Fathers, in two large folio volumes, in Greek and Latin; and illustrated these venerable remains of ecclesiastical antiquity with copious prolegomena and annotations. On the 22d of November, in the same year, he was chosen rector of St Peter's, Cornhill, by the lord-mayor and aldermen of the city of London. On this occasion he resigned the vicarage of Ealing.

The multiplicity and variety of Mr Beveridge's pastoral labours, at this period of his active and useful life, appear to have left him but little leisure for preparing any thing for the press, excepting a vindication of his Collection of the Canons of the Primitive Church, in reply to the Observations of an anonymous author, which appeared in Latin, in 1679; in which year he proceeded to the degree of D. D. He was not, however, long unrewarded. His singular merit having recommended him to the favour of his diocesan, Bishop Henchman, he was collated by him on the 22d of December, 1674, to the prebend of Chiswick, in the cathedral of St Paul's, London; and on the 3d of November, 1681, he was also collated by his successor, Bishop Compton, to the archdeaconry of Colchester. In discharging the duties of this responsible office, he evinced the same vigilant, regular, and exemplary conduct, which he had previously shown in every station of life. For, not satisfied with the false, or at least imperfect, reports, which at that period were delivered by church wardens at visitations, he visited in person every parish within the limits of his archdeaconry; and took a very minute and exact account of the state of every church he visited, as well as of the residences of the clergy. These particulars were carefully registered in a book, for the benefit of his successors in that dignity.

On the 5th of November, 1684, he was installed prebendary of Canterbury, in the room of Dr Peter Du Moulin, deceased; and some time between the following year and 1688 he became the associate of the learned and pious Dr Horneck, in directing the religious societies which began to be formed in London in the reign of James II., and which greatly contributed to the revival of religious feeling in the metropolis, whence it extended into different parts of the country. The object of the religious societies, in the direction of which Dr Beveridge held so conspicuous a place, was first and principally, to promote edification and personal piety in their several members; to effect which purpose their rules appear to have been well-calculated. They did not, however, confine themselves to this single design, but endeavoured to promote piety in others, in various ways. With this view they procured sermons to be preached every Sunday evening in many of the largest churches in the city, either by way of preparation for the Lord's Supper, or to engage communicants to a suitable holiness of life after partaking of that sacrament, which they procured to be administered in many churches every Sunday. They farther extended their charity to deserving objects in all parts of London, and its suburbs; and by the pecuniary collections which were made by their influence, many clergymen were maintained to read prayers in so many places, and at so many different hours, that devout persons might have that confort at every hour of the day. Among other benefits which resulted from these religious associations, was the institution of societies for reformation of manners, and the establishment of the two societies for propa

gating the gospel in foreign parts, and for promoting Christian knowledge at home and abroad; both of which subsist to this day, with increasing activity and usefulness.

In the year 1689, Dr Beveridge was president of Sion college; in which capacity he preached the anniversary Latin sermon to the clergy of the city of London; and on the 20th of November, in the same year, he preached the 'Concio ad Clerum' in Westminster abbey, before the convocation held by the bishops and clergy of the province of Canterbury, on occasion of the Bill of Comprehension which was then in agitation. The" Scheme of Comprehension," as it is commonly termed, had been projected in 1668, by the lord-keeper of the great seal, Sir Orlando Bridgman, Bishop Wilkins, Lord-chief-justice Hale, and several other distinguished persons, for relaxing the terms of conformity to the established church in behalf of moderate dissenters, and admitting them into communion with the church. The bill, which was drawn up by Lord-chief-justice Hale, was disallowed. The attempt was renewed in 1674, by Dr Tillotson and Dr Stillingfleet; and, though the terms were settled to the satisfaction of the nonconformists, the bishops refused their assent. After the ever-memorable Revolution in 1688, the question was again agitated; and King William III., by the advice of Dr Tillotson and Bishop Burnet, submitted the business of comprehension to a synod of divines, as being the method at once the most acceptable to the clergy, and the best calculated to silence the popish objectors, who sneered at a religion established by acts of parliament. Accordingly a commission was issued to thirty of the most eminent divines, (ten of whom were bishops,) among whom we find the names of Tillotson, Burnet, Tenison, Patrick, Beveridge, Stillingfleet, and Kidder, directing them to prepare such alterations as they should judge expedient in the liturgy and canons, together with proposals for reformation in ecclesiastical courts, and in other matters relative to the church. All these changes were first to be submitted to convocation, and afterwards reconsidered in parliament. After four members of this committee had withdrawn in dissatisfaction, the remainder proceeded in the business referred to them; and, among many alterations too tedious to be mentioned here, proposed that lessons from the canonical books of Scripture should be substituted for those taken from the apocryphal books; that the Athanasian Creed, the damnatory clause of which was pronounced to be applicable only to those who denied the substance of the Christian faith, should be left to the option of the officiating minister; that new collects more glowing in devotion, should be drawn up, and a new version of the Psalms prepared; that the chanting of divine service in cathedral churches should be discontinued, and legendary saints be expunged from the calendar; that the cross in baptism, the surplice, and the posture of kneeling at the sacrament, should not in future be insisted on; that the absolution in the morning and evening service should be read by a deacon, the word "priest" being changed into "minister;" that the intention of the lent-fasts should be declared to consist not in abstinence from meats, but only in extraordinary acts of devotion; that sponsors in baptism should not be held essential; and that re-ordination, where presbyters had imposed hands, should be only conditional. These with many other alterations in the litany, communion-service, and canons, were designed to be submitted to the


2 D

[merged small][ocr errors]


approbation of the convocation before which Dr Beveridge was appointed to preach his Concio ad Clerum,' which was published in the same year by command of the bishops. From the text, (1 Cor. xi. 16.) " If any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God," it will readily be inferred that his opinion was against any concessions or alterations. The various changes, however, above noticed, were never adopted: the tories so far succeeded in alarming the public mind, that little could be expected from the convocation by the projectors of the conciliatory scheme of comprehension. As no disposition was manifested by that body to innovate upon the forms of the church, or to meet the conformists with concessions, they were prevented by the king from sitting for ten successive years, by repeated prorogations.

Some time in the year 1690, Dr Beveridge was nominated chaplain to King William and Queen Mary; and on the 12th of October, in the same year, he preached before her majesty his sermon On the Happiness of the Saints in Heaven,' which is deservedly accounted one of his best discourses. It was afterwards published by her majesty's command.

Dr Beveridge was one of those eminent divines whose learning, wisdom, piety, and moderation, caused them to be selected to fill the sees vacated by the deprivation of Archbishop Sancroft and seven bishops of his province, for refusing to take the oaths of allegiance to King William and Queen Mary. Dr Beveridge was nominated to the see of Bath and Wells. He took three weeks to consider of the subject, during which time Bishop Kenn, though deprived, continued to exercise all the episcopal functions, preaching and confirming in all parts of the diocese. Scrupulous, however, of filling an office, from which a conscientious, though, perhaps, mistaken principle of obedience, had excluded its former possessor, he at length declined the honour designed for him, and continued for thirteen years to discharge his more private and laborious duties, with an assiduity best evinced by the general success which attended his ministry. Nor, until within three years of his death, and when he had attained a very advanced age, did he accept the episcopal chair, being consecrated bishop of St Asaph on the 16th of July, 1704; which see was vacated by the translation of Dr George Hooper to the bishopric of Bath and Wells.

Being placed in this exalted station, his care and diligence increased in proportion as his power in the church was enlarged: and as he had before faithfully discharged the duty of a pastor over a single parish, so when his authority was extended to larger districts, he still pursued the same pious and laborious methods of advancing the honour and interest of religion, by watching over both clergy and laity, and giving them all necessary direction and assistance for the effectual performance of their respective duties. Accordingly, he was no sooner advanced to the episcopal chair, than he addressed a pathetic letter to the clergy of his diocese; in which he recommended to them the duty of catechising and instructing the people of their charge in the principles of the Christian religion; and in order to enable them to do this the more effectually, he, in the course of the same year, sent them a plain and easy exposition of the catechism of the church of England.

On the 5th of November, 1704, Bishop Beveridge preached before the house of lords the anniversary sermon on the deliverance from the

gunpowder treason; and on the 30th of January, in the following year, another on the martyrdom of King Charles I. In that august assembly he attended as often as the duties of his bishopric would permit him. On every occasion he evinced himself a steady defender of the rights and privileges of the church of England; and in the debates on the union of England and Scotland, he opposed that measure on account of the danger which he apprehended the church might sustain if it were carried into effect. The last time he was able to appear in the house of lords was on the 20th of January, 1707-8. Bishop Beveridge held the see of St Asaph only three years, seven months, and twenty days; dying at his apartments in the cloisters in Westminster-abbey, on the 5th of March, 1707-8, in the seventy-first year of his age.

Bishop Bull.

BORN A. D. 1634.-DIED A. D. 1709.

GEORGE BULL, bishop of St David's, was born at Wells, in Somersetshire, on the 25th of March, 1634. He was dedicated by his father to the church from his infancy; the parent having declared at the baptismal font, that if it pleased God to spare his son's life, he would educate him with a view to his entering into holy orders. The father died while his son was a mere child; but the wish which had been so near his heart, with regard to him, was ultimately gratified, young Bull having pursued his studies at Oxford with a steady view towards the ministerial profession. Previous to his being sent to the university, he had laid the foundations of his classical learning at the free school of Tiverton, the master of which, Samuel Butler, was an excellent classical scholar, and a successful teacher of youth. It was Butler's usual method, when he gave his boys themes for verses, to press them to exert themselves and do their best, because he judged how far each boy's capacity would carry him: but he always told George Bull that he expected from him verses like those of Ovid, "because," said he, "I know you can do it ;" intimating that his scholar had a capacity and genius that enabled him to excel in such exercises.

While at Oxford, Bull attracted the notice of his tutors and superiors by his skill in dialectics, and his readiness and success as a disputant. He continued at Oxford till 1649, when he retired with the other members of the university who declined to take the new oath imposed by the parliament. Bull, accompanied by his tutor, Mr Ackland, withdrew to North Cadbury in Somerset, where he devoted his retirement to the further prosecution of those studies which he had begun at the university. About the age of twenty, he began to study the fathers of the English church, such as Hooker, Hammond, Taylor, and others, and shortly afterwards was ordained deacon and priest on the same day by Dr Skinner, the ejected bishop of Oxford. Bull was at this time short of the age required by the canons of his church in candidates for the priesthood; but the bishop thought that the pressure and difficulty of the times, and the need that the church was in of ministers with qualifications for the sacred office, of a stamp similar to those of Bull's,

authorised him to depart from the strict letter of the canon in his ordination.

His first benefice was that of St George's near Bristol, where he soon acquired great popularity by his assiduous attention to his parochial duties. As a preacher, too, he was highly popular. An incident which occurred soon after his coming to this living, contributed very much to the establishing of his reputation as a preacher. One Sunday when he had begun his sermon, as he was turning over his Bible to explain some texts of Scripture which he had quoted, it happened that his notes, contained in several small pieces of paper, flew out of his Bible into the middle of the church, upon which many of the congregation fell into laughter, concluding that the young preacher would be nonplussed for want of his materials; but some of the more sober and better-natured sort gathered up the scattered notes, and carried them to him in the puipit. Bull took them, and perceiving that most of the audience— consisting chiefly of sea-faring persons-were rather inclined to triumph over him under that surprise, he clapped them into his book again and shut it, and then, without referring any more to them, went on with the subject he had begun. It happened once, while he was preaching, that a quaker came into the church, and in the middle of the sermon, cried out, 66 George, come down, thou art a false prophet and an hireling!" whereupon the parishioners, who loved their minister exceedingly, feil upon the poor quaker with such fury, that Mr Bull was obliged to come down out of the pulpit to quiet them, and to save him from the effects of their resentment. After they were somewhat pacified, Mr Bull began to expostulate with the quaker concerning his misbehaviour; but the people perceiving the silly enthusiast to be perfectly confounded, and not able to speak a word of sense in his own defence, fell upon him a second time with such violence, that had not Bull, by great entreaties, prevailed upon them to spare him, and to be satisfied with turning him out of the church, he would hardly have escaped with his life: Bull then went up again into the pulpit, and finished his sermon. These incidents, which we give nearly in the words of his biographer, Nelson, are sufficiently characteristic of the temper and spirit of the times in which Bull commenced his pulpit-ministrations. In 1658 he was presented to the rectory of Suddington-StMary, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire.

The Restoration opened the way for Bull's preferment in the church. In 1662, the lord-high-chancellor, Clarendon, presented him to the vicarage of Suddington-St-Peter's, at the special request of the dioCesan, Bishop Nicholson. It was during the twenty-seven years that Bull held this vicarage and the adjoining rectory, that he wrote most of those works which have given him a high place among English episcopalian divines. His study, says Nelson, was at this period the scene of his most exquisite pleasure, and he would often declare that he tasted the most refined satisfaction in the pursuit of knowledge, and that, when his thoughts were lively and lucky in his compositions, he found no reason to envy the enjoyment of the most voluptuous epicure. His course of study, indeed, proved prejudicial to his health, because, for many years together, he dedicated the greatest part of the night to that purpose, and contented himself with little sleep.

[ocr errors]

In 1669 he published his Harmonia Apostolica,' in which he chiefly

« VorigeDoorgaan »