Patrick, Simon

, a learned English prelate, successively bishop of Chichester and Ely, was born at Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, Sept. 8, 1626. His father was a mercer of good credit in that place, and sent him to a school, with a view to a learned education, which was kept by one Merry weather, a good Latin scholar, and the translator of sir Thomas Browne’s “Religio Medici.” In 1644, June 25, he was admitted as a sizar of Queen’s college, Cambridge, and was elected fellow March 1, 1648. He took the degree of B. A. in 1647; that of M. A. in 1651; and that of B. D. in 1658. Previous to this period he received holy orders from the celebrated Dr. Hall, bishop of Norwich, then ejected from his bishopric by the usurping powers, and living at Higham. This was probably about 1651, as in 1652 Mr. Patrick preached a sermon at the funeral of Mr. John Smith, of Queen’s college, who died | Aug. 7, 1652, and was buried in the chapel of that college. He was soon after taken as chaplain into the family of sir Walter St. John of Battersea, who gave him that living in 1658. This vacated his fellowship, and the same year he took his degree of bachelor of divinity, and published his first work (if we except the funeral-sermon above mentioned), entitled “Mensa Mystica: or a Discourse concerning the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; to which is added, a Discourse concerning Baptism,” Lond. 8vo. In the following year he published “The Heart’s Ease, or a remedy against all troubles; with a consolatory discourse, particularly directed to those who have lost their friends and dear relations,” ibid. 1659, 12mo; this went through many editions. In 1660 appeared “Jewish hypocrisy; a caveat to the present generation,” &c.

In 1661, he was elected, by a majority of the fellows, master of Queen’s college, in opposition to a royal mandamus, appointing Mr. Anthony Sparrow for that place; but the affair being brought before the king and council, was soon decided in favour of Mr. Sparrow; and some of the fellows, if not all, who had sided with Patrick, were ejected. His next preferment was the rectory of St. Paul’s, Covent- Garden, London, *in room of the celebrated nonconformist, Dr. Manton. This was given him by William earl of Bedford, in 1662. He endeared himself much to the parishioners by instruction and example, and particularly by continuing all the while among them during the plague in 1665. It is said further, that, out of a special regard to them, he refused the archdeaconry of Huntingdon. His remaining in London, however, during the plague was an instance of pious heroism which ought not to be slightly passed over. He was not indeed the only clergyman who remained at his post on this occasion; but their number was not great. We shall now present our readers with a few extracts from some letters which he wrote to his friends who importuned him to leave London, as they give a more faithful and pleasing picture of his real character than is elsewhere to be found.

In one of them, dated Sept. y, 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 is it fit I should set such a value upon myself as my going away, and leaving another, will | sigm’fy? 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 great price upon me, yet that temptation hath not yet made me of their mind: and I know their love makes me passe 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 tins passion, which is but too strong in me. I must let reason prevaile, 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 yeild 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 deare friend, I must tell you, for you will heare 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 joyfull to heare 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 re* fleeted 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 any thing 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 referre myself, which I call trusting in God, (as you would hate scene, 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 martyrdome, as you call it (that ‘s too high a name), but to do a little service to my neighbors, who I think would not be so well if I was 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 dawes more frequenting the pallace and abbey, which, if true, is a better sign, supposing the aire to have been infected. For the bookes I read tell mee, that the goeinge 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 preceeds the death of the inhabitants; for these aiery creatures feel the alteration in that element sooner than wee. 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 heare 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 intreat 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 kindnesse of God to me, mixed with this for I am well and chearful to my admiration and astonishment, when I seriously think of it.| Two of the papers mentioned in the above letters, which he circulated during the plague, were printed in the latter editions of his “Heart’s Ease.” Having some reason to be offended with the treatment he met with at Cambridge, he went to Oxford for his degrees in divinity; and entering himself of Christ-church, was incorporated B. D. and completed his doctor’s degree in 1666, about which time he was made chaplain in ordinary to the king. In 1668 he published his “Parable of the Pilgrim,” 4to, which some have thought the precursor of Bunyan’s more popular work; but the difference is too strikingly marked in the reception these two “Pilgrims” have met with to admit of any comparison, or detract from the genius that predominates in the humble tinker’s performance. This was followed by Dr. Patrick’s “Exposition of the Ten Commandments,1668, 8vo, and by a controversial work of some importance, printed the following year, with the title “A friendly debate betwixt two neighbours, the one a conformist, the other a non-conformist, about several weighty matters. Published for the benefit of this city. By a lover of it, and of pure religion.” This consisted of two parts, to which a third was added in 1670, and was answered by some of the non-conformist writers, who were much exasperated at it .*

*

Harris, the writer of the Life of Dr. Manton the non-conformist, says, that “it has been generally allowed, that Dr. Patrick wrote the first volumes of the ‘ Friendly Debate,’ in the heat of his youth, and in the midst of his expectations; which by aggravating some weak and uncautious expressions in a few particular writers, designed to expose the non-conformist ministry to contempt and ridicule. The design was afterwards carried on by a worse hand (bishop Parker), and with a more virulent spirit: a method altogether unreasonable and unworthy, because it will be always easy to gather rash and unadvised expressions from the weaker persons of any party of men; and only serves to expose religion to the scorn and contempt of the profane. But bishop Patrick, in his advanced age, and in a public debate in the House of Lords about the Occasional Bill, took the opportunity to ^declare himself to this purpose; ’ That he had been known to write against the Dissenters with some warmth 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; and that he was verily persuaded there were some, who were honest men, and good Christians, who would be neither, if they did not ordinarily go to church and sometimes to the meeting; and Oh the other hand, some were honest men and good Christians, who would be neither, if they did not ordinarily go to the meet* ings, and sometimes to the church.' A, rare instance this of retractation and moderation, which, I think, redounds greatly to his honour, and is worthy of imitation.” This was, however, viewed in a different light by Wharton, who in his ms notes, says, Dr. Patrickwas a person of great learning anH reputation, for goodness and wisdom, bt-fore he was made bishop; but after that, he losthi* reputation through, impp dent management, openly favouring the dissenters, and employing none but such.

| Dr. Patrick’s next publication, of the more practical kind, was his “Christian Sacrifice; a treatise showing the necessity, end, and manner of receiving the Holy Communion, &c.1671, 8vo. This was followed by his “Devout Christian,” a book of forms of prayer, 1672; “Advice to a Friend,1677, 12mo; “Jesus and the Resurrection justified by witnesses in Heaven and Earth,1677, 8vo; “The Glorious Epiphany,1678, 8vo; a translation of Grotius, “De Veritate,1680, 8vo; and various pious tracts of the popular kind, published from this date to 1703, and a considerable number of occasional sermons.

In the interim, in July 1672 he was made prebendary of Westminster, and dean of Peterborough in Aug. 1679. Here he completed the “History of the Church of Peterborough,” which had been compiled by Simon Gunton, who was a native and prebendary of Peterborough. Gunton died irr 1676; and Patrick published, in 1686, his manuscript in folio, with a large “Supplement,” from page 225 to 332, containing a fuller account of the abbots and bishops of Peterborough, than had been given by Gunton. In 1680, the lord-chancellor Finch offered him the living of St. Martin’s in the Fields; but he refused it, and recommended Dr. Thomas Tenison. In 1682, Dr. Lewis de Moulin, who had been history-prqfessor at Oxford, and had written much against the church of England, sent for Patrick upon his death-bed, and solemnly declared, before Dr. Burnet also, his regret upon that account; which declaration being signed, was published after his death.

During the reign of James II. Dr. Patrick wag one of those able champions, who defended the protestant religion against the designs of the court, and published some pieces, which were afterwards reprinted in the collection- of “Controversial Tracts,” 3 vols. fol. But his most remarkable service in this way was his conference with two Romish priests, of which we have the following account “Great endeavours were used to bring Laurence Hyde, earl of Rochester, lord high treasurer in king James’i reign, to embrace popery; but in vain. At length his lordship being pressed and fatigued by the king’s intreaties, told his majesty, that to let him see it was not through any prejudice of education, or obstinacy, that he persevered ia liis religion, he would freely consent to hear some protestant divides dispute with some popish priests, and | promised to side with the conquerors. On this the king appointed a conference to be held at Whitehall, at which his majesty and several persons of rank were present. The protestant champions were Dr. Patrick and Dr. William Jane, the two chaplains then in waiting. Those on the popish side were Gifford, a doctor of the Sorbonne, probably the same whom king James wished to obtrude upon Magdalen-college, and a Mr. Tilden, who, having turned papist at Lisbon, went by the name of Dr. Godden. The subject of their dispute was the ‘ rule of faith,’ and ‘ the proper judge in controversies.’ The conference was very long; and at last the Romish doctors were pressed with so much strength of reason and authority against them, that they were really put to silence. On this the earl of Rochester declared ‘ that the victory the protestant divines had gained made no alteration in his mind, being beforehand convinced of the truth of his religion, and firmly resolved never to forsake it.’ The king, going off abruptly, was heard to say, he never saw a bad cause so well, nor a good one so ill maintained.

Such is the account given of this debate by Kennet in his “Complete History of England:” bishop Burnet’s account is somewhat different. He says, “That the king desired of the earl, he would suffer himself to be instructed in religion. He answered, he was fully satisfied about his religion; but, upon the king’s pressing it that he would hear his priests, he said he desired then to have some of the English clergy present, to which the king consented; only he excepted to Tillotson and Stillingfleet. Lord Rochester said he would take those who should happen to be in waiting; for the forms of the chapel were still kept up. And Drs. Patrick and Jane were the men.” “Patrick,” adds Burnet, “told me, that at the conference there was no occasion for them to say much. The priests began the attack. And when they had done, the earl said, if they had nothing stronger to urge, he would not trouble those learned gentlemen to say any thing; for he was sure he could answer all that he had heard. And so answered all with much heat and spirit, not without some scorn, saying, Were these grounds to persuade men to change their religion? This he urged over and over again with great vehemence. The king, seeing in what temper he was, broke off the conference, charging all that were present to say nothing of it.| The king had often taken pains to gain over Patrick, sent for him, treated him kindly, desired him to abate his zeal against his church, and quietly enjoy his own religion: but the dean replied, with proper courage, “That he could not give up a religion so well proved as that of the Protestants.” Conformably to this principle, he opposed the reading of his majesty’s declaration for liberty of conscience; and assisted Dr. Tenison in setting up a school at St. Martin’s, in opposition to the popish one, opened at the Savoy, in order to seduce the youth of the town into popery; and this was the origin of the ward and parish schools of London. He had also a great share in the comprehension projected by archbishop SanCroft, in order to bring over the dissenters, which, it is well known, was unsuccessful.

At the Revolution in 1688, great use was made of the dean, who was very active in settling the affairs of the church: he was called upon to preach before the prince and princess of Orange; and was soon after appointed one of the commissioners for the review of the liturgy. He was thought to have excellent talents for devotional composition, and his part now was to revise the collects of the whole year, in which he introduced some amendments and improvements of style. In October 1689, he was made bishop of Chichester; and employed, with others of the new bishops, to compose the disorders of the church of Ireland. In July 1691, he was translated to the see of Ely, in the room of Turner, who was deprived for refusing the oaths to government. Here he continued to perform all the offices of a good bishop, as well as a good man, which he had ever proved himself on all occasions. He died at Ely, May 31, 1707, aged eighty; and was interred in the cathedral, where a monument is erected to his memory, with an inscription said to have been written by Dr. Leng, afterwards bishop of Norwich.

This prelate was one of the most learned men as well as best writers of his time. We have noticed his principal writings, but have still to add his “Paraphrases” and Commentaries upon the Old Testament, as far as the prophets, which are the result of extensive reading, and perhaps the most useful of any ever written in the English language. They were published at various times, but reprinted in 2 vols. folio; and, with Lowth on the Prophets, Arnald on the Apocrypha, and Whitby on the New Testament, have | been published, in folio, and very recently in 4to, as a regular commentary upon all the sacred books. The style of this prelate is even and easy, his compositions rational, and full of good and sound sense. Burnet ranks him among those many worthy and eminent clergymen in this nation, who deserved a high character; and were indeed au honour to the church, and to the age in which they lived.

Our prelate had a brother John Patrick, preacher at the Charter-house, according to Wharton, and one of the translators of Plutarch. Dr. Samuel Patrick, the editor of an edition of Ainsworth’s Dictionary was also at the Charterhouse, but whether a relation does not appear. Wharton also says he had a son, who wasted an estate left him by his father, and it was sold, after his death, “for debts and portions.” Mrs. Catherine Patrick, a maiden lady of eightytwo years old, said to be our prelate’s grand-daughter, died at Bury in 1792. Whiston speaks of a life of bishop Patrick, written by himself, which he had read, and which was in Dr. Knight’s hands, but where now, is not known. 1

1

Biog. Brit. Gen. Dict. Burnet’s Own Times. Whiston’s Memoirs. Restituta, vol.1, p. 56. Birch’s Life of Tiilotson. Cole’s ms Athenae in British Museum.