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Full text of "Seventeenth century men of latitude; forerunners of the new theology"

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''l^ PRINCETON, N.J. 6j 



Purchased by the Mary Cheves Dulles Fund. 



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''HlV-i^l^^^''^ Augustus 



SEVENTEENTH CENTURY MEN 
OF LATITUDE 




JOHN HALES 



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SEVENTEENTH CENTURY MEN 
OF LATITUDE 



FORERUNNERS OF THE NEW THEOLOGY 



EDWARD AUGUSTUS GEORGE 




WITH PORTRAITS 



NEW YORK 

CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

1908 



Copyright 1908 
Charles Scribneb's Sons 



Published April, 1908 




PREFACE 

At intervals during more than ten years it has been the 
writer's privilege to refresh his spirit by communion with 
these worthies of an earlier time. In their sweet sanity 
the violent animosities of their own day are composed, 
and peace is made also between past and present. In 
every age, perhaps, there are spirits deep and broad 
enough both to unify the discordant elements of their 
own time and to bind all ages together. It is good for 
the soul to cultivate such company. It makes one be- 
lieve afresh in ** the communion of saints." While parti- 
sanship was rushing over the violent cataracts of a nar- 
row torrent, in these spirits there is the placid expanse of 
broad and quiet streams. In their company we are led 
through green pastures and beside ^'the still waters." 
While others were thinking of the Christ who came to 
bring not peace but a sword, they were sitting at the 
feet of Him who said, ''Blessed are the peacemakers." 
It was a chapter in Professor Fisher's ''History of 
Christian Doctrine," which first called the writer's 
attention to these men. That book referred him to Tul- 
loch's classic work, "Rational Theology and Christian 
Philosophy in England in the Seventeenth Century," 



PREFACE 

and by this, in turn, he was referred to the writers 
themselves. From the time when he opened that Hter- 
ary treasure, "The Golden Remains of the Ever-Mem- 
orable John Hales," he was won to the study of original 
sources. The aim is to present not what some one says 
about these men, but what they say themselves. Writ- 
ings of the past need to be reinterpreted in each succes- 
sive age. It is only in the present that the past can be 
appreciated. To-day we may value these catholic, 
irenic spirits, as their contemporaries could not. They 
were so far in advance of their times that they require 
the present for their appreciation, they without us not 
being made perfect. 

The quaint phrase* of the citations only accentuates 
the modern thought, or better, proves that the thought 
is less modern than is commonly supposed. The study 
of such minds makes for unity, peace, and toleration. 
Some of the phraseology and thought is doubtless ob- 
solete but continually in the midst of the obsolete is 
discovered the pungent and vital, like fresh, sweet arbu- 
tus found under dead leaves. These studies aim to be 
a spring-time excursion into an earlier age, in quest of 
life under winter's death. 

The descriptions of the men, their appearance, char- 
acteristics, and fortunes, have been gathered for the 
most part from contemporaries, who saw them and 
knew them, like Aubrey, Anthony Wood, Clarendon, 
and Worthington, and often, better still, from friends 
who loved them, as Simon Patrick loved John Smith, 
and Whitefoot loved Doctor Browne. Many a glimpse 

vi 



PREFACE 

IS given into the universities, homes, and intimate per- 
sonal relations of a troubled period. The atmosphere 
is the '' better air'' of an earlier time, but without a trace 
of mustiness, because these spirits stood out in the open, 
refreshed by the ventilation of the pure air and great 
winds. They would not be pent in: they were men of 
latitude. 

The writer is under great obligations for courtesies 
received from the libraries of Yale and Cornell univer- 
sities, and in particular for the encouragement and aid 
of Professor George L. Burr, of the historical depart- 
ment in Cornell, and of Professor Lewis O. Brastow, for 
many years of the Yale Faculty. In correcting the 
proof, Mr. Henry W. Goodrich has given valued assist- 
ance. 

The Puritan and Anglican of the seventeenth century 
are in no danger of oblivion. They should not, how- 
ever, monopolize the attention in these days of increas- 
ing unity and toleration. A revival of interest in these 
broad-minded men of a narrow age is due to them, and 

would be ccmgenial to the modern spirit. 

E. A. G. 

Ithaca, New York, 
April, 1908. 



vu 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

MEN OF LATITUDE IN A CENTURY OF NAR- 
ROWNESS 

Tolerant Spirits in the Seventeenth Century . . 3 
Extenuation of Seventeenth Century Intoler- 
ance ^ 

Men of Latitude 6 

Partisanship of Age into Which They Were Born 6 

Conditions During Their Education 8 

Violence of Period at Which Their Work 

Began ^ 

During the Civil War 10 

During the Protectorate 12 

Afte^ the Restoration 12 

JOHN HALES, 1584-1656 

I 

At the Synod of Dort, 1618 17 

Quiet Studies at Oxford, 1597-1636 18 

Literary Friends, Jonson, Suckling 20 

"Schism and Schismatics," 1636 22 

Relations with Laud 23 

Canon of Windsor 23 

Persecution and Obscurity, 1644-1656 .... 27 

II 

"Golden Remains op the Ever-Memorable Mr. 
John Hales of Eton College," 1659 .... 30 

Gentleness in Times of Violence 31 

ix 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Self-reliant Protestantism 34 

Between Anglican and Puritan 36 

Unity of Spirit in Diversity op Opinion ... 38 

Between Calvinism and Arminianism 39 

Views of the Bible 43 

Christianity and Social Problems 45 

WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH, 1602-1644 

I 

At Oxford as a Student 51 

Conversion to Romanism and Return to Angli- 
canism 52 

Relations with Laud 52 

Controversy with Romanism 53 

At Great Tew with Falkland 54 

"The Religion of Protestants a Safe Way of Sal- 
vation," 1638 55 

Chancellor of Salisbury 55 

In the King's Army with Falkland 57 

Controversy with Cheynell 58 

Death of Chichester, 1644 59 

II 

"The Religion op Protestants a Safe Way of Sal- 
vation" 60 

Trustworthiness of Reason 60 

Errors op Truth-seekers not Dangerous ... 61 

Unity of Opinion not to be Expected .... 61 

Interpretation of the Bible 62 

Necessary Truth is Evident, the Obscure is Un- 
essential 62 

Bible's Authority Internal, not External . . 62 

Back to Christ and Biblical Simplicity! ... 64 

X 



/ CONTENTS 

BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE, 1609-1683 

I 

PAOE 

The Cambridge of 1630 69 

Whichcote as Cambridge Tutor 71 

The University Preacher 71 

Cambridge in the Civil War 72 

Provost of King's College, 1644 73 

Ameliorating Influence in Violent Times . . 73 

At the Restoration 74 

Curate of Saint Anne's, 1662 75 

His Beneficence 75 

Vicar of Saint Lawrence Jewry, 1668 .... 75 

Death, 1683 75 

Tillotson's and Burnet'is Characterizations . . 76 

II 

The "Discourses" 77 

The Harmony of Reason and Revelation ... 77 

Respect for Human Nature 79 

The Human Side of Redemption 79 

Righteousness Real and Vital Rather than Im- 
puted and Artificial 80 

Unity of Spirit in Diversity op Opinion ... 81 

Correspondence with Tuckney .... . . 83 

JOHN SMITH, 1618-1652 



At Cambridge under Whichcote 89 

Fellow of Queen's College Approved by West- 
minster Assembly 90 

Scholarship and Geniality 91 

xi 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Humility and Evangelistic Fervor 92 

Gentleness in Times of Violence 92 

Death, 1652 93 

II 

The "Select Discourses," 1660 94 

Revival of Greek Theology at Cambridge . . 94 
God in His World, the Divine Immanence . . 95 
God in Man, the Kinship of the Divine and Human 96 
Faith as Participation in the Life of God ... 97 
Redemption in Vital Rather than Legal Terms . . 100 
The Incarnation Broader than the Atonement . 103 

HENRY MORE, 1614-1687 

. I 

Boyhood in a Puritan Home 109 

Student at Cambridge Ill 

From Philosophy to Mysticism 113 

Influence of "Theologia Germanica" . . . .113 

Personal Appearance 114 

Mystic Ecstasies 115 

II 

Philosophical Writings 119 

Interest in Physical Phenomena 119 

Mediator Between Religion and Science . . . 121 

Friend of Descartes 122 

Nature Interpreted by Spirit 126 

JEREMY TAYLOR, 1613-1667 



Personal Appearance 131 

First Preaching at Saint Paul's 131 

xii 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

At Caaibridge 132 

Relations with Laud 132 

Rector of Uppingham, 1636 133 

Retirement at Golden Grove During the War . .133 

"Liberty of Prophesying," 1647 137 

Under the Protectorate 139 

After the Restoration 139 

Last Years in Ireland 140 

II 

The "Liberty of Prophesying" 140 

Charity in Diversity of Opinion 140 

Heresy of the Will Rather than of the Intellect 141 

Heresy not to be Persecuted 142 

On Simplicity of Creeds 143 

On Schism 145 

Liberty not License 145 

SIR THOMAS BROWNE, 1605-1682 

I 

Early Life and Education 152 

Physician at Norwich 153 

Equanimity in Times of Animosity 153 

Home Life 155 

At the Restoration 156 

Whitefoot's and Johnson's Memoirs 157 

Personal Appearance and Characteristics . . .157 

II 

The "Religio Medici," 1642 158 

Absence of Antipathies 160 

cosmopolit.anism 160 

Catholicity 161 

Charity in Differences of Doctrine 162 

xiii 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Mysticism 163 

Interest in Natural Science 164 

God's Immanence and Mercy 164 

The World Within 166 

RICHARD BAXTER, 1615-1691 

I 

Puritan Home 169 

Education 172 

Early Preaching at Dudley and Bridgenorth . . 173 

First Years at Kidderminster 174 

Chaplain in Cromwell's Army, 1644-1646 . . . 175 

His Impressions of Cromwell 176 

The "Saints' Rest^' 179 

The Kidderminster Pastorate 180 

After the Restoration 181 

II 

"Reliquiae Baxterianae" 183 

Moderation in an Age of Passion 184 

Views of Episcopacy 186 

Reformation not Separation 187 

Comprehension versus Partisanship 189 

CONCLUSION 

Weakness and Strength of the Latitudinari- 

ans 195 

Hales, Chillingworth, and Taylor 195 

Anticipations of Christian Unity and the Modern 

Spirit 196 

Views of the Bible 197 

The Cambridge Platonists 197 

"New Theology" in the Seventeenth Century. 198 

Religion and Science 198 

xiv 



INDEX OF DATES 

1584. Hales born. 

1597. Hales enters Oxford. 

1602. Chillingworth born. 

1603. Death of Elizabeth. 
Accession of James I. 

1605. Browne born. 

1608. Pilgrims migrate to Holland. 

Whichcote born. 

1611. Spanish marriage proposed. 

1613. Taylor born. 

1614. More born. 

1615. Baxter born. 

1618. Smith born. 

1619. Synod of Dort. 
Taylor begins school. 

1620. Pilgrim exodus to New England. 
1623. Charles and Buckingham in Madrid. 

1625. Death of James I. 
Accession of Charles I. 

1626. Buckingham impeached. 
Whichcote enters Cambridge. 
Taylor enters Cambridge. 
Browne graduated from Oxford. 

1628. Petition of Right. 

1630. Star Chamber sentences. 

Laud enforces conformity to Prayer Book. 
Knott's "Charity Mistaken." 
Chillingworth converted to Romanism. 

XV 



INDEX OF DATES 

1631. More enters Cambridge, 

1633. Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury. 

Reading of " Declaration of Sports '' enforced. 
Communion tables made altars. 
Baxter begins theological studies. 

1634. First Ship-Money Writ. 
Whichcote tutor at Cambridge. 
Taylor preaches at St. Paul's. 
Milton's "Comus." 

1635. Browne begins practice at Shipden Hall. 

1636. Hales' "Schism and Schismatics." 
Laud appoints Hales Canon of Windsor. 
Laud appoints Taylor Rector of Uppingham. 
Whichcote ordained and begins university sermons. 
Smith enters Cambridge. 

1637. Riot in Scotland over new Prayer Book. 
Browne goes to Norwich. 

1638. Judgment against Hampden. 

Covenant taken in Scotland, and episcopacy abolished. 
Chillingworth's "Religion of Protestants." 
Chillingworth subscribes to articles. 
Baxter ordained, begins preaching. 

1639. More takes orders; fellow of Christ's College. 

1640. Long Parliament convenes. 
Baxter goes to Kidderminster. 

1641. Strafford executed, 
Browne married at Norwich. 

1642. Civil War begins. 
King at Nottingham. 
Battle of Edgehill. 

Hales ejected from Canonry. 
Baxter retires to Coventry. 
"Religio Medici" appears. 

1643. Westminster Assembly convenes. 
Solemn League and Covenant. 
Chillingworth preaches before King at Oxford. 
Chillingworth and Falkland in royal camp before Glouces- 
ter. 

Death of Falkland in the field. 

xvi 



INDEX OF DATES 

1644. Laud executed. 
Death of Chillingworth. 
Hales' fellowship sequestered. 
Whichcote, Provost of King's College. 
Smith, Fellow of Queen's College. 
Baxter, chaplain in Cromwell's army. 
Taylor's living at Uppingham sequestered. 

1645. Battle of Naseby. 

Taylor taken captive, released, goes to Golden Grove. 

1646. Baxter begins " Saints' Rest " at Rous-Lench. 
Baxter returns to Kidderminster. 

1647. Taylor's "Liberty of Prophesying" published. 

1649. Trial and execution of King. 

1650. Taylor's "Holy Living." 

Whichcote, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge. 

1652. Smith died. 

More's "Antidote against Atheism." 

1653. Cromwell's Protectorate begins. 

1655. Cromwell consults Whichcote. 

1656. Death of Hales. 

1658. Death of Cromwell. 
Taylor at Portmore. 

1659. "The Golden Remains of the Ever-Memorable John 

Hales" published. 

1660. The Restoration. 

Smith's "Select Discourses." 
Taylor, Bishop of Down and Connor. 
Baxter preaches in London. 
1662. Act of Uniformity expels Nonconformists. 
Whichcote, curate of St. Anne's. 

1664. Conventicle Act. 

Baxter begins his "Life and Times." 

1665. Great London Fire. 
Five-Mile Act. 

1667. Death of Taylor. 
"Paradise Lost" published 

1668. Whichcote, Vicar of St. Lawrence. 
1671. Browne knighted. 

1682. Death of Browne. 

svii 



INDEX OF DATES 

1683. Death of Whichcote. 

1685. Baxter tried and imprisoned. 

1687. Death of More. 

1688. The Revolution. 
William and Mary. 

1691. Death of Baxter. 



xviii 



LIST OF PORTRAITS 

John Hales Frontispiece 

FACING 
PAGE 

William Chillingworth 56 

Benjamin Whichcote 72 

Henry More 112 

Jeremy Taylor 132 

Thomas Browne 156 

Richard Baxter 180 



MEN OF LATITUDE 



" They loved the constitution of the church and the liturgy, 
and could well live under them: but they did not think 
it unlawful to live under another form. They wished that 
things might have been carried with more moderation. 
And they continued to keep a good correspondence with 
those who had differed from them in opinion, and al- 
lowed a great freedom both in philosophy and in di- 
vinity: from whence they were called men of latitude. 
And upon this, men of narrower thoughts and fiercer 
tempers fastened upon them the name of Latitudinarians." 
— Bishop Burnet in his " History of His Oum Time." 

" I can come into no company of late, but I find the chief 
discourse to be about a certain new sect of men called 
Latitude-men. . . . The name of Latitude-men is daily 
exagitated amongst us both in taverns and pulpits, and 
very tragical representations made of them." — From a 
pamphlet of 1662 by S. P. [Simon Patrick f ] of Cambridge. 



MEN OF LATITUDE IN A CENTURY OF 
NARROWNESS 

The men who make names for themselves are often 
men of extremes. Souls on fire brand history with their 
mark. The man of one idea attracts attention, and 
impresses himself upon his age. For this reason there 
is danger of misinterpreting a period, if we judge it by 
its most eminent characters. Too often in watching 
meteors we ignore the fixed stars. 

Christian history suffers especially in this regard. 
Heretics and ultra-conservatives are familiar figures, 
while frequently the Christian of well-balanced views 
and sweet reasonableness has sunk into oblivion. His 
very moderation has buried him. The bigoted and in- 
tolerant make a stir in the world. The liberal and 
tolerant, whose strength is in quietness and confidence, 
attract little attention. 

The seventeenth century is commonly regarded as 
bigoted and narrow. Contemplating it, our attention 
is monopolized by its glittering lights. The century is 
associated with the extreme Anglican and the extreme 
Puritan, with Archbishop Laud on the one side, and 
Cromwell and the Pilgrims on the other. To see only 
these extremes is to wrong the seventeenth century, 

3 



MEN OF LATITUDE 

and to overestimate the twentieth in comparison with 
it. There is nothing new under the sun. Liberal, com- 
prehensive, sweet-tempered Christianity did not begin 
in our day. The seventeenth century had its Hberals as 
well as its dogmatists; gentle spirits, whose quiet influ- 
ence in subtle ways has flowed into the present, greeting 
us from afar, without us not made perfect. Liberalism 
as well as bigotry has a pedigree. 

In the time of Charles I and Laud and Cromwell 
and the Westminster divines, when ceremonialism was 
active on the one side, and dogmatism on the other, 
when Romanist and Protestant, Anglican and Puritan, 
Calvinist and Arminian were having their bitter con- 
troversies and the air was charged with maledictions, 
even then there were well-poised Christians who held 
a middle course, repelled from all extremes alike. 

A word may be said in extenuation of seventeenth- 
century intolerance. If it may not be excused, it should 
not be unduly condemned. It was not so much a lack of 
toleration of the opposite party as a fear of its oppres- 
sion, a mutual distrust. The Puritan feared, and with 
good cause, that the ceremonialism of the Anglican 
party would crush him out of existence. The Ceremo- 
riialist feared that Puritanism unfettered would run riot, 
and destroy all the decency and order of worship, to- 
gether with the foundations of civil law and order. 
Neither side could trust the other to be free. Each 
must oppose the other to the death for its own self- 
preservation. The Puritan was not so much unwilling 
that the Ceremonialist should exist as unwilling that 

4 



IN A CENTURY OF NARROWNESS 

the Ceremonialist should annihilate him, and con- 
versely. Each side gave the other ample ground for 
such fear. 

Seventeenth-century intolerance, again, was not 
merely rehgious, but political also. Church and State 
were indissolubly united, to prosper or suffer together. 
The Puritan conventicles, to the Anglican mind, were 
not only spreading heresy, but also inculcating sedi- 
tion. They were dangerous to State as well as to 
Church. Neither party had any idea of an established 
order, which should make room for both. The hated 
innovations of ceremonialism and the excited meetings 
of the Puritans were each in turn regarded as danger- 
ous to the public welfare. Each party claimed to be 
defending society from the other. 

The violent struggle over religious questions, more- 
over, was not as vicious a thing as we are disposed to 
think. There were good elements in it. It stood at 
least for a vital devotion to the things of the spirit. It 
is to the honor of England, that, when on constitutional 
questions there was little division, men were not satis- 
fied to ignore the danger threatening spiritual princi- 
ples to them most precious, on the one side the love for an 
ordered and beautiful form of worship, on the other the 
rights of the individual conscience. The seventeenth- 
century Englishman was not satisfied, when the ques- 
tion of ship-money and political privilege had been 
settled. The rights of property and person assured, he 
must be assured also of the rights of the soul. He con- 
sidered spiritual questions worth fighting over. Intol- 

5 



MEN OF LATITUDE 

erance is often the expression of an ardor of devotion, 
which toleration often lacks. 

If seventeenth-century intolerance may be thus ex- 
tenuated, all the more precious becomes any spirit of 
toleration, which in such a century manifests itself. 
The times were all for partisanship. The alternative 
offered at the point of the sword was an ecclesiastical 
tyranny, allowing a certain liberty of belief, or a doc- 
trinal tyranny, allowing a certain liberty of worship; a 
sad choice. It is, then, to the everlasting honor of the 
century, that, in the midst of its clashing extremes, men 
appeared with heads unbowed, who denounced both 
tyrannies and championed both liberties. Under 
Laudian supremacy, they rejoiced in the latitude al- 
lowed to belief, but condemned the uniformity imposed 
upon worship. Under Puritan supremacy, they re- 
joiced in the latitude allowed to worship, but con- 
demned the uniformity imposed upon belief. These 
*' men of latitude," as Burnet called some of them, in a 
cramped age felt pent in alike by narrowness of ritual 
and by narrowness of creed, and they cried out for 
room and air. Ecclesiastically and doctrinally they 
stood in the open. To these expansive souls the at- 
mosphere both of triumphant Puritanism and of tri- 
umphant Anglicanism was stifling. 

A rapid review of the age of partisanship and pas- 
sion in which they were involved untainted, reveals a 
background, against which their moderation and lati- 
tude loom up large and blessed. They were all born in 
the first two decades of the century, with the exception 

6 



IN A CENTURY OF NARROWNESS 

of Hales, who was sixteen years old at the century's 
opening. It was the period when James I was alienat- 
ing his people by new and oppressive imposts, and 
offending religious sentiment by proposing a marriage 
for Prince Charles with Catholic Spain. Chillingworth 
was born the year before James came to the throne, 
Browne the second year of his reign, Whichcote the 
year after the first pilgrimage of the Pilgrims to Hol- 
land in disgust and despair, Taylor two years after the 
proposal of the exasperating Spanish marriage. More 
the next year, and Baxter the next, John Smith, the last 
to be born and the first to die, in 1618. All were thus 
born in ample time to imbibe with their first impressions 
the animosities of the age in their full strength, and to 
have partisanship and prejudice bred in their bones, if 
they had not been strangely immune from such infu- 
sions through natures sane and gracious. Browne and 
Whichcote were born in homes of wealth and privilege, 
and as far as their environment was concerned might 
easily have developed into pompous cavaliers. Baxter 
and More were sons of Puritans, and might as easily 
have become rampant roundheads. Chillingworth had 
Laud for his godfather, and might have been expected 
to develop into uncompromising churchmanship. Tay- 
lor, son of a Cambridge barber, did not begin life with 
much promise of the favor of Laud and the aristocracy. 
The influence of heredity and environment, however, 
was powerless before the native graciousness and cath- 
olicity of these unbiassed souls. It was bad soil, but 
good wheat. 

7 



MEN OF LATITUDE 

As students these men received their education in the 
midst of Anghcan oppression and Puritan resistance, 
pursuing their studies in a period unfavorable to the 
culture of catholicity. Everything made for partisan- 
ship, narrowness, animosity, extremes. Taylor began 
school the year that Calvinism gave a quietus to Ar- 
minianism at the one-sided Synod of Dort. He was 
seven years old. More six, and Baxter five, when in 
1620 the Pilgrims made their exodus to New England, 
in despair of liberty of conscience at home. Whichcote 
and Taylor entered Cambridge, and Browne was grad- 
uated from Oxford, at the time when the notorious 
Buckingham, the hated favorite of James and Charles, 
and a principal instrument in their destruction, was 
being impeached by an indignant parliament. They 
were still pursuing their studies, when two years later, 
Buckingham was assassinated, and the great "Petition 
of Right," a better protest against tyranny, was stirring 
the hearts of Englishmen with its appeal for elemental 
liberties. More entered Cambridge, when the country 
was in uproar over the infamous "Star Chaniber" sen- 
tences of a tyrannical government, and the enforce- 
ment of rigid conformity to Prayer Book by an equally 
tyrannical church. Baxter decided upon the ministry 
and began his theological studies in the same year that 
Laud, made Archbishop of Canterbury, was outraging 
Puritan sentiment by insisting that the "Declaration of 
Sports," encouraging recreation on the Sabbath, be 
read in the churches, and that the communion tables be 
set in the east end of the churches as altars. It was a 

8 



IN A CENTURY OF NARROWNESS 

period prolific of partisans and bigots, a period per- 
chance when men of one idea could alone be effective: 
but these men were not of them, and would not pur- 
chase influence at so dear a price. In the conservative 
and royalist sentiment of the universities, they learned 
neither to hate Puritanism nor to condone oppressive 
Anglicanism, and as little in reaction did they espouse 
iconoclasm and Calvinism. 

Being graduated from the universities, they took up 
their work between 1634 and 1640, during those six 
dreadful years, when collision of extreme with extreme 
was inflaming the passions of Englishmen beyond all 
bounds of charity and even sanity, and cleaving a great 
nation into the two factions of a civil war. It was, 
perhaps, the worst time in all history to enter the min- 
istry in England, especially for men who would not take 
sides. In 1634, Whichcote was appointed tutor at 
Cambridge, and Taylor preached those sermons at 
Saint Paul's, which raised him to immediate eminence: 
it was the year when the first ship-money writ was 
served, and when the despotism of Charles I was be- 
ginning to work its own destruction. The following 
year, Browne quietly began his practice of medicine at 
Shipden Hall, and began also to jot down those amiable 
reflections, which were to develop into the "Religio 
Medici." In 1636, a notable year for these novitiates, 
Hales' "Schism and Schismatics" was published, and 
the author was appointed Canon of Windsor by Laud: 
in the same year the archbishop appointed Taylor rec- 
tor of Uppingham, and Whichcote being ordained be- 

9 



MEN OF LATITUDE 

gan his famous university sermons. All three were 
loyal to King and Church, but not so blindly as to be 
unconscious of grave errors in both Church and State. 
In this year also, Smith, the youngest of the group, 
came to Cambridge. The following year Browne 
peacefully settled at Norwich, when Scotland was in 
riot over the introduction of the new Prayer Book. In 
1638 Chillingworth published "The Religion of Prot- 
estants," one of the sanest works in the literature of the- 
ology, and, appointed Chancellor of Salisbury, sub- 
scribed to the thirty-nine articles with the understanding 
that they were *' articles of peace." In the same year 
Baxter was ordained and began preaching at Dudley: 
and this was the year when the Covenant was taken and 
episcopacy was abolished in Scotland, and when in 
England judgment was rendered against the valiant 
Hampden for resisting payment of the hated and un- 
constitutional ship-money. The following year More 
took orders and became fellow of Christ's College, 
Cambridge, as serene as if he had been living in Persia. 
In 1640, Baxter entered upon his wonderful ministry at 
Kidderminster, the year when the Long Parliament con- 
vened, not to adjourn till monarchy had been overthrown 
and, after the Protectorate, restored again. If ever na- 
tive charity triumphed over the biassing influence of an 
environment of passion and hate, it did so in these men. 
In 1642, the great Civil War began, the King set up 
his standard at Nottingham, and the battle of Edgehill 
was fought, while Baxter was quietly preaching at Al- 
cester, within sound of the cannon. In this year Hales 

10 



IN A CENTURY OF NARROWNESS 

was ejected from the Canonry of Windsor, Baxter re- 
tired from Kidderminster to Coventry, and at this time 
(of all others!) appeared the gentle "Religio Medici." 
In 1643, Chillingworth preached before the King at 
Oxford, as unsparing toward the vices of royalty and 
court as toward the rebellion of the Puritans, the ** Sol- 
emn League and Covenant " was issued as the palladium 
of militant Puritanism, the Westminster Assembly con- 
vened, and in the royal camp before Gloucester Chil- 
lingworth and Falkland agonized over the evil of the 
times, the latter soon to rush into a fusillade terminat- 
ing a life become unendurable. "The distant future 
was his, the future of compromise and moderation. 
The present was Pym's and CromwelFs." In 1644, the 
year of Laud's execution in the triumph of Puritan in- 
dignation, Chillingworth died a captive at Chichester, 
badgered by the bigoted Cheynell, Hales lost the Eton 
fellowship by sequestration, and Taylor the living at 
Uppingham, Baxter became a chaplain in Cromwell's 
army in spite of his disapproval of the army's disloy- 
alty, and Whichcote and Smith, feeling less the severity 
of the times, were appointed the one provost of King's 
College, the other fellow of Queen's College, Cam- 
bridge. From those who suffered, however, there was no 
note of bitterness, as from those who were favored there 
was no note of elation. All were sad, but without ani- 
mosity. None of them approved the times, even in 
their own advancement. 

The Battle of Naseby was fought in 1645, and Taylor 
taken captive in the royal army, retired to Golden 

11 



MEN OF LATITUDE 

Grove. The following year Baxter retired from Crom- 
well's army to Rous-Lench. Then it was, in 1646 and 
1647, 'mid the life and death struggle between Puritan 
and Anglican, that were written those two immortal 
messages of peace, "The Saints' Everlasting Rest" and 
** Liberty of Prophesying," the one by a Puritan fresh 
from his chaplaincy in Cromwell's army, the other 
by a royalist taken captive in the army of the King. 
Taylor's "Holy Living" was published in 1650, the 
year after the trial and execution of the King to whom 
he was devoted. In the same year Whichcote, enjoying 
the confidence of the Puritans though far from Puritan, 
was made Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. 

During the Protectorate, 1653-1658, Hales died in 
penury at Eton, Taylor was in distress and want. Doc- 
tor Browne was calmly pursuing his practice at Nor- 
wich, Whichcote was preaching his wonderful sermons, 
and More writing his voluminous books, at Cambridge, 
and Richard Baxter was doing his immortal work in the 
Kidderminster parish. Rare John Smith had died pre- 
maturely in 1652. Hales' "Golden Remains" were 
published in 1659, and Smith's "Select Discourses" 
the following year, both posthumous. 

The first year of the Restoration, 1660, gave happy 
promise of toleration and irenic counsels. Baxter, the 
Puritan royalist, was in favor, and full of hope was la- 
boring mightily with tongue and pen for a policy of 
comprehension, under which all parties might thrive. 
The author of "Liberty of Prophesying" was made 
Bishop of Down and Connor, and Whichcote in 1662 

12 



IN A CENTURY OF NARROWNESS 

came to London as curate of Saint Anne's. The suf- 
ferings, however, of royaUsts and AngHcans during the 
wars could not be forgotten, and a spirit of retahation 
and vengeance upon Puritanism soon ensued. The Act 
of Uniformity in 1662 required such allegiance to Angli- 
canism as Puritans with difficulty could give, and under 
its enforcement more than two thousand non-conform- 
ist ministers were ejected from their livings. In 1664, 
the "Conventicle" Act made all informal religious 
meetings seditious, and the following year the shameful 
Five Mile Act sent the dispossessed into practical exile. 
During these shiftings of administration from extreme to 
extreme, Whichcote was well poised enough to maintain 
a continuous position of influence, sailing storm-swept 
seas, strewn with wrecks, for fifty years without disaster. 
Browne, Whichcote and More died between 1682 
and 1687, all over seventy years of age, having finished 
their course, and having kept the faith. Baxter alone 
lived to behold in his last years, after the Revolution of 
1688, the dawn of that day of toleration, for which their 
life long all these catholic souls had prayed. 

" These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but 
having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and em- 
braced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pil- 
grims on the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report 
through faith, received not the promise: God having provided 
some better thing for us, that they without us should not be 
made perfect." 

The militant spirit always appeals to the popular 
heart. Men love a fight, and lionize fighters. But 

13 



MEN OF LATITUDE 

fighting is primitive and barbarous. It was natural for 
the Puritans in power to dispossess and persecute the 
AngHcans who had persecuted them. It was natural 
for the Anglicans, recovering supremacy, to retaliate 
upon the Puritans in like spirit and measure. It was 
natural: it was not spiritual. It was eye for eye and 
tooth for tooth. It was Mosaic, not Christian. Christ 
may at times bring not peace but a sword, possibly there 
may be religious wars, but Chillingworth seems to in- 
terpret the prevailing spirit of the Master, when he says, 
"War is not the way of Jesus Christ," for it is undeni- 
able that the general teaching of Jesus is that policy of 
meekness and non-resistance, which shall inherit the 
earth. In very truth, it is that blessed spirit alone that 
does inherit the earth securely. It was that spirit alone 
that inherited England in the end. Militant Anglican- 
ism and rampant Puritanism, mutually exclusive, in 
turn won great victories, but neither prevailed through 
the years. Only a policy of comprehension and gentle- 
ness, capable of affirming the truth and denying the 
error of each, could persist. Only sanity endures. 
These men of blessed meekness failed to sway their 
own times, but the coming age was securely and endur- 
ingly theirs, for it is the scaffold of non-resisting truth, 
not the throne of militant wrong, that sways the future, 

" — and, behind the dim unknown, 
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above his own." 



14 



JOHN HALES 



JOHN HALES 

1584-1656 



At the Synod of Dort in the winter of 1618-1619, there 
sat in the gallery as a sagacious spectator a small, quiet 
man of cheerful face and gentle bearing, John Hales, 
chaplain to Sir Dudley Carleton, British Ambassador 
to The Hague. He was commissioned to report to the 
ambassador the proceedings of the synod, and per- 
formed the office with impartiality. The Calvinism 
which was there formally victorious won victory at too 
dear a cost, and over the mind of the reporter, at least, 
lost influence by abuse of its control of the synod. His 
friend Anthony Farindon was accustomed to say that 
Hales went to the synod a Calvinist, but that he often 
said in later life, acknowledging the influence of an 
exposition of the verse, " For God so loved the world," 
by Episcopius, the broad-minded leader of the Remon- 
strants, "There I bade John Calvin good-night!" The 
immediate effect of the synod upon him was not great, 
as his somewhat perfunctory reports show, but it was 
doubtless to the retired student a period of education 
in the evils of controversy and bigotry, and left a last- 
ing impression, which developed with reflection. An 

17 



JOHN HALES 

account of John Hales may properly introduce him on 
his appearance at Dort, as that was almost the only 
occasion during forty years on which he emerged from 
the "still air of delightful studies" into pubHc view. 
He was not in the public eye. The nineteen years 
before his mission to Holland had been spent at Oxford, 
as student at Corpus Christi College, and after gradua- 
tion as Fellow of Merton and later of Eton. He had 
shown rare proficiency in Greek. He had taken orders. 
His preaching was brilliant, sparkling with metaphors, 
but a weak voice detracted from its effectiveness. An- 
thony Wood, a contemporary, in a record of notable 
Oxford graduates entitled "Athense Oxonienses," thus 
suggests his university reputation: "Through the 
whole course of his bachelorship there was never 
any one in the memory of man (so I have been in- 
formed by certain seniors of that college, Merton, at 
my first coming thereunto) that ever went beyond him 
for subtle disputations in philosophy, for his eloquent 
declamations and orations, as also for his exact knowl- 
edge in the Greek tongue. . . . His profound learning 
and natural endowments (not that I shall take notice of 
his affability, sweetness of nature and complaisance, 
which seldom accompany hard students and critics) 
made him beloved of all good men." 

His rare intellectual abilities and social charm were 
coupled with a modesty and love of studious retirement 
which prevented his light from shining conspicuously, 
although it was by no means hid under a bushel. " His 
chamber was a church, and his chair a pulpit." "He 

18 



JOHN HALES 

was as communicative of his knowledge, as the celestial 
bodies of their light and influences." He was obstinate, 
however, against publishing his views in the press, and 
never raised his voice in the streets. The manuscripts 
of some of the sermons which have been preserved were 
snatched from his hand by interested friends as he 
descended from the pulpit. Throughout his life he was 
a retiring student. His two years as chaplain to the 
Dutch Embassy did not wean him from his studious 
habits, nor launch him upon a public career, influential 
as were the friends whose patronage he might have 
enjoyed. On his return from Holland he buried him- 
self in his books at Eton again, content for twenty years 
with no higher office than his Fellowship. Clarendon, 
the contemporary historian, thus describes the even 
tenor of this period. *' Being a person of the greatest 
eminency for learning and other abilities, from which 
he might have promised himself any preferment in the 
church, he withdrew himself from all pursuits of that 
kind into a private fellowship in the College of Eton, 
where he lived amongst his books and the most sep- 
arated from the world of any man then living: though 
he was not in the least degree inclined to melancholy, 
but on the contrary of a very open and pleasant con- 
versation." Clarendon adds that he delighted to have 
his friends resort to him, and about once a year would 
visit London, "to enjoy their chearful conversation." 

His wants were simple, so that with a meagre income 
he was able to indulge his two luxuries, generosity to 
others, and books for himself. As bursar of his college 

19 



JOHN HALES 

he insisted on replacing from his own funds bad money 
received, and would sometimes throw into the river 
from twenty to thirty pounds at a time. Aubrey, the 
antiquary, in his garrulous and lively reminiscences, 
in part happily preserved, draws a charming sketch 
belonging to this period. " 'Twas pretty to see, as he 
walked to Windsor, how his godchildren asked him 
blessing. When he was bursar, he still gave away 
all his groates for the acquittances to his godchildren: 
and by that time he came to Windsor bridge, he would 
have never a groate left." 

Of his books Clarendon says that Hales' was the best 
private library he had seen; that he "had read more and 
carried more about him in his excellent memory than 
any man I ever knew, my Lord Falkland only excepted." 
Wood calls him "a walking library." He digested his 
reading with much reflection, and had it ever at com- 
mand. 

Among his books, he was also among his friends. 
His rare social charm and brilliant conversation com- 
mended him to that choice circle of literary lights 
which centred in Ben Jonson, including Chilling- 
worth, Falkland, Dryden, Suckling and kindred spirits. 
Suckling gives him a place in the "Session of the 
Poets," a poem in which Apollo is represented as seeking 
one to crown among the brilliant coterie. 

Hales, set by himself, most gravely did smile 
To see them about nothing keep such a coile. 
Apollo had spied him, but knowing his mind, 
Passed by, and called Falkland that sat just behind. 
20 



JOHN HALES 

Similar modesty appears in the characterization by 
Wood, "Though a person of wonderful knowledge, yet 
he was so modest, as to be patiently contented to hear 
the disputes of persons at table, and those of small 
abilities, without interposing or speaking a word, 
till desired." When Hales did speak, however, some- 
thing was always said. Retiring as the man was, 
when once his sword was unsheathed, it was keen, 
flashing and dextrous. In a rencontre with Jonson, 
who had charged Shakespere with ignorance of the 
ancient poets, he undertakes to match their best with 
better from Shakespere, and shrewdly adds as a part- 
ing thrust to Jonson, that if Shakespere was ignorant of 
the ancient poets, he at least stole nothing from them. 
A vast store of learning thus as always at command, 
with a flavor of humor and an atmosphere of constant 
good feeling, made him delightful company. In court 
society at Windsor he was also in demand on account 
of his "polite discourses, stories and poetry." The 
genial fellowship of the London coterie, in which Hales 
was always welcome, is delightfully reflected in the 
lines, in which Suckling bids him come to town : 

Whether these lines do find you out, 
Putting or clearing of a doubt; 
Whether predestination, 
Or reconciling three in one; 
Or the unriddling how men die, 
And live at once eternally. . . . 

'Tis fit you show 
Yourself abroad, that men may know 
21 



JOHN HALES 

(Whate'er some learned men have guessed) 
That oracles are not yet ceased: 
There you shall find the wit and wine 
Flowing alike, and both divine: . . . 
News in one day, as much we've here 
As serves all Windsor for a year, 
And which the carrier brings to you, 
After 't has here been found not true. 
Then think what company's designed 
To meet you here: . . . 
Where no disputes, nor forc'd defence 
Of a man's person for his sense, 
Take up the time; all strive to be 
Masters of truth, as victory: 
And where you come, I'd boldly swear 
A synod might as easily err. 

This retired life of the Oxford scholar, interrupted 
only by the mission to Holland, and enlivened by occa- 
sional visits to his literary friends in London, Hales pur- 
sued for forty years, from his entrance as a student of 
Corpus Christi College in 1597 at the age of thirteen to 
1636. In that year he wrote a short paper on "Schism 
and Schismatics," probably at the instance of his friend 
Chillingworth, who at that time was writing his great 
work, **The Religion of Protestants," and had re- 
quested Hales' views on schism. The manuscript of 
this paper was circulated from hand to hand, so much 
did it impress each reader, and finally came under the 
eye of Archbishop Laud, who at once recognized its 
ability and invited Hales to an interview. Laud had 
been acquainted with Hales in undergraduate days, but 

22 



JOHN HALES 

such was the latter's retiring modesty, that Laud, as he 
told him at their meeting, had thought him long since 
dead, and chided him for keeping in the background. 
An interview followed which ended with an offer to 
Hales to become one of Laud's chaplains; and a year 
later he was persuaded, but with difficulty, to accept a 
Canonry at Windsor. Wood thus describes the inter- 
view. Laud *' sifted and ferreted him about from one 
hole to another, in certain matters of religion that he 
partly then, but more in his younger days, maintained. 
And finding him an absolute master of learning, made 
him, upon his compliance, one of his chaplains and 
procured a Canonry of Windsor for him, which with his 
Fellowship was all that this most incomparable person, 
whom I may justly style a walking library, enjoyed." 
The manuscript, which thus contrary to his own de- 
sires brought Hales into prominence, is thoroughly char- 
acteristic, and on account of its influence upon his ca- 
reer may be here examined. It opens with that native 
humor, which enlivened all his writings and discourse: 

Heresy and schism, as they are commonly used, are two theo- 
logical scare-crows, with which they who use to uphold a party 
in religion use to fright away such, as making inquiry into it, are 
ready to relinquish and oppose it if it appear either erroneous or 
suspicious; for, as Plutarch reports of a painter, who having un- 
skilfully painted a cock, chased away all cocks and hens, that so 
the imperfection of his art might not appear by comparison with 
nature; so men willing for ends to admit of no fancy but their 
own endeavor to hinder an inquiry into it by way of comparison 
of somewhat with it, peradventure truer, that so the deformity 

23 



JOHN HALES 

of their own might not appear: but howsoever, in the common 
manage, heresy and schism are but ridiculous terms, yet the things 
in themselves are of very considerable moment, the one offending 
against truth, the other against charity, and therefore both deadly, 
when they are not by imputation, but in deed. 

Heresy is defined as "an act of the will, not of the rea- 
son, and indeed is a lie, and not a mistake," not a mis- 
taken position but a wrong disposition. Variety of 
opinions should not prevent those who hold them from 
worshipping together. ** Why might it not be lawful to 
go to church with the Donatist, or celebrate Easter with 
the Quartodeciman, if occasion so require?" The cen- 
tral and striking theme is, "Where cause of schism is 
necessary, there not he that separates, but he that is the 
cause of the separation, is the schismatic." A fruitful 
source of schism has been deplorable emphasis upon 
non-essentials. 

It hath been the common disease of Christians from the begin- 
ning not to content themselves with that measure of faith, which 
God and Scriptures have expressly afforded us, but out of a vain 
desire to know more than is revealed, they have attempted to 
devise things, of which we have no light, neither from reason nor 
revelation; neither have they rested here, but upon pretence of 
church authority (which is none), or tradition (which for the 
most part is feigned), they have peremptorily concluded and con- 
fidently imposed upon others a necessity of entertaining conclu- 
sions of that nature; and to strengthen themselves have broken 
out into divisions and factions, opposing man to man, synod to 
synod, till the peace of the church vanished without all possi- 
bility of recall. 

24 



JOHN HALES 

These are sane words for any time, but certainly re- 
markable for the year 1636. The authority of tradition 
Hales considers overestimated, and says that by the 
ancients "many are more affrighted than hurt." The 
illegitimate introduction into liturgy of controverted 
ideas has, to his mind, united with insistence upon uni- 
formity of opinion in fomenting schism. 

Were liturgies so framed as that they admitted not of particular 
and private fancies, but contained only such things as in which 
all Christians agree, schisms on opinion were utterly vanished. 
Whereas to load our public forms with the private fancies upon 
which we differ is the most sovereign way to perpetuate schism 
unto the world's end; prayer, confession, thanksgiving, reading 
of Scriptures, administration of sacraments in the plainest and 
simplest manner were matter enough to furnish out a sufficient 
liturgy, though nothing either of private opinion, or of church 
pomp, of garments, or prescribed gestures, of imagery, of music, 
of matter concerning the dead, of many superfluities which creep 
into the church, under the name of order and decency did in- 
terpose itself. 

This sharp thrust at the Laudian insistence upon uni- 
formity of obnoxious ceremonial, and the fact that Laud 
made a man of such views one of his chaplains and 
recommended him for further preferment, show that 
Laud could receive blows as well as give them, and 
should be counted to the credit of one who has been 
unsparingly condemned. To give him his due. Laud 
with his ceremonial narrowness exercised much tolera- 
tion in matters of doctrine, and was patient of Hales', 
as also of Chillingworth's, breadth. As at the begin- 

25 



JOHN HALES 

ning, so toward the close of this paper, is one of those 
humorous and pithy metaphors, in which Hales' writ- 
ings abound: 

'''For private and indifferent persons, they may be 
spectators of these contentions as securely in regard of 
any peril of conscience (for of danger in purse or person, 
I keep no account) as at a cock-fight where serpents 
fight, who cares who hath the better ? The best wish is 
that both may perish in the fight." 

This remarkable tract, it is to be noted, was written 
not for publication, but as a private letter to a friend. 
For its publicity the author was no more responsible 
than he was desirous of the notice into which it brought 
him. According to Clarendon, "He would often say, 
his opinions, he was sure, did him no harm, but he was 
far from being confident that they might not do others 
harm, who entertained them, and might entertain other 
results from them than he did: and therefore he was 
very reserved in communicating what he thought him- 
self in those points, in which he differed from what was 
received. . . . Nothing troubled him more than the 
brawls which were grown from religion." 

At the time of Hales' appointment to the Canonry of 
Windsor, the long years of his studious retirement and 
cheerful association with his brilliant friends were fast 
drawing to a close, to be succeeded by critical and aw- 
ful times, demanding men of a different calibre, men of 
strenuous action rather than of scholarly meditation, 
fighters rather than thinkers. Laud had set Hales' 
light into a candlestick, but its gentle radiance was not 

26 



JOHN HALES 

long to give illumination, for the candlestick was soon 
overturned, and the light itself almost snuffed out. In 
1640, but a year after his appointment as Canon of 
Windsor, the Long Parliament met, with its life-and- 
death struggle between Commons and King. In 1642 
the Civil War began. In the following year Falkland, 
Hales' friend and host of many years, met a sad death 
in the field. In 1644 his friend Chillingworth died a 
captive of the Parliamentary forces, and in the same 
year his patron Laud was executed in the triumph of 
Puritan rebellion. 

Little as Hales sympathized with Laud's ceremonial- 
ism, Puritan dogmatism was even more distasteful to 
him. Choosing between two evils, he chose what seemed 
to him the less, and sided with the royal party. In 1642 
his tract on schism was published without his consent, 
and the same year he was ejected from his canonry by 
a parliamentary committee, jealous of all royal sympa- 
thizers. Puritan dogmatism could not tolerate such 
latitude to varying opinion, in spite of the stout defence 
of untrammelled worship. Now uniformity of doctrine 
was to be pressed as violently as had been uniformity 
of ceremonial. In both systems, Anglican and Puritan, 
was a tyranny, which in both alike Hales denounced. 
He loved the good and hated the evil in each. In 1644, 
by a sequestration of college rents, he lost the Eton Fel- 
lowship, on which for years he had subsisted in his sim- 
ple life. For nine weeks he was in hiding at Eton. In 
1649 he refused to sign the Solemn League and Cove- 
nant, the palladium of triumphant Presbyterianism, 

27 



JOHN HALES 

and was formally dispossessed of the Eton Fellowship. 
He became tutor to William Salter, nephew of the 
Bishop of Salisbury, at Riching's Lodge in Bucking- 
hamshire, where in cooperation with Henry King, 
Bishop of Chichester, a kind of college was established, 
with Hales as chaplain. No peace, however, was to be 
granted to quiet students: it was a time of action and 
of the strenuous rather than the simple life. Hounded 
in his retirement by the order against harboring malig- 
nants, this man, of all men benignant, was obliged to 
leave Riching's Lodge, and sought refuge at Eton with 
the widow of an old servant, grateful to him for his 
generosities toward her in the past. Here he was to 
end his days in obscurity and penury. 

Prohibited from teaching or preaching, this man of 
peace in times of war could still let his light shine in 
lovely deeds of charity. A star of the first magnitude, 
his sky was clouded, but although his brilliance was 
obscured in the smoke of battle, gentle influences from 
his benignity made themselves felt, like the ultra-violet 
rays of the spectrum, actinic though invisible. He sold 
a large part of his precious library, which had cost 
twenty-five hundred pounds, for seven hundred, and in 
the midst of his own straits gave liberal assistance to 
clergy and scholars "deprived" like himself. If he 
could no longer preach, he would still practise the heart 
of the Gospel. With qualms of conscience at dis- 
possessing such a man, Penwarden, who had been 
installed in the Eton Fellowship in his place, mag- 
nanimously offered to resign it to him, but without 

28 



JOHN HALES 

success. Aubrey thus sketches him the year before 
his death: 

At Eton he lodged (after his sequestration), at the next house 
to the Christopher Inne, where I sawe him, a prettie Httle man, 
sanguine, of a cheerful countenance, very gentile and courteous. 
I was received by him with much humanity: he was in a kind of 
violet-colourd cloath gowne, with buttons and loopes (he wore 
not a black gown), and was reading "Thomas a Kempis: " it 
was within a year before he deceased. He loved Canarie; but 
moderately, to refresh his spirits. . . . He had a bountifull 
mind. 

A sweet picture, certainly, of one who knew *'how to be 
abased." If he used "Canarie" moderately, he also 
was accustomed to fast from Thursday's dinner till 
Saturday. In the sale of his books, "Thomas a Kem- 
pis" had been spared. Of his personal appearance in 
addition to Aubrey's description is that of Wood : 

Those that remember and were well acquainted with Mr. Hales 
have said that he had the most ingenuous countenance that they 
ever saw, that it was sanguine, cheerful, and full of air: also that 
his stature was little and well proportioned, and his motion 
quick and nimble. 

At Eton in the house of his old servant he died in 
1656, weary of "the black and dismal times," "one of 
the least men in the kingdom; and one of the greatest 
scholars in Europe"; "one of the clearest heads and 
best prepared breasts in Christendom." He was buried 
in Eton College churchyard without public honors. 
A monument was erected over his grave by his admirer, 

29 



JOHN HALES 

Peter Curwen, with a Latin inscription, which trans- 
lated, runs thus: 

*' Beloved of the Muses and the Graces, John Hales 
(name not so much of a man as of a philosophy) lies 
not here, but the clay which he assumed is placed be- 
low, for surely he shone above other mortals in polish 
of manners, subtlety of genius, fulness of heart. He was 
wise with a wisdom higher than the wisdom of this 
world, and so is more fit for the Choir Invisible." 

II 

Hales' unwillingness to publish his writings has been 
noted, so that during his life but little from his pen 
reached the press. The tract on schism was published 
without his consent. Three years after his death. Bishop 
Pearson edited and published a collection of sermons, 
letters and miscellanies, "such as he could not but 
write, and such as when written were out of his power 
to destro»y. . . . The sermons preached on several emi- 
nent occasions were snatched from him by his friends, 
and in their hands the copies were continued, or by 
transcription dispersed." The collection contains the 
Letters from Dort, a valuable contemporary report of 
that important synod. The title of the book, to modern 
taste somewhat florid, was congenial to the literary at- 
mosphere of the period, and was, we may be sure, a 
sincere and affectionate tribute to distinguished worth : 
**The Golden Remains of the Ever Memorable Mr. 
John Hales of Eton College." 

30 



JOHN HALES 

These writings of Hales are as crowded with interest 
as his life is barren in incident. He lived within. His 
meditation was the deeper for his inaction. All his 
force was free to expend itself within. It was a life of 
the soul. His history is a history of mind. He was not 
a practical leader, a man of affairs, like Laud or Crom- 
well. He had neither political nor ecclesiastical nor 
doctrinal plan to offer as a panacea for the ills of his 
day. He had no faith in accomplishing things by force. 
Christ's kingdom is maintained, he says, **not by the 
sword but the Spirit: not by violence but by love: not 
by striving but by yielding: not by fighting but by dy- 
ing." There was nothing in him of the belligerent. 
The Spirit was his sole reliance; and his contribution 
to that sanity, reason, and toleration, which alone in the 
end could prevail, was great. It is the "still small 
voice," after wind, earthquake and fire. 

As we turn from his life to his writings, it is the same 
man who appears, only revealed the more fully, with 
reserve broken. The same spirit of gentleness that gave 
charm to his manner pervades his writings. His ser- 
mon at St. Paul's Cross, for example, is a refuge from 
the theological storms of the day, with its atmosphere 
of serenity in the midst of conflict. He begins by saying 
that his object in coming is to exhort them "to a gra- 
cious interpreting of each other's imperfections," and 
the text is " Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but 
not to doubtful disputations." Among the much-dis- 
cussed notes of the church there should be a place, he 
thinks, for benignity. Theological writers need self- 

31 



JOHN HALES 

control: "If it be the cause of God which we handle in 
our writings, then let us handle it like the prophets of 
God, with quietness and moderation, and not in the 
violence of passion, as if we were possessed rather than 
inspired." It was characteristic of the man to begin 
his sermon on " Christian Omnipotency," a subject sug- 
gesting vigorous action, with a preface on that "omni- 
potent patience" which "beareth all things." Hales 
advocates in golden words gentleness of reproof: "The 
wisdom and gentleness of a Christian is never better 
seen than in reproving. The young and tender branches 
of a vine are not to be pruned with a knife, but gently 
pulled away by hand." It is in this connection that he 
introduces the striking figure of the knife and the sponge, 
long remembered: 

As a skilful physician of whom we read, finding the sick person 
to be afraid of lancing, privily wrapped up his knife in a sponge, 
with which, whilst he gently smoothed the place, he lanced it: 
so, beloved, when we encounter our offending brother, we must 
wrap our knife in our sponge, and lance him whilst we smooth 
him, and with all sweetness and gentleness of behavior cure him, 
as Isaiah cured Hezekiah by laying upon him a plaster of figs. 

To Hales' mind gentleness is due even to souls in tor- 
ment, and dwelling upon Abraham's manner of address- 
ing Dives, "Son, remember," he exclaims; "Son! a word 
of mercy and gentleness, used to teach us that in all cases, 
how desperate soever, unto all persons, though never so 
forlorn, unto the greatest delinquent, how sinful soever, 
yet still we must open some window, at least some small 

32 



JOHN HALES 

crevice, to let our goodness shine through." In similar 
vein he notices that "the master of the feast, when he 
came in to his guests and saw one there without a wed- 
ding garment, though he saw he was constrained to 
pronounce a sharp and severe doom, yet he useth 
Abraham's method, * Friend,' saith he, *how comest 
thou hither?' Son! Friend! here is the true art of 
chiding, this is the proper style wherein we ought to 
reprove." 

It hath been observed of the ancient Cornish language, that it 
afforded no forms of oaths, no phrases to swear in. I should never 
think our language the poorer, if it were utterly destitute of all 
forms and phrases of reviling and opprobrious speech. 

"Gracious language is so cheap a virtue good words 
are afforded at the same price that evil are." How 
far such a spirit as this rises above the partisan 
and controversial atmosphere of the times, in which 
Protestant and Romanist, Anglican and Puritan, Cal- 
vinist and Arminian were vilifying each other, it is 
needless to remark. Bishop Pearson in the introduction 
to "The Golden Remains," after alluding to Hales' 
intellectual attainments speaks of his gentleness thus 
quaintly and sweetly: 

Had he never understood a letter, he had other ornaments 
sufficient to endear him. For he was of a nature so kind, so 
sweet, so courting all mankind, of an affability so prompt, so 
ready to receive all conditions of men, that I conceive it near as 
easy a task for any one to become so knowing as so obliging. 

Hales was a true Protestant, not hesitating to assume 

33 



JOHN HALES 

the personal responsibility incurred by abandoning the 
Church's infallibility. He saw clearly that Protestant- 
ism must be self-reliant, that every man must use his 
own reason, "working out his own salvation with fear 
and trembling." These are his brave words on per- 
sonal infallibility: 

We see many times a kind of ridiculous forgetfulness of many 
men, seeking for that which they have in their hands; so fares it 
with men who seek for infalHbiHty in others, which either is or 
ought to be in themselves. . . . For, beloved, infalHbility is 
not a favor impropriated to any one man, it is a duty aUke ex- 
pected at the hands of all, all must have it. . . . There is no 
other means not to be deceived, but to know things yourselves. 
. . . Wherefore hath God given me the light of reason and con- 
science, if I must sufiFer myself to be led and governed by the 
reason and conscience of another man ? 

Hales did not quail before the unrest and dispute 
which might result from freedom of religious inquiry, 
feeling that peace purchased at the price of intellectual 
stagnation was too dear. He charges the clergy with 
cowardice in discouraging inquiry, as ^'the Sybarites to 
procure their ease banished the smiths, because their 
trade was full of noise." Religion by proxy he com- 
pares, with keen wit, to the methods of the Roman 
gentleman, who being ignorant himself, yet desirous 
of seeming learned, procured educated servants, with 
the fancy that all their learning thus became his own. 
Being weak in body, he procured wrestlers and runners, 
and exulted in their exploits as his own. 

Beloved, you are this man, when you neglect to try the spirits, 

34 



JOHN HALES 

to study the means of salvation yourselves, but content yourselves 
to take them upon trust, and repose yourselves altogether on the 
wit and knowledge of us that are your teachers. 

The Christian must cease to lean upon others, and 
must be content to rely upon God and his own reason. 
Antiquity is not reliable, for "what is it else but man's 
authority born some ages before us?" In regard to 
antiquity Hales speaks with delicious incisiveness : 

Those things which we reverence for antiquity, what were they 
at their first birth ? Were they false ? Time cannot make them 
true. Were they true? Time cannot make them more true. 

Universality is as unreliable as antiquity, for uni- 
versality is only an appeal to the multitude, and the 
multitude is usually wrong. " It will never go so well 
with mankind that the most shall be the best." Truth 
is not established by synods, but is often endangered, 
for as the special garments of the Roman slaves called 
attention to their number, and thus became a menace 
to their masters, so councils endanger the truth by 
revealing the numerical strength of those in error, for 
"there are more which run against the truth than with 
it." His opinion of synods evidently had not improved 
since the days at Dort. Such is Hales' brave Protes- 
tantism, "Neither to adore all things for Gospel which 
our betters tell us, but to bring all things to the true 
test; to know the reasons, try the authorities, and never 
rest ourselves, till we can take up that conclusion of the 
Psalmist, 'As we have heard, so have we seen in the 
city of our God.'" 

35 



JOHN HALES 

With this thorough-going Protestantism Hales min- 
gled a wholesome respect for authority. He deplored 
the indiscriminate discussion of profound questions by 
the unskilled, and the great breed of writers, which if 
they sowed not tares, yet filled the Lord's floor with 
chaff. ]\Iaturity of judgment was all-important in his 
eyes, and "greenness of scholarship" is roundly cen- 
sured. Protestant that he was, he was far from indulg- 
ing in Puritan vituperation of the Roman Church, from 
which he acknowledges the ceremonies and ritual of 
the English Church to have been derived, and with 
which there is a common ground of faith when supersti- 
tions are pruned away. 

The perfect balance of Hales' mind and taste pre- 
vented him from finding rest in any of the extremes of 
his day. A true Protestant, he was at home neither 
among the rampant Puritans nor the pompous Angli- 
cans. He was in favor of the simplest form of wor- 
ship, and opposed, as we have seen in the Tract on 
Schism, all that pomp which, under the plea of '* decency 
and order", Laud and his followers were bent on intro- 
ducing. He deplored the exaltation of the bishopric, as 
making Christianity *' lackey to ambition." Worship 
must not be identified with ceremonies, the danger of 
which is illustrated in the following characteristic way, 
with another quotation from classic lore: 

Our books tell us of a poor Spartan that travelling in another 
country and seeing the beams and posts of the houses squared and 
carved, asked if the trees grew so in those countries. Beloved, 
many men that have been long acquainted with a form of worship 

36 



JOHN HALES 

squared and carved, tricked and set out with shew and ceremony, 
fall upon this Spartan's conceit, think the trees grow so, and think 
that there is no natural shape and face of God's service but that. 

Most trenchantly does Hales decry the Anglican 
tendency to exaggerate the visible notes of the church. 
Vigorous, caustic and beautiful is his contention for the 
invisibility of Christ's kingdom. 

It is but Popish madness to send men up and down the world to 
find the church. . . . The Lord only knoweth who are his. 
. . . When Saul went out to seek his father's asses, he found 
a kingdom : let us take heed lest the contrary befall us, lest while 
we seek our Father's kingdom thus, we find but asses. . . . 
The church hath no other note but to be. . . . The church is 
not a thing that can be pointed out. The Devil could shew 
our Saviour Christ all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory 
of them: I hope the church was none of these! It is the glory 
of it not to be seen, and the note of it to be invisible. . . . 
Will you know where to find the kingdom of Christ? Our 
Saviour directs you in the Gospel; The kingdom of heaven, 
saith he, cometh not by observation, neither shall ye say, Lo 
here, or Lo there, for the kingdom of heaven is within you. Let 
every man therefore retire into himself, and see if he can find this 
kingdom in his heart; for if he find it not there, in vain shall he 
find it in all the world besides. 

Vigorous as is this protest against Anglican ritualism 
and ecclesiasticism, Hales found little comfort among the 
Puritans. At one with them in asserting the invisibility 
and spirituality of Christ's kingdom, and in advocating 
simplicity of worship, he is repelled by Puritan emphasis 
upon uniformity of doctrine no less than by Anglican 

37 



JOHN HALES 

emphasis upon uniformity of ceremony. Hales' tolera- 
tion stands out glorified against the intolerance of his 
times. He deplores that *' exceeding affection and love 
unto our own conceits, through which we cannot with 
patience either admit of other men's opinions or endure 
that our own should be withstood." *' Scarcely can 
there be found a thing more harmful to religion than to 
vent thus our own conceits, and obtrude them upon the 
world for necessary and absolute." Hales would seek 
Christian unity neither in uniformity of ceremonial with 
the Anglican, nor in uniformity of opinion with the 
Puritan, but in unity of spirit, with the Christians that 
were still to be, of whom he is the forerunner. It is an 
inspiration to find words like these in sermons nearly 
three hundred years old: 

It is not the variety of opinions, but our own perverse wills, 
who think it meet that all should be conceited as ourselves are, 
which hath so inconvenienced the church: were we not ready to 
anathematize each other, where we concur not in opinion, we 
might in hearts be united though in tongues we were divided, and 
that with singular profit to all sides. It is the unity of the Spirit 
in the bond of peace, and not identity of conceit, which the Holy 
Ghost requires at the hands of Christians. Since it is impossible 
where Scripture is ambiguous that all conceits should run alike, 
it remains that we should seek out a way not so much to establish 
an unity of opinion in the minds of all, which I take to be a thing 
likewise impossible, as to provide that multiplicity of conceit 
trouble not the church's peace. 

Here is the apostle of a new day, and in lines like 
these John Hales ''being dead yet speaketh." 

38 



JOHN HALES 

Between the Calvinism and Arminianism of the times 
Hales occupies a mediating position. In bidding John 
Calvin good-night at the Synod of Dort, he did not, as 
has been well said by Tulloch, bid Arminius good- 
morning. In these times of controversy it is reassuring 
to behold a man broad enough to appreciate the truth 
of both Calvinism and Arminianism. In the matter 
of " Predestination " Hales feels that both teach impor- 
tant truths. 

Were we not ambitiously minded every one to be lord of a 
sect, each of these tenets might be profitably taught and heard, 
and matter of singular exhortation drawn from either; for on the 
one part doubtless it is a pious intent to endeavor to free God 
from all imputation of unnecessary rigor; and on the other side, 
it is a noble resolution to humble ourselves under the hand of 
Almighty God. 

Likewise in regard to "Perseverance" he sees truth 
in both the Calvinistic and Arminian positions. The 
purposes of God are regarded in the same broad way. 
God's purposes are not to be defeated, as the one side 
contends, and yet with the other they do not nullify 
ordinary means nor infringe upon personal liberty; 
indeed these are the very means by which God's decrees 
are brought about. And with what sanity does he 
close the section: 

I may not stand longer upon this, I will draw but one short 
admonition; Let no man presume to look into the third heaven^ 
to open the books of life and death, to pronounce over peremptor- 
ily of God's purpose concerning himself or any other man. 

39 



JOHN HALES 

The same balance appears in his treatment of " Orig- 
inal Sin." He will not allow that doctrine to cause 
despair, nor to cloud for a moment the sense of personal 
responsibility. "Man indeed is a creature of great 
strength, and if at any time he find himself weak, it is 
through his fault, not through his nature." Original 
sin is not responsible for the full extent of personal 
wickedness : 

As for original sin of what strength it is I will not discuss; only 
thus much will I say, there is none of us all but is much more 
wicked than the strength of any primitive corruption can constrain. 

There is no resisting such incisiveness. At a time 
when it was sadly misinterpreted. Hales read truly the 
inspiring fifth chapter of Romans, that locus classicus of 
Calvinism, realizing that the sin of Adam, however 
disastrous, is more than counterbalanced in the right- 
eousness of Christ. 

Let us sorrow no more for our loss in Adam; for is not Christ 
tenfold better unto us than all the good of Paradise ? The loss of 
that portion of strength wherewith our nature was originally 
endued is made up with fulness of power in Christ. ... It 
hurts not us that Adam fell ; nay our strength and glory is much 
improved that by Christ we are redeemed. . . . Yea but the 
Devil inspires into us evil thoughts: well, and cannot good 
angels inspire good? 

It was a lofty soul that could rise thus far enough 
above Calvinism and Arminianism to appreciate the 
good of each and so beautifully to blend the two systems. 
Such sympathetic appreciation of both sides of a great 

40 



JOHN HALES 

controversy reflects glory upon John Hales, and makes 
one think better of the seventeenth century. Such a 
spirit is as incense rising in the midst of battle smoke. 
Hales' attitude toward the Christian of unworthy 
life is as gentle as toward the Christian with doubts and 
intellectual diflBculties. The austere Puritan was as 
far from him in the treatment of offending Christians 
as in the treatment of heretics. Hales believed in the 
friendly and sympathetic association of the good with 
the bad. 

No man so ill but hath some good in him. . . . We must take 
heed that we do not mistake in thinking that there is nothing else 
but evil, where we often see it. We must therefore entertain even 
near friendship with such a one to discover him. No man is per- 
fectly understood but by his inward acquaintance. . . . For as 
they that work in gold and costly matter, diligently save every 
little piece that falls away, so goodness wheresoever it be is a 
thing so precious that every little spark of it deserves our care in 
cherishing. . . . Nothing profits evil men more than the company 
of the good. . . . No cause therefore why the true professors, 
though notorious sinners, should not be partakers of our Christian 
courtesies. . . . Only let me add St. Paul's words in another 
place. Ye that are strong receive such a one! 

Such a spirit could not affiliate with Puritanism and 
its rigorous discipline. Hales had learned to blend 
with the injunction, *' Come out from among them, and 
be ye separate," the prayer of Christ *'I pray not that 
thou shouldest take them out of the world." 

If Hales was out of sympathy with the Puritan in his 
attitude toward the heretic and the offending Christian, 

41 



JOHN HALES 

still wider was the gap between his attitude and theirs 
toward humanity as a whole. His splendid catholic- 
ity is perhaps the most remarkable and admirable of 
his mental qualities. Words like these in the seven- 
teenth century are rare enough to be cherished in all 
honor: 

The goodness of a Christian man may be like the widow's oil, 
that never ceased running so long as there was a vessel to receive 
it. There is no kind of man, of what life, of what profession, of 
what estate and calling soever, though he be an heathen and 
idolater, unto whom the skirts of Christian compassion do not 
reach. ... As therefore our religion is, so must our compassion 
be, catholic. ... In some things we agree as we are men, and 
thus far the heathen themselves are to be received. 

Augustine's words, Hales reminds us, are to be re- 
membered, *'It is easy to hate the wicked, because they 
are wicked; but to love them, because they are men, 
this is the rare and pious thing!" 

We read of a nice Athenian being entertained in a place by 
one given to hospitality, finding anon that another was received 
with the like courtesy, and then a third, growing very angry; I 
thought, said he, that I had found here a friend's house, but I am 
fallen into an inn to entertain all comers, rather than a lodging 
for some private and especial friends. Let it not offend any that 
I have made Christianity rather an inn to receive all than a 
private house to receive some few. . . . Beloved, a Christian 
must be like Julian's fig tree, so universally compassionate, that 
so all sorts of grafts by a kind of Christian inoculation may be 
brought to draw life and nourishment from his root. 

He would give the crown of martyrdom to Regulus 

42 



JOHN HALES 

and Fabricius, in a time when the virtues of the heathen 
were declared to be glittering vices: 

For the crown of martyrdom fits not only the heads of those who 
have lost their lives rather than they would cease to profess the 
name of Christ, but on the head of every one that suffers for the 
testimony of a good conscience and for righteousness' sake. 

Hales' views of the Bible and its interpretation are 
especially interesting and noteworthy. He regards 
revelation through books as not the highest, but only 
a secondary form of revelation. God spoke directly to 
the Patriarchs. It would be better if we had "no need 
of writing, no other teacher but the Spirit, no other 
books but our hearts." His sermon on "Wresting 
the Scriptures" might well be preached to-day. He 
speaks vigorously against forcing our own private ideas 
into Scripture: we should receive from it its natural 
sense, not press into it our own. We should not debase 
the Prince's coin by stamping the name of God upon 
base brazen stuff of our own. We should not approach 
the Bible with prepossessions, bent on finding precon- 
ceived ideas. 

As Antipheron in Aristotle thought that everywhere he saw 
his own shape and picture going afore him: so in divers parts of 
Scripture where these men walk, they will easily persuade them- 
selves that they see the image of their own conceits. 

Two excellent rules of interpretation are given. The 
first is the rule of the literal sense: 

The literal, plain and uncontroversable meaning of Scripture 
without any addition or supply by way of interpretation, is that 

43 



JOHN HALES 

alone which for ground of faith we are necessarily bound to accept, 
except it be where the Holy Ghost himself treads us out another 
way. 

By setting up our own glosses in place of Rome's, we 
do but run around and meet the Church of Rome again 
in the same point in which at first we left her. **This 
doctrine of the literal sense," says Hales with incisive- 
ness, "was never grievous or prejudicial to any but only 
to those who were inwardly conscious that their posi- 
tions were not sufficiently grounded." "A wrested 
proof is like unto a suborned witness." 

The second rule is equally sound : 

In places of ambiguous and doubtful, or dark and intricate 
meaning, it is sufficient if we religiously admire and acknowledge 
and confess, neither affirming nor denying either side. 

Here is that moderation and caution which is a 
cheering contrast to the precise dogmatism of the times. 
In some directions he advocates a reverent Christian 
agnosticism, content not to know. "I have, I confess, 
the same disease that my first parents in paradise had, 
a desire to know more than I need." "It shall well 
befit our Christian modesty to participate somewhat of 
the sceptic." There must be in regard to some things 
suspension of belief. The church has made a mistake in 
expressing through councils and creeds decided opinions 
as the solution of all problems that have arisen: it 
would have been better to have left many problems un- 
settled, than to have inundated theology with opinions, 
some of which cannot be maintained, especially as 

44 



JOHN HALES 

these unnecessary definitions have been a fruitful cause 
of schism. The Christian must be content to wait 
patiently with confession of ignorance before obscure 
texts. 

The Jewish rabbis so oft as they met with hard texts were 
wont to shut up their discourse with this, Elias shall answer this 
doubt when he comes. Not the Jews only, but the learned 
Christians of all ages have found many things in Scripture, which 
yet expect Elias. 

Toward a Biblical interpretation that was to be 
realized in our day Hales* face was set in hope. 

This prophetic soul anticipated not only the Biblical 
interpretation but also the social Christianity of our 
times. He felt the pressing of social problems. He 
discusses the Christian use of wealth, deploring the ten- 
dency to mass riches, and emphasizing the responsi- 
bility of large means. One needs a thorough training 
for the use of wealth, to his mind, as much as for a 
profession. He has a notable sermon on *'The Profit 
of Godliness," quite in the modern spirit: 

Godliness it is therefore that makes even profit itself profitable. 
... It is a greater part of wisdom wisely to dispense profits 
when we have them, than to get them at the first. ... So many 
there are in the world who know how to gather, but few that 
know how to use. . . . Many there are that can be content to 
hear that godliness is profitable unto them, but that godliness 
should make them profitable to others, that it should cost them 
anything, that they cannot endure to hear. 

Laying out is more important than laying up. 

45 



JOHN HALES 

Powerful and searching is the sermon on "The Rich 
Man's Recepisti; or The Danger of Receiving our 
Good Things in This Life." 

Thou sittest at thy full table, whilst Lazarus starves at thy gate, 
Recepisti! (Thou hast received thy good things!); thou cladst 
thyself with superfluous and gaudy apparel, whilst thy naked 
brother freezes in the street, Recepisti! Thou refreshest thyself 
with dainty restoring physic, whilst the sick perisheth for want of 
care, Recepisti! Take heed, every vanity, every superfluity, 
every penny that thou hast misspent to the prejudice of him that 
wants, when the time comes, shall cry out unto thee, Recepisti! 

Here is the clear note of the modern social reformer! 
Only abuse takes things from God, to whom all 
belongs. "So much as thou needest is thine, the rest 
thou art entrusted withal for others' good." "In debt 
thou art for all thou hast: and wilt thou know who are 
thy creditors? Even every man that needs thee!" 

The man who preached these high truths, practised 
them also. As we read these rare applications of 
Christianity to social problems, the vision rises before 
us of the benignant bursar scattering his groats among 
his godchildren, as he gave them his benediction; and 
then of the booklover who sold his precious library, and 
distributed to the necessity of saints, his fellow sufferers, 
in evil times. 

The prayer with which Hales closes his sermon on 
"Peace I leave unto you" breathes the inmost spirit 
of the man, and may well conclude a study of him : 

Look down, O Lord, upon thy poor dismembered church, rent 
and torn with discord, and even ready to sink. . . . We will 

46 



JOHN HALES 

hope, O Lord, that notwithstanding all supposed impossibilities, 
thou wilt one day in mercy look down upon thy Sion, and grant a 
gracious interview of friends so long divided. Thou that wrought- 
est that great reconciliation between God and man, is thine arm 
waxen shorter? Was it possible to reconcile God to man? To 
reconcile man to man, is it impossible? Be with those, we be- 
seech thee, to whom the prosecution of church controversies is 
committed, and like a good Lazarus drop one cooling drop into 
their tongues and pens, too much exasperated against each other. 
. . . Direct thy church, O Lord, in all her petitions for peace, 
teach her wherein her peace consists, and warn her from the 
world, and bring her home to thee: that all those that love thy 
peace, may at last have the reward of the sons of peace, and reign 
with thee in thy kingdom of peace for ever! 

In such a prayer we seem to hear in the midst of 
theological storms Christ's own *'Pax vobiscum." 



47 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 
1602-1644 



While John Hales was sitting in the gallery at the 
Synod of Dort, there was walking in the lanes of Oxford 
a student of sixteen, "a little man, blackish hair, of a 
saturnine complexion," like Hales, of small stature and 
large mind. *'Mr. Chillingworth," says the historian 
Clarendon, "was of a stature little superior to Mr. 
Hales; and it was an age in which there were many 
great and wonderful men of that size." While Hales 
was a spectator of the controversy between Calvinist 
and Arminian, Chillingworth at Oxford was in the 
midst of the controversy between Romanist and Angli- 
can. In college debates he was whetting his wits for 
valiant service in clear-cut discrimination. In charac- 
teristic style Aubrey thus pictures him: 

He did walke much in the college grove, and there contemplate, 
and meet with some cod's head or other, and dispute with him 
and baffle him. He thus prepared himself beforehand. He 
would alwayes be disputing; so would my tutor. I thinke it was 
an epidemick evill of that time, which I thinke now is growne out 
of fashion, as unmannerly and boyish. He was the readiest and 

51 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

nimblest disputant of his time in the university, perhaps none 
haz equalled him since. 

The Lord Falkland and he had such extraordinary clear 
reasons, that they were wont to say at Oxon that if the great 
Turk were to be converted by natural reason, these two were the 
persons to convert him. 

In these college debates the Roman controversy was 
uppermost. Chillingworth felt the force of Rome's 
ecclesiastical argument, unsatisfied by Laud's theories 
of order and authority, although Laud was his god- 
father. Under the influence of the Jesuit John Fisher 
he sought infallibility, continuity and authority in the 
Church of Rome, to which he became a convert in 1630. 
During his residence at the College of Douai, he was 
followed by letters from Laud, then Bishop of London, 
who with admirable tact abandoned insistence on the 
argument of order and authority, dear to his heart, and 
diverted his godson's mind to fresh lines of inquiry. 
Chillingworth now began to study religion from the 
intellectual rather than the ecclesiastical point of view, 
to seek truth rather than authority, and in the shifting 
of his ground he found himself returning to Anglican- 
ism. He had been introduced to the field where his 
acumen was to be of the greatest service. It was rare 
tolerance through which Laud saved Chillingworth to 
the English Church, for through the arguments impor- 
tant to Laud he had gone over to Rome. In a conversa- 
tion upon this period, Morley reports Gladstone as 
saying, "Do you know whom I find the most tolerant 
churchman of that time ? Laud ! Laud got Davenant 

52 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

made Bishop of Salisbury, and he zealously befriended 
Chillingworth and Hales." This conversion and re- 
conversion naturally brought upon Chillingworth 
charges of inconstancy, but he maintained that he was 
constant to the leading of truth. "He is constant in 
nothing," says his biographer, Des Maizeaux, *'butin 
following that way to heaven which for the present 
seems to him the most probable." Whichever way 
he faced, he was ever seeking the north. 

While Chillingworth was developing under these 
experiences, his work was preparing for him, the task 
commensurate to the power. In 1630, the year of 
Chillingworth*s conversion to Rome, the Jesuit Edward 
Knott published a controversial tract with the self- 
explanatory title, "Charity Mistaken, with the Want 
Whereof Catholics are Unjustly Charged for Affirming, 
as They do with Grief, that Protestancy Unrepented 
Destroys Salvation." Three years later Dr. Potter, pro- 
vost of Queen's College, Oxford, replied with a tract, 
"Want of Charity Justly Charged on all Such Romanists 
as Dare (Without Truth or Modesty) Affirm that Protes- 
tancy Destroyeth Salvation." This was answered in 
turn by Knott's "Mercy and Truth, or Charity Main- 
tained by Catholics." It was at this point that Chil- 
lingworth entered a controversy which from its nature 
was bound to excite the interest of one who had had his 
experience. He undertook a reply to Knott's " Charity 
Maintained," finding herein a worthy field for the 
exercise of his long discipline. At the house of his 
friend Lucius Cary, Lord Falkland, at Great Tew, he 

53 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

found a congenial environment for the preparation of 
his great work. It is a dehghtful picture of Falkland's 
hospitality that Clarendon and Aubrey sketch, and in 
the turmoil of the times it is good to find retreat in the 
atmosphere of the manor house at Great Tew. 

His lordship was acquainted with the best wits of that uni- 
versity (Oxford), and his house was like a college, full of learned 
men. . . . Mr. Chillingworth of Trinity College in Oxford (after- 
wards D.D.) was his most intimate and beloved favourite, and 
was most commonly with my Lord. 

And truly his whole conversation was one continued convivium 
philosophicum or convivium theologicum, enlivened and re- 
freshed with all the facetiousness of wit and good humor and 
pleasantness of discourse, which made the gravity of the argument 
itself (whatever it was) very delectable. His house where he 
usually resided, Tew or Burford in Oxfordshire, being within ten 
or twelve miles of the university, looked like the university itself 
by the company that was always found there. There was Dr. 
Sheldon, Dr. Morley, Dr. Hammond, Dr. Earles, Mr. Chilling- 
worth, and indeed all men of eminent parts and faculties in Ox- 
ford, besides those who resorted thither from London, who all 
found their lodgings there as ready as in the colleges: nor did the 
lord of the house know of their coming or going, nor who was in his 
house, till he came to dinner or supper, where all still met: other- 
wise there was no troublesome ceremony or constraint to forbid 
men to come to the house, or to make them weary of staying there, 
so that many came thither to study in a better air, finding all the 
books they could desire in his library, and all the persons to- 
gether whose company they could wish, and not find in any other 
society. ... 

Here Mr. Chillingworth wrote and formed and modelled his 

54 



WILLIAM CHILLING WORTH 

excellent book against the learned Jesuit Mr. Knott, after frequent 
debates upon the most important particulars: in many of which 
he suffered himself to be overruled by the judgment of his friends, 
though in others he still adhered to his own fancy, which was 
sceptical enough, even in the highest points. 

In such an atmosphere, Chillingworth wrote his great 
work, "The Religion of Protestants a Safe Way of 
Salvation," which breathes indeed "a better air" than 
the prevailing atmosphere of the seventeenth century. 
Published at Oxford in 1638, the first edition is said to 
have been exhausted in five weeks. In less than five 
months two editions had been sold. Fifty years after 
its first appearance it was still regarded as a bulwark of 
Protestantism, a condensed edition being published by 
John Patrick in fear of a Romanist revival. Up to 1719 
seven editions had appeared. In 1742, more than a 
hundred years after its publication, it appeared in still 
another edition. So much was it prized, and so endur- 
ing was its sane argument. 

In 1638 in recognition of his eminent service to Prot- 
estantism Chillingworth was presented to the Chancel- 
lorship of Salisbury by Charles I, with the Prebend of 
Brixworth and the Mastership of Wigston's Hospital 
annexed. In the subscription book of Salisbury his 
subscription to the Articles appears. The sense in 
which he subscribed he made plain, as to articles of 
*' peace and union." His subscription was only after 
much hesitation, largely due to the damnatory clauses, 
which were repulsive to him. Such was his charity that, 
however clearly he was convinced of his own beliefs, he 

55 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

could not put all dissent from them under the ban. 
He defines the sense in which he accepts the Articles in 
characteristic words: 

I belong to the Church of England. I have not only no wish 
to renounce her communion, but I am willing to be her minister, 
supposing that it is enough that I approve generally of her doc- 
trine. This approval is what I design by subscribing the Articles. 
In these Articles good men of former times have done what they 
could to express their highest Christian thought against the 
perversions of heretical curiosity. They would have succeeded 
better if they in their turn had been less curious, if they had re- 
frained from defining where Scripture itself has refrained; but, 
upon the whole, I acknowledge their doctrine, or at least I have 
no wish to dispute it. I accept the Articles as articles of peace. 

As in the case of Hales, hardly was Chillingworth 
settled in a position of authority with his powers recog- 
nized, when the outbreak of the great struggle destroyed 
the conditions in which his brilliant but non-militant 
genius could have been most effective. Forced to 
choose between two evils, he espoused the cause of the 
King, although acknowledging the piety of the Parlia- 
mentary army, and condemning the godlessness of the 
court. Reforms he felt necessary, but he could not 
approve the Parliament's method. In a conversation 
on his death-bed he said to Cheynell, "Sir, I must 
acknowledge that I do verily believe that the intentions 
of the Parliament are better than the intentions of the 
Court or of that army which I have followed : but I con- 
ceive that the Parliament takes a wrong course to prose- 
cute and accomplish their good intentions, for war is not 

56 





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WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

the way of Jesus Christ." In a sermon before the King 
at Oxford in 1643 on the occasion of the PubHc Fast, 
he recognized the King as the Lord's anointed whose 
authority must be maintained, but in the spirit of the 
Hebrew Prophets condemned the sins of the King's 
supporters. Conversely, the piety of the Parliamentary 
cause could not excuse its violence and anarchy. 

Publicans and sinners on one side, scribes and Pharisees on 
the other. On the one side hypocrisy, on the other profaneness. 
No honesty nor justice on the one side, and very little piety on the 
other. On the one side horrible oaths, curses and blasphemies; 
on the other pestilent lies, calumnies and perjuries. When I 
see among them the pretence of reformation, if not the desire, 
pursued by anti-Christian, Mahometan, devilish means; and 
amongst us little or no zeal for reformation of what is indeed 
amiss; little or no care to remove the cause of God's anger to- 
wards us by just, lawful and Christian means, I profess plainly 
that I cannot without trembling consider what is likely to be the 
event of these distractions. 

In 1643 Chillingworth and Falkland were together in 
the royal camp before Gloucester, two high souls aghast 
at the horror of their times. After a deep silence 
and frequent sighs, Falkland, says Clarendon, ''would 
with a shrill and sad accent ingeminate the word, 
Peace! Peace! and would passionately profess that 
the very agony of the war and the view of the cal- 
amities and desolation which the kingdom did and 
must endure, took his sleep from him, and would 
shortly break his heart." The blessed days of calm, 
far-seeing discussion in the library at Great Tew were 

57 



WILLIAM CIIILLINGWORTH 

over, but when the battle smoke at length cleared, 
the sanity of those discussions made itself felt resur- 
gent. By the Civil War the influence of Chillingworth 
was only interrupted : it was not ended. 

At the surrender of Arundel Castle to Waller, Chill- 
ingworth became a captive of the Parliamentary army, 
and, unable on account of sickness from the severe cold 
to go to London with the garrison, was taken to the 
Bishop's palace at Chichester. It was here that the 
dying man was subjected to the inquisition of Francis 
Cheynell, who doubtless in his bigotry was performing 
a conscientious office. Cheynell is a typical figure of the 
party then ascendant, "a rigid, zealous Presbyterian, 
exactly orthodox, very unwilling that any should be 
suffered to go to heaven but in the right way." He was 
a member of the Westminster Assembly, and author 
of a book entitled, "The Rise, Growth and Danger 
of Socinianism, together with a plain discovery of a 
desperate design of corrupting the Protestant Religion, 
whereby it appears that the Religion which hath been so 
violently contended for by the Archbishop of Canterbury 
and his adherents is not the true, pure Protestant Relig- 
ion, but an Hotchpotch of Arminianism, Socinianism 
and Popery." Cheynell set himself to correct what he 
considered the heresies of the dying man. The abso- 
lute cruelty of his interviews might be considered highly 
colored, were he not himself the reporter. "When I 
found him pretty hearty one day, I desired him to tell 
me whether he conceived that a man living and dying 
a Turk, Papist, or Socinian could be saved. All the 

58 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

answer I could gain from him was that he did not ab- 
solve them and would not condemn." The dying man 
besought an interest in the charity of his disputant, for, 
said he, '' I was ever a charitable man." 

My answer was somewhat tart, and therefore more charitable, 
considering his condition and the counsel of the apostle, Rebuke 
them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. And I desire 
not to conceal my tartness. It was to this effect. Sir, it is con- 
fessed that you have been very excessive in your charity. You 
have lavished so much charity upon Turks, Socinians, Papists, 
that I am afraid you have very little to spare for a truly reformed 
Protestant. 

Nothing, perhaps, shows the true charity of Chilling- 
worth in more beautiful light than an incident told by 
Cheynell himself among these reminiscences. "I told 
him that I did use to pray for him in private, and asked 
him whether it was his desire that I should pray for him 
in public. He answered, 'Yes, with all my heart'; and 
he said withal that he hoped he should fare the better 
for my prayers." Here one sees Chillingworth at the 
depths of his tender charity and graciousness : and 
Cheynell, too, at his best. 

Chillingworth died at Chichester in January of 1644. 
Standing by his open grave, Cheynell sought to bury his 
book with his body in the following words: 

If they please to undertake the burial of his corpse, I shall 
undertake to bury his errors, which are published in this so much 
admired yet unworthy book: and happy would it be for the king- 
dom, if this book and all its fellows could be so buried. Get 
thee gone, thou cursed book, which has seduced so many precious 

59 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

souls I Get thee gone, thou corrupt, rotten book! Earth to earth, 
and dust to dust! Get thee gone into the place of rottenness, 
that thou mayest rot with thy author, and see corruption. 

But Cheyne I could not bury Chillingworth. His 
work was to survive and assert its power in better days, 
and the name of Cheynell would hardly have been pre- 
served except for his connection with the man whom he 
sentenced to forgetfulness. 

II 

"The Religion of Protestants a Safe Way of Salva- 
tion^' contains a genuine and refreshing Protestantism. 
Chillingworth has the courage to stand on Protestant- 
ism's logical ground. In answer to the Roman argu- 
ment that truth must have an infallible interpreter, be- 
cause otherwise every individual is given over to his own 
"wit and discourse," Chillingworth asserts the trust- 
worthiness of one's own wit and discourse, of "right 
reason grounded on divine revelation and common 
notions written by God in the hearts of all men." 
Reason is in some sort God's word. To the objection 
that reliance upon one's own reason is liable to lead to 
error, he frankly replies that infallibility in every direc- 
tion is not required. 

But this I am sure of, as sure as that God is good, that he will 
require no impossibilities of us: not an infallible, nor a certainly 
unerring belief, unless he hath given us certain means to avoid 
error; and if we use those which we have, he will never require 
of us that we use that which we have not. 

60 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

Intellectual errors of conscientious truth-seekers are 
possible, but are not dangerous. Personal responsi- 
bility is so precious that it is to be maintained at the 
expense of possible error: this is Chillingworth's brave 
and truly Protestant position. 

Personal responsibility involves also variations of 
creed, and these are not to be feared. "That may be 
fundamental and necessary to one, which to another 
is not so." There are worse things than divisions of 
opinion. "If all men would submit themselves to the 
chief mufti of the Turks, it is apparent there would be 
no divisions; yet unity is not to be purchased at so dear 
a rate." "Christians have and shall have means 
suflBcient (though not always effectual) to determine, 
not all controversies, but all necessary to be determined. 
There are some controversies which will end when the 
world ends, and that is time enough." 

The necessary result of such views is toleration. 
Conscientious men may differ, and are therefore to 
respect each other. 

And therefore, though we wish heartily that all controversies 
were ended, as we do that all sin were abolished, yet have we Httle 
hopes of the one or the other until the world be ended; and in the 
meantime think it best to content ourselves with, and to persuade 
others unto, an unity of charity and mutual toleration; seeing God 
hath authorized no man to force all men to unity of opinion. 

Toleration is required by the very essence of Prot- 
estantism, and while too often it has not appeared, it is 
refreshing to behold it in such large measure in one of 
the earliest Protestant controversialists. 

61 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

The heart of Chillingworth's book is the definition of 
the place of the Bible in Christianity. Protestantism 
was fortunate in having at the outset its attitude toward 
the Bible so clearly and satisfactorily stated. The 
Roman position is familiar — that the Bible needs an 
interpreter in order that its saving truth may be cer- 
tainly known, and in order that disputes as to its mean- 
ing may be avoided. The Romanist, with apparent 
ground, pointed to the widely varying interpretations 
of disputing Protestants as evidence of the necessity of 
an infallible interpreter. How luminous is Chilling- 
worth's reply! 

All things necessary to salvation are evidently contained in 
Scripture, there being no more certain sign that a point is not 
evident than that honest men differ about it. Those truths are 
fundamental which are evidently delivered in Scripture, those not 
fundamental which are obscure. Nothing that is obscure can be 
necessary to be understood. 

Truths which are necessary to salvation are evident; 
truths which are obscure are by their very obscurity 
proved to be unnecessary. Here are the flashes of 
truth, which, like lightning, struck the Roman doctrine 
at its core, and cleared the atmosphere. The whole 
controversy is compressed into a single sentence: '*The 
difference between a Papist and a Protestant is this, 
that the one judges his guide to be infallible, the other 
his way to be manifest." Faith in the divineness of 
the Bible is established not by external authority, but by 
internal evidence. The Scriptures shine with their own 
inherent light, one believes in them as he believes in the 

62 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

sunshine. Chillingworth was far from being a Bibliola- 
ter. Belief, not in a theory about the Bible, but in its 
subject-matter, is the all-important thing. 

If a man should believe Christian religion wholly and entirely, 
and live according to it, such a man, though he should not know 
or not believe the Scripture to be a rule of faith, no, nor to be the 
word of God, my opinion is, he may be saved; and my reason is, 
because he performs the entire condition of the new covenant, 
which is, that we believe the matter of the Gospel, and not that it 
is contained in these or these books. So that the books of Script- 
ure are not so much the objects of our faith as the instruments of 
conveying it to our understanding. 

These are certainly notable words. It is difficult to 
repress enthusiasm as we read Chillingworth's climax, 
it is so lucid, luminous, and liberal. 

By the religion of Protestants, I do not understand the doctrine 
of Luther, or Calvin, or Melanchthon; nor the confession of 
Augusta or Geneva, nor the catechism of Heidelberg, nor the 
Articles of the Church of England; no, nor the harmony of 
Protestant confessions; but that wherein they all agree, and which 
they all subscribe with a greater harmony as a perfect rule of their 
faith and actions — that is, the Bible. The Bible, I say, the Bible 
only, is the religion of Protestants! ... I am fully assured that 
God does not, and therefore that men ought not to require any 
more of any man than this, to believe the Scriptures to be God's 
word, to endeavor to find the true sense of it, and to live according 
to it. 

Chillingworth's advocacy of Christian unity is so 
remarkable that it is difficult to realize that it comes 
from the seventeenth century : a difficulty which plainly 

63 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

shows that in ouivcurrent views we have ascribed to that 
century too great a narrowness. Let the century have 
the credit of ChiUingworth and his cathohcity ! We hear 
him insisting quite in the modern spirit that the way to 
heaven is no narrower now than Christ left it, that His 
yoke is no heavier than He made it. He thinks that 
strife among Christians would soon end, "if, instead of 
being zealous Papists, earnest Calvinists, rigid Luther- 
ans, they would become themselves, and be content that 
others should be, plain and honest Christians." *'The 
greatest schismatics are those who make the way to 
heaven narrower, the yoke of Christ heavier, the differ- 
ences of faith greater, the conditions of ecclesiastical 
communion harder and stricter than they were made 
at the beginning by Christ and his Apostles." " Chris- 
tians must be taught to set a higher value upon these 
high points of faith and obedience wherein they agree 
than upon these matters of less moment wherein they 
differ; and understand that agreement in those ought 
to be more effectual to join them in one communion, 
than their difference in other things of less moment to 
divide them." 

The finest passage in the whole book is perhaps this, 
in which ChiUingworth rises above the plane of calm 
lucidity into that of holy zeal: 

This presumptuous imposing of the senses of men upon the 
words of God, the special senses of men upon the general words 
of God, and laying them upon men's consciences together, under 
the equal penalty of death and damnation; this vain conceit that 
we can speak the things of God better than in the words of God; 

64 



WILLIAM CHILLINGWORTH 

this deifpng our own interpretations, and tyrannous enforcing 
them upon others; this restraining the word of God from that 
latitude and generality, and the understandings of men from that 
liberty, wherein Christ and the Apostles left them, is and hath been 
the only fountain of all the schisms of the church, the common 
incendiary of Christendom. Take away these walls of separation, 
and all will be quickly one. Take away this persecuting, burning, 
damning of men for not subscribing to the words of men as the 
words of God; require of Christians only to beheve Christ, and 
to call no man master but Him only ; let these leave claiming in- 
fallibility that have no title to it, and let them that in their words 
disclaim it, disclaim it likewise in their actions. In a word, 
take away tyranny, which is the devil's instrument to support 
errors and superstitions and impieties in the several parts of the 
world, which could not otherwise long withstand the power of 
truth; I say, take away tyranny, and restore Christians to their 
just and full liberty of captivating their understanding to Script- 
ure only; and as rivers, when they have a free passage, run all 
to the ocean, so it may well be hoped, by God's blessing, that 
universal liberty, thus moderated, may quickly reduce Christen- 
dom to truth and unity. These thoughts of peace (I am per- 
suaded) may come from the God of peace, and to His blessing I 
commend them. 

The words sound indeed like an inspiration. 

So did this man, who lived in the heat of conflict, 
who sought refuge in the royal camp, who died the cap- 
tive of the Puritan army, rise to a plane in which all 
differences between Anglican, Puritan and Romanist 
disappeared, the prophet of a larger spirit to come. 



65 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

1609-1683 



As in Hales, Chillingworth and Falkland we have 
glimpses into the Oxford of their time, so in another 
group of like spirit we are introduced to the Cam- 
bridge of the seventeenth century. A distinguished 
company it was that congregated in the Cambridge of 
1630, for in that year one might have met there within 
a single day John Milton, Thomas Fuller, Henry More, 
Ralph Cudworth, Jeremy Taylor and Benjamin Which- 
cote, and all with their talents still in the green blade, a 
spring-time indeed. Before the harvest the field was 
to be devastated by the flames of war, but a harvest 
still there was, for the plants were sturdy and able to 
adapt themselves to severe conditions. The partisan- 
ship which crowds out all foreign growths, or is itself 
choked by them, was no part of their spirit. They 
were sound wheat, but could grow together with the 
tares. 

Benjamin Whichcote was entered at Emmanuel Col- 
lege, Cambridge, in 1626 at the age of seventeen. He 

69 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

had as tutor Anthony Tuckney, whose teaching stimu- 
lated him by reaction rather than assent. In 1634 
Whichcote was himself appointed college tutor, and 
soon became famous for the number, rank and character 
of his pupils, John Smith among them, destined even 
to surpass his master. In the "Life of Joseph Mede," 
a contemporary, is a sketch of the tutorial system at its 
best in the Cambridge of the time. 

After he had by daily lectures well grounded his pupils in 
Humanity, Logic and Philosophy, and by frequent conversation 
understood to what particular studies their parts might be most 
profitably applied, he gave them his advice accordingly; and when 
they were able to go alone, he chose rather to set every one his 
daily task than constantly to confine himself and them to precise 
hours for lectures. In the evening they all came to his chamber, to 
satisfy him that they had performed the task he had set them. 
The first question which he used then to propound to every one in 
his order was "Quid dubitasf" (for he supposed that to doubt 
nothing and to understand nothing were verifiable alike). Their 
doubts being propounded, he resolved their queries, and so set 
them on clear ground to proceed more distinctly; and then, having 
by prayer commended them and their studies to God's protection 
and blessing, he dismissed them to their lodgings. 

The Cambridge tutors were thus guide, philosopher 
and friend to their pupils, and had special influence 
over their religious opinions. It is said that the younger 
Pitt, a century and a half later, was rarely out of his 
tutor's company. Anxious parents unburdened their 
hearts to their sons' tutors. When Nicholas Ferrar's 
tutor commended his self-denial, Ferrar reminded him 

70 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

of the lives of holy men which he had read at the tu- 
tor ^s suggestion. Such an oflSce Whichcote magnified. 
''Being disgusted," says Burnet in his "History of 
His Own Time," "with the dry, systematical way of 
those times, he studied to raise those who conversed 
with him to a noble set of thoughts and to consider 
religion as a seed of a deiform nature (to use one 
of his own phrases): in order to this he set young 
students much on reading the ancient philosophers, 
chiefly Plato, Tully and Plotin, and on considering 
the Christian religion as a doctrine sent from God, 
both to elevate and sweeten human nature, in which 
he was a great example, as well as a wise and kind in- 
structor." Here at its source is the movement which 
was to be known as Cambridge Platonism. 

As a tutor, however, Whichcote had less influence 
than as a preacher. In 1636 he was ordained and ap- 
pointed Sunday afternoon lecturer at Trinity College, 
a position which he filled with distinction for nearly 
twenty years. His discourses during this period in this 
pulpit constituted a large part of his life work. It was 
his aim, says Tulloch, "to turn men's minds away from 
polemical argumentation to the great moral and spirit- 
ual realities lying at the base of all religion — from the 
'forms of words \ as he himself says, to the 'inwards 
of things' and the reason of them." Tillotson thus 
estimates the influence of his university sermons, 
" Every Lord's Day in the afternoon for almost twenty 
years together he preached in Trinity Church, where 
he had a great number not only of the young scholars, 

71 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

but of those of greater standing and best repute for 
learning in the university, his constant and attentive 
auditors: and in those wild and unsettled times con- 
tributed more to the forming of the students of that 
university to a sober sense of religion than any man in 
that age." While, then, Chillingworth w^as writing the 
"Rehgion of Protestants" in the Oxford atmosphere of 
Great Tew, and Hales at the university was aiding him 
with his paper on "Schism and Schismatics," Which- 
cote as preacher and tutor was inspiring Cambridge 
students with the same ample spirit. 

In the maelstrom of the Civil War, Whichcote was 
still able to swim. The university by no means escaped 
the general confusion, for Cambridge became a garrison 
for Cromwell's troops, libraries were rifled, chapels were 
abused, and a stately university was converted into 
soldiers' barracks. The ^^ Querela Cantahrigiensis" 
complains in hysterical note: 

The Knipperdollings of the age reduced a glorious and re- 
nowned University almost to a mere Miinster; and did more in 
less than three years than the apostate Julian could effect in all his 
reign, viz.: broke the heart-strings of learning and all learned 
men, and thereby luxated all the joints of Christianity in the 
kingdom, insomuch that they feared not to appeal to any impartial 
judge, whether, if the Goths and Vandals, or even the Turks them- 
selves, had overrun this nation, they would have more inhumanly 
abused a flourishing University than these pretended advancers of 
religion had done; having, as the complaint is continued, thrust 
out one of the eyes of this kingdom; made eloquence dumb; 
philosophy sottish; widowed the arts; drove the muses from their 

72 




BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

habitation; plucked the reverend and orthodox professors out of 
the chairs, and silenced them in prison or their graves: turned 
religion into rebellion; changed the apostolical chair into a desk 
for blasphemy; tore the garland from ofiF the head of learning, to 
place it on the dull brows of disloyal ignorance; made those an- 
cient and beautiful chapels, the sweet remembrancers and monu- 
ments of our forefathers' charity, and kind fomentors of their 
children's devotion, to become ruinous heaps of dust and stones; 
and unhived those swarms of labouring bees which used to drop 
honey dews over all this kingdom, to place in their room swarms 
of senseless drones. 

But Whichcote still survived, and even prospered 
In 1644 he was appointed Provost of King's College in 
place of the learned Dr. Samuel Collins, ejected as 
obnoxious to the reigning Puritanism. Whichcote re- 
luctantly supplanted him, but insisted that Dr. Collins 
should still receive half the income of the office, and 
in his will bequeathed a hundred pounds to John 
Collins, his son. Whichcote maintained his position 
under Puritan domination, but without sacrifice of 
principle, for he refused himself to take the Covenant, 
and "prevailed to have the greatest part of the fellows 
of King's College exempted from that imposition and 
preserved in their places." As Provost he had the 
salaries of ejected professors paid in full to the end of 
the year of their ejection. The spectacle of such inde- 
pendence surviving such a storm of partisanship is re- 
markable. Whichcote had a stouter heart than Hales 
or Chillingworth, who were disabled by the violence of 
the times. Under Puritan domination he maintained 

73 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

both his independence and his position, and was sym- 
pathetic toward the persecuted. **So that I hope," says 
Tillotson, "none will be hard upon him, that he was 
contented upon such terms to be in a capacity to do good 
in bad times." He belonged to that group of rare men, 
who, according to Bishop Burnet, "declared against 
superstition on the one hand, and enthusiasm on the 
other. They loved the constitution of the church and 
the liturgy, and could well live under them: but they 
did not think it unlawful to live under another form. 
They wished that things might have been carried with 
more moderation. And they continued to keep a good 
correspondence with those who had differed from them 
in opinion, and allowed a great freedom both in philoso- 
phy and in divinity: from whence they were called men 
of latitude. And upon this, men of narrower thoughts 
and fiercer tempers fastened upon them the name of 
Latitudinarians." 

In 1649 Wliichcote was presented to the Rectory of 
Milton in Cambridgeshire, which he held till his death. 
In the following year he became Vice-Chancellor of the 
university. In 1655 Cromwell invited his advice in the 
matter of toleration toward the Jews. So steadily did 
he proceed in evil times. 

At the Restoration, Whichcote was ejected from the 
Provostship, but on compliance with the Act of Uniform- 
ity in 1662 was restored to court favor. With the re- 
versal of conditions, in the restoration of royalty and 
Anglicanism, Whichcote's influence still persisted. He 
was above partisanship, and untouched by its changing 

74 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

fortunes. In 1G62 he was appointed curate of Saint 
Anne's, Blackfriars, London, but on the burning of the 
church in the great fire of 1665, retired to his Hving at 
Milton, where he "preached constantly, relieved the 
poor, had their children taught to read at his own 
charge, and made up differences among the neigh- 
bors," gracious occupation indeed for one who knew 
how to be abased as well as to abound. Whichcote had 
a plentiful estate, and like Hales and Chillingworth was 
frugal in personal expenditures, but lavish in benevo- 
lence. He particularly directed his charities toward the 
aid of poor housekeepers disabled by age or sickness. 
On the appointment of his friend John Wilkins to the 
Bishopric of Chester in 1668, he became in his place 
vicar of Saint Lawrence Jewry. During seven years, 
while the church was being rebuilt, he preached regu- 
larly at Guildhall Chapel before the mayor and cor- 
poration of the city. 

For nearly fifty years, and under three civil rdgimes, 
this remarkable man preached without molestation. 
He was silenced neither by the Puritans and army 
in the day of their power, nor by the Anglicans and 
King in the day of theirs. His light shone steady, 
while others were flickering and snuffed. While on a 
visit in the house of his old friend Dr. Cudworth at 
Cambridge, he died in 1683. "And God knows," 
feelingly exclaims a friend, "we could very ill at 
this time have spared such a man, and have lost 
from among us as it were so much balm for the 
healing of the nation, which is now so miserably 

75 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

rent and torn by these wounds which we madly give 
ourselves." 

Bishop Tillotson in his funeral sermon gives sketches 
of Whichcote*s character and manners, which in part 
explain his power to survive the revolutions through 
which he passed. 

His conversation was exceeding kind and affable, grave and 
winning, prudent and profitable. He was slow in declaring his 
opinions, never passionate, he heard others patiently, was ready 
to be convinced, willing to learn to the last, and never had his 
opinions set. He was wont to say " If I provoke a man, he is the 
worse for my company: and if I suffer myself to be provoked by 
him, I shall be the worse for his." He very seldom reproved any 
person in company otherwise than by silence or some sign of 
uneasiness, or some very soft and gentle word, which yet from the 
respect men generally bore him. did often prove effectual. For 
he understood human nature very well, and how to apply himself 
to it in the most easy and effectual ways. Particularly he ex- 
celled in the virtues of conversation, humanity and gentleness and 
humility, a prudent and peaceable and reconciling temper. 

In similar vein is Burnet's characterization : 

Dr. Whichcote was a man of a rare temper, very mild and 
obliging. He had great credit with some that had been eminent 
in the late times, but made all the use he could of it, to protect 
good men of all persuasions. He was much for liberty of con- 
science. 

Here was one who gave his goods to feed the poor, who 
had knowledge and faith, who spoke with the tongues 
of men and of angels, and had chanty. 

76 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 



II 



Four volumes of Whichcote's sermons give us an 
insight into the charm and power of his preaching. It 
is difficult to realize that the sermons are nearly three 
hundred years old. 

It would be hard to find in our own time a more vigor- 
ous advocate of reason in religion, of a rational Chris- 
tianity. Instead of making revelation and reason foes, 
after the fashion of his times, he insisted that they were 
friends. Truth is not foreign, but natural to the mind. 
"Truth is the soul's health and strength," is "akin to 
man's mind." "The mind makes no more resistance 
to truth than the air does to light; both are thereby 
beautified and adorned." "No sooner doth the truth 
of God come into the soul's sight, but the soul knows 
her to be her first and old acquaintance; which though 
they have been by some accident unhappily parted a 
great while, yet having now through the divine provi- 
dence happily met, they greet one another and renew 
acquaintance as those that were first and ancient 
friends." With truth and man's mind in such corre- 
spondence, it is only an abnormal, unnatural state of 
mind that can separate them. 

There is light enough of God in the world, if the eye of our 
minds were but fitted to receive it and let it in. It is the in- 
capacity of the subject, where God is not; for nothing in the 
world is more knowable than God. God only is absent to them 
that are indisposed and disaffected. For a man cannot open his 

77 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

eye, nor lend his ear, but everything will declare more or less of 
God. It is our fault that we are estranged from Him: for God 
doth not withdraw Himself from us, unless we first leave Him: the 
distance is occasioned through our unnatural use of ourselves. 

Religion in this view is natural and vital to man. 
"The seat of religion is the inward man; it is the first 
sense of his soul, the temper of his mind, the pulse of his 
heart." "We are as capable of religion as we are of 
reason.* Revelation and reason do not contradict each 
other, for "there is nothing of after-light of God in 
Christ reconciling subject to reproof of the former light 
of God creating." "Man is not at all settled or con- 
firmed in his religion until his religion is the self-same 
with the reason of his mind; so that when he thinks he 
speaks reason, he speaks religion; or when he speaks 
religiously, he speaks reasonably; and his religion and 
reason are mingled together; they pass into one princi- 
ple; they are no more two, but one; just as the light 
in the air makes one illuminated sphere, so reason and 
religion in the subject are one principle." "I receive 
the truth of Christian religion in a way of illumination, 
affection and choice: I retain it as a welcome guest; 
it is not forced into me, but I let it in." "The soul of 
man to God is as the flower to the sun; it opens at its 
approach, and shuts when it withdraws. . . . The good 
man is an instrument in tune: excite a good man, give 
him an occasion, you shall have from him savory 
speeches out of his mouth, and good actions in his 
life." In answer to the criticism that his preaching is 
too philosophical, he replies. "I have always found 

78 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

in myself that such preaching of others hath most 
commanded my heart which hath most illuminated 
my head." 

With this high appreciation of reason in religion is 
associated a profound respect for human nature as a 
whole, for "the grandeur of our being/' in striking 
contrast with the prevailing views of human depravity. 
One characteristic aphorism deals with original sin, 
"Men are more what they are used to than what they 
are born to." In times when men were being dis- 
paraged as "worthless worms," it is refreshing to find 
estimates of another sort. "Nothing of the natural 
state is base or vile. . . . For our Saviour himself took 
flesh and blood, and that is the meaner part of human 
nature. . . . That which is vile, base, and filthy is un- 
natural, and depends upon unnatural use and degen- 
erate practice." "There is nothing in the world hath 
more of God in it than man hath." "Have a rever- 
ence to thyself, for God is in thee!" 

The trustworthiness of reason and the nobility of 
human nature point toward man's redemption through 
the use of "resident forces," stimulated by the divine 
grace. Two beautiful phrases express his theology of 
redemption; "A divine nature in us, a divine assistance 
over us." With those who saw only the vile in human 
nature, salvation of necessity became a heavenly trans- 
action of a legal type, through which Christ's righteous- 
ness was imputed to the Christian in something of an 
artificial way. Whichcote's interest is in the human 
side of redemption; to him reconciliation with God is 

79 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

not legal but vital, righteousness is not imputed but real, 
salvation is not a heavenly award but an earthly fact. 
It is not enough for Christ to do something for us with 
God, unless He does something for us with ourselves. 
** Christ doth not save us by only doing for us without 
us: yea, we come at that which Christ hath done for 
us with God by what He hath done for us within us." 
Christ is to be acknowledged as a principle of grace in 
us as well as an advocate for us. "They therefore de- 
ceive and flatter themselves extremely who think of 
reconciliation with God by means of a Saviour acting 
upon God in their behalf, and not also working in or 
upon them, to make them Godlike." "Some look at 
salvation as at a thing a distance from them : the bene- 
fit of some convenient place to be in; exemption from 
punishment; freedom from enemies abroad: but it is 
the mending of our natures, and the safety of our per- 
sons, our health and strength within ourselves." Christ 
is a principle of divine life within us, as well as a Saviour 
without us. It is not enough that Christ is sacrificed 
for us, unless Christ be formed in us. The beauty and 
inspiration of such a thoroughly vital Christianity over 
against the current legal type require no commendation. 
Such a Christianity is being preached far and wide 
to-day we welcome its appearance under the eaves of 
the Westminster Assembly. With all the set judicial 
phrases of the Westminster divines there were mingled 
in the preaching of the day the living sentences of 
Benjamin Whichcote, as fresh and full of meaning now 
as when first uttered — such sentences as these: "Re- 

80 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

ligion is the introduction of the divine life into the soul 
of man," ''Regeneration is nativity from above," **Had 
we a man that was really gospelized, were the Gospel a 
life, a soul, a spirit to him, he would be the most lovely, 
useful person under heaven." Over against the phrases 
of a formal theology are those fine expressions which 
Whichcote loved, ''heartsease," "spirituality," "heav- 
enly mindedness," "participation in the divine nature": 
and has conscience ever been given a name more beau- 
tiful than his name for it — the "Home-God"? 

With Hales and Chillingworth, Whichcote was always 
advocating Christian unity in his words and in his life. 
This unity was a unity, not of opinion, but of spirit. 
Unity of opinion was not to be expected. Different 
tempers, constitutions of mind, environments, education 
and habitual modes of thought produce differences of 
opinion. "Some men's apprehensions cannot possibly 
hit in anything: they are, as it were, cast in different 
moulds; and they can no more help this than they can 
make their faces alike." "We may maintain the unity 
of verity in point of faith, and the unity of charity in 
point of communion, notwithstanding all difference in 
point of apprehension." The introduction to his ser- 
mon on Philippians iii : 15, 16 deals with this subject in 
a masterly way, and is a good example of Whichcote's 
lucid exegesis: 

1. There is that in religion which is necessary and determined, 
fixt and immutable, clear and perspicuous; about which good 
men, they who are of growth and proficiency in religion, do not 
differ. "As many as are perfect are thus minded." 

81 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

2. There is also in religion that which is not so necessary and 
immutable, clear and plain, in which good men may happen to 
be otherwise minded one than another; or otherwise than ought 
to be. "If any be otherwise minded." 

3. There is reason to think that God will bring out of particular 
mistake him that is right in the main. "God shall reveal even 
this unto you." 

4. They who agree in the main, but differ in other particulars, 
ought nevertheless to hold together as if they were in all things 
agreed. "To walk by the same rule, to mind the same things." 

There may be even a positive advantage in minor 
differences. 

Why should not they who meet in the regenerate nature, who 
agree in the great articles of faith and principles of good life, over- 
look subordinate differences? If there be love and good-will, 
we come to be more rational, better grounded in our resolutions, 
from our different apprehensions. Discourse is as soon ended as 
begun where all say the same; whereas he that speaks after, and 
says a new thing, searcheth the former. 

The closing words of the sermon must be added; it 
is difficult to believe that they belong to the seventeenth 
century: 

Give a fair allowance of patience to those who mean well; be 
ready to shew them, since there is ground of expectation that in a 
little time they will come out of their error. . . . Nothing is 
desperate in the condition of good men; they will not live and 
die in any dangerous error. They have a right principle within 
them, and God's superintendency, conduct and guidance. The 
devil is thrown out of his stronorhold where there is holiness of 
heart; and being dispossessed of his main fort he will lose all his 

82 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

holds, one after another; all errors and mistakes will be discovered 
successively. The sun, having broken through the thickest cloud, 
will after that scatter the less; and the day will clear up. 

With differences of opinion thus frankly acknowledged 
and not altogether deplored, Christians are to unite in 
spirit, for religion demands unity. "Religion is a bond 
of union between God and man, and between man 
and man; and therefore cannot be an occasion of dis- 
tance or separation." " If it be a difference concerning 
religion, it must be so upon account of religion; and 
religion requires concord. We cannot pretend to do 
that for religion itself, which is unnatural to religion, 
which is contrary to religion, and which religion for- 
bids." 

In his correspondence with Tuckney, Whichcote gave 
a splendid example of his principles in practice. Tuck- 
ney, who had been one of his tutors in Cambridge, 
wrote him a letter remonstrating with him for his views 
from the Puritan stand-point. To Tuckney's mind his 
preaching was too philosophical, being addressed to the 
mind and understanding rather than to the heart and 
will. The emphasis on inherent righteousness, he 
feared, was clouding the divine side of redemption. 
The difference of opinion between the two men was 
great, but throughout their controversial letters there 
breathes a spirit of personal regard and affection too 
deep for any debate to disturb. Tuckney beseeches 
God that *'both you and I may be kept in the faith, 
and may follow the truth in love," and the prayer 
was answered. The eight letters which passed between 

83 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

these Christian gentlemen of the seventeenth century 
deserve wider recognition. They sweeten the history of 
theology. *'I aver that it is everybody's right to be 
fairly used and handsomely treated/' was one of Which- 
cote's maxims, and in this correspondence he practised 
what he preached. Irreconcilable as their intellectual 
positions were, the men remained friends, and it is 
pleasant to know that a few years after their controversy 
Whichcote joined with the six other electors in raising 
Tuckney to the Divinity Professorship. Whichcote's 
quotation from a great schoolman ought to be added to 
his own words on Christian unity, as showing the atmos- 
phere in which he differed from others: **For men to 
differ about matters of particular persuasion and opin- 
ion, it is not inconsistent with that imperfect state which 
we are in, while in the way to heaven; when we come 
thither, we shall be consummated, and more fully har- 
monize: but to differ in opinion is not repugnant to 
peace in the way, though the difference shall be taken 
away when we come home." 

We are fortunate in having preserved to us the prayer 
with which this noble preacher usually opened the ser- 
vice of worship. A few selections from it give a beauti- 
ful summary of his theology, with all its faith in the 
grandeur of human nature and the reality of the in- 
dwelling divine life: 

O naturalize us to heaven! May we bear the image of Christ's 
resurrection by spirituality and heavenly-mindedness. O Lord, 
communicate thy light to our minds, thy life to our souls: as thou 
art original to us by thy creation of us, so be thou also final by 

84 



BENJAMIN WHICHCOTE 

our intention of thee. Go over the workmanship of thy creation 
in us again: to mend all the defects we have contracted, and to 
destroy out of us, by the working of thy grace and spirit, whatso- 
ever we have acquired unnatural to thy creation of us. Trans- 
form us into the image of thy Son, conform us to His likeness, 
make us body and soul an habitation for thyself by thy Holy 
Spirit. 



85 



JOHN SMITH 



JOHN SMITH 
1618-1652 



John Smith was born in Achurch near Oundle in 
Northamptonshire in 1618 of parents who were aged 
and had been long childless. "I shall speak nothing of 
his earthly parentage save only this," says Simon Patrick, 
the preacher at his funeral, "that he was like to John 
the Baptist, the last Elias, in that he was born after 
his parents had been long childless and were grown 
aged. Some have observed that such have proved 
very famous; for they seem to be sent on purpose by 
God into the world to do good, and to be scarce be- 
gotten by their parents. Such are something like 
Isaac, who had a great blessing in him, and seem to 
be intended by God for some great service and work 
in the world." 

To Cambridge, the Cambridge of Whichcote, Smith 
came in 1636, being entered at Emmanuel College, 
taking his Bachelor's degree in 1640 and his Mas- 
ter's in 1644. Whichcote early discovered the abil- 
ities and promise of the young student, whom he 

89 



JOHN SMITH 

bounteously aided from his own resources, perhaps his 
most fruitful benefaction. Worthington writes of this 
period : 

I considered him as a friend, one whom I knew for many years, 
not only when he was Fellow of Queen's College, but when a 
student in Emmanuel College, where his early piety, and the re- 
membering of his Creator in those days of his youth, as also his 
excellent improvements in the choicest parts of learning, endeared 
him to many, particularly to his careful tutor, then Fellow of 
Emmanuel College, afterwards Provost of King's College, Dr. 
Whichcote; to whom, for his directions and encouragements of 
him in his studies, his seasonable provision fcr his support and 
maintenance when he was a young scholar, as also upon other 
obliging considerations, our author did ever express a great and 
singular regard. 

In 1644, with seven other members of Emmanuel, 
Smith was transferred to Queen's College, "they having 
bine examined and approved by the Assembly of Divines 
sitting in Westminster as fitt to be fellowes." Although 
thus acceptable to the Westminster Assembly, Smith 
was far from being Puritan or Calvinistic. It is to the 
credit of the Assembly that it tolerated Whichcote and 
Smith, as it is to their credit that they could preach with 
independence and at such variance from the Westmin- 
ster theology, without becoming obnoxious. As fellow 
and tutor Smith did eminent service at Queen's College. 
*'He was read in law and physic, well versed in history, 
philosophy and mathematics, and critically skilled in the 
learned languages." His lectures on mathematics were 
especially commended by contemporaries. His ac- 

90 



JOHN SMITH 

complishments were varied, but it was as a preacher that 
his greatest influence was felt. Simon Patrick, v/hose 
funeral sermon with Worthington's preface to the 
*' Discourses" constitutes almost our entire source of 
information, refers to "his great industry and inde- 
fatigable pains, his Herculean labors day and night 
from his first coming to the university till the time 
of his long sickness." Hard study combined with 
much meditation and abstraction of the mind from 
sensible things served to unite in Smith's wisdom the 
subjective and objective. He was not a book worm, 
but "a living library," a "walking study," and com- 
municated his knowledge with the charm of a rare 
conversationalist. Patrick gratefully alludes to the 
benefits received from intercourse with him : 

I never got so much good among all my books by a whole 
day's plodding in a study, as by an hour's discourse I have got 
with him. For he was not a library locked up, nor a book clasped, 
but stood open for any to converse withal that had a mind to 
learn. Yea, he was a fountain running over, labouring to do 
good to those who perhaps had no mind to receive it. None more 
free and communicative than he was to such as desired to dis- 
course with him; nor would he grudge to be taken off from his 
studies upon such an occasion. It may be truly said of him, that 
a man might always come better from him; and his mouth could 
drop sentences as easily as an ordinary man's could speak sense. 
And he was no less happy in expressing his mind than in conceiv- 
ing. ... He had such a copia verborum, a plenty of words, and 
those so full, pregnant and significant, joined with such an active 
fancy, as is very rarely to be found in the company of such a deep 
understanding and judgment as dwelt in him. 

91 



JOHN SMITH 

With his rare abilities, Smith was not ambitious of 
preferment. 

From his first admission into the University, he sought not great 
things for himself, but was contented in the condition wherein he 
was. He made not haste to rise and climb, as youths are apt to 
do, which we in these late times too much experience, wherein 
youths scarce fledged have soared to the highest preferments, but 
proceeded leisurely by orderly steps, not to what he could get, but 
to what he was fit to undertake. He staid God's time of advance- 
ment, with all industry and pains following his studies; as if he 
rather desired to deserve honour than to be honoured. 

Profound scholarship and intellectuality did not quell 
in Smith evangelistic fervor. Patrick informs us that 
"he was resolved very much to lay aside other studies, 
and to travel in the salvation of men's souls, after whose 
good he most ardently thirsted." When preaching in 
country churches, as at his native place, he adapted his 
expression, Worthington says, to vulgar capacities, and 
desired to be understood rather than wondered at for 
ostentatious exhibitions of learning: and before a uni- 
versity audience his style was no less suitable. 

Although of a temper "naturally hot and choleric," 
betrayed at times in a sudden flushing of the face, 
Smith had no sympathy with the violent animosities of 
his times. 

He was far from that spirit of devouring zeal that now too 
much rages. He would rather have been consumed in the ser- 
vice of men, than have called for fire down from heaven, as Elijah 
did, to consume them. And therefore though Elijah excelled 

92 



JOHN SMITH 

him in this, that he ascended up to heaven in a fiery chariot; yet 
herein I may say he was above the spirit of EUjah, that he called 
for no fire to descend from heaven upon men, but the fire of 
divine love that might burn up all their hatreds, roughness and 
cruelty to each 'other. ... K he was at any time moved unto 
anger, it was but a sudden flushing in his face, and it did as soon 
vanish as arise; and it used to arise upon no such occasions as 
I now speak of. No, whensoever he looked upon the fierce and 
consuming fires that were in men's souls, it made him sad, not 
angry; and it was his constant endeavour to inspire men's souls 
with more benign and kindly heats, that they might warm, but 
not scorch their brethren. And from this spirit, together with the 
rest of Christian graces that were in him, there did result a great 
serenity, quiet, and tranquillity in his soul, which dwelt so much 
above, that it was not shaken with any of those tempests and 
storms which use to unsettle low and abject minds. He lived in 
a continued sweet enjoyment of God. 

After a tedious illness, patiently borne, Smith died of 
consumption in 1652 at the age of thirty-five. No 
wonder that his friend's sermon at his funeral seems 
punctuated with sobs, in which through many quotations 
from Greek, Latin and Hebrew and not a little scholastic 
exegesis in the manner of the time we feel a heart beat- 
ing with genuine affection and grief. 

It pleased the only wise God, in whose hand our breath is, 
to call for him home to the spirits of just men made perfect, 
after He had lent him to this unworthy world for about five and 
thirty years. A short life it was, if we measure it by so many 
years; but if we consider the great ends of life, his life was not 
to be accounted short, but long. "Honourable age is not that 
which standeth in length of time, nor that which is measured by 

93 



JOHN SMITH 

number of years: but wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an 
unspotted life is old age." 

II 

The "Select Discourses" were edited by Worthington 
and published in 1660. In the midst of an arid desert 
of dogmatic controversy and definition, these discourses 
are as "a well of water springing up into everlasting 
life." A pity it is that so few who traverse the desert 
turn aside to the well : but it is there ! 

One of the marked features of present Christian 
thinking is the refreshing and new expression which it 
is finding in the revival of the Greek theology over 
against the Latin: and of this movement John Smith 
was a notable forerunner. Theology has descended 
through the Latin branch of the church and in some 
directions had become so Latinized, Augustinized, and 
Calvinized, that it was in sore need of being re-Chris- 
tianized. It is just this that Smith did nearly three 
centuries ago ; correcting the Latin theology of his time 
with the Greek thought with which he was imbued, he 
re-Christianized Christian truth in living ways. His 
theology did not come to him by way of Augustine and 
Calvin. Plotinus and the neo-Platonists were being 
studied much at Cambridge in his day and they helped 
him to understand Christ and Paul. It is interesting to 
know that at the very time when the Westminster 
Assembly was casting Augustine's and Calvin's Latin 
theology into iron moulds, the hardness and chill of 
which are still felt, there was a young man at Cam- 

94 



JOHN SMITH 

bridge, with the seal of the Assembly's approval upon 
his teaching, discussing Christ's and Paul's theology in 
all the sunny warmth and cheer and illumination and 
vitality of the Greek point of view. It is sunshine in 
the midst of icebergs. 

At almost every point the teaching of Smith differs 
from the prevailing theology of his time, but it differs 
without being controversial. The great themes are God 
in His World, the Divine Immanence; God in Man, the 
Kinship of the Divine and Human; God in Christ, the 
Incarnation; and God Himself, "the Altogether 
Lovely " : and all these themes are treated in a way im- 
possible to the current theology of the time, which would 
not even have proposed them. They are the themes of 
present-day preaching. Smith was two hundred and 
fifty years ahead of his time. 

Calvinism was teaching the august transcendence of 
the sovereign God, ruling the world from afar, from 
His eternal throne in the distant heavens. The divine 
activity in the world was regarded as only occasional: 
the earth was a desert drear. Very different from this 
was Smith's view. To him God was not far off, but 
ever3rwhere present, the soul of all things: and the 
world was not a vile, cast-away product, proved a fail- 
ure, but a holy place, hallowed by the abiding presence 
and power of the Divine. 

He did not make the world and then throw it away from Him- 
self without any further attention to it; ior He is that omnipresent 
life that penetrates all things. . . . The world is in God^ rather 
than God in the world. 

95 



JOHN SMITH 

A soul that is truly Godlike cannot but everywhere behold 
itself in the midst of that glorious unbounded Being, who is in- 
divisibly everywhere. A good man finds every place he treads 
upon holy ground; to him the world is God's temple; he is ready 
to say with Jacob, " How dreadful is this place, this is none other 
but the house of God!" 

[In their converse with this lower world good men] find God 
many times secretly flowing into their souls, and leading them 
silently out of the court of the temple into the holy place. 
Religion spiritualizes this outward creation. We should love all 
things in God, and God in all things, because He is all in all. 
[All created excellencies are] so many pure effluxes and emana- 
tions from God, and in a particular being a good man loves the 
universal goodness. Thus may a good man walk up and down 
the world as in a garden of spices, and suck a divine sweetness 
out of every flower. 

Does any modern theologian speak more beautifully 
of the Divine Immanence ? 

If Smith's appreciation of the beauty and divineness 
of nature differs refreshingly from the common view of 
his contemporaries, still more does his appreciation of 
the nobility and divineness of humanity. God is in the 
world, and still more is God in men. The Latin 
theology had set a great gulf between God and man, as 
well as between God and His world : to Smith the divine 
and human are closely akin. There is a divine impress 
on human souls: 

God hath stamped a copy of his own archetypal loveliness 
upon the soul, that man by reflecting into himself might behold 
there the glory of God. 

Our own souls are the fairest images of the Deity itself, God 

96 



JOHN SMITH 

having so copied forth Himself into the whole life and energy 
of man's soul, as that the lovely characters of Divinity may be 
most easily seen and read of all men within themselves; as they 
say Phidias, after he had made the statue of Minerva impressed 
his own image so deeply in her buckler, that no one could destroy 
it without destroying the whole statue. And if we would know 
what the impress of souls is, it is nothing but God Himself, who 
could not write His own image so as that it might be read, but 
only in rational natures. Whenever we look upon our own soul 
in a right manner, we shall find an Urim and Thummim there. 

In times when human nature was being disparaged 
and vilified, it is reassuring to hear a voice proclaiming 
**a law embosomed in the souls of men, which ties them 
again to their Creator," a law of nature, "which indeed 
is nothing else but a paraphrase upon the nature of God, 
as it copies forth itself in the soul of man." How dif- 
ferent such an appreciation of human nature sounds 
from the prevailing note of the time, "What worthless 
worms are we!" 

The divine and human being thus akin, God may 
freely communicate himself to man, and man may 
blessedly participate in the divine life. The highest 
glory of God is communication of Himself to man, the 
highest glory of man participation in the life of God. 
"Faith is that which unites men more and more to the 
centre of life and love." Here is a definition of faith 
quite different from that of the traditional phrase, am- 
plified in such lovely sentences as these: 

All true happiness consists in a participation of God, arising 
out of the assimilation of our souls to Him. 

97 



JOHN SMITH 

Enjoyment of God is an internal union, whereby a divine spirit 
informing our souls, sends the strength of a divine life through 
them. 

The foundation of heaven and hell is laid in men's own souls. 

The Gospel is set forth as a mighty efflux and emanation of life 
and spirit freely issuing forth from an omnipotent source of grace 
and love, as that true Godlike vital influence whereby the Divinity 
derives itself into the souls of men, enlivening and transforming 
them into its own likeness, and strongly imprinting upon them 
a copy of its own beauty and goodness. Briefly, it is that whereby 
God comes to dwell in us, and we in Him. 

It is life that is communicated. "The divine life " is 
the one great and glorious phrase throughout. 

True religion is an inward principle of life, of a divine life, 
the best life, that which is life most properly so called. 

The Gospel is an internal manifestation of divine life upon 
men's souls, a vital and quickening thing, that internal form cf 
righteousness that qualifies the soul for eternal life. 

It is not so much a system of divinity, but the spirit and vital 
influx of it, spreading itself over all the powers of men's souls, and 
quickening them into a divine life; it is not so properly a doctrine 
that is wrapt up in ink and paper, as it is vitalis scientia, a living 
impression made upon the soul and spirit. 

Religion is life and spirit, which flowing out from the source 
of all life, returns to Him again as into its original, carrying the 
souls of good men up with it. 

It is only life that can feelingly converse with life. 

In an age of much dogmatism, how refreshing is this 
insistence upon Christianity as an indwelling divine hfe, 
a communion of man's spirit with God's, an interpene- 
tration of the human and divine! Such a Hving Chris- 

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JOHN SMITH 

tianlty is far different from that "mechanics in re- 
ligion," that *^ mimical Christianity," which apes the 
conventional experience. Smith gives his estimate of 
the current dogmatism: 

There are some mechanical Christians that can frame and 
fashion out religion so cunningly in their own souls by that book 
skill they have got of it, that it may many times deceive them- 
selves, as if it were a true living thing. Those Christians that 
fetch all their religion from pious books and discourses, hearing of 
such and such signs of grace and evidences of salvation, and being 
taught to believe they must get those, that so they may go to 
heaven, may presently begin to set themselves to work, and in an 
apish imitation cause their animal powers and passions to repre- 
sent all these. . . a handsome artifice of religion, wherein those 
mechanics may much applaud themselves. 

How different is this " mechanical Christianity " from 
"that true spirit of regeneration, which comes from 
heaven, and begets a divine life in the souls of good 
men"! 

Such a living Christianity is the antipode likewise of 
a merely passive faith. 

True religion does not consist in a mere passive capacity, in 
a sluggish kind of doing nothing, that so God Himself might do 
all; but it consists in life and power within. When God restores 
men to a new and divine life. He does not make them like so many 
dead instruments, stringing and fitting them, which yet are able to 
yield no sound of themselves, but He puts a living harmony 
within them. 

Here is the note of a new song such as Watts could not 
sing. 

99 



JOHN SMITH / 

Righteousness in this view is vital, not forensic. The 
theology of the time hardly got beyond the third chap- 
ter of Romans, with its legalistic interpretation. A 
Christian's justification was regarded as a formal trans- 
action of a legal nature before a heavenly throne. 
Smith passed beyond the legal metaphors of Paul's 
dialectic into the high orthodoxy of Paul's ethical 
mysticism. He passed from the thought of Christ as a 
Mediator enthroned in heaven to the thought of Christ 
as "a divine principle" enthroned in holy souls, Christ 
living in us, *' Christ in us, the hope of glory." Chris- 
tianity is an indwelling of the divine life, for which the 
forensic acquittal, the pardon of sin, is only the prepara- 
tion. Pardon is not the end, but only the beginning, 
which opens the way to the Christian's life in God, 
and the life of God in him, the life "hid with Christ 
in God." 

A true gospel faith doth not only pursue an ambitious project 
of raising the soul immaturely to the condition of a darling favor- 
ite of heaven, while it is unripe for it, by procuring a mere empty 
pardon of sin; it desires not only to stand upon clear terms with 
heaven by procuring the crossing of all the debt-books of our sins 
there; but it rather pursues after an internal participation of the 
divine nature. A saving faith is not content to wait for salvation 
till the world to come. . . . no, but it is here perpetually gasping 
after it. It is that whereby we live in Christ, and whereby He 
lives in us. 

Here is a faith that is not dogmatic and formal, but 
spiritual and living. Justification is not a legal fiction, 
but a vital fact. The divine judgment of everything is 

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JOHN SMITH 

according to the truth of the thing. God can delight 
only in his own image in men. There is no reconcilia- 
tion between God and that which is utterly ungodly. 
A merely formal and abstract justification is of little 
service, the imagining that Christ is ours, while we find 
Him not living within us. Pardon and justification are 
of service only as they open the fountain of the divine 
grace and love and life, which our sins had closed 
against us. Pardon cannot be the end, for even if 
conscience be at peace, there is a restless longing in man 
for something larger than himself, a participation in the 
life of God. So did Whichcote's pupil develop his 
interpretation, and pierce to the heart of Paul's theology, 
instead of lingering in its metaphors. ** Christ liveth 
in me," "Your life is hid with Christ in God," is there 
anything In Paul sweeter and deeper than this? And 
was the man who dwelt on such phrases less orthodox 
than his contemporaries, who absorbed in a legal ter- 
minology penetrated too little to the reality back of it 
which the terminology was only intended to express? 
Was he not rather more orthodox? 

The divine life is experienced by " spiritual sensation." 
Spiritual things are more real than material things, and 
we may be surer of them than of the reports of our 
senses. There is a spiritual sense; we may " taste and 
see that the Lord is good." This spiritual sensation is 
active and clear only in the pure life, only the pure in 
heart may see God, and such may see Him here. 
Spiritual knowledge depends upon character, it rises 
not from speculation and syllogism, but from goodness. 

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JOHN SMITH 

The tree of knowledge grows beside the tree of Hfe. 
We must have some likeness to God in order to see 
God. "Such as men themselves are, such will God 
Himself seem to be." Speculations are barren, unfold- 
ing the plicatures of truth's garment, but incapable of 
beholding truth's lovely face. 

There is a knowing of the truth as it is in Jesus, as it is in a 
Christlike nature, as it is in that sweet, mild, humble and loving 
spirit of Jesus, which spreads itself like a morning sun upon the 
souls of good men, full of light and life. . . . There is an inward 
beauty, life, and loveliness in divine truth, which cannot be known 
but only when it is digested into life and practice. . . . Divine 
truth is better understood, as it unfolds itself in the purity of 
men's hearts and lives, than in all those subtle niceties into which 
curious wits may lay it forth. And therefore our Saviour, who is 
the great master of it, would not, while he was here on earth, draw 
it up into a system or body, nor would his disciples after him; he 
would not lay it out to us in any canons or articles of belief, not 
being indeed so careful to stock and enrich the world with opinions 
and notions, as with true piety and a Godlike pattern of purity, 
as the best way to thrive in all spiritual understanding. His 
main scope was to promote a holy life, as the best and most 
compendious way to a right belief. 

The indwelling of the divine life and the vital con- 
sciousness of it give a divineness to the present and 
usher in heaven now. We are to seek not so much an 
assurance of heaven hereafter, as heaven itself here. 
" Beloved, now are we the sons of God." We can never 
be well assured of heaven, 

until we find it rising up within ourselves and glorifying our own 

102 



JOHN SMITH 

souls. When true assurance comes, heaven itself will appear 
upon the horizon of our souls, like a morning light, chasing away 
all our dark and gloomy doubtings before it. We shall not need 
then to light up our candles to seek for it in corners; no, it will 
display its own lustre and brightness so before us, that we may 
see it in its own light, and ourselves the true possessors of it. 

The truest assurance of heaven rises from the con- 
sciousness of a heaven already within, as the mere 
animal life is mortified and there rises in its room a 
divine life, as a sure pledge of immortality and happi- 
ness. 

He that beholds the Sun of righteousness arising upon the 
horizon of his soul with healing in its wings, such a one desires 
not now the star-light to know whether it be day or not; nor cares 
he to pry into heaven's secrets, there to see the whole plot of his 
salvation; for he views it transacted upon the inward stage of 
his own soul, and reflecting upon himself, he may behold a heaven 
opened from within, and a throne set up in his soul, and an al- 
mighty Saviour sitting upon it, and reigning within him: he now 
finds the kingdom of heaven within him, and sees that it is not a 
thing merely reserved for him without him, being already made 
partaker of the sweetness and efficacy of it. 

To the conception of God in His world the Divine 
Immanence, and God in man, the kinship of the divine 
and human, must be added, the crown of all, the con- 
ception of God in Christ, the Incarnation. The in- 
carnation is broader than the atonement, not only an 
atonement for sin, but also a revelation of the essential 
grandeur of humanity. Man needs more than pardon, 
and Christ does more than to effect pardon : He shows 

103 



JOHN SMITH 

what humanity was meant to be, God's ideal of human- 
ity, and in the revelation there is "the bringing in of a 
better hope." Christlikeness is the divine programme 
for mankind. Not only his suffering and death but also 
his teaching and life are full of significance and power. 

Here is one that partakes every way of human nature, in whom 
the Divinity magnifies itself and carries through this world in 
human infirmities and sufferings to eternal glory: a clear mani- 
festation to the world that God had not cast off human nature, 
but had a real mind to exalt and dignify it again. The way into 
the holy of holies is laid as open as may be in Christ, in His doc- 
trine, life and death: in all which we may see with open face what 
human nature may attain to. 

In all these deeply spiritual teachings we are moving 
in an atmosphere far removed from the severity and 
gloom of Puritanism, which Smith seems to have in 
mind, as he writes, 

Religion is no such austere, sour and rigid thing as to affright 
men away from it: no, but those that are acquainted with the 
power of it, find it to be altogether sweet and amiable. Religion 
is no sullen Stoicism, no sour Pharisaism; it does not consist in 
a few melancholy passions, in some dejected looks or depressions 
of mind: but it consists in freedom love, peace, life and power; 
the more it comes to be digested into our lives, the more sweet and 
lovely we shall find it to be. It is no wonder, when a defiled 
fancy comes to be the glass, if you have an unlovely reflection. 
Let us therefore labor to purge our own souls from all worldly 
pollutions; let us breathe after the aid and assistance of the 
divine spirit, that it may irradiate and enlighten our minds, that 
we may be able to see divine things in a divine light. 

104 



JOHN SMITH 

In times when the contemplation of God was melan- 
choly and full of awe, in the thought of an offended 
Majesty, when the fear of God had a larger place in 
men's hearts than the love of God, John Smith was 
blessedly saying: 

While men walk in darkness and are of the night, then it is 
only that they are vexed with those ugly and ghastly shapes that 
terrify and torment them. But when once the day breaks, and 
true religion opens herself upon the soul like the eyelids of the 
morning, then all those shadows and frightful apparitions flee 
away. . , . There is no frightful terribleness in the supreme 
Majesty. Meditation of God is sweet, beyond and above all 
fears. God is love and loveliness. 

Great as were the differences between Christian truth 
as Smith and as his contemporaries saw it, he never 
antagonized the current view, but was content to teach 
his own in all gentleness, trusting in the truth to displace 
error of itself. And such benignity appears not in times 
of peace, but in times of war, for the Civil War was 
raging during the whole period of Smith's teaching, not 
to mention the fierce conflict of ecclesiastical parties: 
and such benignity appears not in a man mellowed by 
years, but in a young man, who died at thirty-five. 

Smith taught from the depths of his own experience: 
such living truth could come only from life. *' He lived," 
said Patrick, "by faith in the Son of God; by it he 
came to be truly partaker of the righteousness of Christ, 
and had it wrought and formed in his very soul." His 
faith was of a kind that "brought down Christ into his 
soul; which drew down heaven into his heart. He 

105 



JOHN SMITH 

lived in a continued sweet enjoyment of God. There 
was so much divinity enshrined in this excellent man's 
soul, that it made everything about him to have a kind 
of sacredness in it, and will make his name to be always 
as a sweet odor unto us." 
And the fragrance still abides. 



106 



HENRY MORE 



HENRY MORE 
1614-1687 



Henry More represents the quintessence of Cam- 
bridge Platonism. He lived so completely within that 
he seemed unconscious of the disturbances without, 
cloistered mid scenes of violence. "He was so busy in 
his chamber with his pen and lines as not to mind much 
the bustle and affairs of the world without." He knew 
nothing of the agonizing of Hales driven to cover by 
the storm, of Chillingworth dying a military captive, of 
Falkland in a frenzy of despair exposing himself to 
fatal fire. He did not even make the effort to adjust 
himself to changing conditions like Whichcote, but 
serenely ignored them. Retiring within, he lived in a 
great calm. His environment mattered little. 

More was born at Grantham, the son of a gentleman 
of "fair estate and fortune." Like Whichcote, through 
ample means he was relieved of all sordid cares. His 
parents were strong Calvinists, and from his childhood 
were disturbed over the religious welfare of their son, 
who from his early years evinced a deep interest in 
spiritual things but quite apart from the Calvinistic 

109 



HENRY MORE 

point of view. His uncle, to whose care he was com- 
mitted during his school-days at Eton, threatened to 
flog him "for his immature forwardness in philosophiz- 
ing concerning the mysteries of necessity and free will." 
His own words give the best picture of the precocious, 
abstracted school-boy: 

I had so firm and unshaken a persuasion of the divine justice 
and goodness, that on a certain day in a ground belonging to 
Eton College, where the boys used to play and exercise themselves, 
musing concerning these things with myself, and recalling to my 
mind this doctrine of Calvin (Predestination), I did thus seriously 
and deliberately conclude within myself, viz. : If I am one of those 
that are predestinated imto hell, where all things are full of 
nothing but cursing and blasphemy, yet will I behave myself there 
patiently and submissively towards God, and if there be any one 
thing more than another that is acceptable to Him, that will I set 
myself to do with a sincere heart, and to the utmost of my power, 
being certainly persuaded, that if I thus demeaned myself. He 
would hardly keep me long in that place. Which meditation 
of mine is as firmly fixed in my memory, and the very place 
where I stood, as if the thing had been transacted but a day or 
two ago. 

It was his custom, he says, to walk in the play-ground 
slowly, with his head on one side, kicking now and then 
the stones with his feet, and at times "with a sort of 
musical and melancholic murmur" humming to himself 
those lines of Claudian which question whether the 
world is under a divine providence or mere chance. 

Yet that exceeding hail and entire sense of God, which nature 
herself had planted deeply in me, very easily silenced all such 

110 



HENRY MORE 

slight and poetical dubitations as these. Yea, even in my first 
childhood an inward sense of the divine presence was so strong 
upon my mind, that I did then believe there could no deed, word 
or thought be hidden from Him. . . . Which thing, since no 
reason, philosophy or instruction taught it me at that age, but 
only an internal sensation urged it upon me, I think it is very 
evident that this was an innate sense or notion. 

Here is a school-boy of whom strange things might be 
expected. 

While his parents were distressed by their son's 
wandering from the familiar paths of Calvinism, they 
could not resist the unmistakable assurance of his deep 
spiritual peace and joy. His father came upon him 
unexpectedly among his books at Cambridge one day, 
and was so profoundly impressed by his look and whole 
manner as to declare that he "spent his time in an 
angelical way," truly a sympathetic appreciation: and 
sound Puritan that he was, he returned home to write 
him down for a handsome legacy in his will. 

In 1631 More, "a tall thin youth of clear olive com- 
plexion and a rapt expression," entered Christ's College, 
Cambridge, where congenial company welcomed him in 
Whichcote, Mede, Smith and their friends. His tutor 
was William Chappell, "a person both learned and 
pious, and what I was not a little solicitous about, not at 
all a Calvinist: but a tutor most skilful and vigilant." 
In a conversation with Chappell, which reveals as in 
the case of Joseph Mede the spirit and influence of the 
tutorial system of the time, the attitude of the student 
appears, as he enters upon his university studies. 

Ill 



HENRY MORE 

When my prudent and pious tutor observed my mind to be 
inflamed and carried with so eager and vehement a career, he 
asked me on a certain time, why I was so above measure intent 
upon my studies; that is to say, for what end I was so. Suspect- 
ing, as I suppose, that there was only at the bottom a certain itch, 
or hunt after vainglory; and to become by this means some 
famous philosopher amongst those of my own standing. But I 
answered briefly, and that from my very heart, "That I may know." 
"But, young man, what is the reason," saith he again, "that you so 
earnestly desire to know things ?" To which I instantly returned, 
"I desire,[I say, so earnestly to know, that I may know." For even 
at that time the knowledge of natural and divine things seemed to 
me the highest pleasure and felicity imaginable. 

Thereupon More plunged into philosophy, studying 
Aristotle, Cardan, Julius Scaliger and others, but with- 
out finding those satisfactions for which he yearned, so 
that he took his degree of B.A. in 1635 with a sense of 
disappointment in his course. In 1639 he was chosen 
Fellow of Christ's College and took holy orders, al- 
though he refused to preach, from a conviction that he 
could do better service with his pen than with his voice. 
He would not have known, he says, what to have done 
in the world, if he could not have "preached at his 
fingers' ends.'' 

Through philosophy More had failed to find satis- 
faction, and his disappointment in the results of knowl- 
edge led him to seek peace through a different channel, 
that mystic illumination which comes to the purified 
soul. The Platonic writers had turned his mind in this 
direction, but it was the little book that Luther loved, 

112 




HENRY MORE 



HENRY MORE 

the "Theologia Germanica," that awoke the response 
from his deepest self. Now he came to feel that truth 
is revealed not so much to the studious as to the sensitive 
and pure in heart. 

It fell out truly very happily for me, that I suffered so great 
disappointment in my studies. For it made me seriously at last 
begin to think with myself, whether the knowledge of things was 
really that supreme felicity of man, or something greater and more 
divine was: or, supposing it to be so, whether it was to be acquired 
by such an eagerness and intentness in the reading of authors and 
contemplating of things, or by the purging of the mind from all 
sorts of vices whatsoever: especially having begun to read now the 
Platonic writers, Ficinus, Plotinus himself, Trismegistus, and the 
mystical divines, among whom there was frequent mention made 
of the purification of the soul, and of the purgative course that is 
previous to the illuminative, as if the person that expected to 
have his mind illuminated of God was to endeavor after the high- 
est purity. But amongst all the writings of this kind there was 
none, to speak the truth, so pierced and affected me, as that golden 
little book, with which Luther is said to have been wonderfully 
taken, "Theologia Germanica". . . which sense (the sense of 
divine things) that truly golden book did not then first implant 
in my soul, but struck and roused it, as it were, out of sleep 
in me, which it did verily as in a moment or the twinkling of 
an eye. 

The revelation of this new way to truth was followed 
by a mighty struggle between the ** divine principle" and 
the "animal nature," the Pauline struggle between 
flesh and spirit. He must purge his soul, if he were to 
know and experience the truth. Knowledge no longer 
was the goal, but a more intimate converse with reality. 

113 



HENRY MORE 

That insatiable desire and thirst of mine after the knowledge 
of things was wholly almost extinguished in me, as being solicitous 
now about nothing so much as a more full union with this divine 
and celestial principle, the inward flowing well-spring of life 
eternal. . . . But here openly to declare the thing as it was; 
when this inordinate desire after the knowledge of things was thus 
allayed in me, and I aspired after nothing but this sole purity and 
simplicity of mind, there shone in upon me daily a greater assur- 
ance than ever I could have expected, even of those things which 
before I had the greatest desire to know: insomuch that within 
a few years I was got into a most joyous and lucid state of mind, 
and such plainly as is ineffable. 

The essence of his new way to blessedness is expressed 
in a single sentence: " God reserves his choicest secrets 
for the purest minds: it is uncleanness of spirit, not dis- 
tance of place, that dissevers us from the Deity." 

A sound body and perfect health saved More's 
mysticism from becoming pathological, and gave even 
to his highest flights of ecstasy a certain wholesomeness 
and exhilaration. He ascends into seventh heavens, 
but without becoming morbid or insane. At times his 
intensity seemed a blaze that would consume him him- 
self and set those about him on fire, but like the "burn- 
ing bush," which Moses saw, he was not consumed. 
More had a tall, thin, graceful figure, a spirited air, 
hazel eyes as vivid as an eagle's. He had luxurious 
tastes in dress and the air of a courtier. The portrait 
which has been preserved represents him in his later 
years with long hair falling over his shoulders, a slight 
moustache, a broad forehead, high and prominent cheek- 

114 



HENRY MORE 

bones, a massive chin, cheeks firm and far from wasted. 
He looks the gentleman as well as the scholar, and in 
spite of his mysticism and otherworldliness gives no 
evidence of asceticism. His appearance is refined and 
wholesome. His body, he says, was "a well-strung 
instrument to his soul, that so they might be both in 
tune and make due music and harmony together." It 
"seemed built for a hundred years, if he did not over- 
debilitate it with his studies." He had a remarkable 
ability to sleep deeply, "a strange sort of narcotick 
power," and he arose refreshed. *'When yet early in 
the morning he was wont to wake usually into an im- 
mediate unexpressible life and vigor, with all his 
thoughts and notions raying (as I may so speak) about 
him, as beams surrounding the centre from whence they 
all proceed." Every morning there was a sunrise in 
his soul and the dawning of a fresh day. 

Union with the central life, "joining centres with 
God," lifted him into ecstasies, made him supernatural, 
set him striding among the stars. 

How lovely, how magnificent a state is the soul of man in, 
when the life of God inactuating her, shoots her along with Himself 
through heaven and earth; makes her unite with, and after a sort 
feel herself animate the whole world. This is to become deiform, 
to be thus suspended (not by imagination, but by union of life, 
joining centres with God) and by a sensible touch to be held up 
from the clotty dark personality of this compacted body. Here is 
love, here is freedom, here is justice and equity in the superessen- 
tial causes of them. He that is here look? upon all things as one, 
and on himself, if he can then mind himself, as a part of the whole. 

115 



HENRY MORE 

. . . Nor am I out of my wits, as some may fondly interpret me 
in this divine freedom. But the love of God compelled me. Nor 
am I at all enthusiastical. For God doth not ride me as a horse, 
and guide me I know not whither myself, but converseth with me 
as a friend; and speaks to me in such a dialect as I understand 
fully, and can make others understand, that have not made ship- 
wrack of the faculties that God hath given them by superstition or 
sensuality. . . . For God hath permitted to me all these things, 
and I have it under the broad seal of heaven. Who dare charge 
me ? God doth acquit me. For He hath made me full lord of the 
four elements, and hath constituted me emperor of the world. . . . 
I sport with the beasts of the earth; the lion licks my hand like a 
spaniel; and the serpent sleeps upon my lap, and stings me not. 
I play with the fowls of heaven, and the birds of the air sit sing- 
ing on my fist. All these things are true in a sober sense. And 
the dispensation I live in is more happiness above all measure, 
than if thou couldst call down the moon so near thee by thy 
magic charms, that thou mayst kiss her, as she is said to have 
kissed Endymion; or couldst stop the course of the sun; or which 
is all one, with one stamp of thy foot stay the motion of the earth. 
. . . He that is come hither, God hath taken him to be his own 
familiar friend; and though he speaks to others aloof off, in 
outward religions and parables, yet he leads this man by the hand, 
teaching him intelligible documents upon all the objects of his 
providence; speaks to him plainly in his own language; sweetly 
insinuates Himself, and possesseth all his faculties, understanding, 
reason and memory. This is the darling of God, and a prince 
amongst men, far above the dispensation of either miracle or 
prophecy. 

Mysticism with a vengeance is this, but there is no 
tinge of morbidness, no suggestion of unhealthy, clois- 
tered confinement : it is ecstasy rising on the wings of the 

116 



HENRY MORE 

morning, ascending into heaven, fleeing into the utter- 
most parts of the sea, but ever in the open air. It is 
intoxication not with noxious vapors, but with pure 
oxygen. It is the ecstasy of Thoreau, stroking the fish 
in Walden pond, in strange sympathy with all creation, 
and soaring into worlds unknown, not through suppres- 
sion of breath, but through deeper inhalation of the 
pines. 

More was accustomed to seek pleasant retirement 
from Christ's College at Ragley, where he lived in the 
open air, the wind fanning his temples, enjoying *'the 
solemnness of the place, those shady walks, those hills 
and woods, wherein often having lost the sight of the 
rest of the world and the world of him, he found out 
in that hidden solitude the choicest theories." What 
Lord Falkland and Great Tew were to Chillingworth 
and Hales, Lady Conway and Ragley were to More. 
He found in Ragley a place of refreshing and in the 
society of his hostess and her friends constant sym- 
pathy and inspiration. It was a strange company that 
gathered at Ragley, physicians, mystics, and perchance 
charlatans, the salon of a remarkable woman, whose 
mysticism, however, became pathological and neurotic. 
Greatrakes, the famous Irish "stroker," who performed 
wonderful cures with a kind of magic touch, was an 
intimate of the house. 

Except for repeated visits at Ragley, More lived al- 
most entirely within the walls of Christ's College. He 
persistently refused preferment, declining the master- 
ship of his college, the Deanery of Christ Church, Ox- 

117 



HENRY MORE 

ford, the Provostship of Trinity College, Dublin, the 
Deanery of St. Patrick's, and two bishoprics. Through 
all the vicissitudes of the times he was loyal to the King 
and church. His friends once induced him to journey 
to Whitehall to kiss the King's hand, but he turned back 
on discovering that this act of loyalty was to be the 
prelude to a bishopric. A friend remonstrates with him 
in a letter: "Pray be not so morose or humorsome as 
to refuse all things you have not known so long as 
Christ's College." More declined advancement from 
"a pure love of contemplation and solitude, and because 
he thought he could do the church of God greater 
service in a private than in a public station." He had 
spent, he said to one, "many happy days in his cham- 
ber," and his labors were to him in looking back upon 
them, "as an aromatick field." Like Smith, More 
needed no exalted position in order to exert his influence. 
Many pupils gathered about him at Christ's College, 
listening to his words as to an oracle, and being ^im- 
pressed alike by his learning and piety. In him were 
combined intellectuality and saintliness, mystic ecstasy 
and sanity, piety and grace. He was a spiritually 
minded man of the world. He died in 1687, after 
living more than fifty years within the confines of Cam- 
bridge University one of the serenest of lives in the most 
violent half century his country ever knew. The storm 
raged without, but he dwelt in the secret place of the 
Most High and abode under the shadow of the Al- 
mighty. 



118 



HENRY MORE 



II 



More's writings are voluminous, but are less interest- 
ing than his personality, and in large part are so foreign 
to the modern mind as to be almost unreadable. His 
autobiography, which has been freely quoted, is far 
more interesting than the philosophical works to which 
it is the preface. "An Antidote against Atheism" pre- 
sents a noble Transcendentalism, and carries one along 
with its argument, until it flies off on a tangent into 
discussions of witchcraft, apparitions, and extravagant 
manifestations of the occult. Mystic that he was, 
More was far from despising matter, and displays a 
surprising interest in physical phenomena, to which he 
applies an observation almost scientific. He makes 
laudable attempts at physiological psychology in his 
discussions of the spinal marrow, conarium and ventri- 
cles of the brain as possible seats of the reasoning 
faculty. Interesting as are these essays in primitive 
science from an historical point of view, they could hard- 
ly be expected to speak in modern phrase. Worthless 
as are the results, the spirit of these investigations is 
altogether admirable. The principle by which More 
explains physical phenomena is the "spirit of nature." 
In 1652, thirty-three years before Newton propounded 
the law of gravitation. More thus describes the action 
of this subtle incorporeal force: 

It remands down a stone toward the centre of the earth as 
well when the earth is in Aries as in Libra, keeps the water from 

119 



HENRY MORE 

swilling out of the moon, curbs the matter of the sun into round- 
ness of figure, restrains the crusty parts of a star from flying 
apieces into the circumambient ether, everywhere directs the 
magnetic atoms in their right road, besides all the plastic services 
it does both in plants and animals. 

Why should not a body remain suspended in the air, 
or if thrown from the earth continue its motion, and 
why do not all things fly from the earth's surface, re- 
pelled by centrifugal force? These questions More 
answered by the hypothesis of a "spirit of nature." 
This is the explanation of the strange results produced 
by the air pump, the difficulty of removing the stopple 
from an exhausted receiver, and the strong pressure 
exerted upon it from within when the air is admitted. 
"It is apparent that there is a principle transcending the 
nature and power of matter that does umpire all, that 
directs the motion of every part and parcel of matter 
backward and forward and contrariwise in pursuance 
of such general designs as are best for the whole." This 
is the "spirit of nature," the "vicarious power of God 
upon this great automaton the world." Newton's prin- 
ciple was soon to dissipate More's "spirit of nature" 
and Descartes' "vortices," but such speculations have 
value as showing men's interest in natural science in the 
seventeenth century, and more particularly in the case 
of More as showing the attitude of certain Christians of 
that much-abused century toward science in its begin- 
nings and the startling ideas which it was introducing. 
These times of ours are not the first in which Christian- 
ity has adapted itself to new ideas with sympathy and 

120 



HENRY MORE 

grace. Not all heralds of new truth have been burned 
at bigotry's stake. It is good to behold Henry More, 
than whom his century produced few more profound 
and devoted Christians, in his attitude toward the new 
truths of his day. 

The times we are in, and are coming on are times wherein 
Divine Providence is more universally loosening the minds of men 
from the awe and tyranny of mere accustomary superstition, and 
permitting a freer perusal of matters of religion than in former ages. 

It sounds like a voice from the present. "Blind 
obedience to the authority of the church " is being swept 
away. Scepticism and atheism are resulting: and these 
should be met not by stemming the tide of the times, but 
by adapting Christianity to the new conditions. A new 
Christian phraseology and point of view are demanded, 
which shall appeal to the naturalist. 

The atheist will boggle at whatever is fetched from established 
religion, and fly away from it, like a wild colt in a pasture at the 
sight of a bridle. But that he might not be shy of me, I have 
conformed myself as near his own garb as I might, without par- 
taking of his folly or wickedness: and have appeared in the plain 
shape of a mere naturalist myself, that I might, if it were possible, 
win him off from downright atheism. For he that will lend his 
hand to another fallen into a ditch, must himself, though not fall, 
yet stoop and incline his body: and he that converses with a 
barbarian must discourse to him in his own language; so he that 
would gain upon the more weak and sunken minds of sensual 
mortals, is to accommodate himself to their capacity. 

Here is a Henry Drummond of the seventeenth 
century! 

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HENRY MORE 

More was a personal friend of Descartes, and 
carried on a long correspondence with him. He de- 
plores Descartes' imprisonment, and "the inconven- 
ience this external force and fear does to the com- 
monwealth of learning." Cartesianism and Platonism 
were making great headway, and More realized that it 
would be "hugely disadvantageous to religion and 
theology to seem to be left so far behind, or to appear 
to be opposite to that, which I foresaw might proba- 
bly become the common philosophy of the learned." 
Therefore to prevent all contempt and cavil against the 
sacredness of Christianity, as holding anything against 
the solid truths of approved reason and philosophy, by 
fantastic and allegorical interpretation he discovers 
Cartesianism and Platonism in the books of Moses. 
The method was bad, but the object good. Cabalistic 
exegesis is absurd, but the demand that science, phi- 
losophy and religion speak one language is beyond all 
praise. 

Responsiveness to new views and on the other hand 
downright opposition to them are not uncommon: but 
to be responsive to new views and at the same time to 
sympathize with the feelings of those who oppose them, 
to pass to the new without making a rupture with the 
old, this is the rare spirit. Such a truly mediating 
position was More's. He endeavored to write "without 
any offence or scruple to the good and pious, or any real 
exception or probable cavil from those whose preten- 
sions are greater to reason than religion." He refuses 
to be destructive. He will not tear down what others 

122 



HENRY MORE 

reverence, but is content to build up what he reverences 
himself, and for the final result trust to the survival of 
the fittest. Arguments for the existence of God, which 
he considers illogical, he will still not confute, for the 
reason that they help some, and he would not cause 
any to stumble by the removal even of an unsteady 
prop. 

I think it may not unbeseem one that is faithful to the cause, 
not to be over-industrious in discovering the weakness of such 
arguments as are meant for the engendering in men's minds the 
belief of that truth, which is of so necessary and vast importance 
for mankind to be persuaded of. For I charitably surmise that 
the first inventors of those reasons thought them conclusive, or 
else they would not have made use of them. Whence it will fol- 
low that they may still have their force with those that are but of 
the same pitch with their first proposers. And he that guesseth 
right and goes on his journey will as certainly come to the place 
he aims at, as he that perfectly knows the way. 

With rare magnanimity More, believing himself in 
the new truth, respects its opposers, and understands 
their opposition. He realizes that **that which is 
strange has something of the face of that which is 
hostile." 

It is a piece of rudeness and unskilf ulness in the nature of things 
and in the perfection of Divine Providence (who has generally 
implanted a tenacious adhesion to what has accustomarily been 
received, that the mind of man might be a safer receptacle when it 
lights upon what is best) to conceit that because a truth is demon- 
stratively evident in itself, that therefore its opposite shall im- 
mediately surrender the castle. Which consideration with the 

123 



HENRY MORE 

ingenuous cannot but secure the continuance of unfeigned civility 
and respect even to the jealous suspecters or opposers of new 
truths and make them look upon it as a piece of surprising 
ignorance or inhumanity to be otherwise affected toward them. 

It has been too often forgotten that toleration is a 
reciprocal relation, and is demanded of the liberal 
toward the conservative quite as much as vice versa. 
Of such toleration on the progressive side Henry More 
is a notable example. 

Considerate as was More toward the traditionalist, 
he does not expect altogether to escape attack from 
his own side on the part of those who mistake him 
for a foe. 

Wherefore I being so faithfully, and as I conceive so usefully 
taken up in managing these out-works, as I may call them, I shall 
not impute it, no not so much as to over-hasty zeal, but to mere 
mishap, if I be pelted behind my back by any shots of obloquy 
from any unknown servant of the sanctuary: and presume, if I 
receive any hurt, that their smart will be the greatest that did it, 
when they shall consider they have wounded a true and faithful 
friend, and even then when he was so busily and watchfully em- 
ployed in facing the common enemy. 

In a remarkable passage More explains how authority 
should be respected, and how disregarded. Only where 
authority demands belief contrary to the teaching of the 
Scriptures is it to be rebelled against. It may well be 
compromised with, especially in terms of expression, in 
matters of speculation and science. 

For mine own part, though I were as certain of Cartesianism 

124 



HENRY MORE 

and Platonism as I am of any mathematical demonstration, yet I 
do not find myself bound in conscience to profess my opinion 
therein any further than is with the good liking or permission of 
my superiors. But that I may not seem injurious to myself, nor 
give scandal unto others by this so free profession, I am necessi- 
tated to add, that the conscience of every holy and sincere Chris- 
tian is as strictly bound up in matters of religion plainly and 
expressly determined by the infallible oracles of God, as it is free 
in philosophical speculations: and though out of love to his own 
ease, or in a reverential regard to the authority of the church, 
which undoubtedly every ingenuous spirit is sensible of, he may 
have a great desire to say, profess and do as they would have 
him; yet in cases of this kind, where anything is expected con- 
trary to the plain and express sense of those divine writings, he 
will use that short but weighty apology of the apostle, that God 
is to be obeyed rather than men. But in philosophical theories, 
euch as the preexistence of the soul, the motion of the earth, and 
the like, where God has not required our profession, nor our 
eternal interest is concerned, nor that which dictates is infallible; 
though we should conceit to ourselves a mathematical assurance 
of the conclusions, yet I must profess, as I said before, that I do 
not see that anyone is conscientiously bound to aver them against 
the authority of the church under which he lives, if they should at 
any time dislike them, but that he may with a safe conscience 
compromise with his superiors, and use their language and 
phrases concerning such things. Certainly it cannot be a vice 
in us in humble submission and reverence to the governors of the 
church (let our private judgment be what it will) to receive their 
definitive modes and phrases of speech in those things where God 
has not tied us to the contrary. 

More was willing to conform in non-essentials, if lie 
might have liberty in essentials. 

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HENRY MORE 

For a thorough mystic, More's interest in physical 
science was remarkable, but it was a spiritual interest. 
He is always in antagonism to Hobbes, "that confident 
exploder of immaterial substances," and to the material- 
ism of the *' Leviathan." It was the "spirit of nature" 
that he saw behind all material forms and phenomena. 
He looked in, in order to understand what he saw as 
he looked out. 

In theology More is a transcendentalist. He argues 
the reality of God from the existence in us of the idea of 
a perfect and necessary being. The object must exist 
as the correlate of the idea. The soul is furnished with 
innate ideas and the natural emanations of the mind 
are to be trusted as faithful guides. The principles of 
the circle and triangle are appreciated by the mind, 
though they are nowhere exhibited in visible form. 
The geometrical propositions we feel are true of all 
triangles and circles, the mind confidently leaping to 
universal conceptions. As a musician sings the whole 
song at the suggestion from another of a few notes, so 
the soul leaps to universals and sings out the whole song 
upon the first hint, "as knowing very well before." "It 
is plain that we have some ideas that we are not behold- 
ing to our senses for." There is more of reality than 
matter offers through the senses. Man dwells in the 
borders of two worlds, the spiritual and the material, 
responding to influences from each, "tugging upward 
and downward." Man is supernatural. Matter is 
utterly incapable of such operations as we find in our- 
selves, therefore there is in us something immaterial or 

126 



HENRY MORE 

incorporeal. As our spirit understands and moves 
corporeal matter, so behind the phenomena of nature is 
there reason and spirit. The soul of man is a "little 
medal of God." "As cattle are branded with their 
owner's name, so God's character sealed upon our 
souls marks us as his people and the sheep of his 
pasture." "No bishop, no king"; and "No spirit, no 
God." 

But reason does not yield the great certainties. The 
comprehension of spiritual truth requires "a certain 
principle more noble and inward than reason itself and 
without which reason will falter, or at least reach but to 
mean and frivolous things. I have a sense of something 
in me while I thus speak, which I must confess is of 
so retruse a nature that I want a name for it, unless I 
should endeavor to term it divine sagacity." "All pre- 
tenders to philosophy will indeed be ready to magnify 
reason to the skies, to make it the light of heaven and the 
very oracle of God: but they do not consider that the 
oracle of God is not to be heard but in his holy temple, 
that is to say, in a good and holy man, thoroughly 
sanctified in spirit, soul and body." "There is a 
natural cohesion of truth with an unpolluted soul." 
"That wisdom which is the gift of God is hardly com- 
patible to any but to persons of a pure and unspotted 
mind. Of so great concernment is it sincerely to en- 
deavor to be holy and good." 

This mystic was not obliged to soar to worlds un- 
known for the beatific vision. Within and without he 
saw God, whenever his heart was pure. To him there 

127 



HENRY MORE 

were ''two temples of God, the one the universe in 
which the divine Logos is high priest: the other, the 
rational soul whose priest is the true man " : and in both 
temples he worshipped. 



128 



JEREMY TAYLOR 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

1613-1667 

I 

If adversity almost extinguished the light of Hales 
and Chillingworth, it struck out of Jeremy Taylor his 
brightest spark. In times of peace these would have 
shone the brighter, but it is to be feared that in prosper- 
ity Taylor would never have lighted his highest taper. 
In 1634 a young man of twenty-two came up to 
London from Cambridge to preach at Saint Paul's in 
the place of his room-mate, Risden, who had been 
prevented from filling the engagement. He created a 
sensation. His handsome face and figure, his musical 
voice, his exuberant fancy carried his hearers by storm. 
"By his florid and youthful beauty, and sweet and 
pleasant air, and sublime and raised discourses, he made 
his hearers take him for some young angel, newly de- 
scended from the visions of glory." In appearance 
Taylor was attractive, above middle height, with 
rounded face, expansive brow, full, kindly eyes and 
small chin. "His person was uncommonly beautiful, 
his manners polite, his conversation sprightly and en- 
gaging, and even his voice was harmonious." There 

131 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

is no lack of portraits of him. The number of engrav- 
ings of the author, which form the frontispiece of many 
of his books in their first editions, would seem to indicate 
that Taylor himself was not unconscious of his pleasing 
looks. 

Up to the time of his appearance at Saint Paul's, Tay- 
lor's career had been inconspicuous enough. He was 
the son of a barber, born in Cambridge in 1613. He 
attended the free grammar school established by the 
generosity of Dr. Stephen Perse in 1619, in which year 
Taylor entered as one of the earliest pupils. Such 
beneficence has rarely done greater service in opening 
opportunity to promising boys of slender means. After 
seven years at the school he was admitted to Caius 
College, Cambridge, in 1626, where he still enjoyed the 
benefactions of Perse, being elected scholar and later 
fellow on foundations in the university provided by the 
same generous donor. His college course seems to 
have been solitary, and although Milton, George Her- 
bert and Henry More were contemporaneous with him, 
he was not admitted to their fellowship, and seems to 
have been untouched by their ampler spirit. 

The preaching at Saint Paul's raised Taylor at once 
from obscurity to distinction. He became " the fashion." 
Archbishop Laud heard of the brilliant young preacher, 
and with his genius for discovering merit was impressed 
with Taylor's astonishing abilities, "observing the tart- 
ness of his discourses, the quickness of his parts, the 
modesty and sweetness of his temper, and the becoming- 
ness of his personage and carriage." Laud at once 

132 




JEREMY TAYLOR 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

took him under his patronage, soon securing him a Fel- 
lowship at Oxford, to which university he was trans- 
ferred, as a more favorable school of that ecclesiastical 
discipline dear to his patron's heart. At their first 
interview Taylor made the retort which has become 
famous. The only fault which Laud found in him was 
his youth, but Taylor humbly begged his Grace to 
pardon that, and promised *'if he lived he would 
mend it." 

The field of high service and distinction now lay fair 
before Taylor. In 1636 he was appointed rector of 
Uppingham, an excellent living, and later a chaplain to 
the King, but the Civil War was at hand, and the wreck 
of his fortunes in the disaster of his patrons. At the 
outbreak of hostilities he was probably with the King at 
Nottingham. In writings of this period Taylor stoutly 
defended the royal and episcopal cause against the 
claims of Parliament. His living was sequestrated and 
given to another in 1644. His great patron was exe- 
cuted the same year. In 1645, after the Battle of Nase- 
by, sharing the fate of fellow royalists, he was taken 
captive at Cardigan Castle in South Wales. Set at 
liberty, probably through an exchange of prisoners, he 
joined with William Wyatt and Dr. Nicholson in estab- 
lishing a private school at Llanfihangel-Aberbythych, 
near Golden Grove, the estate of Lord Carbery. Car- 
bery fell under the spell of his unfailing charm and made 
him his household chaplain. Here Taylor found an 
asylum for eight productive years. His eulogist Rust 
says that he was cast into "a private corner of the 

133 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

world, where a tender Providence shrouded him under 
his wings, and the prophet was fed in the wilderness." 
Taylor himself thus alludes to this period : 

In this great storm which hath dashed the vessel of the church 
all in pieces, I have been cast upon the coast of Wales, and in a 
little boat thought to have enjoyed that rest and quietness which 
in England in a greater I could not hope for. Here I cast anchor, 
and thinking to ride safely, the storm followed me with so im- 
petuous violence, that it broke a cable, and I lost my anchor. 
And here again I was exposed to the mercy of the sea, and the 
gentleness of an element that could neither distinguish things nor 
persons. And but that He, who stille h the raging of the sea, and 
the noise of His waves, and the madness of His people, had pro- 
vided a plank for me, I had been lost to all the opportunities of 
content or study. But I know not whether I have been more 
preserved by the courtesies of my friends, or the gentleness and 
mercies of a noble enemy. 

The voyage was interrupted, the fair weather was 
gone, the mariner was wrecked with his hopes, but he 
found himself on an island, where he was to cultivate a 
rich crop sprinkled with fragrant flowers. We are re- 
minded of that passage, in which he illustrates with a 
remarkable elaboration of the nautical figure that 
safety of the righteous in adversity, which he at this 
time himself experienced. 

He is safe in the midst of his persecutions. . . . And so have I 
often seen young and unskilful persons sitting in a little boat, 
when every little wave, sporting about the sides of the vessel, and 
every motion and dancing of the barge seemed a danger, and 
made them cling fast upon their fellows; and yet all the while 

134 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

they were as safe as if they sate under a tree, while a gentle wind 
shaked the leaves into a refreshment and a cooling shade: and the 
unskilful, unexperienced Christian shrieks out whenever his vessel 
shakes, thinking it always in danger, that the watery pavement 
is not stable and resident like a rock ; and yet all his danger is in 
himself, none at all from without: for he is indeed moving upon 
the waters, but fastened to a rock: Faith is his foundation, and 
hope is his anchor, and death is his harbour, and Christ is his 
pilot, and heaven is his country; and all the evils of his poverty, 
or affronts of tribunals and evil judges, of fears and sudden appre- 
hensions, are but like the loud wind blowing from the right point, 
they make a noise, and drive faster to the harbour: and if we do 
not leave the ship, and leap into the sea; quit the interest of 
religion, and run to the securities of the world; cut our cables, 
and dissolve our hopes; grow impatient, and hug a wave, and dip 
in its embraces; we are as safe at sea, safer in the storm which 
God sends us, than in a calm when we are befriended with the 
world. 

Golden Grove was Taylor's Ragley and Great Tew. 
Here man and nature alike ministered to him. It was 
a beautiful country^ in the valley of the Towey with 
thick woods broken by the lawns of great estates, the 
land described seventy years later by the poet, Dyer, 
as a 

" long and level lawn. 

On which a dark hill, steep and high. 
Holds and charms the wandering eye; 
Deep are his feet in Towey's flood, 
His sides are clothed with waving wood; 
And ancient towers crown his brow, 
That cast an awful look below. 
135 



JEREINIY TAYLOR 

. . . woods, where echo talks. 
The gardens trim, the terrace-walks, 
The wildernesses, fragrant brakes. 
The gloomy bowers and shining lakes." 

By such beauties of nature the exuberant fancy of a 
florid genius must have been stimulated, and many of 
the nature pictures which Taylor painted into his 
sermons with exquisite art are doubtless sketches of 
scenes in Wales. That description in which one can 
fairly see the sun rising, is a reminiscence of those 
mornings at Golden Grove, when Taylor rose early to 
behold the sun coming out of "the chambers of the 
east": 

The life of a man comes upon him slowly and insensibly. But 
as when the sun approaching towards the gates of the morning, he 
first opens a little eye of heaven, and sends away the spirits of 
darkness, and gives light to a cock, and calls up the lark to matins, 
and by and by gilds the fringes of a cloud, and peeps over the 
eastern hills, thrusting out his golden horns, like those which 
decked the brows of Moses, when he was forced to wear a veil, 
because himself had seen the face of God; and still while a man 
tells the story the sun gets up higher, till he shews a fair face and 
a full light, and then he shines one whole day, under a cloud often, 
and sometimes weeping great and Httle showers, and sets quickly: 
so is a man's reason and his life. 

In the words of Edmund Gosse: 

It is to this beautiful retreat, in a rich valley of South Wales, 
that we owe the ripest products of his intellect. The stamp of 
the physical b auty which surrounded him is imprinted upon the 
best and happiest of his writings, and we may say that Jeremy 

136 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

Taylor was nourished by the Muses in the park of Golden Grove, 
as the goat-herd Comatas was fed with honey by the bees while 
he lay imprisoned in his master's cedarn chest. 

The human environment of his retreat was no less 
congenial than the physical. In the school he had his 
friends Nicholson and Wyatt, and in the manor house 
were Lord and Lady Carbery. His labors alternated be- 
tween the school and house in an atmosphere of quiet 
and refinement. The sermons which he preached to 
the sympathetic little auditory were given a wider circu- 
lation through the press of Royston, for many years his 
faithful publisher. 

It was under these favorable circumstances that 
Taylor wrote his first book of importance and his great- 
est, "Liberty of Prophesying," published in 1647. 
It was one of the earliest pleas for liberty of conscience, 
and is to be held in everlasting remembrance. The 
fortunes of books are not to be reckoned in advance 
even by the author, who is often no less surprised at the 
success of one work than he is disappointed at the fail- 
ure of another. Taylor considered his magnum opus, 
for which posterity would remember him, the "Ductor 
Dubitantium," an elaborate and weary encyclopaedia of 
casuistry, with moral directions for all kinds of cases of 
conscience. To this work he gave the labor of years but 
it was never widely read. The *' Holy Living " and " Holy 
Dying," published in 1650 and 1651 respectively, have 
won first place among his works in popular favor. *' The 
Great Exemplar," containing sermons preached at 
Golden Grove on successive incidents in the life of Jesus, 

137 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

is a notable work as the forerunner of the modern 
"Life of Christ." Above all these, however, stands 
"Liberty of Prophesying," as the herald of a new 
age of intellectual liberty. It is Taylor's high-water 
mark, so high indeed that the author himself unhap- 
pily receded from it: but it is by such fluctuations 
that the tide comes in, and of the incoming tide of 
toleration this book is one of the most advanced waves. 
It lacks the gorgeous imagery of his other works, and 
wears the severe garb of the suppliant. The language 
is not ornate, but direct and clear. It is a voice from 
exile, chastened as such voices are, like the voice from 
Babylon which sang in sobs of the suffering Servant of 
Jehovah. All embellishments are cast aside. The 
brilliant rhetorician puts off the beautiful garments of 
his oratory and appears in the plain dress of logic and 
reason. In general, Taylor was a preacher and orator 
rather than a theologian or logician, but here he takes a 
place in the high company of Chillingworth and the first 
theologians of the time. Taylor and Chillingworth had 
walked and talked together at Oxford, but the younger 
man had not been rated high as a thinker by the keen 
logician, who criticised him as slighting the arguments of 
those he discoursed with. The influence, however, of 
the "Religion of Protestants" is manifest in the "Lib- 
erty of Prophesying," proving that Taylor gave more 
heed to the arguments of these Oxford conversations 
than his critic supposed. "Liberty of Prophesying" 
was not an expression of Taylor's peculiar genius 
as a brilliant preacher and splendid rhetorician: it was 

138 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

a by-product, but a by-product which surpassed in 
significance his regular work. He turned aside from 
the beaten path and mounted a hill. 

After eight years of shelter at Golden Grove, Taylor 
emerged from seclusion to be buffeted by the violence 
of the times. His views were offensive to the Protec- 
torate, and through their diffusion doubtless endangered 
the fortunes of his patron Lord Carbery, who seems to 
have withdrawn his support. In the famous Evelyn, 
Taylor now found a new friend, who supported him 
from his own funds for several years. Throughout his 
life Taylor showed a genius for making friends among 
the great. In 1658 at the suggestion of Evelyn, Lord 
Conway, a devout Irish Anglican, persuaded Taylor to 
take up his residence at Portmore, in Ireland, on his 
sumptuous estate, and to assume the office of lecturer 
at Lisburn, a few miles distant. The troubled bark was 
thus brought into harbor again. 

At the Restoration Taylor, as his loyalty deserved, 
was in high favor. He was appointed bishop of Down 
and Connor, and Vice-Chancellor of Trinity College, 
Dublin. The great preacher, however, was not a great 
administrator. His sympathies were not large enough 
to appreciate the Irish situation, the place of Romanism 
in the popular heart, and the importance of the native 
language. The polished preacher to polite society was 
not fitted to grapple with the problems of a down- 
trodden, crude people. The Presbyterians also gave 
him trouble, and the author of " Liberty of Prophe- 
sying" so far forgot his own high counsels as to instigate 

139 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

the imprisonment of all the Presbyterian ministers who 
could be found in the counties of Antrim and Down. 
The story is told that Taylor sent his chaplain Lewis to 
England to buy up all the extant copies of his great 
work, and that he burned these after a day of fasting 
and prayer. It was a sad apostasy. Taylor's life in 
Ireland was unhappy. He was above all a preacher 
to the cultivated classes, and was utterly unfitted to the 
work of reconstruction in the midst of a turbulent 
populace. He died of fever at Lisburn in 1667. The 
** Liberty of Prophesying" was the acme of his theolog- 
ical work, and had he failed, like Hales and Chilling- 
worth, to survive the evil days which put him to his 
best endeavors, he would have bulked larger on the 
horizon. After Golden Grove his life was an anti- 
climax. His greatest fragrance came from the smok- 
ing flax. Never were there sweeter uses of adversity. 

II 

In one of the first pages of the "Liberty of Prophesy- 
ing" Taylor remarks that the Holy Spirit descended at 
Pentecost in the form of cloven tongues, a parable to 
teach that differing expressions may proceed from the 
one Spirit. Unanimity of opinion is not to be expected. 
Charity is to unite those differing in doctrine. 

It is not the differing opinions that is the cause of the present 
ruptures, but want of charity. . . . There is no cure for us but 
piety and charity. . . . All these mischiefs proceed not from this, 
that all men are not of one mind, for that is neither necessary nor 

140 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

possible, but that every opinion is made an article of faith, every 
article is a ground of a quarrel, every quarrel makes a faction, 
every faction is zealous, and all zeal pretends for God, and what- 
soever is for God cannot be too much. We by this time are come 
to that pass, we think we love not God except we hate our brother; 
and we have not the virtue of religion, unless we persecute all 
religions but our own: for lukewarmness is so odious to God and 
man, that we proceeding furiously upon these mistakes, by sup- 
posing we preserve the body, we destroy the soul of religion; or 
by being zealous for faith, or which is all one, for that which 
we mistake for faith, we are cold in charity, and so lose the 
reward of both. 

The position in regard to heresy is notable. Heresy 
is an act of the will, not of the intellect. It is something 
more than an error of opinion, which is generally ex- 
cusable. Harmless prejudice, weakness, education, mis- 
taking piety may produce erring convictions, but these 
are not heretical where there is nothing of venom behind 
them. Error of opinion in a pious person is innocent. 
"No man is an heretic against his will." Heresy is not 
to be accounted in merely speculative opinions, and 
never to the pious. A truly good man is never a 
heretic, whatever his views: an evil man, whatever his 
views, is a heretic. 

For whatever an ill man believes, if he therefore believe it 
because it serves his own ends, be his belief true or false, the man 
hath an heretical mind; for to serve his own ends, his mind is 
prepared to believe a lie. But a good man, that believes what 
according to his light, and upon use of his moral industry he 
thinks true, whether he hits upon the right or no, because he hath 

141 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

a mind desirous of truth, and prepared to believe every truth, is 
therefore acceptable to God. 

The treatment of heresy which is recommended is 
equal to the definition. 

It is unnatural and unreasonable to persecute disagreeing 
opinions. Unnatural, for understanding being a thing wholly 
spiritual, cannot be restrained, and therefore neither punished by 
corporal afflictions. It is a matter of another world: you may 
as well cure colic by brushing a man's clothes. . . . Force in 
matters of opinion can do no good, but is very apt to do hurt; for 
no man can change his opinion when he will, or be satisfied in his 
reason that his opinion is false because discountenanced. . . . 
But if a man cannot change his opinion when he lists, nor ever 
does heartily or resolutely but when he cannot do otherwise, then 
to use force may make him an hypocrite, but never to be a right 
believer: and so instead of erecting a trophy to God and true 
religion, we build a monument for the devil. 

Persecution "either punishes sincerity or persuades 
hypocrisy. It teaches a man to dissemble and to be safe, 
but never to be honest." The heretic is to be pitied and 
instructed, not condemned nor excommunicated. Chrys- 
ostom's maxim is to be observed, "We ought to reprove 
and condemn impieties and heretical doctrines, but to 
spare the men, and to pray for their salvation." The 
Scriptures are to be remembered, "Restoring persons 
overtaken with an error in the spirit of meekness, con- 
sidering lest we also be tempted," and "The servant of 
the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, 
in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, 
if God perad venture will give them repentance to the 

142 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

acknowledging of the truth." In the midst of the wind, 
earthquake and fire of the seventeenth century, and the 
boom of Cromwell's cannon, there rises this still, small 
voice, and we feel that God is in the voice, and the 
promise of better things. 

In the discussion of creeds, the contention is for 
simplicity. "The church hath power to intend our 
faith, but not to extend it: to make our belief more 
evident, but not more large and comprehensive." The 
New Testament creeds are emphasized in their sim- 
plicity, the creed of Paul and Peter and Martha and the 
Ethiopian. The "Apostles' Creed" is urged as a 
basis of communion. Taylor takes the liberty of criti- 
cising even the Nicene Creed. He deplores its sub- 
tleties and departure from Biblical simplicity. 

There are some wise personages, who think the church had 
been more happy, if she had not been in some sense constrained 
to alter the simplicity of her faith, and make it more curious and 
articulate, so much that he had need to be a subtle man to under- 
stand the very words of the new determinations. 

Those creeds are best, which keep the very words of Scripture; 
and that faith is best, which hath greatest simplicity; and it is 
better in all cases humbly to submit, than curiously to inquire 
and pry into the mystery under the cloud, and to hazard our faith 
by improving our knowledge: if the Nicene fathers had done so 
too, possibly the church never would have repented it. . . . If 
the article had been with more simplicity and less nicety deter- 
mined, charity would have gained more, and faith would have lost 
nothing. 

The definitions as to "one substance" and "hypos- 

143 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

tases" were unfortunate as engendering strife. The 
mysteries in the Bible are to be made ''occasions of 
mutual charity and toleration and humility, rather than 
repositories of faith and furniture of creeds and articles 
of belief." The view, often expressed to-day, is 
strongly presented by Taylor, that theological state- 
ments may be put on record in the form of expositions 
and rescripts, without being incorporated in the creed; 
that theologians should publish their decrees "declara- 
tively not imperatively, as doctors in their chairs, not 
masters of other men's faith and consciences." 

No modern advocate of toleration could insist more 
strenuously than does Taylor that the way to heaven is 
not to be made narrower than it is in the Scriptures. 

I see not how any man can justify the making the way to 
heaven narrower than Jesus Christ hath made it, it being already 
so narrow, that there are few that find it. 

To make the way to heaven straiter than God made it, or to 
deny to communicate with those whom God will vouchsafe to be 
united, and to refuse our charity to those who have the same 
faith, because they have not all our opinions, and believe not 
everything necessary which we overvalue, is impious and schis- 
matical: it infers tyranny on one part, and persuades and tempts 
to uncharitableness and animosities on both: it dissolves societies 
and is an enemy to peace: it busies men in impertinent wranglings, 
and by names of men and titles of factions it consigns the inter- 
ested parties to act their difference to the height, and makes them 
neglect those advantages which piety and a good life bring to the 
reputation of Christian religion and societies. 

Overstrict confessions are to be deplored as pro- 

144 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

ducing schism, and real schismatics are those who make 
the separation necessary. 

Few churches that have framed bodies of confession and 
articles will endure any person that is not of the same confession ; 
which is a plain demonstration that such bodies of confession and 
articles do much hurt, by becoming instruments of separating and 
dividing communions, and making unnecessary or uncertain 
propositions a certain means of schism and disunion. But then 
men would do well to consider whether or no such proceedings 
do not derive the guilt of schism upon them who least think it; 
and whether of the two is the schismatic, he that makes un- 
necessary and inconvenient impositions, or he that disobeys them 
because he cannot, without doing violence to his conscience, be- 
lieve them: he that parts communion because without sin he 
could not entertain it, or they that have made it necessary for him 
to separate, by requiring such conditions which to man are simply 
necessary, and to his particular are either sinful or impossible. 

Liberty of conscience did not mean to Taylor license 
nor indifference, as *' bringing into captivity every 
thought to the obedience of Christ" did not mean 
slavery. It may be well to quote in connection with the 
"Liberty of Prophesying" a notable passage from a 
sermon preached in 1651 : 

Indifferency to an object is the lowest degree of liberty, and 
supposes unworthiness or defect in the object or the apprehen- 
sion: but the will is then the freest and most perfect m its opera- 
tion, when it entirely pursues a good with so certain determination 
and clear election, that the contrary evil cannot come into dispute 
or pretence. Such in our proportions is the liberty of the sons of 
God; it is an holy and amiable captivity to the Spirit. The will 

145 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

of man is in love with those chains which draw us to God, and 
loves the fetters that confine us to the pleasures and religion of the 
kingdom. And as no man will complain that his temples are 
restrained, and his head is prisoner, when it is encircled with a 
crown; so when the Son of God hath made us free, and hath only 
subjected us to the service and dominion of the Spirit, we are as 
free as princes within the circles of their diadem, and our chains 
are bracelets, and the law is a law of liberty, and his service is 
perfect freedom, and the more we are subjects the more we shall 
reign as kings; and the faster we run, the easier is our burden; 
and Christ's yoke is like feathers to a bird, when in summer we 
wish them unfeathered, that they might be cooler and lighter. 

The quotation with which this remarkable book closes 
is a gem in which its essential spirit is crystallized : 

I end with a story which I find in the Jews' books: When 
Abraham sat at his tent door, according to his custom, waiting to 
entertain strangers, he espied an old man stooping and leaning on 
his staff, weary with age and travel, coming towards him, who was 
an hundred years of age; he received him kindly, washed his feet, 
provided supper, and caused him to sit down ; but observing that 
the old man ate and prayed not nor begged for a blessing on his 
meat, asked him why he did not worship the God of heaven? 
The old man told him that he worshipped the fire only, and 
acknowledged no other god; at which answer Abraham grew so 
zealously angry, that he thrust the old man out of his tent, and 
exposed him to all the evils of the night and an unguarded condi- 
tion. When the old man was gone, God called to Abraham, and 
asked him where the stranger was; he replied, "I thrust him away 
because he did not worship thee ": God answered him, " I have 
suffered him these hundred years, although he dishonored me, 
and could'st thou not endure him one night, when he gave thee 

146 



JEREMY TAYLOR 

no trouble?" Upon this, saith the story, Abraham fetched him 
back again, and gave him hospitable entertainment and wise 
instruction. Go thou and do likewise, and thy charity will be re- 
warded by the God of Abraham. 

The prophet was indeed "fed in the wilderness"; and 
more, he made the wilderness rejoice and blossom like 
the rose. 



147 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

1605-1682 



Late on a December evening of 1642 Sir Kenelm 
Digby received a letter from his friend Lord Dorset, 
commending to his attention a Httle book that had 
recently appeared, the ^'Religio Medici." Digby at 
once sent out his servant to procure a copy, and in his 
absence retired. On the servant's return with the book, 
Digby read it through in bed, and early the next morn- 
ing began to write a glowing criticism of it, apparently 
before rising. In a letter of the same morning he writes 
to Dorset: 

This good-natured creature (Religio Medici) I could easily 
persuade to be my bedfellow, and to wake with me as long as I 
had any edge to entertain myself with the delights I sucked from 
so noble a conversation. And truly, my Lord, I closed not my 
eyes till I had enriched myself with, or at least exactly surveyed, 
all the treasures that are lapped up in the folds of those few sheets. 

It was Digby's "Observations" that brought the 
" Religio Medici " and its author into prominence. The 
book created a sensation that extended to the Conti- 

151 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

nent, appearing in Latin, Italian, German, Dutch and 
French translations. 

The writer thus suddenly made famous had settled five 
years before as a physician in Norwich, and had evidently 
been at work upon his reflections at intervals for seven 
years, as a "private exercise" lovingly wrought with ex- 
quisite art. The author's life, in his own words, had 
been "a miracle of thirty years," although one searches 
in vain for anything extraordinary in his early career to 
warrant such enthusiasm. It was an exquisite inner 
experience, soaring like Henry More*s among the con- 
stellations. For outer circumstance those thirty years 
seem far from miraculous, pursuing the even tenor 
of prosperity and development, experiencing neither 
marked successes nor struggles nor deliverances. 
Browne's whole life appears calm and prosperous. He 
was a child of privilege, inheriting from his father, who 
died in the son's boyhood, an ample fortune, allowing 
the best advantages of education and travel. After the 
father's death the mother married Sir Thomas Dutton, 
who occupied an important position in the government 
of Ireland. In 1626 Browne was graduated from Broad- 
gate Hall, afterward Pembroke College, Oxford. For 
several years he travelled in Ireland, France and Italy, 
making the ''grand tour," and attending lectures at the 
famous schools of medicine in Montpellier and Padua. 
He received the degree of doctor of medicine at Leyden 
in 1633, and at Oxford four years later. On returning 
from his foreign travels and studies he began his 
practice about 1635 at Shipden Hall, where in the 

152 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

leisure of a young physician he seems to have begun the 
writing of those intimate reflections which developed 
into the "Religio [Medici.'' In 1637 he removed to 
Norwich, where for nearly fifty years, until the time 
of his death, he enjoyed a large and lucrative practice, 
*'much resorted to for his skill in physic." 

Browne knew nothing of Jeremy Taylor's school of 
adversity, and suffered nothing of Falkland's and Chil- 
lingworth's agonies over the evil of the times. He was 
a faithful royalist and Episcopalian, but without antip- 
athies which would make him obnoxious to the op- 
posite parties, or unhappy in their domination. "He 
attended the public service very constantly, when he was 
not withheld by his practice; never missed the sacra- 
ment in his parish, if he were in town; read the best 
English sermons he could hear of, with liberal applause; 
and delighted not in controversies." There was nothing 
of the martyr in him. Differences political and relig- 
ious he did not consider worth dying for, as the following 
passage reveals: 

I have often pitied the miserable bishop that suffered in the 
cause of Antipodes, yet cannot but accuse him of as much madness 
for exposing his life on such a trifle, as those of ignorance and 
folly, that condemned him. I think my conscience will not give 
me the lie, if I say there are not many extant that in a noble way 
fear the face of death less than myself. Yet, from the moral duty 
I owe to the commandment of God, and the natural respects that 
I tender unto the conservation of my essence and being, I would 
not perish upon a ceremony, politic points, or indilYerency. Nor 
is my belief of that untractable temper, as not to bow at their 

153 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

obstacles, or connive at matters wherein there are not manifest 
impieties. The leaven, therefore, and ferment of all, not only 
civil but religious actions, is wisdom, without which, to commit 
ourselves to the flames is homicide, and, I fear, but to pass 
through one fire into another. 

Herein is more of sanity than heroism. The condi- 
tions of his time evidently would not disturb such 
equanimity. The Norwich doctor could go calmly 
about his practice, jotting down exquisite thoughts in all 
serenity, while the partisans were approaching their 
life-and-death struggle. The "Religio Medici" was 
published in the year when other minds were framing 
the Solemn League and Covenant. 

During the Civil War Browne was busy with his 
patients, employing his leisure moments in reading in 
many languages, in correspondence with kindred 
spirits, in studying flowers, trees and stars. He was 
deeply interested in nature studies, and was a faithful 
observer, although imbued with the superstitions of 
alchemy and astrology. He corresponds with Evelyn 
on gardening and grafting, describing in one of his 
letters the great linden at Depeham. To Sir William 
Dugdale he writes of embanking and draining. For 
twenty years he was in communication with Theodorus 
Jonas, minister of Hitterdale in Iceland, letters in Latin 
being exchanged between them annually by means of 
the ships sailing from Yarmouth. Browne looked up 
to the stars and down to the flowers and off to the ice- 
fields, and forgot the war raging about him. When others 
were throwing up earthworks, he was digging drains. 

154 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

His home also gave him sweet occupation. While one 
would hardly discover that Jeremy Taylor had a family 
except for the occasional reference to a bereavement, one 
cannot become acquainted with Browne without meeting 
also his wife and children. In 1641 he married Dorothy 
Mileham, described by one who knew them both well 
during the whole period of their married life as *'a lady 
of such symmetrical proportion to her worthy husband, 
both in the graces of her body and mind, that they 
seemed to come together by a kind of natural magnet- 
ism." Delightful letters between Browne and his sons 
have been preserved, which reveal the father as much as 
the children. The second son, affectionately known at 
home as "honest Tom," was sent to school in France 
at the age of fourteen. Lord Chesterfield and Polonius 
are suggested in the letters which exhort the boy to put 
off rustic bashfulness, to put on a "commendable bold- 
ness," and to "have a good handsome garb on his 
body." He is earnestly enjoined to "hold firm to the 
Protestant religion, and be diligent in going to church." 
"Be constant," the father urges, "not negligent in your 
daily private prayers, and habituate your heart in your 
tender days unto the fear and reverence of God." 
Here is piety without Puritanism and cosmopolitanism 
without irreligion. The wisdom of such liberal educa- 
tion was vindicated in the result, for "honest Tom" 
developed into a kindly, frank, spirited young man. He 
entered the navy, and seems to have been lost at sea 
early in a career full of promise. 

The eldest son, Edward, was educated with hke 

155 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

liberality. We read of him "dancing, dissecting and 
going to church," wholesome union of pleasure, work 
and worship, of grave and gay. Edward Browne was a 
great traveller and keen observer, and became a Lon- 
don physician of note. In 1664 he met in Paris Dr. Guy 
Patin, dean of the faculty of medicine, who had been 
one of the first to appreciate the "Religio Medici," thus 
commenting on it in 1644: 

A little new book entitled " Religio Medici," written by an Eng- 
lishman and translated into Latin by a Dutchman. It is a book 
all gentle and singular, but very delicate and mystical : the author 
has no lack of spirit: you will see strange and transporting 
thoughts. There are few books of this sort. 

When Edward Browne met Dr. Patin twenty years 
after this comment, he *' saluted me very kindly," he 
writes to his father, "asked me many things concerning 
my father, whom he knew only as author of 'Religio 
Medici,' discoursed with me very lovingly, and told me 
he would write to my father." As we behold these de- 
lightful relations between father and sons, we are re- 
minded of a sweet story of Dr. Browne's own infancy, 
that his father used to lay bare the child's breast when 
he was asleep, and kiss it in prayers over him that the 
Holy Ghost would take possession there. 

Although Browne suffered little from the war, he was 
heartily rejoiced at the Restoration. On Coronation 
Day, he went up and down the streets of Norwich ex- 
changing greetings and felicitations, "civil and debon- 
air." On a royal visit to Norwich in 1671, the King 

156 




THOMAS BROWNE 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

desired to knight some distinguished citizen, selecting 
the Mayor as the candidate, but the Mayor with rare 
grace and propriety proposed the city's distinguished 
doctor for the honor in his stead. 

Although the complete biography of Dr. Browne, long 
contemplated by Archbishop Tenison, was never writ- 
ten, most fortunately the Rev. John Whitefoot soon 
after Browne's death in 1682 wrote a sketch of his life 
that is really descriptive, and happily devoid of those 
glittering generalities which make the conventional 
eulogy of the seventeenth century colorless and indis- 
criminate. It is to this sketch that we are most indebted 
for the facts of Browne's life and the characterization of 
the man. Moreover, Dr. Johnson seventy years later 
wrote a biographical and critical sketch, incorporating 
for the most part Whitefoot's minutes, as a preface to 
an edition of the " Christian Morals," which Johnson 
particularly admired. In his introduction Whitefoot 
writes : 

I ever esteemed it a special favour of Divine Providence to 
have had a more particular acquaintance with this excellent 
person, for two-thirds of his life, than any other man that is now 
left alive; but that which renders me a willing debtor to his name 
and family, is the special obligations of favour that I had from 
him above most men. 

Browne is described as in "stature moderate," and in 
"habit of body neither fat nor lean." The face looks 
out to us from his pictures, full of distinction and kind- 
liness, with VanDyke beard, large eyes, and smiling 
mouth. His taste in dress was simple, and he always 

157 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

dressed very warmly. His manner was modest, and he 
blushed easily. He was a hard student, and impatient 
of interruption in his studies. In conversation he was 
"always singular and never trite or vulgar." *'He was 
never seen to be transported with mirth or dejected with 
sadness: always cheerful, but rarely merry." *'He 
was excellent company, when he was at leisure, and ex- 
pressed more light than heat in the temper of his brain." 
This perhaps is Browne's highest encomium, that in 
times of ferment and darkness he expressed more light 
than heat. Unconsciously he was describing himself 
when he wrote: 

Bright thoughts, clear deeds, constancy, fidelity, bounty, and 
generous honesty are the gems of noble minds; wherein — to 
derogate from none — the true heroic English gentleman hath no 
peer. 

If it had been a funeral sermon that he was writing, 
Whitefoot says that he would have chosen his text from 
Ecclesiasticus : 

Honour a physician with the honour due unto him; for the 
uses which you may have of him, for the Lord hath created him; 
for of the Most High cometh healing, and he shall receive honour 
of the king. The skill of the physician shall lift up his head, and 
in the sight of great men shall be in admiration, 

II 

The style of the "Religio Medici" is as quaint as its 
catholicity is modern. It is charged with Latinity. 
Boswell says that Dr. Johnson imitated Browne. The 

158 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

great critic certainly defended Browne's style, and his 
comments are interesting, as they appear in the pref- 
ace to which reference has been made. 

His exuberance of knowledge and plenitude of ideas sometimes 
obstruct the tendency of his reasoning, and the clearness of his 
decisions: on whatever subject he employed his mind, there 
started up immediately so many images before him, that he lost 
one by grasping another. ... He was always starting into col- 
lateral considerations; but the spirit and vigor of his pursuit al- 
ways gives delight; and the reader follows him without reluctance 
through his mazes, in themselves flowery and pleasing, and ending 
at the point originally in view. , . . Browne poured in a multi- 
tude of exotic words; many, indeed, useful and significant — but 
many superfluous — and some so obscure, that they conceal his 
meaning rather than explain it. . . . In defence of his uncom- 
mon words and expressions, we must consider, that he had un- 
common sentiments, and was not content to express in many 
words that idea for which any language could supply a single 
term. But his innovations are sometimes pleasing, and his te- 
merities happy: he has many "verba ardentia," forcible expres- 
sions, which he would never have found, but by venturing to the 
utmost verge of propriety; and flights which would never have been 
reached, but by one who had very little fear of the shame of falling. 

The reader's attitude will determine whether he will 
be annoyed by pedantry, or pleased with the *' learned 
sweetness of cadence." 

The "Religio Medici" is written by a man without 
antipathies. 

I have ever endeavored to nourish the merciful disposition and 
humane inclination I borrowed from my parents, and regulate 

159 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

it to the written and prescribed laws of charity. ... I am of a 
constitution so general that it consorts and sympathizeth with all 
things; I have no antipathy, or rather idiosyncrasy, in diet, 
humour, air, anything. I wonder not at the French for their 
dishes of frogs, snails, and toadstools, nor at the Jews for locusts 
and grasshoppers: but being amongst them, make them my 
common viands; and I find they agree with my stomach as well 
as theirs. I could digest a salad gathered in a churchyard as well 
as in a garden. I cannot start at the presence of a serpent, 
scorpion, lizard, or salamander; at the sight of a toad or viper, 
I find in me no desire to take up a stone to destroy them. I feel 
not in myself those common antipathies that I can discover in 
others: those national repugnances do not touch me, nor do I 
behold with prejudice the French, Italian, Spaniard, or Dutch; 
but, where I find their actions in balance with my countrymen's, I 
honour, love and embrace them in the same degree. I was born 
in the eighth climate, but seem to be framed and constellated unto 
all. I am no plant that will not prosper out of a garden. All 
places, all airs, make unto me one country; I am in England 
everywhere, and under any meridian. I have been shipwrecked, 
yet am not enemy with the sea or winds; I can study, play, or 
sleep in a tempest. In brief, I am averse from nothing: my 
conscience would give me the lie, if I should say I absolutely 
detest or hate any essence, but the devil; or so at least abhor any- 
thing, but that we might come to composition. 

It is refreshing to have such a genial spirit, at home 
everywhere, catholic and cosmopolitan, greet us out of 
the malignant partisanships of the seventeenth century. 
Browne looks upon all men with fairness. He believes 
that real atheism does not exist; no more does real 
badness; "Methinks there is no man bad." It is mad- 

160 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

ness to "miscal and rave against the times." "Saint 
Paul, that calls the Cretans liars, doth it but indirectly 
and upon quotation from their own poet." 

It is a tribute to Browne's catholicity that he was 
reckoned Deist, Atheist and Romanist (although the 
"Rehgio Medici " was put upon the Index Prohibitorius) 
and that the "Friends" sought to win him, while he 
defines himself as a Christian, a Protestant, and an 
Anglican. He assumes "the honorable style of a 
Christian," but in such general charity toward humanity 
at large, that toward Turks, infidels and Jews he feels 
pity rather than hate. He is a Protestant, "of the same 
belief our Saviour taught," restored to its primitive 
integrity: but he is not at enmity with Romanism. 
"We have reformed from them, not against them." 
He could worship with them with good heart. 

Holy water and crucifix (dangerous to the common people) de- 
ceive not my Judgment, nor abuse my devotion at all. At my 
devotion I love to use the civility of my knee, my hat, and my 
hand, with all those outward and sensible motions which may 
express or promote my invisible devotion. At the sight of a 
cross or crucifix, I can dispense with my hat, but scarce with the 
thought or memory of my Saviour. I could never hear the Ave 
Maria bell without an elevation, or think it a sufficient warrant, 
because they erred in one circumstance, for me to err in all — that 
is in silence and dumb contempt. Whilst, therefore, they di- 
rected their devotions to her, I offered mine to God; and rectified 
the errors of their prayers by rightly ordering my own. 

He is of the Church of England. " In divinity I love 
to keep the road; and though not in an implicit, yet an 

161 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

humble faith, follow the great wheel of the church." 
He has had doubts, which he has conquered *'not in 
martial posture, but on his knees." Anglican, he is 
without animosity toward dissenters. He refuses to call 
names, however much his own position may be maligned. 
**It is the method of charity to suffer without reaction." 
'* A good cause needs not to be patroned by passion, but 
can sustain itself upon a temperate dispute." ** I have 
no genius to disputes in religion." And what a passage 
is this on charity in differences of opinion ! 

I cannot conceive why a difference of opinion should divide an 
affection. . . . There remain not many controversies worthy a 
passion. How do grammarians hack and slash for the genitive 
case in Jupiter! Yea even among wiser militants, how many 
wounds are given and credits slain for the poor victory of an 
opinion, or beggarly conquest of a distinction ! Scholars are men 
of peace, they bear no arms, but their tongues are sharper than 
Actius' razor; their pens carry further, and give a louder report 
than thunder. I had rather stand in the shock of a basilisk than 
in the fury of a merciless pen. ... In all disputes, so much as 
there is of passion, so much there is of nothing to the purpose. 

Browne is a mystic. He is weary of arguments and 
syllogisms. He delights to contemplate an insoluble 
mystery in humble reverence. He can believe the im- 
possible. "To believe only possibilities is not faith, 
but mere philosophy." There are not impossibilities 
enough in religion to satisfy his faith. He regrets the 
clearing of mystery. 

I love to lose myself in a mystery; to pursue my reason to an 
altitudot 'Tis my solitary recreation to pose my apprehension 

162 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

with those involved enigmas and riddles of the Trinity, incarna- 
tion, and resurrection. I can answer all the objections of Satan 
and my rebellious reason with that odd resolution I learned of 
Tertullian, Certum est quia impossibile est. I desire to exercise 
my faith in the difficultest point; for to credit ordinary and 
visible objects is not faith, but persuasion. 

He is thankful that he did not live in the days of 
miracles, that he never saw Christ nor his disciples, for 
then faith would have been almost compulsory. 

I would not have been one of those Israelites that passed the 
Red Sea; nor one of Christ's patients, on whom He wrought His 
wonders: then had my faith been thrust upon me; nor should I 
enjoy that greater blessing pronounced to all that believe, and saw 
not. 

Even for the present believer is faith too simple, for 
it is grounded on history. 

They only had the advantage of a bold and noble faith, who 
lived before His coming, who upon obscure prophecies and mys- 
tical types could raise a belief, and expect apparent impossibilities. 

With his mysticism there is mingled strangely a love 
of inquiry, as in Henry More and Thoreau. He is at 
once mystic and scientist. His rebellion against reason 
is only in the weary realm of dogmatism. He will not 
argue, where insight brings him into immediate contact 
with the truth, but he delights to exercise his reason 
upon nature. 

The wisdom of God receives small honor from those vulgar 
heads that rudely stare about, and with a gross rusticity admire 

163 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

His works. Those highly magnify Him, whose judicious inquiry 
into His acts, and deliberate research into His creatures, return 
the duty of a devout and learned admiration. 

He is profoundly interested in natural science. He 
studies the bees, ants and spiders, the tides, the increase 
of the Nile, the turning of the needle to the north. His 
mysticism is not of the type that despises the material 
world: and his science is not of the type that despises 
the spiritual world, for in the midst of the discussion 
of the tides, the Nile and the compass, he turns to the 
mysteries within, "the cosmography of myself." "We 
carry with us the wonders we seek without us : there is 
all Africa and her prodigies in us." He lived in two 
worlds, and read two books. 

Thus there are two books from whence I collect my divinity. 
Besides that written one of God, another of His servant, nature, 
that universal and public manuscript that lies expansed unto the 
eyes of all. Those that never saw Him in the one have discovered 
Him in the other. 

Browne believes in God, not as an abstraction of 
dogma, but as a reality of experience. His God is im- 
manent, "a universal and common spirit to the whole 
world," "the life and radical heat of spirits." 

This is that gentle heat that brooded on the waters. . . . 
This is that irradiation that dispels the mists of hell, the clouds of 
horror, fear, sorrow, despair; and preserves the region of the 
mind in serenity. Whosoever feels not the warm gale and gentle 
ventilation of this spirit (though I feel his pulse) I dare not say he 
lives: for truly without this, to me there is no heat under the 
tropic, nor any light, though I dwelt in the body of the sun. 

164 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 
The mercies of God are felt more than his judgments. 

I fear God, yet am not afraid of Him; His mercies make me 
ashamed of my sins, before His judgments afraid thereof. . 
I can hardly think there was ever any scared into heaven: they 
go the fairest way to heaven that would serve God without a hell. 
. . . And to be true, and speak my soul, when I survey the 
occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, 
I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies, either 
in general to mankind, or in particular to myself. 

He is certain of God's providence. 

There is therefore some other hand that twines the thread of 
life than that of nature. . . . Our ends are as obscure as our 
beginnings; the line of our days is drawn by night, and the 
various effects therein by a pencil that is invisible; wherein, 
though we confess our ignorance, I am sure we do not err, if 
we say, it is the hand of God. 

God is a spirit, and there is a spirit in man. This 
seventeenth-century doctor, to whom life meant some- 
thing more than a pulse beat, felt the presence in 
humanity of something which anatomy cannot reveal. 

Amongst all those rare discoveries I find in the fabric of man, 
I do not content myself so much, as in that I find not — that is, no 
organ or instrument for the rational soul. . . . Thus we are men, 
and we know not how; there is something in us that can be with- 
out us, and will be after us, though it is strange it hath no his- 
tory what it was before us, nor cannot tell how it entered us. 

And this is his definition of a spirit: 

Conceive light invisible, and that is a spirit. 

165 



SIR THOMAS BROWNE 

In a notable passage Browne bears testimony to the 
greatness of the world within. History, as we have 
seen, records no wonders in his outer life, which was 
quiet and uneventful, but he is able to say: 

Now for my life, it is a miracle of thirty years, which to relate 
were not a history, but a piece of poetry, and would sound to com- 
mon ears like a fable. The world that I regard is myself. . . . 
Men that look upon my outside, perusing only my condition and 
fortunes, do err in my altitude; for I am above Atlas' shoulders. 
The earth is a point not only in respect of the heavens above us, 
but of that heavenly and celestial part within us. That mass of 
flesh that circumscribes me limits not my mind. That surface that 
tells the heavens it hath an end, cannot persuade me I have any. 
I take my circle to be above three hundred and sixty. Whilst I 
study to find how I am a microcosm, or a little world, I find my- 
self something more than the great. There is surely a piece of 
divinity in us; something that was before the elements, and owes 
no homage unto the sun. Nature tells me I am the image of God, 
as well as Scripture. He that understands not thus much, hath 
not his first lesson, and is yet to begin the alphabet of man. 

The seventeenth century was deluged with contro- 
versy, but the "Religio Medici" is as the olive leaf 
which the dove brought back to the ark, an indication 
that at least from the elevation of some high souls the 
waters of conflict had subsided. 



166 



RICHARD BAXTER 



RICHARD BAXTER 
1615-1691 



When the Pilgrims were setting sail for New England 
in 1620, Richard Baxter, a boy of five years, was grow- 
ing up at Eaton-Constantine in a home which was 
Puritan, without being impelled to separation from 
mother country and mother church. It was a home 
Puritan and Anglican at once, respecting Prayer Book 
and bishop in loyalty to the church, and also yearning 
with the Puritan spirit for a deeper knowledge of the 
Scriptures, a richer spirituality, and a more godly life. 
In his boyhood Baxter was distressed by the prevalent 
desecration of the Sabbath, and became familiar with 
simple home talks about religion: yet in this Puritan 
home there was opposition neither to bishops nor the 
established order, and the only prayers offered were 
from the authorized book. In the "Reliquise Baxter- 
ianae," Baxter presents a vivid picture of the times in 
their sad need of reform: but the spirit of reform was 
one that conformed. There was little preaching in the 
churches. In his own village the reader was about 
eighty years of age, and never preached. His sight 

169 



RICHARD BAXTER 

failing, he said the prayers from memory, but em- 
ployed for the Scriptural readings a common thrasher 
one year, a tailor another, and at last a kinsman, **the 
excellentest stage-player in all the country, and a good 
gamester and good fellow, that got orders and supplied 
one of his places." This "ingenious stage-player" ac- 
commodated a neighbor's son, who desired to enter the 
ministry, by forging his orders. Such were the school- 
masters of Baxter's youth, tippling on the week-days and 
whipping the boys when they were drunk. Only three 
or four competent preachers lived in his vicinity, and 
these, though all were conformable but one, were marks 
of obloquy, and any who went to hear them, were treated 
with derision ** under the odious name of a Puritan." 

In the village where I lived the reader read the Common 
Prayer briefly, and the rest of the day, even till dark night almost 
except eating time, was spent in dancing under a May-pole and a 
great tree, not far from my father's door, where all the town met 
together: and though one of my father's own tenants was the 
piper, he could not restrain him, nor break the sport: so that we 
could not read the Scripture in our family without the great dis- 
turbance of the taber and pipe and noise in the street. Many 
times my mind was inclined to be among them, and sometimes 
I broke loose from conscience and joined with them; and the more 
I did it, the more I was inclined to it. But when I heard them 
call my father Puritan, it did much to cure me and alienate me 
from them: for I considered that my father's exercise of reading 
the Scripture was better than theirs, and would surely be better 
thought on by all men at the last; and I considered what it was 
for that he and others were thus derided. When I heard them 
speak scornfully of others as Puritans whom I never knew, I was 

170 



RICHARD BAXTER 

at first apt to believe all the lies and slanders wherewith they 
loaded them: but when I heard my own father so reproached, and 
perceived the drunkards were the forwardest in the reproach, I 
perceived that it was mere malice: for my father never scrupled 
Common Prayer or ceremonies, nor spake against bishops, nor 
ever so much as prayed but by a book or form, being not ever ac- 
quainted then with any that did otherwise: but only for reading 
Scripture, when the rest were dancing on the Lord's Day, and for 
praying (by a form out of the end of the Common Prayer-Book) 
in his house, and for reproving drunkards and swearers, and for 
talking sometimes a few words of Scripture and the life to come, 
he was reviled commonly by the name of Puritan, Precisian and 
Hypocrite: and so were the godly, conformable ministers that 
lived anywhere in the country near us, not only by our neighbours 
but by the common talk of the vulgar rabble of all about us. By 
this experience I was fully convinced that godly people were the 
best, and those that despised them and lived in sin and pleasure 
were a malignant, unhappy sort of people: and this kept me out of 
their company, except now and then, when the love of sports and 
play enticed me. . . . 

Till this time I was satisfied in the matter of conformity: 
whilst I was young I had never been acquainted with any that 
were against it or that questioned it. I had joined with the Com- 
mon Prayer with as hearty fervency as afterward I did with other 
prayers. As long as I had no prejudice against it, I had no stop 
in my devotions from any of its imperfections. 

Here is Puritanism in all sincerity, but without a note 
of Separation, a devout Puritanism within the church, 
breathing the hope of a reformation from within, a hope 
unhappily not to be fulfilled. As one gazes into such a 
home, the vision rises of a great church purified without 

171 



RICHARD BAXTER 

schism, maintaining its integrity without losing its 
spirituality, the vision of an established order energized 
with a passion for righteousness, and of a rare spiritual- 
ity restrained from excesses of expression by ordered 
decency, and tempered with saneness. 

Baxter's education, beginning thus under incompe- 
tent and unfaithful tutors, was unfortunate throughout. 
On the point of entering Oxford, he was badly advised 
instead to put himself under the tuition of Wickstead, 
chaplain at Ludlow Castle, where it was thought his ad- 
vantages would be great. Here he received little in- 
struction; but a good library was at his disposal, in 
which he read, though without direction: and it was at 
Ludlow that he came under the influence of a friend 
whose piety, although he afterward became dissolute, 
exercised a critical and lasting influence, of which he 
wrote in later life with affectionate gratitude. Leaving 
Ludlow at the age of eighteen, he taught for a short 
period in the school at Wroxeter, and then being en- 
couraged to enter court life, was commended by Wick- 
stead to the Master of Revels, Sir Henry Herbert: but 
the essential Puritanism of the lad caused him within a 
month to turn in disgust from Whitehall. If Baxter 
had gone to Oxford, as he desired, he could hardly have 
failed to come under the influence of Chillingworth, 
Lord Falkland and their intimates, for he would have 
entered in the halcyon days of Great Tew and its Ox- 
ford coterie. To have missed this was an irreparable 
loss. No man could have made better use of a liberal 
education than this great writer and preacher. 

172 



RICHARD BAXTER 

Returning home from Whitehall in the winter of 1633, 
Baxter was enveloped in gloom, for within the house his 
mother was dying of a painful disease, and without was 
a protracted snow-storm, which rendered roads impassa- 
ble for months. Under these melancholy conditions, 
the naturally morbid mind of the youth was confirmed 
in the purpose of entering the ministry and preaching 
" as a dying man to dying men." His theological studies 
were begun under the guidance of Francis Garbet, 
parish clergyman of Wroxeter, a stout churchman. It 
is to be noted that up to this time Baxter had had little 
acquaintance with non-conformity. His parents ad- 
hered to the church, he himself had been regularly con- 
firmed, and the only non-conforming minister he knew 
was Barnell of Uppingham, whose piety exceeded his 
scholarship. About his twentieth year, he became ac- 
quainted with Joseph Symonds and Walter Cradock, 
who later attained distinction among non-conformists. 
It was at first not so much positive argument nor per- 
sonal influence as the silencing and persecution of men 
he respected that led him to study the grounds of dissent. 

Being appointed head-master of a newly endowed 
school in Dudley, he was ordained in 1638 at Worcester 
by Bishop Thornborough. His first preaching was at 
Dudley, where he made intimate non-conformist 
friends. Upon the ecclesiastical points, about which 
controversy was raging, he occupied at this time as 
always a sane and mediating position. The use of the 
cross in baptism he considered unlawful, and of the sur- 
plice doubtful, but he was willing to administer the 

173 



RICHARD BAXTER 

sacraments to communicants in any posture, kneeling, 
standing or sitting, and although he considered the 
liturgy defective, it was to his mind lawful, and might 
even be imposed. To Baxter the great fault in the 
church was lack of discipline, particularly as manifested 
in the neglect of pastoral care, and the admission of 
persons of unworthy and scandalous life to confirmation 
and the communion. Reformation, not schism, was 
his life-long programme. It was not the posture of the 
body, but the posture of the soul, that seemed important 
to him, before the sacraments. 

Baxter was assistant minister at Bridgenorth in Shrop- 
shire, when the ^' et cetera^' oath, demanding sweeping 
and indiscriminate adherence to the constituted Angli- 
can order, was issued ; and by this extreme measure the 
conscientious adherent of the church was impelled to 
go back through research and examine the original 
claims of Episcopacy. His conclusion from these 
studies was that the Anglican bishopric was different 
from the primitive bishopric of the New Testament. 

In 1640, Dance, the dissolute and incompetent vicar 
of Kidderminster, compromised with the Puritan senti- 
ment in his parish by allowing sixty pounds a year from 
his living for the support of a ''lecturer," to be installed 
as his curate. Appointed to this oJ05ce, Baxter was 
introduced to the field of his notable service. During 
the first two years at Kidderminster his influence was 
hampered by poor health, intense political agitation, 
and slander. Having withdrawn in 1642 to Gloucester 
for a month's respite, and finding on his return condi- 

174 



RICHARD BAXTER 

tions unfavorable to pastoral work in the great excite- 
ment of the opening war, he went to Coventry ''with a 
purpose to stay there till one side or other had got the 
victory, and the war was ended; for so wise in matters 
of wars was I, and all the country besides, that we com- 
monly supposed that a very few days or weeks, by one 
other battle, would end the wars." The battle of Edge- 
hill already had been fought on a Sunday, when Baxter 
was preaching at Alcester within sound of the booming 
cannon. After the battle of Naseby, having spent the 
two years before it in Coventry, he visited the army 
in the field, being persuaded to accept the chaplaincy of 
Whalley's regiment, a post which he occupied from 1644 
to 1646. The story of this visit and the impressions 
received from it may best be given in Baxter's own 
words. His loyalty to Parliament, Church and King, his 
condemnation of the subversive political sentiments of 
the army, and his estimate of Cromwell as a misguided 
usurper, swept away by ambition, are evident in every 
line. 

Naseby being not far from Coventry where I was, and the 
noise of the victory being loud in our ears, and I having two or 
three that of old had been my friends in Cromwell's army, I was 
desirous to go see whether they were dead or alive; and so to 
Naseby field I went two days after the fight, and thence by the 
army's quarters before Leicester to seek my acquaintance. 
When I found them, I stayed with them a night, and I understood 
the state of the army much better than ever I had done before. 
We that lived in Coventry did keep to our old principles, and 
thought all others had done so too, except a very few inconsider- 

175 



RICHARD BAXTER 

able persons: we were unfeignedly for King and Parliament: we 
believed that the war was only to save the Parliament and king- 
dom from papists and delinquents, and to remove the dividers, 
that the king might again return to his parliament; and that no 
changes might be made in religion, but by the laws which had his 
free consent: we took the true happiness of King and people, 
church and state, to be our end and so we understood the Cove- 
nant, engaging both against papists and schismatics. But when 
I came to the army among Cromwell's soldiers, I found a new 
face of things, which I never dreamt of. I heard the plotting 
heads very hot upon that which intimated their intention to sub- 
vert both church and state. Abundance of the common troopers, 
and many of the officers, I found to be honest, sober, orthodox 
men, and others tractable, ready to hear the truth, and of upright 
intentions: but a few proud, self-conceited, hot-headed sectaries 
had got into the highest places, and were Cromwell's chief favor- 
ites, and by their very heat and activity bore down the rest, or 
carried them along with them, and were the soul of the army, 
though much fewer in number than the rest. ... By law or 
without it, they were resolved to take down not only bishops and 
liturgy and ceremonies, but all that did withstand their way. 
They were far from thinking of a moderate Episcopacy, or of 
any healing way between the Episcopal and the Presbyterians. 
They most honored the separatists, Anabaptists and Antino- 
mians. . . . 

As soon as I came to the army, Oliver Cromwell coldly bid me 
welcome, and never spake one word to me more while I was there. 
And his secretary gave out that there was a reformer come to the 
army to undeceive them, and to save church and state, with some 
such jeers. . . . 

He would not dispute with me at all, but he would in good 
discourse very fluently pour out himself in the extolling of free 

176 



RICHARD BAXTER 

grace, which was savoury to them that had right principles, 
though he had some misunderstandings of free grace himself. 
He was a man of excellent natural parts for affection and oratory; 
but not well seen in the principles of his religion; of a sanguine 
complexion, naturally of such a vivacity, hilarity and alacrity as 
another man hath when he hath drunken a cup too much; but 
naturally also so far from humble thoughts of himself that it was 
his ruin. 

Hereupon Cromwell's general religious zeal giveth way to the 
power of that ambition, which still increaseth as his successes 
do increase. Both piety and ambition concurred in his counte- 
nancing of all that he thought godly of what sect soever; piety 
pleadeth for them as godly, and charity as men, and ambition 
secretly telleth him what use he might make of them. He mean- 
eth well in all this at the beginning, and thinketh he doth all for the 
safety of the godly and the public good, but not without an eye 
to himself. When successes had broken down all considerable 
opposition, he was then in the face of his strongest temptations, 
which conquered him, when he had conquered others. 

In the day of Cromweirs success Baxter still stoutly 
maintained his criticism: 

At this time Lord Broghill and the Earl of Warwick brought 
me to preach before Cromwell the Protector. I knew not which 
way to provoke him better to his duty than by preaching on 1 Cor. 
1 : 10, against the divisions and distractions of the church, and 
shewing how mischievous a thing it was for politicians to maintain 
such divisions for their own ends, and to shew the necessity and 
means of union. But the plainness and nearness I heard was 
displeasing to him and his courtiers; but they put it up. 

A while after Cromwell sent to speak with me, and when I 
came, in the presence only of three of his chief men, he began a 

177 



RICHARD BAXTER 

long and tedious speech to me of God's providence in the change 
of the government, and how God had owned it, and what great 
things had been done at home and abroad. When he had 
wearied us all with speaking thus slowly about an hour, I told him, 
it was too great condescension to acquaint me so fully with all 
these matters which were above me, but I told him that we took 
our ancient monarchy to be a blessing and not an evil to the land, 
and humbly craved his patience, that I might ask him how Eng- 
land had ever forfeited that blessing, and unto whom the forfeiture 
was made. Upon that question he was awakened into some 
passion, and told me it was no forfeiture, but God had changed 
it as pleased Him; and then he let fly at the Parliament, and 
especially by name at four or five of those members which were 
my chief acquaintance; and I presumed to defend them agains 
his passion; and thus four or five hours were spent. 

Here is staunch Puritanism and staunch loyalty to 
Church and King. The year before Baxter's chaplaincy 
in Cromweirs army began, Chillingworth and Falkland 
were holding their conferences in the camp of the King, 
as conscious of the errors of the royal party, as was 
Baxter of the errors of the sectaries. Could such repre- 
sentatives of the royal army have met such a representa- 
tive of the army of Cromwell, the differences would soon 
have been composed. On both sides were men of 
catholicity and moderation. 

During the two years of his service with the army, 
Baxter continually suffered from his constitutional 
maladies, for he was a consumptive from youth, and in 
1646 he was forced to retire. A haven of rest was 
opened to him by Lord and Lady Rous, whose friend- 
ship he had won in Worcestershire, and in the peace of 

178 



RICHARD BAXTER 

their house at Rous-Lench he spent three months, 
''entertained with the greatest care and tenderness." 
It was here that he wrote the first part of "The Saints' 
Everlasting Rest," at the very time when Jeremy Taylor 
was writing the "Liberty of Prophesying" in the se- 
clusion of Golden Grove. The times were hardly more 
satisfactory to the Puritan protected by Cromwell than 
to the friend of Laud in exile. " The Saints' Everlasting 
Rest" in outlook and inspiration is a reminder of 
Bernard's "Hora Novissima, Tempora Pessima," for 
before each of these pious souls in evil times rose the 
vision of peace eternal in the better country. The 
world's indebtedness to Baxter and Taylor and More 
and Chillingworth is an indebtedness also to their 
gracious hosts at Rous-Lench and Golden Grove and 
Ragley and Great Tew, whose shelter proved to great 
souls a "secret place of the Most High," where they 
abode "under the shadow of the Almighty." Baxter, 
however, did not linger in mystic visions, for before he 
entered into his rest, he girded himself for mighty 
labors. His vision of the saints' everlasting rest was a 
stimulant, not a narcotic, a sursum corda, laboring in the 
might of which many a glimpse was vouchsafed him of 
the holy city here below, "coming down from God out 
of heaven." 

On his recovery at Rous-Lench, he returned to 
Kidderminster, and from 1646 to 1660 exercised that 
"awakening ministry," the thrill of which is still felt. 
Vigorously as he had criticised Cromwell for his dis- 
loyalty to Parliament, Church and King, the great 

179 



RICHARD BAXTER 

Protector did not retaliate, but allowed the Kidder- 
minster preacher "fourteen years liberty in such sweet 
employment." At Kidderminster we behold Baxter's 
principles at work, a model, unfortunately not followed 
elsewhere, of an Anglican parish reformed by a Puritan 
pastor. Here the spectacle greets us of an active 
Puritanism within the established order. The "re- 
formed pastor" preached living sermons to the heart in 
place of the perfunctory addresses into which preaching 
had degenerated. He held meetings in private houses, 
instructed the ignorant in the truths of religion, taught 
men how to pray, encouraged them to discuss religious 
themes, catechised untiringly and systematically, held 
personal interviews. It was "an awakening ministry" 
indeed ! The preacher tells his own story : 

One advantage was that I came to a people that never had any 
awakening ministry before (but a few formal cold sermons of the 
curate) : for if they had been hardened under a powerful ministry, 
and been sermon proof, I should have expected less. 

Another advantage was that at first I was in the vigor of my 
spirits, and had a naturally familiar, moving voice (which is a 
great matter with the common hearers) ; and doing all in bodily 
weakness, as a dying man, my soul was the more easily brought to 
seriousness, and to preach as a dying man to dying men; for 
drowsy formality and customariness doth but stupefy the hearers, 
and rock them asleep. It must be serious preaching, which must 
make men serious in hearing and obeying it. 

The congregation was usually full, so that we were fain to 
build five galleries after my coming thither. Our private meet- 
ings were also full. On the Lord's Days there was no disorder 
to be seen in the streets, but you might hear an hundred families 

180 




RlLHAKl) liAXlKK 



RICHARD BAXTER 

singing Psalms and repeating sermons, as you passed through the 
streets. In a word, when I came thither first, there was about 
one family in a street that worshipped God and called on His 
name, and when I came away, there were some streets, where 
there was not passed one family in the side of a street that did 
not so; and that did not by professing serious godliness give us 
hopes of their sincerity; and those families which were the worst, 
being inns and alehouses, usually some persons in each hcuse did 
seem to be religious. 

The point is not to be forgotten, that this was not a 
community of the pious, who had separated themselves 
from the established church, but a regular Anglican 
parish reformed by a Puritan pastor, a piety within the 
church. A pity it is that the way to piety without 
schism did not remain open. 

Jeremy Taylor and Dr. Thomas Browne welcomed 
the Restoration no more heartily than did Baxter. 
His political convictions were not prejudiced by his 
personal fortunes, for he considered the Protectorate, 
which allowed him liberty, a usurpation, and rejoiced 
in the restoration of royalty, by which he was silenced. 
At the first he was in royal favor. In 1060 he 
preached before the House of Commons at Saint Mar- 
garet's, Westminster on the day before the Restora- 
tion was voted, and before the Lord Mayor and all 
London in Saint Paul's on the day of thanksgiving for 
Monk's success. As long as sane counsels prevailed, he 
was heartily with the royal and Episcopal cause. He 
was offered the Bishopric of Hereford by Clarendon, 
but declined it, requesting instead to be returned to his 

181 



RICHARD BAXTER 

lectureship at Kidderminster. Appointed a member 
of the Savoy Conference, he gave untiring zeal to the 
effort to reform the liturgy and to make the church 
comprehensive of all parties. Evil counsels, however, 
of reaction and retaliation soon prevailed. The Act of 
Uniformity and the Five Mile Act required more than 
men like Baxter could give, and put them under the ban. 
Twenty years followed of intermittent persecution 
and imprisonment, with scattered opportunities for 
noble and wise preaching, untainted by bitterness. 
Several of these years were passed at Acton, where he 
enjoyed the friendship and support of Sir Matthew 
Hale, as an oasis in the desert. In 1685 he was charged 
with libelling the church in his innocent "Paraphrase 
of the New Testament," and tried with shameless treat- 
ment before the notorious Jeffreys, was sentenced to 
pay a fine, in default of which he was imprisoned for a 
year and a half. On his release, and especially after 
the revolution of 1688, he was free from molestation, and 
seems to have spent his last days in peace. He died in 
1691 at the age of seventy-six, physically weak and 
consumptive from his youth, frequently disabled by 
extreme weakness, but preaching for more than fifty 
years as "a dying man to dying men," in all things ap- 
proving himself as the minister of God, "in much pa- 
tience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in im- 
prisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in 
fastings, by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, 
by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by 
the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor 

182 



RICHARD BAXTER 

of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by 
honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: 
as deceiver, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well 
known; as dying, and behold he lived; as chastened, 
and not killed; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as 
poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and 
yet possessing all things." 

A statue erected in Kidderminster in 1875 represents 
the preacher preaching, and bears this inscription: 

Between the years 1641 and 1660 this town was the scene 
of the labors of Richard Baxter, renowned equally for his Chris- 
tian learning and his pastoral fidelity. In a stormy and divided 
age he advocated unity and comprehension, pointing the way to 
everlasting rest. 

Churchmen and Nonconformists united to raise this memorial 
A. D. 1875. 

Two hundred years after his labors, churchmen and 
non-conformists beheld their essential unity realized 
and anticipated in this great soul. 

II 

As Jeremy Taylor's "Liberty of Prophesying" has 
been overshadowed by the popularity of ''Holy Dying," 
so Baxter's " Narrative of the Most Memorable Passages 
of His Life and Times," the "Reliquiae Baxteriana," 
has been neglected for the "Saints' Rest." Devotional 
works looking to the future world, which teach men how 
to die, should not be allowed to eclipse practical treatises 
absorbed in earthly conditions, which teach men how to 

183 



RICHARD BAXTER 

live. The seventeenth century knew how to die better 
than it knew how to live. It bred many heroic souls 
glad to die for a partisan principle: it was not lacking 
in martyrs : but it produced few minds capable of rising 
above all partisanship into the vision of a state polity 
and a church catholicity, in which all parties, conserving 
their essential principles and virtues, might be compre- 
hended. To this high and small company belonged 
Richard Baxter. 

In the story of his life and times, written for the most 
part in 1664, 1665 and 1670, years to him of persecution, 
there breathes a catholic spirit, exerting itself to the 
utmost in irenic endeavors, none the less to be honored, 
because they failed. 

It was the greatness of Baxter ever to preach and 
practise moderation in an age of passion. 

Rash attempts of headstrong people do work against the good 
ends which they themselves intend; and the zeal which hath 
censorious strife and envy doth tend to confusion and every evil 
work: and overdoing is the ordinary way of undoing. 

While we wrangle here in the dark, we are dying and passing 
to the world that will decide all our controversies: and the safest 
passage thither is by peaceable holiness. 

Now I can see so easily what to say against both extremes, that 
I am much more inclinable to reconciling principles. 

He opposes alike the censoriousness of the non- 
conformist and the persecuting ardor of the Anglican. 

To persecute men, and then call them to charity is like whipping 
children to make them give over crying. I saw that he that will 

184 



RICHARD BAXTER 

be loved, must love. And he that will have children must be a 
father; and he that will be a tyrant must be contented with 
slaves. 

He blames both parties. The indiscretion and 
"headiness" of separatists in their violence against 
King, bishops and liturgy have blown the coals of a 
wicked retaliatory persecution. He alludes to some, 
who stand at the church doors, while the Common 
Prayer is being read, saying, "We must stay, till he is 
out of his pottage." Quite different from such exas- 
perating narrowness is Baxter's spirit: 

I cannot be so narrow in my principles of church-communion 
as many are; that are so much for a liturgy, or so much against 
it, so much for ceremonies or so much against them, that they can 
hold communion with no church that is not of their mind and 
way. 

He is ready to commune with Greeks, Lutherans, 
Independents, Anabaptists. 

I cannot be of their opinion that think God will not accept 
him that prayeth by the Common Prayer Book, and that such 
forms are a self-invented worship which God rejecteth: nor 
yet can I be of their mind that say the like of extemporary 
prayers. 

He is opposed to all extremes, and recognizes that one 
extreme excites the opposite. He sees that the suffer- 
ings of both parties are the reaction of their own violence. 
He opposes Cromwell's indiscriminate silencing of the 
royalist clergy no less than the King's silencing of the 

185 



RICHARD BAXTER 

opposite party in the Act of Uniformity. Of his sermon 
at the King's restoration he says : 

The moderate were pleased with it; the fanatics were offended 
with me for keeping such a thanksgiving; the diocesan party 
thought I did suppress their joy. 

In days of intense partisanship, Baxter's moderation 
left him almost alone. 

Baxter is continually speaking of a "moderate Epis- 
copacy." In one passage of great historical interest he 
shows that extreme views of Episcopacy were new to 
his day, and that the denial of the validity of non- 
Episcopal ordination was a decided innovation. 

There were at that time two sorts of Episcopal men, who 
differed from each other more than the more moderate sort dif- 
fered from the Presbyterians. The one was the old common 
moderate sort, who were commonly in doctrine Calvinists, and 
took Episcopacy to be necessary to the well being, but not the 
being of the church; and took all those of the reformed that had 
not bishops for true churches and ministers, wanting only that 
which they thought would make them more complete. 

The other sort followed Dr. Hammond, and (for aught we 
knew) were very few, and very new. They held that ordination 
without bishops was invalid, and a ministry so ordained was null, 
and the reformed churches that had no bishops, nor presbyters 
ordained by bishops, were no true churches, though the Church of 
Rome be a true church, as having bishops. These men in doc- 
trine were such as are called Arminians; and though the other 
sort were more numerous and elder, yet Dr. Hammond and the 
few that at first followed him, by their parts and interest in the 
nobility and gentry did carry it at last against the other party. 

186 



RICHARD BAXTER 

Now in my Christian Concord I had confessed that it was only 
the moderate ancient Episcopal party which I hoped for agree- 
ment with; it being impossible for the Presbyterian and Inde- 
pendent party to associate with them that take them and their 
churches and all the reformed ministers and churches that have 
not Episcopal ordination for null. And knowing that this opinion 
greatly tended to the division of the Christian churches, and 
gratifying the Papists, I spake freely against it, which alienated 
that party from me. 

The insistence upon Episcopal ordination as alone 
valid was evidently a novelty in Baxter's day, and no 
such exclusive idea could have a place in the wide 
catholicity of his mind. It would be interesting to dis- 
cover whether it was the Episcopal or non-conformist 
party that first sought to defend its polity and ministry 
as the order of the New Testament and of divine origin, 
with the denial that any body with a different polity 
could be a church at all. The argument was freely 
expounded on both sides. The distinction of originat- 
ing it, however, would deserve no great honor. 

In describing Baxter's position, moderation is the 
first note: reformation is the second. His platform was 
reformation, not separation. The parishes were to be 
taken as they were, and reformed : the stricter Christians 
were not to secede from them: the leaven was to remain 
in the lump. Instead of snatching brands from the 
burning, the fire was to be put out. 

It is a better work to reform the parishes than to gather churches 
out of them, without great necessity. 
And this began but in unwarrantable separations, and too much 

187 



RICHARD BAXTER 

aggravating the faults of the churches and common people, and 
Common Prayer Book and ministry; which indeed were none of 
them without faults to be lamented and reformed. But they 
thought that because it needed amendment, it required their 
obstinate separation. 

Reformation of the existing parishes was a true 
mediating principle. It was a protest equally against the 
secession of the separatists and Anglican carelessness 
of living. The parishes were to remain in their integ- 
rity, but they were to be reformed. Baxter had a 
passion for discipline. He opposed on the one hand 
those who would separate the few strictly pious in 
churches by themselves. He said brave words, quite 
of the modern tenor, against overstrict and dogmatic 
tests of church membership. He did not wish the 
church of Christ unduly narrowed. 

The doubt was, when I came to Kidderminster, whether it 
were better to take twenty professors for the church, and leave 
a reader to head and gratify the rest; or to attempt the just 
reformation of the parish. 

On the other hand, however, he insisted equally that 
there must be discipline. The old laxity could not be 
tolerated; and it was on this practical ground that he 
attacked the diocesan bishopric. A bishop should 
have under his care no more souls than one man could 
care for. He favored the primitive bishopric of the 
New Testament, which to his mind consisted of one 
parish. The diocesan bishop was unable to discipline 
so many parishes. Baxter was for the parish, but 

188 



RICHARD BAXTER 

against the diocese. Each parish was to constitute a 
complete church in itself. He was with the Episcopal 
party in maintaining the parishes, but against it in the 
laxity of its discipline. He was with the Independents 
in their reforming fervor and in their contention that a 
single parish constituted a church, but against them in 
their overstrict communion and separation from the 
original parishes. He was a consistent mediator. Of 
the practicability of his mediating principles Kidder- 
minster is the everlasting memorial. 

To moderation and reformation a third principle 
must be added in characterizing Baxter, comprehension. 
He speaks of ** sober, unanimous Christians," men 
"adhering to no faction, neither Episcopal, Presby- 
terian nor Independent, as to parties, but desiring union, 
and loving that which is good in all." He was tireless, 
almost tiresome, in proposing various schemes of union. 
He drew up elaborate platforms for harmony. Presby- 
terians and Episcopalians might unite, if the Presby- 
terians would have the presbyters elect a permanent 
president, and if the Episcopalians would recognize in 
him a bishop. The Anabaptists were to be satisfied 
by a stricter care of baptized children, and a more 
serious confirmation, so that adult membership in the 
church might mean a genuine Christian experience and 
faith. Congregationalists and Presbyterians should 
compose their differences by a mutual compromise, 
Presbyterians recognizing a church in a particular con- 
gregation, Congregationalists agreeing to the laying 
on of hands by elders in ordination. All parties were 

189 



RICHARD BAXTER 

to preach the fundamental truths in which all were 
agreed, and were to refrain from giving undue promi- 
nence to controverted points in which they differed. 
What golden precepts are these! 

Let us agree that we will not preach for or against infant 
baptism, when our consciences tell us that the people's ignorance 
of greater truths, or their ungodUness, doth require us to deal 
with them on more weighty points. 

Let us preach as seldom for or against infant baptism as 
conscience will permit; and particularly let that which herein we 
account the truth have but its due proportion of our time, com- 
pared with the multitude and greatness of other truths. 

Let these points also have but an answerable proportion of our 
zeal, that we may not make people believe that they are greater 
matters than they are. 

Let us not endeavor to reproach one another, when we think we 
are bound to speak for our opinions: that we make not each other 
uncapable of doing the people good. 

To know God in Christ is life eternal. As the stock of the 
tree affordeth timber to build houses and cities, when the small 
though higher multifarious branches are but to make a crow's 
nest or a blaze: so the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, 
of heaven and holiness, doth build up the soul to endless blessed- 
ness, and affordeth it solid peace and comfort; when a multitude 
of school niceties serve but for vain janglings and hurtful diver- 
sions and contentions. 

All honor to Cromwell and the "Ironsides" and the 
Pilgrims! Perhaps in no other way than by violence 
and separation, by the fierce clashing of extreme with 
extreme, could religion be purified: but the agitation 
that purified the church almost wrecked it. In Baxter, 

190 



RICHARD BAXTER 

with his moderation, reformation, comprehension, we 
seem to hear a voice saying both to belligerent church- 
men and to beUigerent separatists: 

And yet I show unto you a more excellent way. Charity 
suffereth long and is kind, beareth all things, believeth all things, 
hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth. 



191 



CONCLUSION 



CONCLUSION 

These blessed peace-makers manifest both the strenp^th 
and weakness of the irenic. Without antipathies, they 
genially appreciated the truth and good in all the con- 
tending parties. Without partisanship, they lacked the 
effectiveness of men of one idea, the intensity of narrow- 
ness. Without a definite programme, political, ecclesias- 
tical or doctrinal, they did not secure the immediate and 
striking results achieved in turn by the extreme Puritan 
and the extreme Anglican, but the reality of their abid- 
ing influence is manifest. 

Hales, Chillingworth and Taylor are associated in 
thought, experience and mutual influence. Prot^gds of 
Laud, they were partners in suffering from Puritan 
persecution. Whichcote, Smith, More and Browne 
form a second group, known as "Cambridge Platon- 
ists." Unobnoxious to Puritanism, they suffered little 
from the stress of the times. Affiliated with neither 
group, Baxter in the peace-making spirit comes forward 
to meet these churchmen from the more Puritan and 
evangelical side. 

In the first group there was a revival of the original 
Protestant emphasis ujx)n freedom of personal inr|iiiry, 
which unfortunately had been stifled as the lleforma- 

195 



CONCLUSION 

tion advanced by a period of dogmatic uniformity. The 
authority of the Roman Church had been exchanged for 
the authority of Protestant dogma, and against both 
authorities the rights of the individual reason needed 
to be championed, the true Protestant self-reliance. 
These clear minds refused to consider reason vicious 
or hostile to revelation. Reason illumined by revela- 
tion is to be trusted, and personal responsibility, even 
at the cost of possible error, is to be preferred to any 
external infallibility. Intellectual errors are not dan- 
gerous in those whose wills and hearts are true. In 
maintaining the rights of the individual reason, varia- 
tions of creed are likewise involved, but are not to be 
feared. It is one of the glories of these men that they 
made Christian unity to consist in unity of spirit rather 
than in uniformity of doctrine, which they considered 
not greatly to be desired, if it were possible. Diversity 
of opinion, in their view, is to be expected, and is not 
unfavorable to the unity of a church, in which many 
minds meet in mutual charity. The highest unity is that 
which combines not the homogeneous but the diverse. 

Christian unity is to be sought as little in uniformity 
of ritual as in uniformity of doctrine. The Anglican 
tyranny of worship is opposed as vigorously as the 
Puritan tyranny of doctrine. The Anglican insisted 
upon liberty of belief, without allowing liberty of wor- 
ship. The Puritan insisted upon liberty of worship 
without allowing liberty of belief. These broad souls 
espoused both liberties together, a true and sound 
mediation. 

196 



CONCLUSION 

In distinguishing between essentials and non-essen- 
tials, they did further service to the cause of Christian 
unity. The fundamentals of faith, they held, were 
evident, a clear ground of unity, and divisions arose 
from precise and excessive definition of things not 
clearly revealed. A wholesome Christian agnosticism 
before unnecessary questions they encouraged as an aid 
to concord. They insisted that the way of life was not 
to be made narrower than Christ made it. If Papists, 
Calvinists, Lutherans and Anglicans would forget 
party names and be content to be plain and honest 
Christians, divisions would be dissipated. It was the 
spirit of the modern cry, "Back to Christ!" 

Their views of the Bible were notable. The Script- 
ures were not to be approached with prepossessions, 
but were to be allowed to yield their original and natural 
sense. The essentials of faith stood forth clear and 
unquestioned. Before obscure passages an excessive 
curiosity to know more than has been revealed was to 
yield to patience and caution. Not a theory of the 
Bible, but the appreciation and practice of its God- 
given truth does it honor. Its authority is not external 
but internal, springing from its content, and its power 
over reason and conscience. The way was thus being 
cleared for a new and more vital appreciation of the 
Scriptures. 

It was the peculiar service of the Cambridge Platon- 
ists to ignore the Roman theology, which through 
Augustine and Calvin dominated in the western church, 
and to revive the spirit of the Greek interpretation. 

197 



CONCLUSION 

Whichcote and Smith, More and Browne rejoiced in a 
thought and experience of the divine immanence, which 
brought the transcendent God of Augustinianism near 
as Immanuel, God with us. To their insight God im- 
manent in His world glorified nature, immanent in man 
established a kinship between the divine and human, 
immanent in Christ exalted the incarnation. The 
false Augustinian separation between God and man 
was nullified. Faith rose from an assent to doctrine to 
a participation in the divine life, carried perhaps to an 
extreme in the ecstatic mysticism of More and Browne. 
Paul's ethical mysticism, his blessed experience of 
vital union with Christ, was rescued from the oblivion 
into which it had fallen, and was exalted above his 
forensic doctrine of justification. The fulness of the 
incarnation, it was held, was not exhausted by the 
atonement. Forgiveness in Christ was not an end, but a 
means, preparatory to the supreme experience of the 
divine indwelling. There was a fresh appreciation of 
humanity, and of redemption as humanity's restoration 
to its true estate through the divine stimulation of 
** resident forces." The so-called ''new theology" of 
the nineteenth century was thus clearly in evidence in 
the seventeenth. Whichcote and Smith were prophetic 
spirits indeed! 

In More and Browne a rare interest in nature without 
was strangely combined with mystic contemplation of 
the life within. Their crude investigations of natural 
phenomena on the one hand, and their superstitious 
credulity toward the occult on the other are easily 

198 



CONCLUSION 

criticised, but the union of interest in both nature and 
spirit is not easily overpraised. Mystics, they did not 
ignore the outer world. Naturalists, they did not 
ignore the inner world. They studied matter without 
being materialists. Living to-day, they would l)e 
interested alike in natural science and psychical re- 
search. Materialism has failed to explain matter. 
The scientific ultimate is no longer the atom but 
force, something less akin to matter than to spirit. It 
may be that in these mystic naturalists there was an 
anticipation of a union of science and religion still to 
come, in which science shall be religious and religion 
scientific, the world without finding its explanation in 
the world within. 

In Baxter a devoutly evangelical spirit devotes itself 
to reformation of the church instead of separation from 
it, to a policy of comprehension without sacrifice of 
vital piety. 

These men of moderation and insight were thus 
mediators, not only between the warring factions of their 
own time, but also between the past and present. In 
their atmosphere the modern spirit can freely breathe. 
Below the tumultuous waves of theological storm their 
spirits sounded the deeps where peace abides and the 
great currents smoothly but surely run. 



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