to the reputation of an injured individual, and so unfavourable to the interests of religion.' In the prospect of dissolution, the principles unfolded in the following tract supported his heart. He was calm, resigned, and happy in the faith of the truth, and the hope of eternal life, and instead of his sun setting under a cloud it shone brilliant to the last.
The Tract that follows is composed of extracts from Mr. Pike's writings. The first part of it is to be found in his 'Dispassionate Narrative of the Rise, Progress, and Issue of the Late Schism in the church under the pastoral care of Samuel Pike.' London. 1760. Pages 93-106. The tenth section does not appear in any former reprint. The second part is taken from his 'Free Grace indeed !' London. 1760. Pages 29-37. This part also does not appear in any former edition of the 'Brief Thoughts.' The third part is extracted from the same pamphlet, pages 62-78. In the year 1790, the late Charles Stuart, of Dunearn, Esq., M.D., the son-in-law of Dr. John Erskine, the friend of Andrew Fuller, a man who united in a remarkable degree, to use Dr. M'Crie's words in reference to him, 'the honourable feelings of the gentleman, the refined and liberal thinking of the scholar, and the unaffected and humble piety of the Christian,' published without the author's name, the Tract, with the exceptions noted, under the title of 'Brief Thoughts.' It was adopted by the Edinburgh Society for publishing Religious Tracts, founded in 1793, and forms the fourteenth of their series. It was also received into the series of the London Religious Tract Society, and published in two tracts, No. 294, 295, with the separate titles of, 'Hindrances to believe the Gospel,' and 'Rest in Christ.' To the very neat edition of the Tract published in 48vo, at Kelso, 1851, the editor, the Rev. Horace Bonar, has appended as a third part, an excellent letter of the late Henry David Inglis, advocate, 'On holding fast the beginning of our Confidence.'
This Tract has been very highly estimated both by theologians and by Christians,—the former admiring its lucidity and comprehensiveness as a statement of doctrine; the latter delighting in it as 'the sincere milk of the word,' most wholesome spiritual food. There is an interesting incident in reference to it recorded in Dr. Hanna's Life of Dr. Chalmers. Soon after the publication of 'The Farewell Address to the Parishioners of Kilmany,' Dr. Stuart and the author met in the streets of Edinburgh, and got into a very animated conversion on religious subjects, particularly the nature of faith and its functions in the saving economy. Dr. Stuart was not quite satisfied with some of his friend's modes of expression on these subjects, and the long conversation did not seem to have removed the dissatisfaction. At last, just as they were about to part, Dr. Chalmers said, 'If you wish to see my views clearly and distinctly stated, you will find them in a tract entitled 'Brief Thoughts.' 'Why,' said Dr. Stuart, 'that tract was published by me.' Dr. Chalmers used to describe the whole scene very graphically, and adduce it as an instance of how men may think they differ, while really they agree.' It is very justly stated by the latest editor of the tract that 'its great value is that it states the Gospel with such point and plainness, that in the simple statement of it mistakes are either prevented or corrected.'
It is inserted in this Collection, not for its rareness but for its intrinsic excellence, and because appearing generally under the humble guise of a religious tract, it may fail to attract from students of divinity the attention it deserves, as a well-thought and clearly expressed illustration of some of the most important and difficult questions in Christian theology, both theoretical and practical. In conclusion, I repeat the declaration I have made elsewhere: 'I consider these Brief Thoughts' as among the most precious of mere human compositions, containing a singularly clear scriptural statement of those principles which lie at the foundation of those just views of the Christian method of salvation which are, under divine influence, the great source both of holiness and comfort.'
Table of Contents
I. CONCERNING THE GOSPEL, AND TIIE HINDRANCES TO BELIEVE IT.
II. CONCERNING THE WAY IN WHICH THE GOSPEL BELIEVED GIVES PEACE AND HOPE.
III. CONCERNING THE WAY IN WHICH A BELIEVER COMES AT TRUE SATISFACTION ABOUT HIS STATE TOWARDS GOD.