« PreviousContinue »
EDWARD STILLINGFLEET (1635–1699) distinguished himself in early life by his writings in defence of the doctrines of the church. His * Irenicum, a Weapon-salve for the Church's Wounds,' 1661, was considered by Burnet ‘a masterpiece.' The title of his principal work is • Origines Sacræ; or a Rational Account of the Grounds of Natural and Revealed Religion (1662). His abilities and extensive learning caused him to be raised in 1689 to the dignity of Bishop of Worcester. Towards the end of his life (1697) he published 'A Defence of the Doctrine of the Trinity, in which some passages in Locke's “Essay on the Human Understanding' were attacked as subversive of fundamental doctrines of Christianity; but in the controversy which ensued, the philosopher was generally held to have come off yictorious. So great was the Bishop's chagrin at this result, that it was thought to have hastened his death. The prominent matters of discussion in this controversy were the resurrection of the body and the immateriality of the soul. On these points, Locke argued, that although the resurrection of the dead is revealed in Scripture, the reanimation of the identical bodies which inhabited this world is not revealed; and that even if the soul were proved to be material, this would not imply its mortality, since an Omnipotent Creator may, if he pleases, impart the faculty of thinking to matter as well as to spirit. But, as Stillingfleet remarked, there is no self-consciousness in matter, and mind, when united to it, is still independent. The general theological views of Stillingfleet leaned towards the Arminian section of the Church of England. During the reign of James II. he was the great defender of Protestantism. His works are chiefly argumentative; but his Sermons, published after his death, deservedly bear a high character for good sense, sound morality, energy of style, and the knowledge of human nature which they display.
True Wisdom. That is the truest wisdom of a man which doth most conduce to the happiness of life. For wisdom as it refers to action lies in the proposal of a right end, and the choice of the most proper means to attain it: which end doth not refer to any one part of a man's life, but to the whole as taken together. He therefore only deserves the name of a wise man, not that considers how to be rich and great when he is poor and mean, nor how to be well when he is sick, nor how to escape a present danger, nor how to compass a particular design ; but he that considers the whole course of his life together, and what is fit for him to make the end of it, and by what means he may best enjoy the happiness of it. I confess it is one great part of a wise man never to propose to himself too much happiness here; for whoever doth so is sure to find himself deceived, and consequently is so much more miserable as he fails in his greatest expectations. But since God did not make men on purpose to be miserable, since there is a great difference as to men's conditions, since that difference depends very much on their own choice, there is a great deal of reason to place true wisdom in the choice of those things which tend most to the comfort and happiness of life.
That which gives a man the greatest satisfaction in what he doth, and either prevents, or lessens, or makes him more easily bear the troubles of life, doth the most conduce to the happiness of it. It was a bold saying of Epicurus: “That it is more desirable to be miserable by acting according to reason, than to be happy in going against it;' and I cannot tell how it can well agree with his notion of felicity: but it is a certain truth, that in the consideration of happiness, the satisfaction of a man's own mind doth weigh down all the external accidents of life. For suppose a man to have riches and honours as great as Ahasuerus bestowed on his highest favourite Haman, yet by his sad instance we find that a small discontent, when the mind suffers it to increase and to spread its venom, doth so weaken the power of reason, disorder the passions, make a man's life so uneasy to him as to precipitate him from the height of his fortune into the depth of ruin. But, on the other side, if we suppose a man to be always pleased with his condition, to enjoy an even and quiet mind in every state, being neither lifted up with prosperity nor cast down with adversity, he is really happy in comparison with the other. It is a mere speculation to discourse of any complete happiness in this world; but that which doth either lessen the number, or abate the weight, or take off the malignity of the troubles of life, doth contribute very much to that degree of happiness which may be expected here.
The integrity and simplicity of a man's mind doth all this. In the first place, it gives the greatest satisfaction to a man's own mind. For although it be impossible for a man not to be liable to error and mistake, yet, if he doth mistake with an innocent mind, he hath the comfort of his innocency when he thinks himself bound to correct his error. Bui if a man prevaricates with himself, and acts against the sense of his own mind, though his conscience did not judge aright at that time, yet the goodness of this bare act, with respect to the rule, will not prevent the sting that follows the want of inward integrity in doing it. The backslider in heart, saith Solomon, shall be filled with his own ways, but a good man shall be satisfied from himself.
The doing just and worthy and generous things without any sinister ends and designs, leaves a most agreeable pleasure to the mind, like that of a constant health, which is better felt than expressed. When a man applies his mind to the knowledge of his duty, and when he doth understand it (as it is not hard for an honest mind to do, for, as the oracle answered the servant who desired to know how he might please his master: 'If you will seek it, you will be sure to find it'), sets himself with a firm resolution to pursue it; though the rain falls and the floods arise, and the winds blow on every side of him, yet he enjoys peace and quiet within, notwithstanding all the noise and blustering abroad ; and is sure to hold out after all, because he is founded upon a rock. But take one that endeavours to blind or corrupt or master his conscience, to make it serve some mean end or design ; what uneasy reflections hath he upon himself, what perplexing thoughts, what tormenting fears, what suspicions and jealousies do disturb his imagination and rack his mind! What art and pains doth such a one take to be believed honest and sincere ! and so much the more because he doth not believe himself: he fears still he hath not given satisfaction enough, and by overdoing it, is the most suspected. Secondly, because integrity doth more become a man, and doth really promote his interest in the world. It is the saying of Dio Chrysostom, a heathen orator, that 'simplicity ard truth is a great and wise thing, but cunning and deceit is foolish and mean; for,' saith he, observe the beasts: the more courage and spirit they have, the less art and subtilty they use; but the more timorous and ignoble they are, the more false and deceitful. True wisdom and greatness of mind raises a man above the need of using little tricks and devices. Sincerity and honesty carries one thrcugh many difficulties, which all the arts he can invent would never help him through. For nothing doth a man more real mischief in the world than to be suspected of too much craft; because every one stands upon his guard agaiust him, and suspects plots and designs where there are none intended; insomuch that, though he speaks with all the sincerity that is possible, yet nothing he saith can be believed.
The path of the just,' saith the wise man, “is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day. As the day begins with obscurity and a great mixture of darkness, till by quick and silent motions the light overcomes the mists and vapours of the night, and not only spreads its beams upon the tops of the mountains, but darts them into the deepest and most shady valleys; thus simplicity and integrity may at first appearing look dark and suspicious, till by degrees it breaks through the clouds of envy and detraction, and then shines with a greater glory.
THOMAS KEN (1637–1711) was a native of Little Berkhampstead, Hertfordshire. He was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. In 1667, he obtained from Morley, Bishop of Winchester, the living of Brightstone, Isle of Wight, and there he wrote his ‘Morning and Evening Hymns,' which he sang daily himself, with the accompaniment of a lute. These hymns, or part of them are in every collection of sacred poetry and in the memory of almost every English child. Who has not repeated the opening lines?
Awake, my soul, and with the sun,
To pay thy morning sacrifice ! Other poems, devotional and didactic, were written by Ken. In 1681, he published a ‘Manual of Prayers for the use of the Scholars of Winchester College.' In 1684, he was made Bishop of Bath and Wells. Having refused to sign the Declaration of Indulgence issued by James II. Ken was one of the seven bishops sent to the Tower. He afterwards declined to take the oath of allegiance to William III. and was deprived. He had then saved a sum of £700, and for this money Lord Weymouth allowed him £80 a year and residence at his mansion of Longleat, where Ken lived till his death. In his latter years, the bishop is described as travelling about the country, like Old Mortality, on an old white horse, collecting subscriptions for relief of the poor nonjurors. Ken's works, in 4 vols. were published by W. Hawkins, his executor, in 1721. Lives of him were written by Hawkins (1713), by the Rev. W. L. Bowles (1830), by J. T. Round (1838), and by Anderson (1853).
This list of eminent divines of the Anglican Church might easily be extended by notices of men eminent in their own day, and remarkable for erudition, but whose writings, chiefly of a polemical character, are now seldom read. Among these were the two Pocockes, father and son, distinguished for their Oriental learning ;'ARCHBISHOP TENISON (1636–1715), who succeeded Tillotson in the primacy; and DR. HENRY ALDRICH, Dean of Christ Church (1647-1710), who was an accomplished musician, as well as polemic and logician, and who added about forty fine anthems to our church-music. Oxford seems at this time to have been pre-eminently distinguished for its divines and scholars; and Lord Macaulay has remarked that it was chiefly in the university towns, or in London, that the celebrated clergy were congregated. The country clergy, without access to libraries, and travelling but little, in consequence of the imperfect means of locomotion, were a greatly inferior class-rude, unpolished, and prejudiced ; such as the wits and dramatists loved to ridicule.
The increasing body of Nonconformists, or Protestant dissenters, had also some eminent names (to be hereafter noticed); and Baxter, Owen, Calamy, Flavel, and Bunyan, are still as well known as their more erudite brethren of the establishment.
GEORGE FOX. GEORGE Fox, the originator of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, was one of the most prominent religious enthusiasts of the age. He was the son of a weaver at Drayton, in Leicestershire, and was born in 1624. Having been apprenticed to a shoemaker who traded in wool and cattle, he spent much of his youth in tending sheep, an employment which afforded ample room for meditation and solitude. When about nineteen years of age, he was one day vexed by a disposition to intemperance which he observed in two professedly religious friends whom he met at a fair. 'I went away, says he in his Journal,' and, when I had done my business, returned home; but I did not go to bed that night, nor could I sleep; but sometimes walked up and down, and sometimes prayed, and cried to the Lord, who said unto me : “Thou seest how young people go together into vanity, and old people into the earth; thou must forsake all, young and old, keep out of all, and be a stranger to all.” This divine communication, as, in the warmth of his imagination, he considered it to be, was scrupulously obeyed. Leaving his relations and inaster, he betook himself for several years to a wandering life, which was interrupted only for a few months, during which he was prevailed upon to reside at home. At this period, as well as during the remainder of his life, Fox had many dreams and visions, and supposed himself to receive supernatural messages from heaven. In his Journal he gives an account of a particular movement of his mind in singularly beautiful and impressive language: 'One morning, as I was sitting by the fire, a great cloud came over me, and a temptation beset me, and I sate still. And it was said, All things come by nature; and the Ele.. ments and Stars came over me, so that I was in a moment quite clouded with it; but, inasmuch as I sate still and said nothing, the people of the house perceived nothing. And as I sate still under it and let it alone, a living hope rose in me, and a true voice arose in me which cried : These is a living God who made all things. And inmediately the cloud and temptation vanished away, and the life rose over it all, and my heart was glad, and I praised the
ing God.' Afterwards he tells us, 'the Lord's power broke forth, and I had great openings and prophecies, and spoke unto the people of the things of God, which they heard with attention and silence, and went away and spread the fame thereof.' He began about the year 1647 to teach publicly in the vicinity of Duckenfield and Manchester, whence he travelled through several neighbouring counties. He had now formed the opinions, that a learned education is unnecessary to a minister; that the existence of a separate clerical profession is unwarranted by the Bible; that the Creator of the world is not a dweller in temples made with hands; and that the Scriptures are not the rule either of conduct or judgment, but that man should follow the light of Christ within.' He believed, moreover, that he was divinely commanded to abstain from taking off his hat to any one, of whatever rank; to use the words thee and thou in addressing all persons with whom he communicated ; to bid nobody good-morrow or good-night; and never to bend his knee to any one in authority, or take an oath, even on the most solemn occasion. Acting upon these views, he sometimes went into churches while service was going on, and interrupted the clergymen by loudly contradicting their statements of doctrine. By these breaches of order, and the employment of such unceremonious fashions of address as, ' Come down, thou deceiver ! he naturally gave great offence, which led sometimes to his imprisonment, and sometimes to severe treatment from the hands of the populace. At Der by, he was imprisoned in a loathsome dungeon for a year, and afterwards in a still more disgusting cell at Carlisle for half that period. To this ill-treatment he submitted with meekness and resignation. As an illustration of the rough usage which the patient Quaker experienced, we extract this narrative from his 'Journal:
Fox's Ill-treatment at Ulverstone. The people were in a rage, and fell upon me in the steeple-house before his (Justice Sawrey's) face, knocked me down, kicked me, and trampled upon me. So great was the uproar, that some tumbled over their seats for fear. At last he came and took me from the people, led me out of the steeple-house, and put me into the hands of the constables and other officers, bidding them whip me, and put me out of the town. Many friendly people being come to the market, and some to the steeplehouse to hear me, divers of these they knocked down also, and broke their heads, so that the blood ran down several; and Judge Fell's son running after to see what they would do with me, they threw him into a ditch of water, some of them crying: