Page images
PDF
EPUB

Baxter, who, though as eager and unremitting in his endeavours after peace and agreement, yet more than any other man mingled in the controversies of the day, and threw the colour of his public life over every practical treatise that he penned. Perhaps the most elegant of Bates' works, is his treatise entitled, “The Four Last Things—Death, Judgment, Heaven, and Hell, practically considered and applied, in several discourses. The discourses are admirable specimens of sound and practical theology, conveyed in an elegant and most attractive style. Any one, however, who reads it carefully, will find, that some of his best passages are just the expansion of ideas picked up in the course of an extensive study of the fathers. The same remark, indeed, applies to all his works. His treatises on · Divine Meditation,

· The Fear of God;' Spiritual Perfection ;' and a few minor ones upon practical subjects, are excellent—but by no means to be classed among his best performances. His piece upon the ‘Saints everlasting Rest in Heaven,' though a superior work, and well worthy of a perusal, will never bear comparison either with Baxter's “Saints' Rest,' or Howe's · Blessedness of the Righteous.' Besides all these practical works, he was the editor of a collection of lives of distinguished individuals, amounting to thirty-two, in Latin ; a volume of great value, and now rather scarce. In Howe's sermon upon his death, his character is drawn with a fulness which it is impossible to transcribe, and with an exactness and felicity which it is impossible to abridge or imitate.

and on

Bishop Stillingsleet.

BORN A. D. 1635.-DIED A. D. 1699.

EDWARD STILLINGFLEET was descended from the ancient family of the Stillingfleets of Stillingfleet, about four miles from York. He was the seventh son of Samuel Stillingfleet and Susannah, daughter of Edward Norris, Esq., after whom he was named. He was born, April 17th, 1635, at Cranbourne, Dorsetshire, where he first enjoyed the instructions of Mr Thomas Garden, and from whence he was removed to Ringwood, Hampshire, to be placed under the tuition of Mr Baulch, whose school having been founded by W. Lynne, Esq., enjoyed the privilege of having some of its scholars elected to exhibitions at the universities. This honour young Stillingfleet attained soon after he had entered his 14th year, and was admitted into St John's college, Cambridge, under the tuition of Mr Pickering, one of the Fellows. At the age of eighteen, he took the degree of B. A. and soon after obtained a fellowship, being already distinguished for his diligent application and eminent attainments. Soon after this period, he withdrew for a time from the university, and resided in the family of Sir Roger Burgoyne, at Wroxall, in Warwickshire, who subsequently became his patron, and introduced him to a considerable living. As soon as he was of sufficient standing, he took his degree of M. A., and became tutor in the family of Francis Pierpoint, Esq. brother of the marquess of Dorchester.

It was at this period that he wrote and published his ' nicum, or Weapon-Salve for the church's wounds, 1659. It was designed to reconcile dissenters, but it had the effect of offending many of the author's friends in the church, and of supplying the dissenters with a weapon against himself, on a subsequent occasion. He had, previously to this publication, obtained the rectory of Sutton, Bedfordshire. It is certain that he greatly differed in future years from himself when he wrote this work; and the best proof of it is given in the dedication of the ordination sermon at St Peter's, Cornhill, 1685 ; and, also at p. 148, of. Several Conferences between a Popish Priest, a Fanatic Chaplain,' &c. where, in the person of P. D., he speaks freely of it, and says, “ I believe there are many things in it, which, if Dr Stillingfleet were to write now, he would not have said : for there are some which show his youth and want of due consideration ; others which he yielded too far, in hopes of gaining the dissenting parties to the church of England." His treatise, however, he republished in 1662, with an Appendix, concerning the power of excommunication. The same year he published his Origines Sacræ, or a rational account of Natural and Revealed Religion. This was a work of great merit from

young a man, and induced Bishop Sanderson to say, when Stillingfleet was first introduced to him, that “ he expected to have seen one as considerable for his age, as he had already shown himself for learning." Soon after this period, he was selected, as a proper person, to reply to · Labyrinthus Cantauriensis,' a work written by T. C. against Laud's answer to Fisher the Jesuit. This work, together with the work on 'The Origin and Nature of Protestantism,' appeared before the end of the 1664, and greatly increased the reputation of Stillingfleet, and recommended him to the notice of Sir Harbottle Grimstone, master of the Rolls, who appointed him to the office of preacher at the Roll's chapel. This he held with his living at Sutton, but was soon after presented by the earl of Southampton, lord-treasurer, to the vacant rectory of St Andrew's, Holborn. After this, he was made preacher at the Temple. These offices introduced him to the acquaintance of Sir Matthew Hale and Judge Vaughan, and afterwards to the honourable station of chaplain to King Charles II. Hence he was still farther elevated to be a canon-residentiary, both of St Paul's and Canterbury. His fame still increasing with his promotion, he rose to be dean of St Paul's, and archdeacon of London. While rector of Sutton, he had married Andrea, the eldest daughter of W. Debyns, Esq. of Wormington, Gloucestershire, by whom he had two daughters, who died in infancy; and one son, Edward, who became D. D., and incumbent of Wood-Norton, Norfolk. His first wife dying, he married, some years after, Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Nicolas Pedley; by whom he had seven children, of whom only two survived him, viz. the Rev. James Stillingfleet, who became prebendary of Worcester, and Anne who married Humphrey Tyshe, Esq. of Gray's Inn,

In the year 1663, he became B. D., and in 1668, he kept a public act at Cambridge with great ability, and then proceeded D. D. In the year 1669, he published some sermons, one of which • Concerning the sufferings of Christ,' made a considerable noise, and excited much controversy. The volume containing his sermons was subsequently enriched by an able • Discourse on the true reasons of the sufferings of Christ. After his death, there was also printed a continuation of this controversy, occasioned by some letters from dissenting ministers,

[ocr errors]

This was entitled, a Second Part.' After this, he published his work on the 'Idolatry, &c. of the Church of Rome;' and followed that up by replies to many opponents, and particularly to the author of The Guide in Controversies,' and Dr Godden. For some time he was sharply en. gaged with many popish adversaries, and produced various controversial tracts against them, of great learning and ability. But, in 1680, he was appointed to preach at Guildhall chapel before the judges and lord mayor, &c.; and this sermon, entitled • The Mischief of Separation,' drew forth a new host of antagonists of a different sort. Owen, Baxter, and several others, attacked him, but the most witty of his opponents was Vincent Alsop. They all considered that his late sermon was a grievous departure from the comparatively liberal principles of his · Irenicum.'* To these several authors he subsequently replied in a goodly quarto, entitled The Unreasonableness of Separation. This appeared in 1683; and in 1685 appeared the greatest of all his works, the Origines Britannicæ, or Antiquities of the Churches in Britain.'

About this period, the protestant cause seemed to be environed with perils, and the church in great danger of again lapsing into popery. Stillingfleet, however, stood forward on many occasions with his pen, and rendered eminent service to the cause of truth by his various publications, of which it is not easy to give a full account. The Revolution, however, happily rescued the church and the nation from the dangers to which both had been exposed, and upon the accession of King William, Dean Stillingfleet was made bishop of Worcester. Soon after this event, he again entered the lists with the Socinians, in a sermon preached at St Lawrence, Jewry. Upon this sermon an attack was made three years after in a work entitled, ' Considerations and Explications of the Doctrine of the Trinity,' &c. To this he replied by republishing his former discourse against Crellius, with the obnoxious sermon, preceded by a long preface, concerning the true state of the controversy ;' and the same year he followed this up by a discourse in vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, with an answer to the Socinian objections. In this vindication, he had made some observations on Mr Locke's Essay on the Human Understanding,' to which Locke replied. Several letters passed between them, and Locke is generally allowed to have had the better of the argument. After he became bishop of Worcester, he wrote and published various charges and discourses to the clergy, all of which display great talents and much learning in canon law, &c. In his bishopric he was involved in much trouble, by his attempts to enforce the discipline of the church upon the clergy. The celebrated Dr Bentley became his chaplain, and was much indebted to the bishop's patronage, and greatly resembled him in being a leader of controversies, though of a very different order from those of the bishop. Two years before his own death, Dr Stillingfleet lost his second wife. He had continued in his bishopric about ten years, when his health rapidly declined, and he died in London of the common complaint of sedentary men,

à disease of the stomach. His death took place at his own house in Park-street, Westminster, March 27th, 1699. He was interred in his own cathedral church; where a handsome monument was erected to his memory, which is graced by an elegant Latin inscription from the pen of the celebrated Dr Bentley.

Bishop Stillingfleet may be justly considered one of the ablest pole

mics of his age. In some things he is thought to have diverged in later life from the more tolerant and liberal opinions of his earlier days. But, as a scholar and divine, he may be said to have risen gradually, even in times of great excitement, to a measure of influence and faine which few of his contemporaries ever reached. His antiquarian researches are of the highest value, and will maintain for him a lasting niche in the temple of fame, whatever should be the fate of his theological treatises. Unhappily for the reputation of his controversial writings, many of their subjects are now become obsolete; and those which relate to topics of more general interest to the christian church, are superseded by modern works more adapted to the taste of the times, and undoubtedly more logical, though less erudite. In his private character he is described as amiable and liberal ; but in his official station he is charged with sufficient loftiness and severity. There can be no doubt that he justly deserves the distinction assigned him, of being one of the most learned and able divines of the church of England, and one of the most successful defenders of the reformed doctrines. His works are collected into six folio volumes.

Oliver Heywood.

BORN A. D. 1629.-DIED A. D. 1702.

Oliver Heywood, the sixth child of Richard and Alice Heywood, the representatives of an ancient family in the north of England, was born at Little Lever, in the county of Lancaster, in 1629. In his eighteenth year he was admitted to Trinity college, Cambridge, where he had a pious though somewhat eccentric tutor in Mr Akhurst, and enjoyed the pastoral ministrations of Dr Hammond, at that time preacher in St Giles's. He does not appear to have pursued his literary studies at Cambridge with much ardour. He says of himself at that period : “ All the time I was in the university, my heart was much deadened in philosophical studies; nor could I, as I desired, apply my mind so closely to human literature, though I prize learning above all sublunary excellencies. I might have been more useful had I improved my time better therein. My time and thoughts,” he adds, were most employed on practical divinity, and experimental truths were most vivifying to my soul : I preferred Perkins, Bolton, Preston, and Sibbs, far above Aristotle or Plato.”

In 1650, he accepted an invitation from a presbyterian congregation at Coley, near Halifax, to become their pastor. After he had laboured for several years in this obscure situation, the vicarage of Preston was offered to him by Sir Richard Houghton ; but, with that singleness of heart which ever marked the whole conduct of this amiable man, he respectfully declined the preferment, believing that Coley presented a field of greater usefulness to him.

The political agitations of the times occasionally reached even to Heywood's retreat. He adhered to the king's party, and was consequently viewed with suspicion by the adverse side. On one occasion he was even imprisoned by a party of Colonel Lilburn's men, but no charge against him could be substantiated.

The Restoration was of course regarded as a most auspicious event by the pastor of Coley; but the proceedings of Charles and his minions soon convinced him that whatever political blessings might flow to the country from the re-establishment of the monarchy, the spiritual interests of the people were not to be benefited by the change. Heywood himself was one of the first to suffer from the virulence of the high church party. He was repeatedly threatened with suspension on account of his refusal to read the book of common-prayer in his church services; but his prudence and well-known loyalty protected him for a while against extreme measures. At last an order for his suspension was issued by the archbishop's chancellor ; and this measure, harsh as it was, was fol. lowed by a still severer and more unjustifiable one. On the 22d of November, 1662, excommunication was published against him at Halifax, and he was solemnly forbidden to enter within the walls of any church within the diocese, on any occasion whatever. For some time he quietly submitted to the tyrannous edict, and refrained from preaching either in public or private. At last he awoke to a better sense of duty, and saw it to be incumbent on him to obey God rather than man. He now preached as he had opportunity, and many gladly availed themselves of his ministrations.

The Conventicle Act,' as it was called, was ultimately much evaded by the partial connivance of the authorities with whom its enforcement rested. Under this relaxation of severity, Heywood was enabled occasionally to preach to his old people at Coley. But information having been laid against him, his goods were distrained, and he avoided imprisonment with difficulty. It was at length confessed by the court that “there was very little fruit of all these forcible methods which had been used for reducing erring and dissenting persons.” On the 15th of March, 1672, a declaration of liberty to all persons dissenting from the established church was issued by royal authority. The laws affecting dissenters, however, were not repealed, but only suspended, and the declaration itself was a stretch of the royal prerogative. Heywood now removed to North Owram, where he organized a christian society on the general principles of Presbyterianism, but so modified as to admit of the communion of Christians of other denominations. The recall of the royaľ license, in the following year, again drove Heywood from his public ministrations. He continued, however, to preach privately until apprehended and committed to York castle in 1685,

On the appearance of King James's declaration for general liberty of conscience, Heywood walked out of prison and resumed his pastoral labours, which he prosecuted with great fervour of spirit and signal success, till within a short time of his death. He died on the 4th of May, 1702. The Rev. J. Fawcett, and the Rev. R. Slate, have each written inemoirs of this most amiable and exemplary non-conformist divine.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »