Peirce, James

, an eminent dissenting minister, distinguished for his zealous defence of the principles of nonConformity, and a no less zealous latitudinarian in opinion, was born in 1673, at Wapping in London, of reputable parents. By hrs mother, who died last, when he was about seven years old, he, with a brother and sister, both older than himself, was committed to Mr. Matthew Mead, the famous dissenting minister at Stepney, as his guardian, at whose house he lived for some time after his mother’s death, and was taught by the same tutors Mr. Mead kept for his own sons. He was afterwards, by Mr. Mead’s direction, put to other grammar-schools, and at last sent to Utrecht in Holland, where he had his academical institution, and studied under Witsius, Leydecker, Graevius, Leusden, De Vries, and Luyts, and was well known to the celebrated Mr. Hadrian Reland, who was then his fellow student, and afterwards when he was professor corresponded with Mr. Peirce. The latter part of his time abroad Mr. Peirce spent at Leyden, where he attended Perizonius and Noodt especially, hearing Gronovius, Mark and Spanheim, occasionally; and with some of these professors in both universities he afterwards held a correspondence. After he had spent above five years in these two places, he lived privately in England, for some time at London, among his relations, and for some time at Oxford, where he lodged in a private house, and frequented the Bodleian library. After this, at the desire of his friends, he preached an evening lecture on Sundays at the meeting-house in Miles-lane, London, and occasionally in other places, until he settled at Cambridge, where he was treated with great respect and civility by many gentlemen of the university. In 1713 he was removed to a congregation at Exeter, where he continued till 1718, when a controversy arising among the dissenters about the doctrine of the Trinity, | from which some of them were at this time departing, three articles were proposed to him, and Mr. Joseph HalJet, senior, another dissenting minister in Exeter, in order to he subscribed; which both of them refused, and were ejected from their congregation. After this a new meeting was opened March 15, 1618-9, in that city, of which Mr. Peirce continued minister till his death, which happened March 30, 1726, in the 53d year of his age. His funeral sermon was preached April the 3d following by Mr. Joseph Hallet, jun. and printed at London, 1726, in 8vo; in which he was restrained by Mr. Peirce himself from bestowing any encomiums on him; but Mr. Hallet observes in a letter, that “he was a man of the strictest virtue, exemplary piety, and great learning; and was exceedingly communicative of his knowledge. He would condescend to converse on subjects of learning with young men, in whom he found any thirst after useful knowledge; and in his discoursing with them would be extremely free, and treat them as if they had been his equals in learning and years.” His works have been divided into four classes. Under the philosophical class, we find only his “Exercitatio Philosophica de Homoeomeria Anaxagorea,Utrecht, 1692. But he was more voluminous in the controversy between the church of England and the dissenters. Of the latter he has been esteemed a great champion. In their defence he published, 1. “Eight Letters to Dr. Wells,London, 1706 and 1707. 2. “Consideration on the sixth Chapter of the Abridgment of the London Cases, relating to Baptism and the sign of the Cross,London, 1708. 3. “Vindiciae Fratrum Dissentientium in Anglia,London, 1710, 8vo. 4. “An Enquiry into the present duty of a Low Churchman,London, 1711, 8vo. 5. “Vindication of the Dissenters,London, 1717, 8vo. 6. “A Letter to Dr. Bennet, occasioned by his late treatise concerning the Nonjurors’ Separation,” &c. London, 1717, 8vo. 7. “Preface to the Presbyterians not chargeable with King Charles’s death,Exeter, 1717, in 8vo. 8. “Defence of the‘ Dissenting Ministry and Ordination,” in two parts, London, 1718, 8vo. 9. “The Dissenters’ Reasons for not writing in behalf of Persecution. Designed for the satisfaction of Dr. Snape, in a letter to him,London, 1718, 8vo. 10. “Interest of the Whigs with relation to the Test- Act,London, 1718, 8vo. 11. “Reflections on Dean Sherlock’s Vindication of the Corporation and Test Acts,| London, 1718, 8vo. 12. “Charge of misrepresentations maintained against Dean Sherlock,London, 1719, 8vo. 13. “Loyalty, integrity, and ingenuity of High Church and the Dissenters compared,London, 1719, 8vo. Relative to his controversy at Exeter, which produced his ejectment, were published by him, 1. “The Case of the Ministers ejected at Exon,London, 1719, 8vo. 2. “Defence of the Case,London, 1719, 8vo. 3. “Animadversions on the true Account of the Proceedings at Salter’s Hall: with a Letter to Mr. Eveleigh,London, 1719, 8vo. 4. “A Second Letter to Mr. Eveleigh, in answer to his Sober Reply,Exeter, 1719, 8vo. 5. “A Letter to a subscribing Minister in Defence of the Animadversions,” &c. London, 1719, 8vo. 6. “Remarks upon the Account of what was transacted in the assembly at Exon,London,

1719, 8vo. 7. “An Answer to Mr. Enty’s Defence of the Assembly,London, 1719, 8vo. 8. “The Western Inquisition,London, 1720, 8vo. 9. “The Security of Truth, in answer to Mr. Enty,London, 1721, 8vo. 10. “Inquisition-honesty displayed,London, 1722, 8vo. On the doctrine of the Trinity he published, 1. “A Letter to a Dissenter in Exeter,London, 1719, 8vo. 2. “Plain Christianity defended,” in four parts, London, 1719, 1720, 8vo. 3. “Thirteen Queries propounded to the Rev. Mr. Walrond, in an appendix to the Innocent vindicated,London, 1719, 8vo. There was an Answer to these queries printed in 1721, under the title of “An Answer to some Queries printed at Exon, relating to the Arian Controversy,” and ascribed to Dr. Daniel Waterland. Mr. Peirce had some thoughts of writing a reply, but changing his purpose, Mr. Joseph Hallet, jun. wrote a defence of then), printed at London in 1736, 8vo, with this title: “The Truth and Importance of the Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity and Incarnation demonstrated: in a defence of the late learned Mr. Peirce’s thirteen Queries, and a Reply to Dr. W ’s, and a gentleman’s Answer to them,” &c. 4. “Propositions relating to the Controversy concerning the Trinity, in a Letter to the Rev. Mr. Enty,London, 1720, 8vo. 5. “An Answer to a pamphlet, entitled Textf of Holy Scripture compared, &c.London, 1721, 8vo. 6. “A Reply to Mr. Enty’s late piece, entitled Truth and Liberty consistent,” &c. London, 1721, 8vo. His most valuable works, however, are his commentaries on the Scripture: 1. “A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistle of | St. Paul to the Colossians. With an Appendix upon Ephes. iv. 8.London, 1725, 4to. 2. “A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians,” Loud. 1725, 4to. 3. “A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistle to the, Hebrews,1727, 4to. Theological: 1. “An essay in favour of giving the Eucharist to Children,1728, 8vo. 2. “Fifteen Sermons, and a Scripture Catechism,1728, 8vo. 1


Life in.Pret. Diss. Magazine, vol. II. Gen. Dict.