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He was a man mighty in the Seriptures ; of an excellent natural temper; very charitable to all good men, without regard to parties; and died universally lamented,* December 3, 1687.

[It seems to have escaped Mr. Neal's attention, to notice, at this period, two eminent persons, who died in the year 1686, Pearson bishop of Chester, and Fell bishop of Oxford.

Dr. John Pearson, born in 1612, was successively master of Jesus and Trinity colleges, in Cambridge; and also Margaret-professor of divinity in that university. He had the living of St. Clement's, Eastcheap, and was consecrated bishop of Chester, February 9, 1672. He was a great divine, a profound and various scholar, eminently read in ecclesiastical history and antiquity, and an exact chronologist. He united with his learning, clearness of judgment and strength of reason. As a preacher, he was rather instructive than pathetic. The character of the clergyman was adorned by an excellent temper, distinguished humility, primitive piety, and spotless manners: as a bishop, he was deemed too remiss and easy in his episcopal function. “He was (says bishop Burnet) a speaking instance of what a great man could fall to: for his memory went from him so entirely, that he became a child some years before he died.” His late preferment to the episcopacy, and the great decay of his faculties, which it is to be supposed came on gradually, may account for his remissness in that station. His works were few, but of great reputation. The chief were, “A vindication of St. Ignatius' epistles," in Latin ; and “ An exposition of the Apostles' creed :” esteemed one of the most finished pieces in theology in our language. The substance of it was originally delivered in sermons to his parishioners. This work has gone through twelve or thirteen editions. “It is itself (says Mr. Granger) a body of divinity, but not a body without a spirit. The style of it is just; the periods are for the most part well turned; the

l method is very exact; and it is in general free from those


* When, daring his illness, Mr. Mead affectionately prayed for his recovery at the Pinners'-hall lectare, scarcely a dry eye was to be seen through the numerous auditory. Mr. Collins printed one sermon in the Morning Exercises, vol. 3, with the sixnature N, N. on this question, “ How the religious of a nation are the strength of it?” Mather's History of New England, book 4. p. 200; where may be seen a Latin epitaph for him.----Eo.

errors which are too often found in theological systems.” Burnet’s History, vol. 3. 12mo. p. 109, 110. Granger's History of England, vol. 3. p. 251, 8vo. and Richardson's Godwin de Præsulibus, p. 779.

Dr. John Fell was the son of Dr. Samuel Fell, sometime the dean of Christ church, Oxford : he received his classical education in the free-school at Thame in Oxfordshire: at eleven years of age he was made student of Christ-church, in 1636 ; and in 1643, graduated master of arts. About this time he took arms, within the garrison of Oxford, in the king's cause, and was made an ensign. In 1648, when he was in holy orders, he was displaced by the parliamentarian visitors ; from that year, till the Restoration, he spent his time in retirement and study; observing the devotions of the church of England with other oppressed royalists. After the Restoration he was installed canon, and then dean of Christ-church, November 30, 1660, being then doctor in divinity, and one of the king's chaplains in ordinary. In the years 1667, 1668, and 1669, he was vice-chancellor of the university; and February 6, 1675, he was consecrated bishop of Oxford. Soon after his preferment he rebuilt the palace of Cusedon, belonging to the see. He was a munificent benefactor to his college, and raised its reputation by his discipline. He settled on it no less than ten exhibitions; and the best rectories belonging to it were his purchase. He expended great sums in embellishing and adorning the university of Oxford. Learning was greatly indebted to his patronage and munificence. He liberally improved the press of the university; and the books that came from the Sheldonian theatre perpetuate, in this respect, his praise. For many years he annually published a book, generally a classic author, to which he wrote

a a preface and notes, and presented it to the students of his house as a new-year's gift: amongst these was an edition of the Greek Testament, in 12mo. 1675; which Dr. Hara wood pronounces to be “a very valuable and excellent edition ; that does honour to the bishop, because it is upon the whole a correct book, and exhibits the various readings very faithfully." His edition of the works of Cyprian affords also a conspicuous proof of his industry and learning. But he did not lay out his fortune in public acts of splendid munificence only : the private charities of life par


took of his beneficence. To the widow he was a husband, to the orphan a father, and to poor children a tender parent, furnishing them with instruction, and placing them out in life. “He was in all respects a most exemplary man, though (says bishop Burnet) a little too much heated in the matter of our disputes with the dissenters. But, as he was among the first of our clergy that apprehended the design of bringing in Popery, so he was one of the most zealous against it.”. It is a deduction from the merit of his character, as the patron of learning, that he was not well affected to the Royal Society : and it is to be regretted, that he was not friendly to that excellent man archbishop Tillotson; which was probably owing to a sense of his own sufferings before the Restoration : for he was not superior to a party spirit. Wood's Athenæ Oxon, vol. 2. p. 602. 605. Richardson de Præsulibus, p. 548. Burnet's History, vol. 3. p. 100. Granger's History of England, vol. 3. p. 252. British Biogr. vol. 5. p. 11; and Birch's Life of Tillotson, p. 100.]




1668. Though the projects of the Roman Catholics were ripe for execution, there was one circumstance which spread a black cloud over all their attempts, which was the near prospect of a Protestant successor to the crown: this was the only hope of the Protestant cause, and the terror of the Papists. To remove this impediment, his majesty first attempted to convert his eldest daughter Mary, princess of Orange, to the Roman-Catholic religion, or at least to consent to the making way for it, by taking off the penal laws. To accomplish this, his majesty wrote an obliging letter to his daughter, reciting the motives of his own conversion; which were, the “great devotion of the church of Rome; the adorning their churches; their acts of charity, which were greater than the Protestants could boast of; the numbers

who retired from the world, and devoted themselves to a religious life.* He was convinced that Christ had left an infallibility in the church, which the apostles acknowledged to be in St. Peter, Acts xv. · It was the authority of the church (says he) that declared the Scriptures to be canonical; and certainly, they who declared them could only interpret them, and wherever this infallibility was there must be a clear succession, which could be no where but in the church of Rome, the church of England not pretending to infallibility, though she acted as if she did, by persecuting those who differed from her, as well Protestant dissenters as Papists; but he could see no reason why dissenters might not separate from the church of England, as well as the church of England had done from that of Rome.”

The princess answered the king's letter with great respect;" she affirmed the right of private judgment, according to the apostle's rule, of proving all things, and holding fast that which is good. She saw clearly from the Scriptures, that she must not believe by the faith of another, but according as things appeared to herself. She confessed, if there was an infallibility in the church, all other controversies must fall before it, but that it was not yet agreed where it was lodged, whether in a pope, or a general council, or both;

and she desired to know in whom the infallibility rested when there were two or three popes at a time, acting one against another; for certainly the succession must then be disordered. She maintained the lawfulness and necessity of reading the Holy Scriptures; for though faith was above reason, it proposed nothing contradictory to it. St. Paul ordered his epistles to be read in all the churches; and he says in one place, 'I write as to wise men, judge ye what I say;' and if they might judge an apostle, much more any other teacher. She excused the church of England's persecuting the dissenters in the best manner she could; and said the reformers had brought things to as great perfection as those corrupt ages were capable of; and she did not see how the church was to blame, because the laws were made by the state, and for civil crimes, and that the grounds of the dissenters leaving the church were different from those for which they had separated from the church of Rome.” It was impossible for the princess to clear up this objection. But bishop Burnet* adds very justly, that the severities of the church against the dissenters were urged with a very ill grace, by one of the church of Rome, that has delighted herself so often by being as it were bathed with the blood of those they call heretics. Upon the whole it appeared, that her highness was immoveably fixed in her religion, and that there was not the least prospect of her departing fronı it.

* Burnet, p. 149. 155. vol. 3. Edin. ed.

At the same time his majesty attempted the prince of Orange, for which purpose he employed one Mr. James Steward, a Scotch lawyer, who wrote several letters upon this argument to pensionary Fagel, in whom the prince placed an entire confidence.^ The pensionary neglected his letters for some time, but at length it being industriously reported, that the silence of the prince was a tacit consent, the pensionary laid all his letters before his highness, who commissioned the pensionary to draw up such an answer as might discover his true intentions and sense of things.

The answer was dated from the Hague, November 4, 1687, and begins with assurances of the prince and princess's duty to the king; and since Mr. Steward had given him to understand, that his letters were written with the king's knowledge and allowance, the pensionary assures him, in the name of their highnesses, that it was their opinion, that

no Christian ought to be persecuted for his conscience, or be ill used because he differs from the established religion; and therefore they agreed that the Papists in Scotland and Ireland should have the free exercise of their religion in private as they had in Holland; and as to Protestant dissenters, they heartily approved of their having an entire liberty of their religion without any trouble or binderance; and their highnesses were ready to concur to the settling it, and giving their guarantee to protect and defend it. If his majesty desired their concurrence in repealing the penal laws, they were ready to give it, provided the laws by which Roman Catholics were excluded from sitting in both houses of parliament, and from all employments ecclesiastical, civil and military, remained in force; and likewise those other laws which secure the Protestant religion against all attempts of the Roman Catholics; but they could not con

* Page 156. + Burnet, p. 165, 166. # Welwood's Memoirs, p, 218.

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