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REVIEW OF NEW PUBLICATIONS.
ART. I.-Bishop Hall, his Life and Times: or, Memoirs of the Life, Writings, and Sufferings, of the Right Rev. Joseph Hall, D. D. successively Bishop of Exeter and Norwich; with a View of the Times in which he lived; and an Appendix, containing some of his unpublished Writings, his Funeral Sermon, &c. By the Rev. JOHN JONES, Perpetual Curate of Cradley, Worcestershire. Seeley, London, 1826.
It is highly creditable to the Perpetual Curate of Cradley, to study the life, the writings, and the times of Bishop Hall. He could not easily devote his leisure hours to a more profitable pursuit, or a more delightful recreation. But it is not quite so much to his honour, to give to the world the result of his lucubrations and researches, in the shape of an expensive and somewhat corpulent octavo, of about six hundred pages! Had he contented himself with publishing, in a separate and succinct form, the memoirs which this venerable man has left us of his own life, enriched with concise and judicious illustrations, from the history of his times, he would have rendered a valuable service to the English Church. Instead of this, he has given us the Bishop's own account, in his own words, followed in some places by the editor's version of it; or rather by his wanton and needless deterioration of Hall's original and racy composition. So that the work, in one or two portions of it, reads something like a Bill in Chancery, where we have the same story told twice over, in a different form. But though we cannot say any great matters for the performance of the editor, we willingly call the attention of the public to the work; the materials of which possess an interest, which no unskilfulness in their preparation can essentially impair.
Every one, who knows any thing of Ecclesiastical Biography, knows the "Observations of some Specialities of Divine Providence, in the Life of Joseph Hall, Bishop of Norwich, written by his own Hand;" and his account of his own sufferings, in a small narrative by the title of "Hard Measure." From the former of these we learn, that his
mother Winifride, of the house of the Bambridges, was a woman of such rare sanctity, that the most pious matrons of ancient times need not to disdain her admittance to comparison. It appears that this worthy and excellent lady was severely and continually exercised with the afflictions of a weak body, and a wounded spirit. Her constitutional and spiritual maladies, it would seem, conspired to produce a very extraordinary dream, which promised her a final deliverance from her troubles. The vision probably contributed something to its own accomplishment; and the rest was achieved by the nonconformist divine, Anthony Gilby, who contrived to persuade his patient, that the dream was no other than divine, and sent, as a gracious premonition, from God himself. From that time there appears to have been an end to her heavier spiritual conflicts. She retained, however, a profound and grateful sense of her deliverance from these perils and distresses; and in her lessons of piety to her son, "temptations, desertions, and spiritual comforts, were her usual theme!"
From a parent like this, it might naturally be expected that her son would imbibe a spirit of intense devotion, and a habit of referring almost every remarkable occurrence in life, directly and immediately, to the especial interference of God. This habit, which to some minds is highly dangerous and pernicious, produced no material disorder or irregularity in the mind of Hall. On the contrary, it gave to his piety a character of extraordinary singleness. One may, sometimes perhaps, be tempted to smile at the simplicity of his faith in extraordinary and special providences. But levity. itself must be changed into veneration on finding, that this same faith enabled him to live, almost like one of the ancient patriarchs, in close communion with heaven, and to endure, as seeing him who is invisible.
The first speciality of Providence which he records, is that which secured him the blessing of an university education; which he was very near missing, in consequence of the numerous family, and moderate income of his father. He was entered at Emanuel College, Cambridge, where he resided thirteen years in all; the last six or seven as Fellow, "with such contentment as the rest of his life in vain strove to yield him." He owed his fellowship to a second of these specialities, having been elected in the room of his tutor, Mr. Gilby, who had been tempted to resign his fellowship, on a promise of patronage from the Earl of Huntingdon. The Earl expired a few days after the vacancy was declared, and the examinations for a successor had commenced. Hall was elected, and Gilby thrown upon the world.
In 1601, he narrowly escaped being appointed Master of Tiverton School. He was presented, just in time, to the living of Halstead, in Suffolk, by Sir Robert Drury. During his residence on that benefice, he was much troubled by "a witty and bold atheist, one Mr. Lilly,"
the same (it has been conjectured) with the celebrated author of "Euphues, or, the Anatomy of Wit." However that may be, it appears that Hall apprehended great danger and hindrance to his ministry, from the profaneness and profligacy of this person, and from his pernicious influence with Sir Robert Drury. Finding all other measures fruitless, the divine felt himself impelled to " bend his prayers" against this pestilent adversary. The success of this expedient was all that the good man's heart could desire.
God (he says) gave me answer accordingly; for this malicious man, going hastily up to London, to exasperate my patron against me, was then and there swept away by the plague, and never returned to do any further mischief. Now the coast was clear before me; and I gained every day of the good opinion and favourable respects of that honourable gentleman and my worthy neighbours.—
Being once settled "in that sweet and civil county of Suffolk, near to St. Edmund's Bury," his first care was to build up his ruinous house; his next to find a wife to preside in it. This last important business, however, seems to have cost him as little trouble as it did the progenitor of mankind to find a help meet for him in Paradise. No sooner did he begin to feel himself weary of "the uncouth solitariness of his life, and the extreme incommodity of that single housekeeping," than, behold, "a comely and modest gentlewoman" is already bespoken for him, by the good offices of a grave and reverend minister, one Mr. Grandridge. He listened to the motion as sent from God, and enjoyed the comforts of this heaven-made match for nearly half a century!
About two years afterwards, he was prevailed on to attend Sir Edmund Bacon, on his travels to Spa, an excursion which he speaks of with great delight, and which gave him an opportunity of examining foreign lands with the eye of a divine. The condition of popish countries may well be described by this single sentence, in which he speaks of the state of Liege :-" There you shall find in every corner a maumet [image]; at every door a beggar; in every dish a priest.”P. 36.
In the year 1612, he was removed, unwillingly, from Halstead to the perpetual curacy or donative of Waltham Holy Cross ;-a change which he ascribes to the illiberality of his patron, Sir R. Drury, in withholding a portion of his dues. Previous to his removal, however, he had become known to the court of Prince Henry; first, by his Meditations; and secondly, by an opportunity which offered of preaching before His Highness at Richmond, who placed him on the list of his chaplains. A short time previous to the Prince's death, he was made a Prebendary of Wolverhampton; a post which afforded him nothing but the toil and honour of recovering certain emoluments belonging to that Church; not without further signs of the never-failing
Providence which attended him, and which caused him to exclaim, "O God, what a hand hadst thou in the carriage of that work!"
He remained minister of Waltham for two and twenty years; in the course of which period he was several times employed by King James, on public services. He attended the Earl of Carlisle on his embassy to France, and in his absence became Dean of Worcester. Before he could take possession of that dignity, he was summoned to attend the King on his journey into Scotland, and appointed to draw up an answer to Mr. W. Struthers, a divine of Edinburgh, who vehemently opposed the five points of discipline, urged on the Church of Scotland, as a step towards uniformity. In the year 1618, Hall was appointed by the King to attend the Synod of Dort, with three other divines, Carleton, Bishop of Llandaff; Davenant, Margaret Professor at Cambridge; and Ward, Master of Sydney College. Of all the providential specialities in the life of Hall, there is none for which he ought to have been so thankful, as for the seasonable indisposition (febres optanda) which compelled him to retire, after an attendance of two months, from that most atrocious Inquisition. It was no fit scene for a man of his mild and catholic spirit. His theology, it is true, was, theoretically, of a Calvinistic complexion, but by no means of a deep and austere cast; and the whole tenor of his writings evinces that, if his creed was predestinarian, it was, practically, corrected by the soundness of his understanding, and the excellence of his temper. He was, therefore, grossly misplaced in an assembly which was, beyond all question, packed by the Anti-remonstrant party, for the purpose of heaping insult and persecution on men of more moderate sentiments and principles.
We are unable to perceive, very distinctly, what are the opinions of Mr. Jones respecting this conspiracy. It is evident, at all events, that his sensibilities are not very much alive to the abominations of that Mystery of Iniquity. He observes, with remarkable composure,
It has been said that this Synod was not conducted with impartiality; and that its end and design was to condemn the Remonstrants. The majority certainly were Calvinists, or Anti-remonstrants, and on that account, it may be that the Remonstrants had no fair play to defend themselves, and were also not admitted to a free debate"!!!—P. 79.
And what other symptoms of a total defiance of all impartial justice would Mr. Jones require? But then it has been asserted by Goodwin, in his Redemption Redeemed (p. 395), that the contra-remonstrants had taken a previous oath to condemn the opposite party on any terms whatever; and this charge has been repelled by a letter from Bishop Hall, in the year 1651, to Fuller, the church historian! And what then? Suppose the fullest credit to be given to this vindication; it amounts to nothing more than this; that the members of that Assembly
were not guilty of a proceeding too detestable to be endured among any but a society of the most desperate conspirators. But, nevertheless, it still remains true, that, oath or no oath, they acted throughout like men who saw their way very clearly to the conclusion to which they were to come; and were resolved that no obstacles-no sense of courtesy, or equity, or good faith, should impede their progress to it.
If any persons are desirous of arriving at a satisfactory conviction respecting the composition, temper, and conduct of this convention, they will find ample materials for forming their judgment in Vol. I. of Mr. Nichols' Translation of the Works of Arminius. We are quite sensible, that in referring our readers to this work, we are imposing a most tremendous task on their patience. The compilation of Mr. N. displays extraordinary industry, and an almost incredible perverseness of ingenuity in rendering the results of that industry as nearly useless as possible. We do verily believe, that the history of literature scarcely affords a parallel to the ruinous confusion and dislocation, into which a vast mass of very valuable materials are thrown, in that very laborious and very tiresome publication! Among other things, it contains a copious account of the Synod of Dort; not, however, in the form of one continuous and compact narrative, but in a succession of detached notes, appended to the translation of the fifth oration of Arminius, by way of contrasting the proceedings of that cabal, with the more enlightened and just notions entertained, long before, by Arminius himself, respecting the duties and objects of a Synod. In directing our readers to Mr. Nichols' work, it is proper to add, that it is compiled in the temper of one, decidedly hostile to the spirit and doctrines of the Calvinists, and as decidedly favourable to those of the Arminians. But, with this guard upon their minds, they may very safely resort to it. It is collected from unquestionable authorities, many of them bitterly adverse to the cause of the Remonstrants. Let them, therefore, reject the colouring, and fix their attention solely on the facts and documents; and we cannot conceive it possible for them to rise from the perusal without imagining that the Protestant agitators of Dort were emulous of the Popish fame of Constance and of Trent!
One of the most remarkable circumstances connected with that Synod, is the strange and anomalous character in which the English Divines made their appearance there. They did not attend as representatives of their respective churches, or of the Church of England generally; but rather, as a sort of theological agents on the part of King James. And it is exceedingly curious, that these delegates of
Nichols, pp. 417, 418.