Beveridge, William

, a learned divine in the seventeenth century, and bishop of St. Asaph, was born at Barrow in Leicestershire (where his grandfather, father, and brother, were vicars) in 1636-7. On the 24th of May, | 1653, he was admitted of St. John’s college, Cambridge, and took his degrees of bachelor of arts in 1656, master of arts in 1660, and of doctor of divinity in 1679. At his coming to the university, he closely applied himself to the study of the learned languages and, by his great diligence and application, soon became so well skilled, particularly in all Oriental learning, that when he was not above eighteen years of age, he wrote a treatise of the excellency and use of the Oriental tongues, especially the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, and Samaritan, with a Syriac Grammar, in three books; which he published when he was about twenty years of age. He also distinguished himself, at the same time, by his early piety and seriousness of mind, and by his exemplary sobriety and integrity of life, all which procured him great esteem and veneration. January 3, 1660-1, he was ordained deacon in the church of St. Botolph, Aldersgate, by Robert, bishop of Lincoln and priest, in the same place, the 31st of that month. About this time, Dr. Sheldon, bishop of London, collated him to the vicarage of Ealing in Middlesex. On the 22d of November, 1672, he was chosen, by the lord-mayor and aldermen of London, rector of St. Peter’s, Cornhill, London, and then he resigned the vicarage of Ealing. He now applied himself, with the utmost labour and zeal, to the discharge of his ministry, and so instructive was he in his discourses from the pulpit, so warm and affectionate in his private exhortations, so regular and uniform in the public worship of the church, and in every part of his pastoral function, and so remarkably were his labours crowned with success, that as he himself was justly styled “the great reviver and restorer of primitive piety,” so his parish was deservedly proposed, as the best model and pattern, for the rest of its neighbours to copy after. His singular merit having recommended him to the favour of his diocesan, bishop Henchman, he was collated by him, on the 22d of December, 1674, to the prebend of Chiswick, in the cathedral of St. Paul’s, London and, by his successor bishop Compton, he was also, on the 3d of November, 1681, collated to the archdeaconry of Colchester. In this dignity he behaved, as he had done before in every station of life, In a most regular, watchful, and exemplary manner and not satisfied with the false, or at least imperfect, reports given in by church-wardens at visitations, he visited everjr | parish within his archdeaconry in person. November the 5th, 1684, he was installed prebendary of Canterbury, and became also chaplain to king William and queen Mary. In 1691, he was offered, but refused the see of Bath and Wells, then vacant by the deprivation of Dr. Thomas Kenn, for not taking the oaths to king William and queen Mary. liut though he refused that see, because, probably, being a man of a tender conscience, he would not eat Dr. Kenn’s tread, adtording to the language of those times, he afterwards accepted of that of St. Asaph, vacant by the translation of Dr. George Hooper to Bath and Wells, and was consecrated July 16, 1704. Being placed in this eminent station, his care and diligence increased in proportion as his power in the church was enlarged and now when his authority was extended to larger districts, he still pursued the same pious and laborious methods of advancing the honour and interest of religion, by watching over both clergy and laity, and giving them all necessary direction and assistance, for the effectual performance of their respective duties. Accoruingly, he was no sooner advanced to the episcopal chair, but in a pathetic letter to the clergy of his diocese, he recommended to them the “duty of catechising and instructing the people committed to their charge, in the principles of the Christian religion to the end they might know what they were to believe and do in order to salvation” and told them, “he thought it necessary to begin with that, without which, whatever else he or they should do, would turn to little or no account, as to the main end of the ministry.” And to enable them to do this the more effectually, he sent them a plain and easy “Exposition upon the Church Catechism.” This good man did not enjoy his episcopal dignity above three years seven months and twenty days for he died at his lodgings in the cloisters in Westminster- abbey, March 5, 1707-8, in the seventy-first year of his age, and was buried in St. Paul’s cathedral. He left the greatest part of liis estate to the societies for propagating the gospel, and promoting Christian knowledge. To the curacy of MountSorrel in particular, and vicarage of Barrow in the county of Leicester, in a thankful remembrance of God’s mercies vouchsafed to him thereabouts, he bequeathed twenty pounds a year for ever, on condition that prayers be read morning and evening every day, according to the Liturgy of the church of England, in the chapel, and parish church | aforesaid j with the sum of forty shillings yearly, to be divided equally upon Christmas-eve, among- eight poor housekeepers of Barrow, as the minister and churchwardens should agree, regard being had especially to those who had been most constantly at prayers, and at the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the foregoing year. And if it should so happen, that the Common- Prayer could not be read in the church or chapel aforesaid, his will then was, that what should have been given in either place for that, be in each place allowed to one chosen by the vk-ar of Barrow to teach school, and instruct the youth in the principles of the Christian religion, according to the doctrine of the church of England. His works were many, and full of great variety of learning. Those published by himself were a? follows: 1. “De Linguarum Orientalium, praesertim HeIpraicce, Chaldaica?, Syriacae, Arabicae, et Samaritans, praestantia et usu,” &c. mentioned above. Loud. 1658, 8vo. 2- “Institutionum Chronologicarum libri duo, una cum totidem Arithmetices Chronoiogicae libellis,” Loud. 1669, 4to. 3. “Swvo‘&Kov, sive Pandectse Canonum Ss. Apostolorum, et Conciliorum ab Ecclesia Graeca receptoium necnon Canonicarum Ss. Patrum Epistolarum una cum Scholiis antiquorum singulis eorurn annexis, et scriptis aliis hue spectantibus quorum plurima e Bibliothecae Bodleianae aliarumque Mss. Codicibus nunc primum edita reliqua cum iisdem Mss. summa fide et diligentia collata,” Oxonii, 1672, 2 vols. fol. 4. “Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Primitivae vindicatus et illustratus,” Lond. 1679, 4to. 5. “The Church Catechism explained, for the use of the diocese of St. Asaph,” Lond. J 704, 4to, reprinted several times since. Next follow bishop Beveridge’s works, published after his decease by his executor Mr. Timothy Gregory 1. “Private Thoughts upon Religion, digested into twelve articles, with practical resolutions formed thereupon.” Written in his younger years (when he was about twenty-three years old), for the settling of his principles and conduct of life, Lond. 1709. 2. “Private Thoughts upon a Christian Life or, necessary directions for its beginning and progress upon earth, in order to its final perfection in the Beatific Vision,” part II. Lond. 1709. 3. “The great necessity and advantage of Public Prayer and frequent Communion. Designed to revive primitive piety with, meditations, ejaculations, and prayers, before, at, and after the sacrament,” Lond. 1710, These have been | reprinted several times in 8vo and 12mo. 4. “One hundred and fifty Sermons and Discourses on several subjects,” Lond. 170S, &c. in 12 vols. 8vo, reprinted at London, 17iy, in 2 vols. fol. 5. “Thesaurus Theologians or, a complete system of Divinity, summed up in brief notes upon select places of the Old and New Testament; wherein the sacred text is reduced under proper heads; explained and illustrated with the opinions and authorities of the ancient fathers, councils, &c.” Lond. 1711, 4 vols. 8vo. 6. “A defence of the book of Psalms, collected into English metre by Thomas Sternhold, John Hopkins, and others with critical Observations on the New Version, compared with the Old,” Lond. 1710, 8vo. In this book he gives the old version the preference to the new. 7. “Exposition of the XXXIX Articles,” Lond. 1710, 1716, fol. Bishop Beveridge’s character is in general represented in a most advantageous light. He was a person of the strictest integrity, of true and sincere piety, of exemplary charity, and of great zeal for religion, and so highly esteemed, that when he was dying, one of the chief of his order deservedly said of him, “There goes one of the greatest and of the best men that ever England bred.” He is also celebrated as a man of extensive and almost universal learning; furnished, to a very eminent degree, with all useful knowledge; and much to be admired for his readiness in the scriptures, which he had thoroughly studied, so that he was able to produce suitable passages from them on all occasions, and happy in explaining them to others. Mr. Nelson says, that he cannot forbear acknowledging the favourable dispensation of Providence to the present age, in blessing it with so many of those pious discourses, which our truly primitive prelate delivered from the pulpit; and that he the rather takes the liberty to call it a favourable dispensation of Providence, because the bishop gave no orders himself that they should be printed, but humbly neglected them, as not being composed for the press. But that this circumstance is so far from abating the worth of the sermons, or diminishing the character of the author, that it raises the excellency of both, because it shews at once the true nature of a popular discourse which is to improve the generality of hearers, and for that purpose to speak to them in a plain and intelligible style. | Dr. Henry Felton says, that our learned and venerable bishop delivered himself with those ornaments alone, which his subject suggested to him, and wrote in that plainness and solemnity of style, that gravity and simplicity, which gave authority to the sacred truths he taught, and unanswerable evidence to the doctrines he defended. That there is something so great, primitive, and apostolical, in his writings, that it creates an awe and veneration in our mind that the importance of his subjects is above the decoration of words and what is great and majestic in itself looketh most like itself, the less it is adorned. The author of one of the Guardians, having made an extract out of one of the bishop’s sermons, tells us, that it may for acuteness of judgment, ornament of speech, and true sublime, compare with any of the choicest writings of the ancients, who lived nearest to the apostles’ times. But the author of a pamphlet published in 1711, entitled “A short view of Dr. Bevericlge’s Writings,” passes a very different judgment upon bishop Beveridge’s works, in order to stop, as he says, the mischief they are doing, and that which the publication of his Articles may do. With regard to the bishop’s language, he observes, that he delights in jingle and quibbling; affects a tune and rhyme in all he says, and rests arguments upon nothing but words and sounds, &c. &c. But perhaps this animadverter will “by some be ranked among the persons, of whom Dr. Lupton gives the following character” Those who are censorious enough to reflect with severity upon the pious strains, which are to be found in bishop Beveridge, &c. may possibly be good judges of an ode or essay, but do not seem to criticise justly upon sermons, or express a just value for spiritual things.“After all, whatever faults may be found in bishop Beveridge’s posthumous works, must be charged to the injudiciousness of his executor. He must himself have been an extraordinary man who, with all the faults pointed out by the author of” The short view," could have conciliated the good opinion and favour of men of all principles, and the most eminent patrons of the church and the estimation in which his works continue to be held to this day, prove how little he was injured by the captious quibblings of a writer who was determined to find fault with’ that, into the spirit of which he could not enter. The life of bishop Beveridge, prefixed to the folio edition of | his works, was written by Mr. Kimber, a dissenting minister of the Baptist persuasion, in London.1

1 Biog. Brit. Gen. Dict. in which is a larger account of his works and Jfichols’s Leic, vol. III. where is an ample account of llic Gent Bever’ulsiunq.