« PreviousContinue »
branded in his face with S. S. as a Sower of Sedition; a few days after to be pilloried again in Cheapfide, there to be whipped, have the other fide of his nofe flit, his other ear cut off, and then to be fhut up in close Prison, for the remainder of his life. There furely ought not to be a Biographical Dictionary in any language under heaven, with the name of Laud, without this ftory in it; and with this addition, "that when this pious, merciful,
and truly chriftian Archbishop heard this horrible sentence was pronounced, he pulled off his cap, and gave God thanks for it."
There is another thing we will add by way of hint, to future adventurers in a work of this kind, that they would be careful to preferve an uniform confiftency throughout, with respect to their fentiments of things in general: it has an odd appearance to fee perfons in fome places, tpeaking of men and things, like friends to the public liberties of mankind; and upon other occasions expreffing themselves dubiously, ufing equivocal terms, or parhaps laying artificial colours upon the characters of thofe who have acted in oppofition to them. Where a work of this nature is conducted by many hands, of unequal abilities, perhaps of different and oppofite fentiments, and the materials of which the whole is to be made up, are of a heterogeneous kind, it is very poffible that fuch articles as Milton, Locke, and Middleton, and Laud, Bolingbrook, and Atterbury, may not perfectly correipond with each other. So difagreeable a circumstance as this, and in a work upon the whole valuable and refpectable, should by all means be prevented; and which we think might easily be done by the whole finally paffing through one hand, with authority to correct irregularities of this kind.
A good Biographical Dictionary hath neither improperly nor inelegantly been reprefented as a TEMPLE OF HONOUR, facred to the piety, learning, valour, public-fpirit, loyalty, and every other glorious virtue of our ancestors; and ready alfo for the reception of the WORTHIES of our OWN TIME, and the HEROES of POSTERITY*. To celebrate the virtues of good men, who have been the ornaments of human nature, and the public bleffings of mankind; and to contribute a part to hand down their illuftrious names with honour to future ages, is furely one of the moft delightful fervices in which an ingenuous mind can poffibly be employed and it is a fervice as highly ufeful as it is delightful. But as there have been men illuftrious for their worth and virtue; fo have there been EMINENTLY BAD MEN, the disgrace of human nature, and the plagues and curfes of mankind, for whom there fhould be fome provifion, to perpetuate and im
Vid. Preface to the Biographia Britannica.
mortalize their infamy, and to render them and their vices the objects of lafting deteftation to future times. This is indeed á lefs pleafing, but it is a neceflary task. And amongst these, in the foremost rank of fhame, fhould ftand all thofe who have been the enemies of the just and natural liberties of mankind; the favourers of tyrants and tyranny; and the advocates for perfecution and violence. Thefe have been ever the greatest enemies of the human fpecies; they are the deftroyers of men, not merely of the lives and fortunes, but of the freedom, the dignity, and the fpirit of men; and should, in every history that is intended to perpetuate the memory of mankind and their tranf actions, be mentioned with every juft and manly expreffion of indignation. The faithful Biographer, whofe pen ought ever to be confecrated to Liberty and Virtue, thould be in an efpecial manner careful ftrongly to mark fuch characters, and to give them the full proportion of infamy they deserve. Were this univerfally the cafe, it might be fome reftraint upon a baughty Ecclefiaftic, or ambitious Minister, in the fullness of their power, to remember, that a time would come, when men might dare, without offence, or the fear of punishment, to delineate their true characters, and to tranfmit them to pofterity, as the enemies of God, and goodness; and odious in the eyes of all wife and good men.
Having thus ventured to throw out a few ftrictures upon this occafion, we shall now present our Readers with the life of Dr. Whichcote, from the eleventh volume of this work, as a specimen of the manner in which the whole is executed.
"WHICHCOTE (BENJAMIN) an Englifh divine of great name, was defcended of an antient and good family in the county of Salop; and was the fixth fon of Chriftopher Whichcote, Efq; at Whichcote Hall in the parish of Stoke, where he was born the 11th of March 1609. He was admitted of Emmanuel college, Cambridge, in 1626, and took the degrees in arts; a batchelor's in 1629, mafter's in 1633. The fame year, 1633, he was elected fellow of the college, and became a molt excellent tutor; many of his pupils, as Wallis, Smith, Worthington, Cradock, &c. becoming afterwards men of great figure themfelves. In 1636, he was ordained both deacon and priest at Buckden by Williams bifhop of Lincoln; and foon after fet up an afternoon-lecture on Sundays in Trinity church at Cambridge, which, archbishop Tillotfon fays, he ferved near twenty years. He was alfo appointed one of the univerfity preachers; and, in 1643, was prefented by the mafter and fellows of his college to the living of North-Cadbury in Somerfetfhire. This vacated bis fellowship; and upon this, it is prefumed, he married, and D 3
went to his living: but was foon called back to Cambridge, being pitched upon to fucceed the ejected provost of King's college, Dr. Samuel Collins; who had been in that post thirty years, and was alfo regius profeffor of divinity. This choice was perfectly agreeable to Dr. Collins himself, though not so to Dr. Whichcote; who had fcruples about accepting, what was thus irregularly offered him: however, after fome demurring, he complied, and was admitted provost, March the 16th, 1644. He had taken his batchelor of divinity's degree in 1640; and he took his doctor's in 1649. He now refigned his Somersetshire living, and was prefented by his college to the rectory of Milton in Cambridgeshire, which was void by the death of Dr. Collins. It must be remembered, to Dr. Whichcot's honour, that during the life of Dr. Collins, one of the two fhares out of the common dividend alloted to the provoft was, not only with Dr. Whichcote's confent, but at his motion, paid punctually to him, as if he had ftill been provoft. Dr. Whichcote held Milton, as long as he lived; though after the reftoration he thought proper to refign, and refumed it by a fresh presentation from the college. He ftill continued to attend his lecture at Trinity church, with the fame view that he had at first fet it up; which was, to preferve and propagate a fpirit of fober piety and rational religion in the univerfity of Cambridge, in oppofition to the fanatic enthufiafm and fenfelefs canting then in vogue: and the Happy effects of his pains in this way appeared in the great talents and excellent performances of fo many eminent divines after *the restoration; of whom most of thofe, and Tillotfon among them, who had received their education at Cambridge, were formed at leaft, if not actually brought up, by him. In 1658, he wrote a copy of verfes upon the death of Oliver Cromwell, which we are to fuppofe done entirely out of form, and not out of any regard to the perfon of the protector. Nor had Dr. Whichcote ever concurred with the violent measures of those times, by figning the covenant, or by any injurious fayings or actions to the prejudice of any man. At the restoration, how'ever, he was removed from his provoftfhip, by efpecial order from the king; but yet he was not difgraced or frowned upon. On the contrary, he went to London, and in 1662 was chosen minifter of St. Anne's Black-Friars, where he continued till his church was burned down in the dreadful fire of 1666. Then he retired to Milton for a while; but was again called up, and prefented by the crown to the vicarage of St. Lawrence Jewry, vacant by the promotion of Dr. Wilkins to the fee of Chefter: where he continued in high reputation and efteem till his death. In 1683, he went down to Cambridge; where, upon taking a great cold, he fell into a diftemper, which in a few days put an
end to his life. He died at the house of his ancient and learned friend Dr. Cudworth, mafter of Chrift's college, in May 1683; and was interred in the church of St. Lawrence Jewry, Dr. Tillotson then lecturer there preaching his funeral fermon, where his character is drawn to great advantage. Bifhop Burnet speaks of him in the following terms: "He was a man of a rare temper; very mild and obliging. He had great credit with fome, that had been eminent in the late times; but made all the ufe he could of it to protect good men of all perfuafions. He was much for liberty of confcience; and being difgufted with the dry fyftematical way of thofe times, he ftudied to raise those who converfed with him to a nobler fet of thoughts, and to confider religion as a feed of a deiform nature (to use one of his own phrafes). In order to this, he fet young ftudents much on reading the ancient philofophers, chiefly Plato, Tully, and Plotin; and on confidering the Chriftian religion as a doctrine fent from God, both to elevate and sweeten human nature, in which he was a great example, as well as a wife and kind inftructor. Cudworth carried this on with great strength of genius, as well as a vaft compafs of learning."
He is reckoned by Fuller, who printed his hiftory of Cambridge in 1655, among the writers of Emmanuel college'; but it does not appear, that he publifhed any thing before the reftoration, or in any part of his life. Select fermons of his were printed 1698, in one volume 8vo, with a preface by the earl of Shaftesbury, author of the Characteristics: three volumes more were published by Dr. Jeffery, archdeacon of Norwich, in the years 1701, 1702, and 1703 and a fourth volume was printed by Dr. Samuel Clarke in 1707. "Moral and religious apho"rifms," collected from his manufcript papers, were also publifhed by Dr. Jeffery in 1703; and republished in 1753 by Dr. Samuel Salter, with large additions, and eight letters, which paffed between Dr. Whichcote and fome of his acquaintance upon interefting fubjects. As the preface of lord Shaftesbury is a curiofity in its kind, yet not printed among his works; and as it is a fine illuftration of our author's character, we have thought it not amifs to fubjoin it to this fhort account of him. They, who are well read in the noble author's Characteristics, will want no proof beyond its own internal evidence, to be convinced that it is his; which however, though not known for certain, has never been much doubted.
"Amongst thofe many things which are made public, it may be thought perhaps of fermans, that they are of any other the leaft wanted; and for the future leaft likely to be found-want
ing fince to that rich and inexhaustible ftore, with which the learned and orthodox divines of England have already furnished us, there is daily, fresh addition from worthy and able hands. Neither have we caufe to fear a ceffation in this kind, or that fo great a bleffing is likely to fail us for the future; having fuch fecurity, not only from the unwearied zeal of prefent divines, (of whom we may always hope a worthy fucceffion) but from the juft efteem which the public never fails to fhew for fuch pious difcourfes; upon which account we find, that many of thefe are every day made public, and, as it were forced into the world; notwithstanding the great modefty of their authors, whofe humble thoughts and devoutly refigned affections lead them not towards eminence, and advancement in the world. It may feem ftrange therefore, that in fuch an age as this, any one fhould be fo officious, as to fearch after, and publish the fermons of a man long fince dead; who himself never meant to publifh any, or thought fo highly of himself, as that he could benefit the world by fuch a publication. It is certain, that we muft not ever imagine, nor can it enter into a mind truly chriftian, that because we fee not an apparent change for the better in the lives of chriftian profeffors, that therefore all preaching is ineffectual; or, that here in England the labours of the most. eminent divines, that perhaps the world ever afforded, have been of no ufe at all: it might be faid with the fame reafon, though very prophanely and wickedly, that because the Chriftians are not reported to exceed the other nations of the world in probity and good living, but are said to be rather inferior in this refpect to the civilized people, whether Pagan or Mahometan lying round them, therefore the Chriftian religion is of no effect at all, nor any ways operative upon the lives of its profeffors. But if we confider this as becomes us, and not perverfely as many do, it will be found that we are even in this fenfe the most highly indebted to Chriftianity, and fhould look upon it as the greatest bleffing imaginable, not only for its fpiritual advantages, which are unspeakable, but for its temporal benefits and fecurities; inafmuch as that mankind being fo inclinable to ill, we should have a religion fo full of all good precepts, and fo inforcing with refpect to all the duties of morality and juftice. So that our amazement ought rather to be, how men with fuch a religion, fhould lead fuch lives! and how malice, hatred, or divifion, fhould have place in fuch focieties as thefe; which we might expect to fee diftinguifhed from all others, rather by a perfect harmony and agreement, than by the fierceft quarrels, contentions, and animofities. And indeed, when we confider the nature of preaching, how excellent an order and establishment it is, how highly railed and magnified in the chriftian world; when