Palmer, John

, a dissenting writer of the last century, was born in Southwark, where his father was an undertaker, and of the Calvinistic persuasion. Under whom he received his classical education is not known. In 1746 he began to attend lectures, for academical learning, under the rev. Dr. David Jennings, in Wellclose square, London. Soon after, leaving the academy, about 1752, he was, on the rev. James Read’s being incapacitated by growing disorders, chosen as assistant to officiate at the dissenting meeting in New Broad-street, in conjunction with Dr. Allen; and on the removal of the latter to Worcester, Mr. Palmer was ordained sole pastor of this congregation in 1759. He continued in this connection till 1780, when the society, greatly reduced in its numbers, was dissolved. For a great part of this time he filled the post of librarian, at Dr. Williams’s library, in Red- Cross-street. After the dissolution of his congregation he wholly left off preaching, and retired to Islington, where he lived privately till his death, on June 26, 1790, in the sixty-first year of his age. He | married a lady of considerable property, and during the latter years of his life kept up but little connection with the dissenters. He was a man of considerable talents, and accounted a very sensible and rational preacher. His pulpit compositions were drawn up with much perspicuity, and delivered with propriety. He allowed himself great latitude in his religious sentiments, and was a determined enemy to any religious test whatever. Tests, indeed, must have been obnoxious to one who passed through all the accustomed deviations from Calvinism, in which he had been educated, to Socinianism.

He published, besides some occasional sermons, 1. “Prayers for the use of families and persons in private; with a preface, containing a brief view of the argument for prayer,1773, 12mo. There has been a second edition of these prayers, which are much admired by those who call themselves rational dissenters. 2. “Free thoughts on the inconsistency of conforming to any religious test, as a condition of Toleration, with the true principle of Protestant Dissent,1779. 3. “Observations in defence of the Liberty of Man, as a moral agent; in answer to Dr. Priestley’s Illustrations of Philosophical Necessity,1779, 8vo. As the doctor replied to it, “In defence of the Illustrations of Philosophical Necessity,” Mr. Palmer published, 4. “An Appendix to the Observations in defence of the Liberty of Man, as a moral agent, &c.1780, 8vo. The controversy terminated with “A second Letter to the rev. John Palmer,” by Dr. Priestley. 5. “A summary view of the grounds of Christian Baptism; with a more particular reference to the baptism of infants; containing remarks, argumentative and critical, in explanation and defence of the rite. To which is added, a form of service made use of on such occasions,” 8vo. 1


Life by Mr. Toulmin in Monthly Mag. for 1797.—Wilson’s History of Dissenting Churches.