Perkins, William

, a learned and pious divine, was born at Marton in Warwickshire, in 1558, and educated in Christ’s college, Cambridge. His conduct here was at iirst *o dissolute that he was pointed at as an object of contempt, which recalled him to his senses, and in a short time, by sobriety and diligent application, he regained his character both as a scholar and a man, and took his degrees at the statutable periods with approbation. In 1582 he was chosen fellow of his college, and entered into holy orders. His first ministrations were confined to the prisoners in Cambridge jail. Recollecting what he had been himself, with all the advantages of education, and good advice, he compassionated these more ignorant objects, and prevailed upon the keeper of the prison to assemble them in a spacious room, where he preached to them every sabbath. This was no sooner known than others came to hear him; and so much was he admired, that he was immediately chosen preacher at St. Andrew’s church, the first and only preferment he ever attained.

While here, he was not only esteemed the first preacher of his time, but one of the most laborious students, as indeed his works demonstrate. During the disputes between the church and the puritans, he sided with the latter in principle, but was averse to the extremes to which the conduct of many of his brethren led. Yet he appears to have been summoned more than once to give an account of his conduct, although in general dealt with as his piety, learning, and peaceable disposition merited. Granger says that he was deprived by archbishop Whitgift, Jbut we find no authority for this. He had been a great part of his life much afflicted with the stone, which at last shortened his days. He was only forty-four years of age when he died in 1602. His remains were interred in St. Andrew’s church with great solemnity, at the sole expence of Christ’s college, and his funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Montague (who was also one of his executors) afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells, and of Winchester, who spoke highly of his learning, piety, labours, and usefulness. His works were collected and published in 1606, in 3 vols. fol. and are written in a better style than was usual in his | time. They have been, however, far more admired abroad than at home. We know not of any of them reprinted in this country since their first appearance, but several of them have been translated into French, Dutch, and Spa-, nish. Bishop Hall said “he excelled in a distinct judgment, a rare dexterity in clearing the obscure subtleties of the schools, and in an easy explication of the most perplexed subjects.1


Fuller’s Ch. History, Abel Redivivus, and Holy State. Lupin’s Modern Divines. -^-Brook’s Puritans,