Berriman, William

, a pious and learned English divine, was born in London, September 24, 1688. His father, John Berriman, was an apothecary in Bishopsgatestreet; and his grandfather, the reverend Mr. Berriman, was rector of Bedington, in the county of Surrey. His grammatical education he received partly at Banbury, in Oxfordshire, and partly at Merchant-taylors’ school, London. At seventeen years of age he was entered a commoner at Oriel college, in Oxford, where he prosecuted his studies with great assiduity and success, acquiring a critical skill in the Greek, Hebrew, Chaldee, Arabic, and Syriac. In the interpretation of the Scriptures, he did not attend to that momentary light which fancy and imagination seemed to flash upon them, but endeavoured to explain them by the rules of grammar, criticism, logic, and the analogy of faith. The articles of doctrine and discipline which he drew from the sacred writings, he traced through the primitive church, and confirmed by the evidence of the fathers, and the decisions of the more generally received councils. On the 2d of June, 1711, Mr. Berriman was admitted to the degree of master of arts. After he left the university, he officiated, for some time, as curate and lecturer of Allhallows in Thames-street, and lecturer of St. Michael’s, Queenhithe. The first occasion of his appearing in print arose from the Trinitarian controversy. He published, in 1719, “A seasonable review of Mr. Whiston’s account of Primitive Doxologies,” which was followed, in the same year, by “A second review.” These pieces recommended him so effectually to the notice of Dr. Robinson, bishop of London, that in 1720, he was appointed | his lordship’s domestic chaplain and so well satisfied was that prelate with Mr. Berriman’s integrity, abilities, and application, that he consulted and entrusted him in most of his spiritual and secular concerns. As a further proof of his approbation, the bishop collated him, in April 1722, to the living of St. Andrew-Undershaft. On the 25th of June, in the same year, he accumulated, at Oxford, the degrees of bachelor and doctor in divinity. In 1723, Dr, Berriman lost his patron, the bishop of London, who, in testimony of his regard to his chaplain, bequeathed him the fifth part of his large and valuable library. In consequence of the evidence our learned divine had already given of his zeal and ability in defending the commonlyreceived doctrine of the Trinity, he was appointed to preach lady Moyer’s lecture, in 1723 and 1724. The eight sermons he had delivered on the occasion, were published in 1725, under the title of “An historical account of the Trinitarian Controvery.” This work, in the opinion of Dr. Godolphin, provost of Eton college, merited a much greater reward than lady Moyer’s donation. Accordingly, he soon found an opportunity of conferring such a reward upon Dr. Berriman, by inviting him, without solicitation, to accept of a fellowship in his college. Our author was elected fellow in 1727, and from that time he chiefly resided at Eton in the Summer, and at his parsonage-house in the Winter. His election into the college at Eton was a benefit and ornament to that society. He was a faithful steward in their secular affairs, was strictly observant of their local statutes, and was a benefactor to the college, in his will. While the doctor’s learned productions obtained for him the esteem and friendship of several able and valuable men, and, among the rest, of Dr. Waterland, it is not, at the same time, surprising, that they should excite antagonists. One of these, who then appeared without a name, and who at first treated our author with decency and respect, was Dr. Conyers Middleton but afterwards, when Dr. Middleton published his Introductory Discourse to the Inquiry into the miraculous powers of the Christian church, and the Inquiry itself, he chose to speak of Dr. Berriman with no small degree of severity and contempt. In answer to the attacks made upon him, our divine printed in 1731, “A defence of some passages in the Historical Account.” In 1733, came out his “Brief remarks on Mr. Chandler’s introduction to the history of | the Inquisition,” which was followed by “A review of the Remarks. His next publication was his course of sermons at Mr. Boyle’s lecture, preached in 1730, 1731, and 1732, and published in 2 vols r 1733, 8vo. The author, in this work, states the evidence of our religion from the Old Testament; vindicates the Christian interpretation of the ancient prophecies; and points out the historical chain and connection of these prophecies. In the preface, he asserts the authority of Moses, as an inspired historian and law-giver, against his old antagonist Dr. Middleton who, in a letter to Dr. Waterland, had disputed the literal account of the fall, and had expressed himself with his usual scepticism concerning the divine origin of the Mosaic institution, as well as the divine inspiration of its founder. Besides the writings we have mentioned, Dr. Berrimaii printed a number of occasional sermons, and, among the rest, one on the Sunday before his induction to his living of St. Andrew Undershaft, and another on Family Religion. He departed this life at his house in London, on the 5th of February, 1749-50, in the 62d year of his age. His funeral sermon was preached by the rev. Glocester Ridley, LL. B. containing many of the particulars here noticed. Such was Dr. Berriman’s integrity, that no ill usage could provoke him, no friendship seduce him, no ambition tempt him, no interest buy him, to do a wrong, or violate his conscience. When a certain right reverend prelate, unsolicited, and in pure respect to his distinguished merit, offered him a valuable prebend in his cathedral church of Lincoln, the doctor gratefully acknowledged the generosity of the offer, but conscientiously declined it, as he was bound from accepting of it by the statutes of his college. The greatest difficulty of obtaining a dispensation was from himself. In the year of his decease, forty of his sermons were published, in two volumes, 8vo, by his brother, John Berriman, M. A. rector of St. Alban’s, Wood-street, under the title ofChristian doctrines and duties explained and recommended." In 1763, nineteen sermons appeared in one volume, under the same title. With respect to Dr. Berriman’s practical discourses, it is allowed that they are grave, weighty, and useful and well fitted to promote pious and virtuous dispositions, but belong to a class which have never been eminently popular.

The Rev. John Beuriman, above-mentioned, was born in 1689, and educated at St. Edmund hall, Oxford, and | after taking orders, was for many years curate of St. Swithin, and lecturer of St. Mary Aldermanbury, but in 1744 was presented to the rectory of St. Alban’s, which he retained until his death, Dec. 8, 176S, being then the oldest incumbent in London. He published a sermon on the 30th of January, 1721 and in 1741, “Eight Sermons at lady Moyer’s lecture,” entirely of the critical kind, and giving an account of above a hundred Greek Mss. of St. Paul’s Epistles, many of them not before collated. 1

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Biog. Brit.-Nichols’s Literary Anecdotes.-Harwood’s Alumni Etonenses. -Dr. Ridley’s Fun. Sermon.-Biographical Dictionary, 2d edit. 1784.