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ESSAYS AND ILLUSTRATIONS,
No. I. DR. WILLIAM NICHOLLS. Son of John Nicholls, of Donington in Bucks, who was also an eminent Counsellor in London, was born in 1664; and, after an education in St. Paul's school, London, became a Batler or Commoner of Magdalen Hall, Oxford, in 1679; removed afterwards to Wadham College ; and, as a member thereof, took the degree of B. A. Nov. 27, 1683 *; was admitted Probationer-fellow of Merton College in October 1684; M. A. June 19, 1688; and about that time, taking holy orders, became chaplain to Ralph Earl of Montagu; and in September 1691 rector of Selsey, near Chichester, in Sussex; was admitted B. D. July 2, 1692; D. D. Nov. 29, 1695,
After a life entirely devoted to piety and study, we find him, in the close of it, thus describing his situation, in a letter to Robert Earl of Oxford:
“Smith-street, Westminster, Aug. 31, 1711. « May it please your Lordship, “ I was in hopes that her Majesty would have bestowed the Prebend of Westminster pp upon me, being the place where I live, and that I might be nearer to books, to finish my Work on the Liturgy and Articles, for which she was pleased to tell me, with her own mouth, she would consider me. My good Lord, I have taken more pains in this matter than any Divine of our Nation, which I hope may bespeak the favour of a Church-of-England Ministry. Therefore I most humbly beseech your Lordship for your interest for the next Prebend of that Church (if
* Wood's Athena Oxonienses, vol. II. p. 249; Fasti, p. 231.
† The Prebend had become vacant by the death of Dr. Knipe; and was given to Mr. Jonathan Kimberley, Sept. 17, 1711, Vol. I.
this be disposed of) that shall be void; for, if I had merited nothing, my circumstances want it. I am now forced on the drudgery of being the editor of Mr. Selden's Books, for a little money to buy other books to carry on my Liturgical Work. I have broken my constitution by the pains of making my collections myself throughout that large Work, without the help of an amanuensis, which I am not in a condition to keep, though the disease of my stomach (being a continual colic, of late attended by the rupture of a vein) might plead pity, and incline my superiors not to suffer me all my days to be a Gibeonite in the Church, without any regard or relief. Pray, my Lord, represent my case to the good Queen; and I shall never be wanting to make my most ample acknowledgment for so great a favour. I could long since have made my way to preferment without taking all this pains, by a noisy cry for a party : but, as this has been often the reproach, and once the ruin, of our Clergy, so I have always industriously avoided it, quietly doing what service I could to the Church I was born in, and leaving the issue thereof to God's Providence, and to the kind offices of some good man, who some time or other might befriend me in getting some little thing for to make my circumstances easy: which is the occasion that your Lord. ship has the trouble of this application from, My Lord,
Your Lordship's most dutiful, most obedient, and most humble servant,
Will. NICHOLLS." Dr. Nicholls lived not to finish some things which he designed. What he did are as followeth:
i. “An Answer to an heretical Book, called The Naked Gospel, which was condemned and ordered to be publicly burnt, by the Convocation of the University of Oxon, 19 Aug. 1690, with some Reflections on Dr. Bury's new Edition of that Book, 1691,” 4to.
2." A short History of Socinianism," printed with the Answer before mentioned; and dedicated to his patron the Earl of Montagu.
3. "A Practical Essay on the Contempt of the World *, with a Preface to the Deists of the Age, &c. 1694," 8vo, inscribed to “ Sir John Trevor, Master of the Rolls,” to whom the Author acknowledges his obligations for “a considerable preferment bestowed in a most obliging and generous manner.”
4. " The Advantages of a learned Education," a Sermon preached at a School Feast, 1698,” 4to.
5. “ The Duty of Inferiors towards their Superiors, in Five Practical Discourses; shewing, I. The Duty of Subjects to their Princes. II. The Duty of Children to their parents. III. The Duty of Servants to their Masters. IV. The Duty of Wives to their Husbands. V. The Duty of Parishioners and the Lạity to their Pastors and Clergy. To which is prefixed a Dissertation concerning the Divine Right : of Princes, 1701," 8vo.
6. “An Introduction to a devout Life, by Francis Sales, Bishop and Prince of Geneva; translated and reformed from the Errors of the Romish Edition. To which is prefixed a Discourse of the Rise and Progress of the Spiritual Books in the Romish Church, 1701," 8vo. . 7. “A Treatise of Consolation to Parents for the Death of their Children; written upon the Occasion of the Death of the Duke of Gloucester;" and addressed “ to the most illustrious Princess Anne of Denmark, 1701," Svo.
8. “God's Blessing on Mineral Waters; a Sermon preached at the Chapelat Tunbridge Wells, 1702,"4to.
*“Dr. Nicholls esteems Controversy as an useless province, and constantly ill-natured and uingenteel. I guess this is the reason he chooses to shew us · The l'unity of the World, in praca tical books. He is highly obliged to the contrivance of Nature, for the peculiar turn of his constitution : I might dwell upon this character; for the charms of his pen, and the blameless measures of his conversation, gain him the love of his hearers, and a true veneration from all that know him.” Dunton, p. 449. кK2
9. "A Conference with a Theist, in five Parts; dedicated to the Queen's most excellent Majesty, 1703," Svo; of which a third Edition, “with the Addition of Two Conferences, the one with a Machiavelian, the other with an Atheist, all carefully revised and prepared for the Press by the Author," was published in 2 vols. 8vo. 1723.
10. “ A Practical Essay on the Contempt of the World; to which is prefixed a Preface to the Deists, and vicious Libertines of the Age, 1704," 2d ed. 8vo.
11. - The Religion of a Prince; shewing that the Precepts of the Holy Scriptures are the best Maxims of Government, 1704, in opposition to Machiavel, Hobbes, &c. written upon Occasion of the Queen's giving up the Tenthis and First Fruits for the inferior Clergy," 8vo.
12. “ Defensio Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, 1707,"12mo.
13. “A Paraphrase on the Common Prayer, with Notes on the Sundays and Holidays, 1708," 8vo.
14. “ AMictions the Lot of God's Children; a Sermon on the Death of Prince George of Denmarkis 1709," 8vo.
15. “ A Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments; together with the Psalter or Psalms of David, 1710*,"folio.
16. “ Historiæ Sacræ Libri VII; ex Antonii Socceii Sabellici Eneadibus concinnatum ; in usum Scholarum, et Juventutis Christianæ, 1711," 19mo.
17. “A Supplement to the Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer, 1711," folio. In the Preface to this Supplement, Dr. Nicholls mentions “a long fit of illness with which God had pleased to visit him, and a very unestablished state of health both before and after it.” This illness very soon after ended in his death,
of This volume has the Royal Licence prefixed ; and a List of more than 900 Subscribers. It was dedicated to the Queen; and he tells her Majesty, that “ the success of bis work is what never happened on the publishing any book before ; that all the copies of it were either bought up or bespoken before it had seed the light."
18. “A Commentary on the first Fifteen and Part of the Sixteenth Articles of the Church of England, 1712," folio. This was a posthumous publication; as was also,
19. “A Defence of the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England; first written in Latin for the Use of Foreigners, by William Nicholls, D.D. and translated into English by himself, 1715," 12mo..
Dr. Nicholls was reckoned a very excellent scholar, and was known abroad as well as at home by the learned correspondence he kept with Foreigners, as also by his publishing some of his works in Latin. He had the honour of receiving letters from the King of Prussia, Albert Molanus, Superintendant General of Brunswick and Lunenburgh, Monsieur Ostervald of Neufchatel, Benedictus Pictetus, Professor of Geneva, and others.--He died in his 48th year * ; and was buried at St. Swithin's, where his friend Mr. Elstob was then rector.
A volume of Letters in Latin (by Jablonski, Ostervald, Wetstein, &c.) was presented by his widow, Catharine Nicholls, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Oct. 28, 1712, to be deposited either in Lambeth or St. Martin's Library; and are preserved in the Archiepiscopal Library at Lambeth, No 676.
* Dr. Knight, in his Life of Dean Colet, p. 416, says, “ April 18, 1711;” but he is probably wrong either in the month or in the year ; as the letter in p. 489 is dated “ Aug. 31, 1711."
*** It may not be improper to distinguish this pious Divine from his name-sake, William Nicols, M. A. and rector of Stockport in Cheshire, who was a student of Christ Church, Oxford, and published, l. “ De Literis inventis libri sex; ad illustrissi. mum Principem Thomam Herbertum, Pembrokiæ Comitem, &c. 1711," Svo. 2. “Oratio coram venerabili Societate pro promovendâ Religione Christianâ habita Londini, Decemb, 29, 1715," 12mo; and, 3. “TIEPI APXNN Libri Septem, Accedunt Litura gica, 1717," 12mo,