Sandeman, Robert

, from whom a religious sect is generally named, was born at Perth in Scotland in 1723. Being intended for one of the learned professions, he studied for two years at the university of Edinburgh, but at the expiration of that time married, and his fortune being- small, entered into the linen trade at Perth, whence he removed to Dundee, and afterwards to Edinburgh. The lady he married was the daughter of the rev. John Glass (See Glass), who founded the sect, at that time called from him Gtassitcs; and Mr. Sandeman, who was now an elder in one of Glass’s churches, or congregations, and had imbibed all his opinions, published a series of letters addressed to Mr. Hervey, occasioned by that author’s “Therou and Aspasio,” in which he endeavours to shew that his notion of faith is contradictory to the scripture account of it, and could only serve to lead men, professedly holding the doctrines commonly called Calvinistic, to establish their own righteousness upon their frames, inward feelings, and various acts of faith. In these letters Mr. Sandeman attempts to prove, that faith is neither more nor less than a simple assent to the divine testimony concerning Jesus Christ, recorded in the New Testament; and he maintains, that the word faith, or belief, is constantlyused by the apostles to signify what is denoted by it in common discourse, viz. a persuasion of the truth of any proposition, and that there is no difference between believing any common testimony, and believing the apostolic testimony, except that which results from the nature of the testimony itself. This led the way to a controversy, among Calvin ists in Scotland, concerning the nature of justifying faith and those who adopted Mr. Sandeman’s; notion of it, and who took the denomination of Sandemanians, formed themselves into church order, in strict fellowship with the church of Scotland, but holding no kind of communion with other churches. The chief opinions and practices in which this sect differs from others, are, their weekly administration of the Lord’s Supper; their | lovefeasts, of which every member is not only allowed but required to partake, and which consist of their dining together at each other’s houses in the interval between the morning and afternoon service: their kiss of charity used on this occasion, at the admission of a new member, and at other times, when they deem it to be necessary or proper; their weekly collection before the Lord’s Supper for the support of the poor, and defraying other expences mutual exhortation abstinence from blood and things strangled washing each other’s feet, the precept concerning which, as well as other precepts, they understand literally community of goods so far as that every one is to consider all that he has in his possession and power as liable to the calls of the poor and church, and the unlawfulness of laying up treasures on earth, by setting them apart for any distant, future, and uncertain use. They allow of public and private diversions so far as they are not connected with circumstances really sinful; but apprehending a lot to be sacred, disapprove of playing at cards, dice, &c They maintain a plurality of elders, pastors, or bishops, in each church, and the necessity of the presence of two elders in every act of discipline, and at the administration of the Lord’s Supper. In the choice of these elders, want of learning, and engagements in trade, &c. are no sufficient objection; but second marriages disqualify for the office; and they are ordained by prayer and fasting, imposition of hands, and giving the right hand of fellowship. In their discipline they are strict and severe, and think themselves obliged to separate from the communion and worship of all such religious societies as appear to them not to profess the simple truth for their only ground of hope, and who do not walk in obedience to it. We shall only add, that in every church transaction, they esteem unanimity to be absolutely necessary.

In 1758 Mr. Sandeman commenced a correspondence with Mr. Samuel Pike of London, an independent minister; and in 1760 came himself to London, and preached in various places, attracting the crowds that usually follow novelties. While here he received an invitation to go to America, with which he complied in 1764, and continued there propagating his doctrines and discipline in various places, particularly in New-England, until the political disputes arose between Great Britain and the colonies, when he became very obnoxious by taking the part of the | former. He did not live, however, to witness the unhappy consequences of that contest, but died at Danbury, April 2, 1771, aged fifty-three. His sect, although not numerous, still exists, but under various modifications, in Scotland; and there are a few branches of it in England, and one in Paul’s Alley, Barbican, London. Mr. Sandeman, besides his “Letters on Theron and Aspasio,” published his correspondence with Mr. Pike “Thoughts on Christianity” “The sign of the prophet Jonah” “The honour of marriage, opposed to all Impurities;” and “On Solomon’s Song.1


Wilson’s Hist, of Dissenting Churches. Encyclop. Britannica.The tenets of the sect were first published by themselves in a tract called “An account of the Christian practices observed by the Church in St. Martin’s-le-Grand,” 176ti, where they then assembled.