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He was born at Gainsborough, in Lincolnshire, in the year 1626. His father was a mercer of good credit; and sent him, with a view to a learned education, to a school kept by one Merryweather, the translator of Sir T. Browne's Religio Medici. He entered as a sizar at Queen's College, Cambridge; and took his degrees in the usual course, and was elected a Fellow of his College. He was ordained about the year 1651 by Bishop Hall of Norwich, who had been ejected from his bishoprick by the usurping powers, but did not lay aside his episcopal functions. He became Chaplain to Sir Walter St. John, of Battersea, near London, who bestowed that benefice upon him in 1658. Here he published his discourse on the Lord's Supper ; his “Hearts' Ease ;” and “ Jewish Hypocrisy a Caveat to the present Generation.” In 1661 he was elected Master of his College, in opposition to a royal mandamus for the election of Dr. (afterwards Bishop) Sparrow, the author of the “ Rationale of the Prayer-book," and the compiler of “Collections of Canons, Articles, &c.” The king caused Patrick, and those who had voted for him, to be ejected from their fellowships. In 1662 the Earl of Bedford presented him to the living of Covent Garden, in the place of the celebrated Dr. Manton, who was ejected for non-conformity. He endeared himself to his parishioners; and especially so by remaining at his post during the plague in 1665. Two or three very interesting passages from letters which he wrote to friends who wished him to remove from the scene of danger, and which of course do not appear in the auto-biographical detail, will exhibit his character better than many pages of comment.
In one of them, dated Sept. 9, 1665, he says, “I suppose you think I intend to stay here still ; though I understand by your question, you would not have me. But, my friend, what am I better than another ? Somebody must be here ; and it is fit I should set such a value upon myself as my going away, and leaving another, will signify? For it will, in effect, be to say, that I am too good to be lost ; but it is no matter if another be. Truly, I do not think myself so considerable to the world : and though my friends set a good price upon me, yet that temptation hath not yet made me of their mind; and I know their love makes me pass for more with them than I am worth. When I mention that word, love, I confess it moves me much, and I have a great passion for them, and wish I might live to embrace them once again ; but I must not take any undue courses to satisfy this passion, which is but too strong in me.
“ I must let reason prevail, and stay with my charge, which I take hitherto to be my duty, whatever come. I cannot tell what good we do their souls : though I preach to those who are well, and write to those who are ill, (I mean, print little papers for them, which yet are too big to send you by the post); but I am sure, while I stay here, I shall do good to their bodies ; and perhaps, save some from perishing; which I look upon as a considerable end of my continuing. My dear friend, do not take it ill, that I cannot comply with your desires in this thing : you see what sways me, and I know you will yield to it, and say, it ought to be stronger than the love of you. If you can convince me, that I may, with a good conscience go, you may think it will be acceptable ; but I know not upon what grounds you will make it good. Try, if you have a mind.”
In another letter, dated Sept. 21, he resumes the subject of the former:
“My dear friend, I must tell you, for you will hear it from other hands, that the plague is again increased, as I suspected it would, according as you would understand by my last. Our only comfort is, that we are in the hands of God, and not in the hands of men ; for his mercies are very great. I am very joyful to hear at last, that you bend your thoughts to resign me up to God. I hope it will make your life more happy whether I die or live. You do not trouble me by your instances to leave this place, because I think most of your love, which is conspicuous therein: and I should have reflected as much without these intreaties of yours, upon the desirableness of seeing my friends once more, who, I think, I may truly say, have faster hold of me than anything in this world. But if God will pull me from them, his will be done! I ought to esteem him my best friend, who doth not envy to me
any other, and will spare my life, unless it be better for me to die. To him I still refer myself, which I call trusting in God (as you would have seen, if it had been fit before this time : but I doubt you will be afraid to receive papers printed in London): but it is not to accomplish a martyrdom, as you call it (that's too high a name), but to do a little service to my neighbours, who I think would not be so well if I were not here."
One more extract will not be thought uninteresting.
“ There are people who rely upon pitiful things as certain tokens of its (the plague's) going away shortly. I have been told more than once, of the falling out of the clapper of the great bell at Westminster, which they say, it did before the great plague ended ; and this they take for a very comfortable sign. Others speak of the daws more frequenting the Palace and Abbey, which, if true, is a better sign, supposing the air to have been infected ; for the books I read tell me, that the going away of birds is the forerunner of the plague, and that one shall see few in a plague-year. The death of birds in houses where they are caged, ordinarily precedes the death of the inhabitants; for these airy creatures feel the alteration in that element sooner than we. Thus you see how desirous all are for some token for good, and how they catch at the smallest shadows for it. But the best sign of all, I doubt, is much wanting, and that is the reformation of men's manners ; of which I hear little, unless that those come to church who did not before. I think often of a saying in the second book of Esdras, which describes the temper of the world exactly, chap. xvi. 19, 20. A sad thing that the event of these judgments proves no better ; but so it commonly falls out ; and men soon forget both their smart, and also the good resolutions which it formed. I hope, my friend, the hand of God will not be without its instruction to us, and that we shall be careful, if he let us live, to improve it as we ought. I cannot but acknowledge a great wisdom, as well as justice, in this restraint which I now suffer ; and therefore I thankfully accept it, and entreat you to assist me with your prayers, that I may both understand the meaning of it, and likewise make the right use which God intends. I must ever also acknowledge a wonderful kindness of God to me, mixed with this ; for I am well and cheerful to my admiration and astonishment, when I seriously think of it."
Being displeased with his treatment at Cambridge, Patrick entered himself at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took a Doctor's degree in divinity in 1666. Two years afterwards he published his “ Exposition of the Ten Commandments ;” and also his "Parable of the Pilgrim," which probably suggested the idea of Bunyan's more able and popular work. His “ Friendly Debate between a Conformist and a Non-conformist” was written with more asperity than he afterwards thought justifiable. Harris, the biographer of Dr. Manton, says that Bishop Patrick in advanced age remarked, in a speech in the House of Lords in favour of the “Occasional Conformity” bill, that “ He had been known to write against the Dissenters in his younger years; but that he had lived long enough to see reason to alter his opinion of that people, and that way of writing.” On the other side, Henry Wharton (the well-known author of many learned ecclesiastical works, though breathing the prejudices of the writer in favour of the opinions of Laud, whose “ Troubles and Trials” he published) says, in one of his manuscript notes, that Dr. Patrick “ was a person of great learning and reputation for goodness and wisdom before he was made Bishop; but after that he lost his reputation through imprudent management, openly favouring the Dissenters, and employing none but such.” The manuscript statements of Wharton are not authority, any more than his published writings ; as may be inferred from a letter which Dr. Cave wrote to Archbishop Tenison, in reply to a marginal memorandum in Wharton's copy of Cave's “ Historia Literaria," claiming for himself a very large share in the composition of Cave's work; and which letter Cave requested the Archbishop “to fasten into Mr. Wharton's book," where, we presume, it remains in the archives at Lambeth. But the statement respecting Patrick is true—notwithstanding Wharton asserts it,—that Patrick did, in his latter years, regard the Non-conform
ists with more favour than he exhibited in the above-named publication. The chief Non-conformists with whom he was acquainted were not violent political partizans, but men who professed the constitutional principles of the Revolution of 1688; men of devout and exemplary life ; men who held the doctrinal Articles of the Church of England, and lamented that a few things—and only a few-prevented their embracing its communion ; for they entertained no doubt as to the scriptural sanction and the utility of national ecclesiastical establishments. The divines of the Tillotson school, who upheld the principles of civil and religious liberty, were vehemently assailed by the Jacobite faction, who were the advocates of despotism, and wished to reduce the nation to the mental and bodily thraldom of the dark ages : for Non-jurism was not merely a political creed; but had associated with itself the whole code of notions now called Tractarian—set forth, however, in stronger expressions than modern Tractarians venture to use, for an illustration of which we refer to the articles of impeachment against Sacheverell, of which the following is the second.
"He, the said Henry Sacheverell, in his said sermon preached at St. Paul's, doth suggest and maintain that the toleration granted by law is unreasonable, and the allowance of it unwarrantable : and asserts, that he is a false brother with relation to God, religion, and the church, who defends toleration and liberty of conscience : that Queen Elizabeth was deluded by Archbishop Grindall, (whom he scurrilously calls a false son of the church, and a perfidious prelate,) to the toleration of the Genevian discipline : and that it is the duty of superior pastors to thunder out their ecclesiastical anathemas against persons entitled to the benefit of the said toleration ; and insolently dares, or defies, any power on earth to reverse such sentences."
By men of these violent principles, such prelates as Patrick were of course acrimoniously vituperated; and because they pleaded for the legal “ toleration” of Dissenters, so long as their conduct was peaceable, they were considered Dissenters themselves, though conscientiously attached to the Church of England. We lament that they did not carry out the scriptural doctrines of the Reformation ; by which defect they not only injured the Church of England, but also failed of the influence which they might otherwise bave obtained among the Non-conformists, and thereby perhaps have regained many of them to its communion ; for the Non-conformists did not think with Burnet and his friends, that our doctrinal Articles require to be 'mitigated ;' and had they generally found evangelical preaching prevailing in the Church, instead of Tillotsonianism on the one side and Laudism on the other, their advocates would have lost their strongest argument with the people. It is to the honour of the Tillotsonians that in those violent times they were effectively the stay of the Establishment against the Dissenters, many of whom they won over; for the Altitudinarians were too elevated to exchange arguments with Seceders; their scheme was not to convince, but to crush; their master-weapon was not reason or Scripture, but authority; and had there not been men of more moderate counsels to allay the storm, the melancholy scenes of the days of Charles the First would probably have been renewed ; and the national church have been again abolished as a national mischief. When Dr. Lewis de Moulin, who had been history-professor at Oxford during the interregnum, wished on his death-bed to sign a declaration of his deep regret on account of his violent and illiberal writings against the Church of England, he sent for Patrick, and before him and Burnet he made the retractation.
We need not enumerate Dr. Patrick's other publications. His prayers are characterised by their fervour ; but his commentary on the historical books of the Old Testament is his best work, and though doctrinally defective, is highly valuable as a book of reference.
During the reign of James the Second, Dr. Patrick opposed the despotic and Romanist designs of the court. The king took great pains to gain him over to his views, but in vain. He refused to read his Majesty's declaration for liberty of conscience, which, under the mask of toleration to Dissenters, was intended to let in Popery, and by its weight to crush Protestantism. He also took a prominent part in the abortive scheme of comprehension projected by Archbishop Sancroft, in order to gain over the Dissenters. This may seem strange, as in the preface to his dialogue between a Conformist and a Non-conformist, he had opposed such a design, and thereby gave great offence to Lord Chief Justice Hale, who was zealous for it. His notices of the comprehension proceedings, in his auto-biographical detail, are meagre, and cast no light upon the subject. The chief particulars may be found in Calamy's Life of Baxter, Birch's Life of Tillotson, Burnet's Own Time, and other publications. In the proposed revision of the Liturgy, his special share was the re-modelling of the Collects ; the process employed for which purpose is described in Birch's Life of Tillotson, who at that time was Dean of St. Paul's, and was the soul of the commission. In Tillotson's common-place book was found a paper in short-hand, entitled “Concessions which will probably be made by the Church of England for the union of Protestants; which I sent to the Earl of Portland by Dr. Stillingtleet, Sept. 13, 1689.” There were seven heads : which it may not be foreign to our subject to transcribe, as Patrick was one of the most active commissioners.
“1. That the ceremonies enjoined or recommended in the Liturgy or Canons, be left indifferent.
“2. That the Liturgy be carefully reviewed, and such alterations and changes therein made, as may supply the defects, and remove, as much as possible, all grounds of exception to any part of it, by leaving out the apocryphal lessons, and correcting the translation of the Psalms, used in the public service, where there is need of it; and in many other particulars.
“3. That instead of all former declarations and subscriptions to be made by ministers, it shall be sufficient for them that are admitted to the exercise of their ministry in the Church of England, to subscribe one general declaration and promise to this purpose, viz., that we do submit to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church of England, as it shall be established by law, and promise to teach and practise accordingly.
“4. That a new body of ecclesiastical Canons be made, particularly with a regard to a more effectual provision for the reforination of manners both in ministers and people.
65. That there be an effectual regulation of ecclesiastical courts, to remedy the great abuses and inconveniences which, by degrees and length of time, have crept into them ; and, particularly, that the power of excommunication be taken out of the hands of lay officers, and placed in the Bishop, and not to be exercised for trivial matters, but upon great and weighty occasions.
“6. That for the future those who have been ordained in any of the foreign reformed churches, be not required to be re-ordained here, to render them capable of preferment in this Church.
* 7. That for the future none be capable of any ecclesiastical benefice or preferment in the Church of England, that shall be ordained in England otherwise than by Bishops. And that those who have been ordained only by Presbyters, shall not be compelled to renounce their former ordination. But because many have, and do still doubt of the validity of such ordination, where Episcopal ordination may be had, and is by law required, it shall be sufficient for such persons to receive ordination from a Bishop in this or the like form :-If thou art not already ordained, I ordain thee, &c.; as in case a doubt be made of any one's baptism, it is appointed by the Liturgy that he be baptised in this form :-If thou art not baptised, I baptise thee, &c."
The second of these heads respects the revision of the Liturgy; and we will transcribe what is said of Patrick's share in the re-modelling of the Collects.
“But to return to the proceedings of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners; they opened their cominission at the Jerusalem Chamber on the 10th of October, 1689 ; but some named in it did not appear, or soon deserted their brethren.
“The rest of the Commissioners applied themselves closely to the work assigned them for several weeks. They had before them all the exceptions, which either the Puritans before the war, or the Non-comformists since the Restoration, had made to any part of the Church service. They had likewise many propositions and advices, which had been offered at several times by many of our Bishops and divines, upon those heads, of which Bishop Stillingfleet had made a great collection. Matters were well considered, and freely and calmly debated; and all was digested into an entire correction of everything that seemed liable to any just objection. They began with reviewing the Liturgy ; and first they examined the Calendar, in which, in the room of Apocryphal Lessons, they ordered certain chapters of Canonical Scripture to be read, that were more for the people's edification. The Athanasian Creed being disliked by many persons, on account of the damnatory clause, it was left to the minister's choice to use, or change it for the Apostles' Creed. New Collects were drawn up more agreeable to the Epistles and Gospels for the whole course of the year, and with a force and beauty of expression capable of affecting and raising the mind in the strongest manner. The first draught of them was composed by Dr. Patrick, who was esteemed to have a peculiar talent for composing prayers. Dr. Burnet added to them yet farther force and spirit. Dr. Stillingfleet then examined every word in them with the exactest judgment; and Dr. Tillotson gave them the last hand, by the free and masterly touches of his natural and flowing eloquence. Dr. Kidder, who was well versed in the oriental languages, made a new version of the Psalms more conformable to the original. Dr. Tenison, having collected the words and expressions throughout the Liturgy, which had been excepted against, proposed others in their room, which were more clear and plain, and less liable to objection. Other things were likewise proposed, which were left to be determined by the Convocation: as particularly that the cross in baptism might be either used or omitted at the choice of the parents ; and that a Non-conformist minister going over to the Church should not ordained according to the common form, but rather conditionally, in the same manner as infants are baptised, when there is no evidence of their being baptised before, with the addition of the episcopal benediction, as was customary in the ancient Church, when clergymen were admitted who had been ordained by heretics; of which matter of ordination Dr. Bramhall, Archbishop of Armagh. had given a precedent when he received some Scots Presbyters into the Church.”
In 1689, Patrick was made Bishop of Chichester, and was next year translated to Ely, where he discharged the duties of his solemn function with great zeal, ability, and piety. He died at Ely in 1707, aged eighty years.
We have thus refreshed the recollections of our readers sufficiently to enable them to adjust to their right places the passages which we propose to transcribe from the Bishop's auto-biographical detail.
CANDLES ON COMMUNION TABLES.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer. The advocates for displaying candles on Communion-tables, as significative emblems, have not forgiven the Bishop of London's direction that if placed there they shall not be lighted. There is no more harm abstractedly in having candles on the Communion-table, than in the reading-desk; but Rome has made candle-lighting a special portion of false worship, and often an idolatrous rite. Seemeth he to be in his right mind,” say our Reformers in the Homily “On the Peril of Idolatry,” Christ. OBSERV. No. 71.