1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Glasites

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GLASITES, or Sandemanians,[1] a Christian sect, founded in Scotland by John Glas (q.v.). It spread into England and America, but is now practically extinct. Glas dissented from the Westminster Confession only in his views as to the spiritual nature of the church and the functions of the civil magistrate. But his son-in-law Robert Sandeman added a distinctive doctrine as to the nature of faith which is thus stated on his tombstone: “That the bare death of Jesus Christ without a thought or deed on the part of man, is sufficient to present the chief of sinners spotless before God.” In a series of letters to James Hervey, the author of Theron and Aspasia, he maintained that justifying faith is a simple assent to the divine testimony concerning Jesus Christ, differing in no way in its character from belief in any ordinary testimony. In their practice the Glasite churches aimed at a strict conformity with the primitive type of Christianity as understood by them. Each congregation had a plurality of elders, pastors or bishops, who were chosen according to what were believed to be the instructions of Paul, without regard to previous education or present occupation, and who enjoy a perfect equality in office. To have been married a second time disqualified for ordination, or for continued tenure of the office of bishop. In all the action of the church unanimity was considered to be necessary; if any member differed in opinion from the rest, he must either surrender his judgment to that of the church, or be shut out from its communion. To join in prayer with any one not a member of the denomination was regarded as unlawful, and even to eat or drink with one who had been excommunicated was held to be wrong. The Lord's Supper was observed weekly; and between forenoon and afternoon service every Sunday a love feast was held at which every member was required to be present. Mutual exhortation was practised at all the meetings for divine service, when any member who had the gift of speech (χάρισμα) was allowed to speak. The practice of washing one another's feet was at one time observed; and it was for a long time customary for each brother and sister to receive new members, on admission, with a holy kiss. “Things strangled” and “blood” were rigorously abstained from; the lot was regarded as sacred; the accumulation of wealth they held to be unscriptural and improper, and each member considered his property as liable to be called upon at any time to meet the wants of the poor and the necessities of the church. Churches of this order were founded in Paisley, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leith, Arbroath, Montrose, Aberdeen, Dunkeld, Cupar, Galashiels, Liverpool and London, where Michael Faraday was long an elder. Their exclusiveness in practice, neglect of education for the ministry, and the antinomian tendency of their doctrine contributed to their dissolution. Many Glasites joined the general body of Scottish Congregationalists, and the sect may now be considered extinct. The last of the Sandemanian churches in America ceased to exist in 1890.

See James Ross, History of Congregational Independency in Scotland (Glasgow, 1900). (D. Mn.)


  1. The name Glasites or Glassites was generally used in Scotland; in England and America the name Sandemanians was more common.