Page images


The learned author of "The Intellectual System born in 1617, at Aller, Somersetshire, of which parish his father was rector. In 1630 he was admitted pensioner of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, of which he was subsequently chosen fellow, and became an eminent tutor. On occasion of taking the degree of B.D. in 1644, he maintained two theses, first, That the reasons of good and evil are eternal and indispensable, and that There are incorporeal substances by their own nature immortal, from which it has been thought that he was, even at that early period, revolving in his mind those important subjects which he afterwards introduced in his great work. The same year he was appointed Master of Clare Hall, and in the following year Regius Professor of Hebrew; took the degree of D.D. in 1651 ; and was chosen Master of Christ's College in 1654. In this station he spent the remainder of his life, proving highly serviceable to the University and the Church of England. In 1678 he published the celebrated work by which his name has been handed down to posterity, “The True Intellectual System of the Universe; the first part, wherein all the reason and philosophy of atheism is confuted, and its impossibility demonstrated.” The imprimatur for the printing was given seven years previously, but in consequence of opposition at court the publication was greatly delayed. Cudworth left several manuscripts which are considered to have been intended as a continuation of the work, one of which was subsequently published under the title of “A treatise concerning eternal and immutable morality.” He died at Cambridge in 1688, and was buried in the chapel of Christ's College. He is described as a man of very extensive erudition, excellently skilled in the learned languages and antiquity, a good mathematician, a subtle philosopher, and a profound metaphysician. His life was passed in scholarly pursuits, and its whole course was calm and unruffled. “There is reason to regret (observes Mr. Willmott *) that Cudworth did not leave us less philosophy and more sermons.” Extracts will be found at pages 301 (Want of Christian Progress) and 303, (Zeal.)


Dering was an eminent city preacher in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Descended from an ancient Kentish family, he spent some years at Cambridge, where he had the honour, on occasion of a royal visit, of addressing her Majesty in Greek verse. For a short period he was Divinity Reader at St. Paul's, and commenced a course of lectures on the epistle to the Hebrews. These were much frequented, his great learning, ready utterance, and remarkable boldness gaining him many admirers. He warmly sympathised with the Puritans, and, after being suspended, was cited before the Star Chamber, to answer charges grounded on private conversations. His replies were deemed so satisfactory that the suspension was removed by the Council, though an order was obtained from the Queen by which he was silenced. This took place about 1573, and three years later he died, in the thirty-sixth year of his age. He is described as having been a pious, earnest, faithful minister of the Gospel, and, although fearless in the assertion of his opinions, of a singularly meek and placid temper. “His style (says Mr. Willmott) is clear,

“ Bishop Jeremy Taylor: his predecessors, contemporaries, and successors ; a biography." "By the Rev. Robert Aris Willmott.

and often elegant; his occasional archaisms give it a solemn and soothing colour; his imagery is usually simple, obvious, and appropriate ; and he possesses the uncommon merit of accurately distinguishing the links of the metaphor, and at the same time of connecting them harmoniously together.” A prayer from his pen will be found at page 43, (Rich and Precious Jewel.)


“The memory of Dr. Donne," says his biographer, Izaak Walton, “Must not, cannot die, so long as men speak English,” and in his own inimitable language the genial angler has borne testimony to the virtues of his friend. This great preacher was born in London in 1573, being descended maternally from the renowned Sir Thomas More. In his eleventh year he entered the University of Oxford, whence he was transferred to Cambridge, quitting the latter place at the age of seventeen for Lincoln's Inn, with intent to study the law. After spending some years in Spain and Italy, he became chief secretary to Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, and while holding this honourable office married the daughter of Sir George More, Chancellor of the Garter and Lieutenant of the Tower. The match gave great offence to Sir George, who procured the dismissal of his son-in-law, and his committal to prison, the clergyman who performed the marriage ceremony, and the friend by whom the bride was given away, being also placed in confinement. For some years after his marriage Donne's circumstances were greatly straitened, but though strongly urged by Morton, Dean of Gloucester, to enter into holy orders, with the promise of a rich benefice, the offer was refused on conscientious grounds. In the year 1610 many disputes arose concerning the oaths of supremacy and allegiance, and the King himself took part in the controversy. Discoursing with Donne on the subject, the reasons adduced by the latter were so acceptable to the royal ear, that his Majesty commanded him to bestow some time in putting them into “Method," and having done so, "Not to send, but be his own messenger.” The work was completed in six weeks, and published under the title of “Pseudo-Martyr." When the King had read the book he urged Donne to enter the ministry, who, though not refusing the request, deferred compliance for the space of three years, which interval was employed by him in a close study of textual divinity, and the attainment of greater proficiency in Greek and Hebrew. Having been ordained, Donne speedily became chaplain in ordinary to the King, and received the degree of D.D. from the University of Cambridge. When in his fiftieth year he was appointed Dean of St. Paul's; and four years afterwards, being seized with a dangerous illness, compiled his well-known “Book of Devotions," which, “Being a composition of meditations, disquisitions, and prayers, he writ on his sick bed.” His death took place in 1631. The last sermon preached by him is entitled “ Death's Duel, or a Consolation to the Soule against the Dying Life and Living Death of the Body," and, from his enfeebled state of health at the time of delivery, it has been generally designated his own funeral sermon. In addition to the works alluded to Donne has left numerous sermons, and also some poems, the greater portion of the latter having been the productions of his earlier years. In referring to his published discourses, Mr. Willmott observes : "Every page is ripe with Gospel truth; and by no writer of the English Church have the doctrines of salvation been brought forward and enforced with a more perfect candour, a more convincing cogency of exposition, or a more attractive grace of recommendation. The mark

of genius is upon every passage ; things old come from the treasury of his mind with all the lustre of novelty. But the glory of Donne resides in the earnest rapture with which he proclaims the universality of human redemption through the blood of Jesus Christ. The shadow of the cross stretches over the entire circle of his eloquence and learning." An extract from his writings will be found at page 32, (Rich and Precious Jewel.)


This eminent divine was born at Sunning, in Berkshire, in 1596; was admitted a scholar of Trinity College, Oxford, in 1612, being then in his sixteenth year ; took his first degree in Arts in 1616; and in the following year was elected fellow of his college. Three years afterwards he proceeded M.A., and entering into holy orders acquired considerable celebrity as a preacher, being at the same time eminent as a college tutor. In 1634, being then B.D., he was preferred to the vicarage of Bray, in Berkshire, and soon after became Divinity Reader in the King's Chapel at Windsor. At the first of these places he continued till the breaking out of the civil war, when he was ejected, and reduced to such extremities as to be near starvation. His house was plundered by Ireton, son-in-law of Oliver Cromwell, in revenge for a reprimand he had received from Farindon on account of some irregularities when a gentleman commoner at Trinity. Ireton held possession of the vicarage house for two years, while the lawful owner found an asylum in London, where he was appointed minister of St. Mary Magdalen's Church, and preached with great approbation from the royalists. Some time after his settlement in that place a proclamation was issued forbidding sequestered ministers to preach in

« PreviousContinue »