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Church of England Magazine.
MEMOIRS OF ENGLISH DIVINES.
W. WHITAKER, D. D.
In recording the virtues and talents present residence, raised on the of him, whose name graces the old site, is in a romantic dell, surpresent article, one biographer re- rounded by barren bills, but emgards the mountainous district of bosomed in wood. His mother his birth. where Dean Nowell his was descended from the Townleys relation also first saw the light, as of Townley, and the Nowels of propitious to genius, on account Read. He was initiated in gramof the rare and subtil element, mar ander Hartgrave, master of which the inhabitants of such ele- Burnley School, till the age of vated situations respire.* Whether thirteen, when his maternal uncle, such an apprehension, entertained then dean of St. Paul's, sent for equally by Christian moralists and him to London, maintaining him heathen philosophers, be just or at his own house, and at St. Paul's otherwise, we prefer the remark with School. When he was eighteen Which another writer commences he was admitted of Trinity College, his account of the same divine: Cambridge, under the tuition of "Upon the entrance of that gra. Mr. West; Dr. Nowel providing cious prince of blessed memory for his support by granting him King Edward the Sixth. at which some leases freely and without fine, time began the general exilement To these external gifts of provi. of popish superstitions out of this dence were added such natural realm, and the setting of sincere endowments as soon distinguished religion in room thereof; it pleased him in his college, of which he God withal to bring into the world was successively scholar and fellow. with us a choice instrument of his. Having taken abachelor's degree, one that should in due time prove he published, in 1569, the prayers an eager and able, both opposer
of the Church of England in Greek, of the one, and maintainer of the
with a Latin dedication to his uncle other. For in the first year of that
and patron. He had suffered long plous prince's reign was William and severely from a quartan ague, Whitaker born at the manor of
and this employment was agreeable Holme in the parish of Burnley, in
to the serious and pensive state of the county of Lancaster.” +
mind in which the disease had left His father possessed the antient
him ; but whatever proof it affords inheritance of the Whitakers, whose
of his personal learning, its relative
utility does not immediately appear. † Gataker. The book contains the morning
* Abdias Asheton. JAN. 1829.
and evening prayers, the litany, reviving it, he observes, that the the catechism, the collects, and the public was greatly indebted to prayer after receiving the holy Nowell, who had bestowed so much communion, accompanied with the pains, and written many books, and Latin version (supposed by literary contributed so liberally of his submen the production of Walter stance, to advance this great work, Haddon) which had been published the right instruction of youth. in 1560 by authority of Elizabeth. “Of the three Catechisms, which He acknowledges in his prefatory you have accurately composed in address to the Dean, with the gra Latin, two I have already transtitude, and modesty becoming a lated into Greek; and now I preyoung man of twenty-one, that he sent to you the third in the same had received from him innumerable language; from which, with the favours ever since his childhood; help of good masters, children may that to him therefore of right learn to be Christians, and Latinists, belonged whatsoever he could per- and Grecians." And that for himform ; and requesting his protec- self, he “esteemed nothing more tion, he expresses a hope, that if he worthy of ambition, than to be an were indulgent to this his first assistant and fellow-labourer with attempt, he might at a future period him in this good work.'* produce something not unworthy These works were followed by his acceptance, When he had gra- another, calculated to be eminently duated a second time in arts, he useful both at home and abroad, published a greek translation of which was a Latin translation his uncle's larger Catechism, toge- of Bishop Jewell's Vindication ther with the original one in latin, of his apology for the Church of in 1573, and presented in a greek England, which he inscribed to dedication to the Lord treasurer, the two archbishops, Grindal and Sir William Cecil, a tribute due to Sandys, to the bishops Aylmer, him as a common patron of litera- Whitgift, and Freak, and to the ture, and Chancellor of the Univer. Dean of St. Paul's. He tells these sity; and partly also in respect prelates, · You all loved Jewell of his Lady, whose classical attain- dearly, while be was alive; and ments were known to the public, you will not cease, as long as you as fitting her to judge of the merits live, to remember him with a most of the performance. He prefixed dear remembrance, now he is å short copy of Greek lambics to dead,'t This polemical discourse the reader, exhorting him to the was written with sound judgment study of what he will there find and accurate discrimination, and correctly taught, true Christianity. illustrated by extensive reading, in
· The version of the smaller which twenty-seven questions are Catechism, accompanied like the argued from scripture, and from other with the original Latin, was the councils and fathers. It lost published, in 1575, and dedicated none of its value by being rendered to Nowell; 'a preacher of the into another tongue, while the word of God, most celebrated for translator on his part obtained a piety, and learning, and every well-earned celebrity virtue.' In this dedication, advert At this time the professorship ing to the laudable custom of the of philosophy being vacant, Whitprimitive church in instructing aker had the honour of that appointyouth in true religion as well as ment conferred on him by the sound learning, and noting the ignorance and errors, which fol
* * Churton's Life of Nowell, p. 180.
* lowed the neglect of the custom, + Strype's Annals, 2, 550. Lond. 1578. and the consequent necessity of · 4to.
University, though he was yet a country, his catechetical lectures in young man, and though it had the college, and his ingenious been the custom to choose one prelections in the schools, for a of the proctors, who, as it is bachelorship in divinity; in all supposed, on account of their age which, it might be questioned and standing, were deemed most whether he showed himself more properly qualified for the office, the pious Christian or the able Whitaker was conversant with the theologian. At the commencement philosophical writers, and dis. in 1578, he delivered in St. Mary's charged the duties of his new church his first Concio ad Clerum, situation to the abundant satisfac- which was as remarkable for sound tion of the ruling academics. At divinity as deep erudition. After length leaving Plato and Aristotle, this, he handled publicly in the which last he had closely studied schools, two theological questions, for a considerable interval, he en- with great copiousness and elegance, tered on the diligent perusal and judgment and force. examination of the sacred records ; In 1579, the University testified to which he constantly attributed its sense of his piety and learning. the sole authority for determining by making hiin regius professor matters of faith, and for deciding of divinity, on the promotion of Dr. religious controversies. He like- Chaderton, president of Queen's, Wise read with attention the modern to the see of Chester. Some divines, especially the faithful and persons were offended at this sincere interpreters of God's word; nomination on accout of his youth. proceeding afterwards through a They affected an apprehension that regular course of the Fathers. So he was not sufficiently qualified for entirely was he devoted to this pur. so weighty and important a charge, suit that if on any occasion, either and that the reputation of their by the visits of friends, or other body would suffer. But when it avocations, any part of the time he was urged what he had written, had allotted to reading was lost, he the acuteness of his disputations, used to sit up at night till he had and his extensive reading, added to accomplished the task he had pre his modesty, piety, and the venerscribed himself for the preceding able gravity and prudence of his day. By this close application to behaviour, equal to that of the study, he improved greatly in know. ripest age; his adversaries were ledge, but at the same time so silenced, and even induced to hope, impaired the vigour of his frame, that the choice would be fully that it is supposed he laid the justified by his conduct. Nor were foundation of those complaints they disappointed. His first lectures which followed him during the rest were so admirable, both for matter of his life, and brought him early and manner, that numbers attended to the grave. His industry recom- them diligently, and received his mended him to the particular notice instructions earnestly. “ Being of Dr. Whitgift, head of the college, now brought (says Gataker) upon and regius professor of divinity, a most eminent stage, wherein he who took great delight in his lay open to all eyes, to envious ones society, during his abode in Cam especially (seldom wanting in such bridge, and afterwards when bishop cases, and of all others most of Worcester, provided him with curious and quick-eighted to pry many pupils of the first distinction. narrowly into the defects and defaults His exercises on college theses of those whom they envy) he therein were handed about for the perusal 80 worthily demeaned himself, of the best divines; as were some beyond all expectation, that he not popular sermons delivered in the only surpassed the expectation of his well-wishing friends, but person of Antichrist, though more surpassed also the emulations of his able and acute than his brethren, ill-affected adversaries : not unlike was like them overthrown. Saph a prevailing pillar of fire, that with was succeeded by the brother of its clear and bright flames mount. Goliath ; and the defeat of Sauning up on high, dispelleth and ders called up another champion in consumeth the smoke that would the person of Reynolds, an Englishobscure and smother it." Having man, who had fled to Rheims, but expounded the three first chapters Whitaker exposed the fallacies of St. Luke's Gospel, he went of this fourth adversary. through the epistle to the Gala He now directed his controvertians; which was succeeded by the sial artillery against Cardinal Belfirst epistle to Timothy, from larmine himself with his usual whence he deduced many important effect. Having in his public lecprinciples most necessary to be tures commenced with the subject known by students in divinity, and of Scripture, which in six questions afterwards descanted upon the song methodically proposed, he published of Solomon.
for the benefit of those who lived The next year the Queen gave without the walls of the university, him the Chancellorship of St. Paul's, he proceeded to the dispute conwhich favour he suitably acknow. cerning the Church itself, the ledged in a letter to the great Lord Councils, the Pope, Ministers and Burghley, on the eleventh of Sep. Presbyters, departed Saints, the tember. Laying aside in some Church triumphant, the Sacraments measure his commentaries and in general, Baptism and the Euchardiscourses on the Scriptures, he ist. It is to be wished be had began, in 1585, to take up the revised and published them all at controversy between the two com- his leisure ; which was the desire munions. Edward Campian, a of his hearers, to whose admiration conceited Jesuit, having published and approbation he had conducted a treatise against the Protestant the whole course. But intending doctrine, which he threatened to to prosecute the controversy with overthrow by ten favourite argu. Bellarmine, he kept these studied ments, as with so many battering disputations by him, hoping for a rams, and utterly rase to the more convenient opportunity of foundation, our Cambridge pro. publisbing them, which never ocfessor so completely refuted them, curred. He was favoured however that his vain boasting was de- with the bigh esteem of his antaservedly turned to his own confu- gonist; a favour which rarely falls sion. But as Ishbibenob succeeded to the lot of polemical writers. Goliath, in defying Israel, 50 The Cardinal procured his portrait another Jesuit, named Drury, a from England, and placed it in his Scotchman, collecting the broken study among other illustrious cha. arguments of Campian, aimed by racters. Being asked, why he his sophistry to repair the breach would suffer the picture of a heretic, that had been made in the cause and one who had written against of Rome. Whitaker, however, him, to occupy so distinguished a passing over his scurrilities, pressed station, he replied, that though he him so home, that he fared no was a heretic, and an adversary, he better than his predecessor. The was the most learned be had ever monster Ishbibenob was succeeded read.' * by Saph, “ which was of the song Ip managing all these controverof the giant;" and Nicholas sies, he used great care and dili. Saunders, another antagonist, contending with Whitaker on the
* Ath. Oxon. I. p. 354.