Nichols, William

, an English divine of great learning and merit, was the son of John Nichols, of Donington, in Bucks, an eminent counsellor, and was born, in 1664. He was educated at St. Paul’s school, London, whence, in 1679, he went to Magdalen hall, Oxford. He | removed afterwards to Wadham college, where he took the degree of B. A. Nov. 27, 1683; but being admitted probationer- fellow of Merton college in October 1684, he completed his degree of M. A. there on June 19, 1688. About that time he entered into holy orders, became chaplain to Ralph earl of Montague, and in September 1691, rector of Selsey, near Chichester, in Sussex. He was admitted B. D. July 2, 1692, and D. D. Nov. 29, 1695. After a life entirely devoted to piety and study, we find him, in the close of it, thus describing his situation, in a letter to Robert earl of Oxford:

"Smith-street, Westminster, Aug. 31, 1711.

"May it please your lordship,

"I was in hopes that her majesty would have bestowed the prebend of Westminster upon me, being the place where I live, and that I might be nearer to books, _to finish my work on the liturgy and articles, for which she was pleased to tell to me, with her own mouth, she would consider me. My good lord, I have taken more pains in this matter than any divine of our nation, whjch I hope may bespeak the favour of a church-of-England ministry. Therefore I most humbly beseech your lordship for your interest for the next prebend of that church (if this be disposed of) that shall be void; for if I had merited nothing, my circumstances want it. I am now forced on the drudgery of being the editor of Mr. Selden’s books, for a little money to buy other books to carry on my liturgical work. I have broken my constitution by the pains of making my collections myself throughout that large work, without the help of an amanuensis, which I am not in a condition to keep, though the disease of my stomach (being a continual cholic of late, attended by the rupture of a vein) might plead pity, and incline my superiors not to suffer me all my days to be a Gibeonite in the church without any regard or relief. Pray f my lord, represent my case to the queen; and I shall never be wanting to make my most ample acknowledgment for so great a favour. I could long since have made my way to preferment without taking all this pains, by a noisy cry for a party; but as this has been often the reproach, and once the ruin of our clergy, so I have always industriously avoided it, quietly doing what service I could to the church I was born in, and leaving the issue thereof to God’s Providence, and to the kind offices of some good man, who some time or other | might befriend me in getting some little thing for me to make my circumstances easy, which is the occasion that your lordship has the trouble of this application, from,

My lord,

Your lordship’s most dutiful, most obedient,

And most humble servant,

Will. Nichols."

That he deserved more attention, will appear from the following list of his useful publications. 1. “An Answer to an Heretical Book called `The naked Gospel,' which was condemned and ordered to be publicly burnt by the Convocation of the University of Oxon, Aug. 19, 1690, with some Reflections on Dr. Bury’s new edition of that book,1691, 4to. 2. “A short History of Socinianism,” printed with the answer before-mentioned; and dedicated to his patron the earl of Montague. 3, “A Practical Essay on the Contempt of the World,1694, 8vo, inscribed to “sir John Trevor, master of the rolls,” to whom the author acknowledges his obligations for “a considerable preferment, bestowed in a most obliging and generous manner.” 4. “The Advantages of a learned Education,” a sermon preached at a school-feast, 1698, 4to. 5. “The Duty of Inferiors towards their Superiors, in five practical discourses; shewing, I. The Duty of Subjects to their Princes. II. The Duty of Children to their Parents. III. The Duty of Servants to their Masters. IV. The Duty of Wives to their Husbands. V. The Duty of Parishioners and the Laity to their Pastors and Clergy. To which is prefixed a dissertation concerning the divine right of Princes,” 1701, 8vo. 6. “An Introduction to a Devout Life, by Francis Sales, bishop and prince of Geneva; translated and reformed from the Errors of the Romish edition. To which is prefixed, a Discourse of the Rise and Progress of the Spiritual Books in the Romish. Church,1701, 8vo. 7. “A Treatise of Consolation to Parents for the Death of theirChildren written upon the occasion of the Death of the Duke of Gloucester and addressed to the most illustrious Princess Anue of Denmark,1701, 8vo. 8. “God’s Blessing on Mineral Waters;” a Sermon preached at the chapel at Tunbridge Wells,“1702, 4to. 9.” A Conference with a Theist, in five parts; dedicated to the Queen’s most excellent Majesty,“1703, 8vo; of which a third edition, with the addition of two Conferences, the one with a Machiavelian, the other with | an Atheist, all carefully revised and prepared for the pres$ by the author, was published in 1723, 2 vols. 8vo. This was particularly designed, says Leland, by the learned and ingenious author, in opposition to the” Oracles of Reason,“published by Blount; and he has not left any material part of that work unanswered. 10.” A Practical Essayon the Contempt of the World; to which is prefixed, a Preface to the Deists and vicious Libertines of the Age,“1704, 2d edit. 8vo. 11.” The Religion of a Princes shewing that the Precepts of the Holy Scriptures are the best maxims of Government,“1704, 8vo, in opposition to Machiavel, Hobbes, c. and written when the queen gave up the tenths and first fruits to the inferior clergy. 12.” Defensio Ecclesiae Anglicanae,“1707, 12mo. 13.” A Paraphrase on the Common Prayer, with Notes on the Sundays and Holidays,“1708, 8vo. 14.” Afflictions the lot of God’s children, a Sermon on the Death of Prince George,“1709, 8vo. 15.” A Comment on the Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments,“&c. 1710, folio. This volume has the royal licence prefixed, and a list of more than 900 subscribers. In his dedication to the queen, he notices, as what never happened before, that all the copies were bespoke or paid for before the day of publication. It still continues to be printed in 8vo. The late sir James Stonhouse, in a letter to the rev. Thomas Stedman, dated 1793, says of this work,” I would have you recommend it to every family in your parish as it will shew them the use of the common prayer and psalms, as read in our churches, and be a standard book from father to son.“16.” A Supplement to the Commentary on the Book of Common Prayer,“1711, folio. In the preface to this supplement, Dr. Nichols mentions” a long fit of illness with which God had pleased to visit him, and a very unestablished state of health both before and after it.“This illness appears soon to have ended in his death. 17.” Historic Sacroe Libri VII. Ex Antonii Cocceii Sabellici Eneadibus concinnatum, in usum Scholarurn et Juventutis Christianae,“1711, 12mo. 18” A Commentary on the first fifteen, and part of the sixteenth Articles of the Church of England,“1712, fol. 39.” A Defence of the Doctrine and Discipline of the Church of England; first written in Latin, for the use of foreigners, by William Nichols, D. D. and translated into English by himself,“1715, 12mo. Dr. Nichols was | reckoned a very excellent scholar, and was known abroad as well as at home by the learned correspondence he kept with foreigners of eminence. A volume of such correspondence with JaUlonski, Osterwald, Wetstein, &c. was presented by his widow Catharine Nichols to the archbishop of Canterbury, Oct. 28,* 1712, to be deposited either in Lambeth or St. Martin’s library, and is now among the valuable Mss. at Lambeth, No. 676. He died in the end of April 1712, and was buried in St. Swithin’s church May 5. It may not be improper to distinguish this pious divine from his name-sake William Nichols, M. A. and rector of Stockport, in Cheshire, who was a student of Christ church, Oxford, and. published, 1.” De Literis jnventis Libri sex ad illustrissinuum Principem Thomam, Herbertum, Pembrokiae Comitem,“&c. 1711, 8vo. 2.” Oratio corarn venerabili Spcietate promovenda Religione Christiana habita Londini, Dec. 29, 171.&,“12mo; and, 3.Περι Αρχων Libri Septem. Accedunt Liturgica," 1717, 12mo. 1

1

Knight’s Life of Colet.—Ath. Ox. vol. II.—Leland’s Deistical Writers.— Nicholas Bowyer.—Orton’s Letters, vol. II. p. 363.