Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

drew up an “ Essay upon the Apostolical Constitutions;" and oflered it to the Vice-chancellor, for his licence to be printed at Cambridge; but was refused it. He tells us, that he had now read over the two first Centuries of the Church; and found, that the Eusebian, or commonly called Arian, doctrine was, for the main, the doctrine of those ages: and, as he thought it a point of duty to communicate what he had thus discovered, so his heterodox notions upon the article of the Trinity were now pretty generally known.

In 1709, he published a volume of “ Serinons and Essays on several Subjects:" one of which is to. prove, that our blessed Saviour had several brethren and sisters, properly so called; that is, the children of his reputed father Joseph, and of his true mother the Virgin Mary *,

In 1710, he published “ Prælectiones PhysicoMathematicæ, sive Philosophia clarissimi Newtoni Mathematica illustrata ;" which, together with the . Prælectiones Astronomicæ" before mentioned, were afterwards translated and published in English; and it may be said, with no small honour to the memory of Mr. Whiston, that he was one of the first, if not the very first, who explained the Newtonian philosophy in a popular way, and so that the generality of readers might comprehend it very tolerably.

About this year, 1710, Menkenius, a very learned man in Germany, wrote to Dr. Hudson, the keeper of the Bodleian Library at Oxford, for an account of Mr. Whiston ; “ whose writings then made," as he said, “ a great noise in Germany."

It has been stated in some former account of Mr. Whiston, that he had at one time embraced the

* Dr. Clarke wrote to him to suppress this piece, not on account of its being false, but that the common opinion might go undisturbed; but he adus, “ that such sort of motives were of no weight with him, compared with the discovery and propagation of truth."

Arian heresy *, and was forming projects to support and propagate it; and, among other things, had translated the “ Apostolical Constitutions” into English, which favoured that doctrine, and which he asserted to be genuine. His friends began to be alarmed for him: they represented to him the dangers he would bring upon himself and family (for he had been married many years) by proceeding in this design. But all they could say availed nothing ; and the consequence was, that, Oct. 30, 1710, he was deprived of his Professorship, and banished the University of Cambridge, after having been formally convened and interrogated for some days before.

At the end of the same year, he published his “ Historical Preface ;" setting forth the several steps and reasons of his departing from the commonly-received notions of the Trinity; and, in 1711, his four volumes of “ Primitive Christianity revived," in 8vo. The first volume contains, “The Epistles of Ignatius, both larger and smaller, in Greek and English ;" the second, “ The Apostolical Constitutions in Greek and English ;" the third, “ An Essay on those Apostolical Constitutions;" the fourth," An Account of the Primitive Faith, concerning the Trinity and Incarnation."

In March 1711, soon after the publication of his “ Historical Preface,” the Convocation fell pretty vehemently upon him; of whose proceedings, as well as those of the University, against him, he published distinct accounts, in two appendixes to that preface, when it was re-printed with additions, and prefixed to his volumes of “ Primitive Christianity revived." After his expulsion from Cambridge, he went to London, where he had conferences with Clarke, Hoadly, and other learned mena;

* “ This is not true; for he differed from Arius, and only believed what the New Testament taught." MS Note by his Son.

+ He tells us of those eminent persons, that, with regard to his account of the primitive faith about the Trinity and Incarnation, they were not much dissatisfied with it ; and that, though they were far less convinced of the authority and genuineness of the

Apostolical

who endeavoured to moderate his zeal; which, however, he would not suffer to be tainted or corrupted, as he imagined it would be, with the least mixture of prudence or worldly wisdoin.

Mr. Whiston was now settled with his family in London; and though it does not appear, that he had any certain means of subsisting *, yet he continued to write books, and to propagate his Primitive Christianity, with as much cheerfulness and vigour, as if he had been in the most flourishing circumstances.

In March 1711-12, Prince Eugene of Savoy was in England; and, because Whiston believed himself to have discovered, in his “ Essay on the Revelation of St. John," that some of the prophecies therein had been fulfilled by that General's victory over the Turks in 1697, or by the succeeding peace of Carlowitz in 1698, he printed a short dedication, and, fixing it to the cover of a copy of that Essay, presented it to the Prince of The Prince has been said to have replied, that he did not know he had the honour of having been known to St. John :" however, he thought proper to take so much notice of Whiston's well-meant endeavours, as to send him a present of fifteen guineas.

In 1715, 1716, 1717, a Society for promoting Primitive Christianity met weekly at his house in Cross-street, Hatton-garden, composed of about ten or twelve persons; to which Society Christians of all persuasions were equally admitted. Sir Peter King,

“ Apostolical Constitutions," yet they were willing enough to receive them, as being much better and more authentic than what were already in the Church.

* He had a small estate in Cambridgeshire, which brought him in near 401. a-year; and taught Mathematicks, &c. to gentlemen,

+ The Dedication runs thus : “ Jllustrissimo Principi Eugenio Sabaudiensi, vaticiniorum Apocalypticorum unum, Turcarum vastationibus finiendis destinatum, dudum adimplenti; alterum etiam, de Gallorum imperio subvertendo, magna ex parte, uti spes est, mox adimpleturo; hunc libellum, summa qua decet reverentia, dat, dicat, consecrat, Gulielmus Whiston.—8 id. Mart. 1711-12."

Dr.

Dr. Hare, Dr. Hoadly, and Dr. Clarke, were particularly invited: but none of them, he says, ever came.

In 1719, he published “ A Letter of Thanks to Dr. Robinson, Bishop of London, for his late Letter to his Clergy against the Use of new Forms of Doxology." The common forms having been changed by Whiston, and indeed by Dr. Clarke, was the occasion of Bp. Robinson's admonitory letter to his Clergy: and this admonitory letter tempted Whiston to do a thing, he says, which he never did before or since; that is, to expose him in the way of banter or ridicule, and to cut him with great sharpness. Upon the publication of this “ Letter of Thanks" to the Bishop of London, Dr. Sacheverell attempted to shut him out of St. Andrew's, Holborn, which was then his parish church *; and Whiston published an account of it.

In the same year (1719) he published a Letter to the Earl of Nottingham, “concerning the Eternity of the Son of God, and his Holy Spirit ;". and, in the second and following editions, a defence of it: for lord Nottingham had published “ An Answer" in 1721, for which he was highly complimented by Addresses from both the Universities, and from the London Clergy

In 1720, he was proposed by sir Hans Sloane and Dr. Halley to the Royal Society as a member, for he was constantly publishing something or other in the way of Philosophy; but was refused admittance by Sir Isaac Newton, the President. He tells us, he had enjoyed a large portion of sir Isaac's favour for twenty years together; but lost it at last by contradicting him when he was old f.

* He relates, that a Lawyer, who did not love Sacheverell, would willingly have prosecuted him for the insult, and promised to do it without any costs to him; but Whiston replied, " if I should give my consent, I should shew myself to be as foolish and as passionate as Dr. Sacheverell himself.”

. † “ Sir Isaac," adds he, “ was of the most fearful, cautious, and suspicious temper, that I ever knew ; and, had he been alive when I wrote against his Chronology, and so thoroughly

quuiuted

In 1721, a large subscription was made, to reimburse him the expences he had been at in attempting to discover the Longitude, on which he had then expended at least 300l. and more afterwards. The subscription amounted to 4701.; and was, he tells us, by far the greatest sum that ever was put into his hands by his friends *. He spent the remainder of his long life in the way he was now in; that is, in talking and acting against Athanasianism, and for Primitive Christianity, and in writing and publishing books from time to time. In 1722, he published " An Essay towards restoring the true Text of the Old Testament, and for vindicating the Citations thence made in the New Testament;" in 1724, “ The literal Accomplishment of Scripture Prophecies," in answer to Nr. Collins's book upon the “ Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion;" in 1726, “ Of the Thundering Legion, or of the miraculous Deliverance of Marcus Antoninus and his Army on the Prayers of the Christians," occasioned by Mr. Moyle's Works, then lately published; in 1727, “ A Collection of authentic Records belonging to the Old and New Testament,” translated into English; in 1730, “ Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Samuel Clarke;" in 1732, “ A Vindication of the Testimony of Phlegon, or an Account of the great Darkness and Earthquake at our Saviour's Passion, de

confuted it that nobody has ever since ventured to vindicate it, I should not have thought proper to publish my confutation; because I knew his temper so well, that I should have expected it would have killed him: as Dr. Bentley, Bishop Stillingtleet's chaplain, told me, that he believed Mr. Locke's thorough confutation of the Bishop's Metaphysicks about the Trinity hastened his end also."

* It was upon contributions of this nature that he seems chiefly to have depended : for, though he drew profits from reading Lectures upon Philosophy, Astronomy, and even Divinity; and also from his Publications, which were numerous; yet these, of themselves, would have been very insufficient: nor, when joined with the benevolence and charity of those who loved and esteemed him for his learning, integrity, and piety, did they prevent him from being frequently in great distress.”

scribed

« VorigeDoorgaan »