Dod, John

, usually styled the Decalogist, from his Commentary on the commandments, and called by Fuller, the “last of the Puritans,” was a native of Shotledge, in. Cheshire; in which county there were several ancient families of the Dods; but to which of them he belonged, we have not been able to ascertain. He was born, the youngest of seventeen children, in 1547, and sent to school at WestChester, but Mr. Cole says he was educated at Winchester, a name which he probably transcribed hastily for the other. In 1561, when he was fourteen years of a;j;e, he was entered of Jesus college, Cambridge, of which he was chosen fellow in 1585, according to a ms note of Mr. Baker; and Mr. Cole adds, that he was junior proctor in 1614; both which dates must belong to some other person, as it does not appear that he remained in all more than sixteen years at college. At what time he took his master’s degree is uncertain, but a few years after, being appointed to oppose in the philosophy act at the commencement, he exhibited such a display of talents, as highly gratified his hearers, and in consequence, he had liberal offers to remove to Oxford. These he declined, but was incorporated M. A. in that university in 1585. Associating much with Drs. Fulke, Chaclerton, and Whitaker, he imbibed the principles and strictness for which they were famous, and conceived an early dislike to some of the ceremonies or discipline of the church, but to what we are not told. After taking orders, he first preached a weekly lecture at Ely, until invited by sir Anthony Cope to be minister of Hanwell, in Oxfordshire, in 1577, where he became a constant and diligent preacher, and highly popular. Nor was his hospitality Jess conspicuous, as he kept an open table on Sundays and Wednesdays lecture days, generally entertaining on these occasions from eight to twelve persons at dinner. At Hanwell he remained twenty years, | in the course cf which he married, and had a large family; but, owing to his nonconformity in some points, he was suspended by Dr. Bridges, bishop of Oxford. After this, he preached for some time at Fenny-Compton, in Warwickshire, and from thence was called to Cannons Ashby, in Northamptonshire, where he was patronized by sir Erasmus Dryden but here again he was silenced, in consequence of a complaint made by bishop Neale to king James, who commanded archbishop Abbot to pronounce that sentence. During this suspension of his public services, he appears to have written his Commentary on the Decalogue and Proverbs, which he published in conjunction with one Robert Cleaver, probably another silenced puritan, of whom we can find no account. At length, by the interest of the family of Knightley, of Northamptonshire, after the death of king James, he was presented in 1624, to the living of Fawesley, in that county. Here he recommended himself as before, not more by his earnest and affectionate services in the pulpit, than by his charity and hospitality, and particularly by his frequent visits and advice which last he delivered in a manner peculiarly striking. A great many of his sayings became almost proverbial, and remained so for above a century, being, as may yet be remembered, frequently printed in a small tract, or on a broad sheet, and suspended in every cottage. On the commencement of the rebellion he suffered considerably, his house being plundered, as the house of a puritan, although he was a decided enemy to the proceedings of the republicans. When they were about to abolish the order of bishops, &c. Dr. Brownrig sent to Mr. Dod, for his opinion, who answered, that “he had been scandalized with the proud and tyrannical practises of the Marian bishops; but now, after more than sixty years’ experience of many protestant bishops, that had been worthy preachers, learned and orthodox writers, great champions for the protestant cause, he wished all his friends not to be any impediment to them, and exhorted all men not to take up arms against the king; which was his doctrine, he said, upon the fifth commandment, and he would never depart from it.” He died in August, 1645, at the very advanced age of ninety-seven, and was buried on the I9th of that month, at Fawesley, in Northamptonshire. Fuller says, “with him the Old Puritan seemed to expire, and in his grave to be interred. Humble, meek, patient, | charitable as in his censures of, so in his alms to others. Would I could truly say but half so much of the next generation!” “He was,” says the same author, “a passive nonconformist, not loving any one the worse for difference in judgment about ceremonies, but all the better for their unity of affections in grace and goodness. He used to retrench some hot spirits when inveighing against bishops, telling them how God under that government had given a marvellous increase to the gospel, and that godly men might comfortably comport therewith, under which learning and religion had so manifest an improvement.” He was an excellent scholar, particularly in the Hebrew language, which he taught to the celebrated John Gregory, of Christchurch, Oxford. The no less celebrated Dr. Wilkins was his grandson, and born in his house at Fawesley, in 1614, a date which seems to interfere with that given above as the date of Mr. Dod’s presentation to Fawesley, which we have taken from the register in Bridges’s Northamptonshire, but he might probably have resided there previous to the living becoming vacant. Of his works we know only that which conferred on him the name of the Decalogist, “A plain and familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandments,London, 1606, 4to; and “A plain and familiar Exposition” of certain chapters of the Book of Proverbs, 1606, 4to, published at different times; and the prefaces signed by Dod and Cleaver. There are some original letters by Dod in the British Museum, (Ayscough, No. 4275), addressed to lady Vere. They consist chiefly of pious exhortations respecting the confused state of public affairs. In one of them, dated Dec. 20, 1642, he says, he is “not far off ninety-five years old,” which has enabled us to ascertain his age, hitherto incorrectly given by his biographers. 1

1

Clark’s Lives of Eminent Divines. Lloyd’s Memoirs, fol. Fuller’s Worthies. Fuller’s Church History, book XI. p. 219. Wood’s Fasti. Plume’s Life of Bishop Racket, p. xxv. Cole’s ms Athense in Urit. Mu. Hawkins’s Life of Johnson, p. 541. Granger.