Burnet, Gilbert

, the celebrated bishop of Salisbury, was born at Edinburgh, Sept. 18, 1643. His father was the younger brother of an ancient family in the county of Aberdeen, and was bred to the civil law, which he studied for seven years in France. His excessive modesty so far depressed his abilities, that he never made a shining figure at the bar, though he was universally esteemed to be a man of judgment and knowledge in his profession. He was remarkably generous in his practice, never taking a fee from the poor, nor from a clergyman, when he sued in the right of his church; and bestowing great part of | his profits in acts of charity and friendship. In 1637, when the troubles in Scotland were breaking out, he was so disgusted at the conduct of the governing bishops there, whom he censured with great freedom, and was, at the same time, so remarkable for his strict and exemplary life, that he was generally called a Puritan. But when he saw, that instead of reforming abuses in the episcopal order, the order itself was struck at, he adhered to it with great zeal and constancy, as he did to the rights of the crown, not once complying with that party which afterwards prevailed in both nations. For though he agreed with Barclay and Grotius (with the latter of whom he had been intimately acquainted) as to their notions of resistance where the laws are broken through by a limited sovereign, yet he did not think that was then the case in Scotland. He married the sister of the famous sir Archibald Johnstoun, called lord Warristoun; who, during the civil wars, was at the head of the presbyterian party, and so zealously attached to that interest, that neither friendship nor alliance could dispose him to shew favour to those who refused the solemn Jeague and covenant. Our author’s father, persisting in this refusal, was obliged, at three several times, to quit the kingdom; and, when his return was afterwards connived at, as his principles would not permit him to renew the practice of the law, much less to accept the preferments in it offered him by Oliver Cromwell, he retired to his own estate in the country, where he lived till the restoration, when he was made one of the lords of the session by the title of lord Cramond. His wife, our author’s mother, was very eminent for her piety and virtue, and a warm zealot for the presbyterian discipline, in which way she had been very strictly educated.

Our author received the first rudiments of his education from his father, under whose care he made so quick a progress, that, at ten years of age, he perfectly understood the Latin tongue; at which time he was sent to the college of Aberdeen, where he acquired the Greek, and went through the usual course of Aristotelian logic and philosophy, with uncommon applause. He was scarcely fourteen when he commenced master of arts, and then applied himself to the study of the civil law; but, after a year’s diligent application to that science, he changed his resolution, and turned his thoughts wholly to the study of divinity. At eighteen years of age, he was put upon | his trial as a probationer or expectant preacher; and, at the same time, was offered the presentation to a very good benefice, by his cousin-german sir Alexander Burnet, but thinking himself too young for the cure of souls, he modestly declined that offer. His education, thus happily begun, was finished by the conversation and advice of the most eminent Scotch divines. In 1663, about two years after his father’s death, he came into England, where he first visited the two universities. At Cambridge he had an opportunity of conversing with Dr. Cud worth, Dr. Pearson, Dr. Burnet, author of the “Sacred Theory,” and Dr. Henry More, one of whose sayings, in relation to rites and ceremonies, then made a great impression on him: “None of these,” said he, “are bad enough to make men bad, and 1 am sure none of them are good enough to make men good.” At Oxford our author was much caressed, on account of his knowledge of the councils and fathers, by Dr. Fell, and Dr. Pocock, that great master of Oriental learning. He was much improved there, in his mathematics and natural philosophy, by the instructions of Dr. Waliis, who likewise gave him a letter of recommendation to the learned and pious Mr. Boyle at London. Upon his arrival there, he was introduced to all the rnost noted divines, as Tillotson, Stillingfleet, Patrick, Lloyd, Whitchcot, and Wilkins; and, among others of the laity, to sir Robert Murray.

About six months after he returned to Scotland, where he declined accepting the living of Saltoun, offered him by sir Robert Fletcher of that place, resolving to travel for some time on the continent, in 1664, he went over into Holland; where, after he had seen what was remarkable in the Seven Provinces, he resided for some time at Amsterdam, and afterwards at Paris. At Amsterdam, by the help of a learned Rabbi, he increased his knowledge in the Hebrew language, and likewise x became acquainted with the leading men of the different persuasions tolerated in that country: among each of whom, he used frequently to declare, he had met with men of such real piety and virtue, that he contracted a strong principle of universal charity. At Paris he conversed with the two famous ministers of Charenton, Dailie and Morus. His stay in France was the longer, on account of the great kindness with which he was treated by the lord Holies, then ambassador at the French court. Towards the end of the | year he returned to Scotland, passing through Londo/rr, where he was introduced, by the president sir Robert Murray, to be a member of the royal society. In 1665, he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Edinburgh, and presented by sir Robert Fletcher to the living of Saitoun, which had been kept vacant during his absence. He soon gained the affections of his whole parish, not excepting the presbyterians, though he was the only clergyman in Scotland that made use of the prayers in the liturgy of the church of England. During the five years he remained at Saitoun, he preached twice every Sunday, and once on one of the week-days; he catechized three times a-week, so as to examine every parishioner, old or young, three times in the compass of a year: he went round the parish from house to house, instructing, reproving, or comforting them, as occasion required: the sick he visited twice a day: he administered the sacrament four times a year, and personally instructed all such as gave notice of their intention to receive it. All that remained above his own necessary subsistence (in which he was very frugal), he gave away in charity. A particular instance of his generosity is thus related: one of his parishioners had been in execution for debt, and applied to our author for some small relief; who inquired of him, how much would again set him up in his trade: the man named the sum, and he as readily called to his servant to pay it him: “Sir,” said he, “it is all we have in the house.” “Well,” said Mr. Burnet, “pay it this poor man: you do not know the pleasure there is in making a man glad.” This may be a proper place to mention our author’s practice of preaching extempore, in which he attained an ease chiefly by allotting many hours of the day to meditation upon all sorts of subjects, and by accustoming himself, at those times, to speak his thoughts aloud, studying always to render his expressions correct. His biographer gives us here two remarkable instances of his preaching without book. In 1691, when the sees, vacant by the deprivation of the nonjuring bishops, were filled up, bishop Williams was appointed to preach one of the consecration -sermons at Bow-church; but, being detained by some accident, the archbishop of Canterbury desired our author, then bishop of Sarum, to supply his place; which he readily did, to the general satisfaction of all present. In 1705, he was appointed to preach the thanksgiving-sermon before the queen at St. Paul’s; and | as it was the only discourse he had ever written before-hand, it was the only time that he ever made a pause in preaching, which on that occasion lasted above a minute. The same year, he drew up a memorial of the abuses of the Scotch bishops, which exposed him to the resentments of that order: upon which, resolving to confine himself to study, and the duties of his function, he practised such a retired and abstemious course, as greatly impaired his health. About 1668, the government of Scotland being in the hands of moderate men, of whom the principal was sir Robert Murray, he was frequently consulted by them; and it was through his advice that some of the more moderate presbyterians were put into the vacant churches; a step which he himself has since condemned as indiscreet. In 1669, he was made professor of divinity at Glasgow; in which station he executed the following plan of study. On Mondays, he made each of the students, in their turn, explain a head of divinity in Latin, and propound such theses from it as he was to defend against the rest of the scholars; and this exercise concluded with our professor’s decision of the point in a Latin oration. On Tuesdays, he gave them a prelection in the same language, in which he proposed, in the course of eight years, to have gone through a complete system of divinity. On Wednesdays, he read them a lecture, for above an hour, by way of a critical commentary on St. Matthew’s Gospel;‘ which he finished before he quitted the chair. On Thursdays, the exercise was alternate; one Thursday, he expounded a Hebrew Psalm, comparing it with the Septuagint, the Vulgar, and the English version; and the next Thursday, he explained some portion of the ritual and constitution of the primitive church, making the apostolical canons his text, and reducing every article of practice under the head of one or other of those canons. On Fridays, he made each of his scholars, in course, preach a short sermon upon some text he assigned; and, when it was ended, he observed upon any thing that was defective or amiss in the handling of the subject. This was the labour of the mornings: in the evenings, after prayer, he every day read some parcel of scripture, on which he made a short discourse; and, when that was over, he examined into the progress of their several studies. Ail this he performed during the whole time the schools were open; and, in order to acquit himself with credit, he was obliged to study | hard from four till ten in the morning; the rest of the day being of necessity allotted, either to the care of his pupils, or to hearing the complaints of the clergy, who, rinding he had an interest with men of power, were not sparing in their applications to him. In this situation he continued four years and a half, exposed, through his principles of moderation, to the censure both of the episcopal and presbyterian parties. The same year he published his “Modest and free Conference between a Conformist and a Nonconformist.” About this time he was entrusted, by the duchess of Hamilton, with the perusal and arrangement of all the papers relating to her father’s and uncle’s ministry; which induced him to compile “Memoirs of the Dukes of Hamilton,” and occasioned his being invited to London, to receive farther information, concerning the transactions of those times, by the earl of Lauderdale; between whom and the duke of Hamilton he brought about a reconciliation. During his stay in London, he was offered a Scotch bishopric, which he refused. Soon after his return to Glasgow, he married the lady Margaret Kennedy, daughter of the earl of Cassilis.*


This was a lady of distinguished piety and knowledge: her own sentiments indeed inclined strongly towards the presbyterians, with whom she was in high credit and esteem: yet she was far from partaking the narrow zeal of some of their leaders. As there was some disparity in their ages, that it might remain past dispute that this match was wholly owing to inclination, not to avarice or ambition, the day before their marriage, our author delivered the lady a deed, whereby he renounced all pretension to her fortune, which was very considerable, and must otherwise have fallen into his hands, she herself having no latention to secure it.

In 1672, he published his “Vindication of the Authority, Constitution, and Laws, of the Church and State of Scotland,” against the principles of Buchanan and others; which was thought, at that juncture, such a public service, that he was again courted to accept of a bishopric, with a promise of the next vacant archbishopric, but he persisted in his refusal of that dignity. In 1673, he took another journey to London; where, at the express nomination of the king, after hearing him preach, he was sworn one of his majesty’s chaplains in ordinary. He became likewise in high favour with his majesty and the duke of York .

The avowed design of this journey was, in order to procure a licence for publishing his “Memoirs of the Dukes of Hamilton:” but it would appear that he had farther views; for we are told, he went with a full resolution of withdrawing himself from affairs of state. He saw that popery was, though covertly, the prevailing interest at court, and that the sacramental test, whereby the duke of York, the lord Clifford, and other papists in employ-


ment, had been excluded, was a mere artifice of king Charles to obtain money for carrying on the war with Holland, He suspected that the designs of the court were both corrupt and desperate, He therefore used all the freedom he decently could with the duke and duchess of Lauderdale: he pointed out to them the errors of their arranagement in Scotland, and the ill effects it would have, both upon themselves and the whole nation: but he found no disposition in thena to rectify their measures.

At his return to | Edinburgh, finding the animosities between the dukes of Hamilton and Lauderdale revived, he retired to his station at Glasgow; but was obliged the next year to return to court, to justify himself against the accusations of the duke of Lauderdale, who had represented him as the cause and instrument of all the opposition the measures of the court had met with in the Scotch parliament. Thus he lost the favour of the court; and, to avoid putting himself into the hands of his enemies, he resigned the professor’s chair at Glasgow, and resolved to settle in London, being now about thirty years of age. Soon after, he was offered the living of St. Giles’s Cripplegate, which he declined accepting, because he heard that it was intended for Dr. Fowler, afterwards bishop of Gloucester. In 1675, our author, at the recommendation of lord Holies, and notwithstanding the interposition of the court against him, was appointed preacher at the Rolls chapel by sir Harbottle Grimstone, master of the Rolls. The same year he was examined before the house of commons in relation to the duke of Lauderdale, whose conduct the parliament was then inquiring into. He was soon after chosen lecturer of St. Clement’s, and became a very popular preacher. In 1676, he published his “Memoirs of the Dukes of Hamilton;” and the same year, “An account of a Conference between himself, Dr. Stillingfleet, and Coleman.” About this time, the apprehensions of popery increasing daily, he undertook to write the “History of the Reformation of the Church of England.” The rise and progress of this his greatest and ’most useful work, is an object of too great curiosity to require any apology on account of its length. His own account of it is as follows: “Some time after I had printed the ‘ Memoirs of the Dukes of Hamilton,’ which were favourably received, the reading of these got me the acquaintance and friendship of sir William Jones, then attorney-general. My way of writing history pleased him; and so he pressed me to undertake the History of England. But Sanders’s book, that was then translated into French, and cried up much in France, made all my | friends press me to answer it, by writing the History of the Reformation. So now all my thoughts were turned that way. I laid out for manuscripts, and searched into all offices. I got for some days into the Cotton Library. But duke Lauderdale hearing of my design, and apprehending it might succeed in my hands, got Dolben, bishop of Rochester, to divert sir John Cotton from suffering me to search into his library. He told him, I was a great enemy to the prerogative, to which Cotton was devoted, even to slavery. So he said, I would certainly make an ill use of all 1 had found. This wrought so much on him, that I was no more admitted, till my first volume was published. And then, when he saw how I had composed it, he gave me free access to it.” The first volume of this work lay near a year after it was finished, for the perusal and correction of friends; so that it was not published tiii the year 1679, when the affair of the popish plot was in agitation. This book procured our author an honour never before or since paid to any writer: he had the thanks of both houses of parliament, with a desire that he would prosecute the undertaking, and complete that valuable work. Accordingly, in less than two years after, he printed the second volume, which met with the same general approbation as the first: and such was his readiness in composing, that he wrote the historical part in the compass of six weeks, after all his materials were laid in order. The third volume, containing a supplement to the two former, was published in 1714. “The defects of Peter Heylyn’s” History of the Reformation,“as bishop Kicolson observes,” are abundantly supplied in our author’s more complete history. He gives a punctual account of all the affairs of the reformation, from its beginning in the reign of Henry VIII. to its final establishment under queen Elizabeth, A. D. 1559. And the whole is penned in a masculine style, such as becomes an historian, and is the property of this author in all his writings. The collection of records^ which he gives at the end of each volume, are good vouchers of the truth of what he delivers in the body of the history, and are much more perfect than could reasonably be expected, after the pains taken, in queen Mary’s days, to suppress every thing that carried the marks of the reformation upon it.“Our author’s performance met with a very favourable, reception abroad, and was translated into most of the European languages; and | even the keenest of his enemies, Henry Wharton, allows it to have” a reputation firmly and deservedly established.“The most eminent of the French writers who have attacked it, M. Varillas and M. Le Grand, have received satisfactory replies from -the author himself. At home it was attacked by Mr. S. Lowth, who censured the account Dr. Burnet had given of some of archbishop Cranmer’s opinions, asserting that both our historian and Dr. Stillingfleet had imposed upon the world in that particular, and had” unfaithfully joined together“in their endeavours to lessen episcopal ordination. Our author replied to Mr. Lowth, in some” letters. in answer“to his book. The next assailant was Henry Wharton, who, under the name of Anthony Harrner, publishedA specimen of some Errors and Defects in the History of the Reformation,“1693, 8vo, a performance of no great candour; to which, however, our historian vouchsafed a short answer, in a” Letter to the Bishop of Lichfield.“A third attack on this History was made by Dr. Hickes in” Discourses on Dr. Burnet and Dr. Tillotson;“in which the whole charge amounts to no more than this, that,” in a matter of no great consequence, there was too little care had in copying or examining a letter writ in a very bad hand,“and that there was some probability that Dr. Burnet” was mistaken in one of his conjectures.“Our author answered this piece, in a” Vindication“of his History. The two first parts were translated into French by M. de Rosemond, and into Latin by Melchior Mittelhorzer. There is likewise a Dutch translation of it. In 1682, our author published” An abridgment of his History of the Reformation," in 8vo, in which he tells us, he had wholly waved every thing that belonged to the records, and the proof of what he relates, or to the confutation of the falsehoods that run through the popish historians; all which is to be found in the History at large. And therefore, in this abridgment, he says, every thing is to be taken upon trust; and those who desire a fuller satisfaction, are referred to the volumes he had before published.

Although our author at this time had no parochial cure, he did not refuse his attendance to any sick person who desired it, and was sent for, amongst others, to one wha had been engaged in a criminal amour with Wilmot, earl of Rochester. The manner he treated her, during her illness, gave that lord a great curiosity of being acquainted | with him, and for a whole winter, in a conversation of at least one evening in a week, Burnet went over all those topics with him, upon which sceptics, and men of loose morals, are wont to attack the Christian religion. The effect of these conferences, in convincing the earl’s judgment, and leading him to a sincere repentance, became the subject of a well-known and interesting narrative which he published in 1680, entitled “An Account of the Life and Death of the Earl of Rochester.” This work has lately been reprinted more than once, perhaps owing to the character Dr. Johnson gave of it in his Life of Rochester: he there pronounces it a book “which the critic ought to read for its elegance, the philosopher for its arguments, and the saint for its piety.

During the affair of the popish plot, Dr. Burnet was often consulted by king Charles, upon the state of the nation; and, about the same time, refused the vacant bishopric of Chichester, which his majesty offered him, “provided he vvould entirely come into his interest.” But, though his free access to that monarch did not procure him preferment, it gave him an opportunity of sending his majesty a most remarkable letter *, in which, with great freedom, he reprehends the vices and errors both of his private life and his government The unprejudiced part he acted during the time the nation was inflamed with the discovery of the popish plot; his candid endeavours to save the lives of Staley and the lord Stafford, both zealous papists; his temperate conduct in regard to the exclusion


This letter may be seen, in the Life of Burnet, prefixed to the edition of “His own Time,” by Dr. Flexman, who tken had it in his possession: The following is the bishop’s own account of it: “Mrs. Roberts, whom he (the king) had kept for some time, sent for me when she was dying; I saw her often for some weeks, and, among other things, I desired her to write a letter to the king, expressing the sense she had of her past life; and, at her desire, I drew such a letter as might be fit for her to write. Bnt she never had strength enough to write it: so upon that I resolved to write a very plain letter to the king. I set before him his past life, and the effects it had upon the nation, with the judgments of God lhat lay on him, which was but a small part of the punishment that he might look for. I pressed him upon that earnestly to change the whole course of his life. I carried this letter to Chiffinch’s, on the 29th of January; and told the king in the letter, that I hoped the reflections on what had befallen his father on the 30th of January, might move him to consider these things more carefully. Lord Arran happened to be then in waiting; and he came to me next day, and told me, he was sure the king had a long letter from, me; for he held the candle to him while he read it: he knew at that distance that it was my hand. The king read it twice over, and then threw it into the fire: and not long after, lord Arran took occasion to name me; and the king spoke of me with great sharpness: so he perceived he was not pleased with my letter.

| of the duke of York; and the scheme of a prince regent, proposed by him, in lieu of that exclusion; are sufficiently related in his “History of his own Time.” In 1682, when the administration was wholly changed in favour of the duke of York, he continued steady in his adherence to his friends, and chose to sacrifice all his views at court, particularly a promise of the mastership of the Temple, rather than break off his correspondence with them. This year our author published his “Life of sir Matthew Hale,” and his “History of the Rights of Princes, in disposing of ecclesiastical Benefices and Church-lands;” which being attacked bv an anonymous writer, Dr. Burnet published, the same year, “An answer to the Animadversions on the History of the Rights of Princes.” As he was about this time much resorted to by persons of all ranks and parties, as a pretence to avoid the returning of so many visits, he built a laboratory, and, for above a year, went through a course of chemical experiments. Upon the execution of the lord Russel, with whom he was familiarly acquainted, he was examined before the house of commons, with respect to that lord’s speech upon the scaffold, in the penning of which he was suspected to have had a hand. Not long after, he refused the offer of a living of three hundred pounds a year, in the gift of the earl of Halifax, who would have presented him, on condition of his residing *till in London. In 1683, he went over to Paris, where he was well received by the court, and became acquainted with the most eminent persons, both popish and protestant. This year appeared his “Translation and Examination of a Letter, writ by the last General Assembly of the Clergy of France to the Protestants, inviting them to return to their Communion, &c.;” also his “Translation of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia,” with a “Preface concerning the Nature of Translations.” The year following, the resentment of the court against our author was so great, that he was discharged from his lecture at St, Clement’s, by virtue of the king’s mandate to Dr. Hascard, rector of that parish; and in December the same year, bv an order from the lord-keeper North to sir Harbottle Grimstone, he was forbidden preaching any more at the Rolls chapel. In 1685 came out our author’s “Life of Dr. William Bedell, Bishop of Kilmore in Ireland.” Upon the death of king Charles, and accesion of king James, having obtained leave to go out of the kingdom, he went first to Paris, where he lived | in great retirement, to avoid being involved in the conspiracies then forming in favour of the difke of Monmbuth. But, having contracted an acquaintance with brigadier Stouppe, a protestant officer in the French service, he was prevailed upon to take a journey with him into Italy, and met with an agreeable reception at Rome * and Geneva. After a tour through the southern parts of France, Italy, Switzerland, and many places of Germany, of which he has given an account, with reflections on their several ojovernments, &c. in his “Travels,” published in 1687, he came to Utrecht, and intended to have settled in some quiet retreat within the Seven Provinces; but, being invited to the Hague by the prince and princess of Orange, he repaired thither, and had a great share in the councils then carrying on, concerning the affairs of England. In 1687, our author published a “Translation of Lactantius, concerning the Death of the Persecutors.” The high favour shewn him at the Hague disgusting the English court, king James wrote two severe letters against him to the princess of Orange, and insisted, by his ambassador, on his being forbidden the court; which, at the king’s importunity, was done; though our author continued to be employed and trusted as before. Soon after, a prosecution for high-treason was commenced against him, both in Scotland and England; but the States refusing, at the demand of the English court, to deliver him up, designs were laid of seizing his person, and even destroying him, if he could be taken. About this time Dr. Burnet married Mrs. Mary Scott, a Dutch lady of large fortune and noble extraction. He had a very important share in the whole conduct of the revolution in 1688; the project of which he

Pope Innocent XL hearing of our author’s arrival, sent the Captain of the Swiss guards to acquaint him, he would give him a private audience in bed, to avoid the ceremony of kissing his holiness’s slipper. But our author excused himself as well as he could. He was treated with great familiarity by the cardinals Howard and D’Estrees: the former shewed him all his letters from England, expressing the high expectations of the popish party, One evening, upon visiting cardinal Howard, he found him distributing some relics to two French gentlemen upon which he whispered to him English, that it was somewhat odd that a priest of the church of England should he at Rome helping them off with the ware of Babylon. The cardinal smiled at the remark, and, repeating it in French to the gentlemen, bid them tell their countrymen, how bold the heretics, and how mild the cardinals, were at Rome. Some disputes, which our author had at Rome, concerning religion, beginning to be taken notice of, made it proper for him to quit that city which he accordingly did, upon an intimation given him by prince Borghese.

| gave early notice of to the court of Hanover, intimating, that the success of this enterprise must naturally end in an entail of the British crown upon that illustrious house. He wrote also several pamphlets in support of the prince of Orange’s designs, which were reprinted at London in 1689, in 8vo, under the title of “A Collection of eighteen Papers relating to the affairs of Church and State during the Reign of King James II. &c.” And when his highness undertook the expedition to England, our author accompanied him as his chaplain, notwithstanding the particular circumstances of danger to which he was thereby exposed. At Exeter, after the prince’s landing, he drew up the association for pursuing the ends of his highness’s declaration. During these transactions, Dr. Crew, bishop of Durham, who had rendered himself obnoxious by the part he had acted in the high-commission court, having proposed to the prince of Orange to resign his bishopric in favour of Dr. Burnet, on condition of an allowance of 1000l. per annum out of the revenue, our author refused to accept it on those terms. But king William had not been many days on the throne before Dr. Burnet was advanced to the see of Salisbury, and consecrated March 31, 1689 *. Our prelate had scarcely taken his seat in the house of lords, when he distinguished himself by declaring for moderate measures with regard to the clergy who scrupled to take the oaths, and for a toleration of the protestant dissenters; and when the bill for declaring the rights and privileges of the subject, and settling the succession of the crown, was brought into parliament, he was the person appointed by king William to propose naming the duchess (afterwards electress) of Brunswick, next in succession after the

His biographer tells us, “he was so little anxious after his own prefermerit, that, when the bishopric of Salisbury became void, as it did soon after king William and queen Mary were established on the throne, he solicited for it in favour of his old friend Dr. Lloyd, then bishop of St. Asaph;” and that “the king answered him in a cold way, ‘That he had another person in view;’ and the next day he himself was nominated to that see.” The bishop himself tells us, the king named him to that see in terms more obliging than usually fell from him; and that, when he waited on the queen, she said, she hoped he would now put in practice those notions with which he had taken the liberty often to entertain her. The bishop informs us farther, that archbishop Sancroft refused to consecrate him, and for some days seemed determined to venture incurring a pramunirc, rather than obey the mandate for consecration: but at last he granted a commission to all the bishops of his province, or to any three of them, in conjunction with the bishop of London, to exercise his metropolitical authority during pleasure.

| princess of Denmark and her issue; and when this succession afterwards took place, he had the honour of being chairman of the committee to whom the hill was referred. This made him considered by the house of Hanover as one firmly attached to their interests, and engaged him in an epistolary correspondence with the princess Sophia, which lasted to her death. This year bishop Buruet addressed a “Pastoral Letter” to the clergy of his diocese, concerning the oaths of allegiance and supremacy to king Wiliiam and queen Mary; in which having grounded their majesties title to the crown upon the right of conquest, some members of both houses took such offence at it, that about three years after, they procured an order for burning the book by the hands of the common executioner. After the session of parliament was over, the bishop went down to his diocese, where, by his pious, prudent, and vigilant discharge of the episcopal functions, he gained universal esteem.

As we have before given some account of his conduct as a parish priest, and as professor of divinity, it is no less necessary to specify some particulars of his management when in this higher station.

As he had always looked upon Confirmation as the likeliest means of reviving a spirit of Christianity, he wrote a short “Directory,” for preparing the youth upon such occasions, and sent copies of it, some months beforehand, to the minister of every parish where he intended to confirm. Every summer, he made a tour, for six weeks or two months, through some district of his bishopric, daily preaching and confirming from church to church, so as, in the compass of three years (besides his triennial visitation), to go through all the principal livings of his diocese. In these circuits he entertained all the clergy that attended upon him, at his own expence, and held conferences with them upon the chief heads of divinity. During his residence at Salisbury, he constantly preached a Thursday’s lecture, founded at St. Thomas’s church: he likewise preached and confirmed, every Sunday morning, in some church of that city, or of the neighbourhood round about it; and, in the evening, he had a lecture in his own chapel, wherein he explained some portion of scripture. Every week, during the season of Lent, he catechised the youth of the two great schools in the cathedral church, and instructed them in order for confirmation. He | endeavoured, as much as possible, to reform the abuses of the bishop’s consistorial court.‘ No part of the episcopal office was more strictly attended to by him, than the examination of candidates for holy orders. He examined them himself as to the proofs of the Christian religion, the authority of the scriptures, and the nature of the gospel covenant; and, a day or two before ordination, he submitted all those whom he had accepted to the examination of the dean and prebendaries. As the qualification of clergymen for the pastoral care was always uppermost in his thoughts, he instituted at Salisbury a little nursery of students in divinity, being ten in number, to each of whom he allowed a salary of thirty pounds a year. Once every day he examined their progress in learning, and gave them a lecture on some speculative or practical point of divinity, or some part of the pastoral function. But this foundation being considered as reflecting upon the method of education at the universities, he was prevailed upon, after some years, to lay it wholly aside. He was a warm and constant enemy to pluralities, where non-residence was the consequence of them, and in some cases hazarded a suspension, rather than give institution. In the point of residence, he was so strict, that he immediately dismissed his own chaplains, upon their preferment to a cure of souls. He exerted the principle of toleration, which was deeply rooted in him, in favour of a nonjuring meeting-house at Salisbury, which he obtained the royal permission to conAive at; and this spirit of moderation brought over several dissenting families of his diocese to the commnnion of the church.

In 1692, he published a treatise, entitled “The Pastoral Care,” in which the duties of the clergy are laid down with great strictness, and enforced with no less zeal and warmth. The next year came out his “Four Discourses to the Clergy of his Diocese.” In 1694, our author preached the funeral sermon of archbishop Tillotson, with whom he had long kept up an intimate acquaintance and friendship, and whose memory he defended in “A Vindication of Abp. Tillotson,1696. The death of queen Mary, which happened the year following, drew from our author’s pen that “Essay on her character,” which her uncommon talents merited at the hands of a person who enjoyed so high a degree of her favour and confidence. After the decease of that princess, through whose hands the affairs and promotions of the church had wholly passed, our prelate was | one of the ecclesiastical commission appointed by the king to recommend to all bishoprics, deanries, and other vacant benefices in his majesty’s gift.

In 1698 the bishop lost his wife by the small-pox; but the consideration of the tender age of his children, and his own avocations, soon induced him to supply that loss by a marriage with Mrs. Berkley*. This year he was appointed preceptor to his highness the duke of Gloucester, and employed great care in the education of that young prince. In 16.99 our author published his “Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England.” This work was censured by the lower house of convocation in 1701, first, as allowing a diversity of opinions, which the Articles were framed to prevent; 2dly, as containing many passages contrary to the true meaning of the Articles, and to other received doctrines of our church; and, 3dly, as containing some things of pernicious consequence to the church, and derogatory from the honour of the reformation: but that house refusing to enter into particulars, unless they might at the same time offer some other matters to the upper house, which the bishops would not admit of, the affair was dropped. The “Exposition” was attacked,


This lady, the eldest daughter of sir Richard Blake, knight, and of Elizabeth, the daughter of Dr. Bathurst, an eminent physician in London, was fcorn the 8th of November, 1661. At a little more than seventeen years of age she was married to Robert Berkley of Spetchly, in the county of Worcester, esq. grandson of sir Robert Berkley, who was a judge in king Charles the First’s time. Mr. Berkley’s mother was a papist, but Mr. Berkley himself a protestant; which put Mrs. Berkley upon studying her own religion more fully, and obliged her to a more than ordinary strictness in her whole conduct. In king James’s time, when the fears of popery began greatly to increase, she prevailed with her husband to settle at the Hague till the revolution, when they returned to England. In 1693, she lost her husband, Mr. Berkley, who was buried with his ancestors at Spetchly. After his death, she perfected the hospital at Worcester, for the erecting of which he had bequeathed a large sum of money. During her widowhood, she made the first draught of that pious treatise, which she afterwards finished and published, entitled “A method of Devotion: or, Rules for holy and devout living; with prayers on several occasions, and advices and devotions for the holy Sacrament,” in octavo. This piece has been so well received, as to run through three editions. After continuing a widow near seven years, she was married to the bishop of Salisbury, who was so sensible of her worth and goodness, that he committed the care of his children entirely to her, and left her absol.ute mistress of her own fortune. In 1707, she took a journey to Spa for her health, and, after her return, seemed to be much recovered: but the winter following, upon the breaking of the frost in January, she was taken with a pleuritic fever, of which she died in a few days, und was buried at Spetchly, by her former husband. She was a lady, in every re spect, of most exemplary life and conversation. See “An Account of her prefixed to her ‘ Method of Devotion,’ Lond. 1713, by Dr. T. Goodwyn, afterwards archbishop of Cashel.

| supposed by Dr. William Binckes, in a piece entitled “A prefatory discourse to an examination of a late book, entitled ‘An Exposition, &c.’London, 1702, 4to. An answer to this discourse came out the year following, supposed by Dr. John Hoadly, primate of Ireland. Dr. Jonathan Edwards likewise attacked our author in a piece entitled “The Exposition given by my lord bishop of Sarum of the second Article of our Religion, examined,London, 1702, 4to. In answer to which there appeared “Remarks on the Examinist of the Exposition,” &c. London, 1702. At the same time, Mr. Robert Burscough published “A Vindication of the twenty-third Article of Religion, from a late Exposition, ascribed to my lord bishop of Sarum.” Mr. Edmund Elys likewise published, in 1704, “Reflections on a late Exposition of the Thirtynine Articles,” &c. 4to. There were two editions of the Exposition, in folio, the same year. In 1704 the scheme for the augmentation of poor livings, first projected by bishop Bur net, took place, and passed into an act of parliament. In 1706, he published a collection of “Sermons and Pamphlets,” 3 vols. 4to; in 1710, an “Exposition of the Church Catechism;” and in 17 13, “Sermons on several occasions,” with an “Essay towards a new book of Homilies.” This learned and eminent prelate died the 17th of March 1714—15, in the seventy-second year of his age, and was interred in the parish-church of St. James Clerkenwell, in London. Since his death, his “History of his own Time,” with an account of his life annexed, was published in 2 vols. fol. but the best edition is that of 1753, 4 vols. 8vo, edited by the rev. Dr. Flexman, with the life enlarged, and a very large catalogue of his publications, to which some trifling additions were made in the last edition of the Biographia Britannica.

As it would lead us, after “so long an account of the facts of Dr. Burnet’s life, into an article perhaps yet longer, were we to enter on the controversy so ably and so frequently repeated respecting the veracity of his ’ History of his own Time,” we shall only notice, that as the strong party zeal which prevailed at the beginning of the last century becomes either less, or of less importance to be revived, bishop Burnet’s works seem to rise in public estimation. All that is controversial, indeed, is nearly forgotten; but his History of the Reformation, and of his own Time, and his Lives of Rochester, Bedell, Hale, &c. afford a fair | prospect that his fame will yet be prolonged. The events of his life show that both at home and abroad he stood high in the estimation of his contemporaries, and his errors and prejudices, of whatever kind, would not have excited so many enemies had not his talents given him an unusual degree of consequence both in church and state. On the subject of his public character, however, we shall content ourselves with referring to our authorities, and conclude this article with some particulars of his private habits, which, as well as the above account of his life, stand uncontradicted, and surely entitle him to our respect.*


The celebrated antiquary, Mr. Thomas Baker, who cannot be supposed very friendly to Burnet’s opinions, says of his History of his own Time, vol. II. “His life, by his son, is the best part of the book; which, if it may be depended on, shews him to have been a great, and no bad man; and I cannot forbear thinking that his enemies have blackened him beyond what he deserved. I have reason to speak well of him, for he treated me with great humanity, as his letters to me will shew.” Letter in the Bodleian library. See more from Mr. Baker to the same purpose, —Gent. Mag. LXI. p. 788.

His time, we are told, was employed in one regular and uniform manner: he was a very early riser, seldom in bed later than five or six o’clock in the morning. Private meditation took up the two first hours, and the last half hour of the day. His first and last appearance to his family was at the morning and evening prayers, which he always read himself, though his chaplains were present. He took the opportunity of the tea-table to instruct his children in religion, and in giving them his own comment upon some portion of scripture. He seldom spent less than six, often eight, hours a day in his study. He kept an open table, in which there was plenty without luxury: his equipage was decent and plain; and all his expences generous, but not profuse. He was a most affectionate husband to his wives; and his love to his children expressed itself, not so much in hoarding up wealth for them, as in giving them the best education. After his sons had perfected themselves in the learned languages, under private tutors, he sent them to the university, and afterwards abroad, to finish their studies at Leyden. In his friendships he was warm, open-hearted, and constant; and though his station and principles raised him many enemies, he always endeavoured, by the kindest good offices, to repay all their injuries, and overcome them by returning good for evil. He was a kind and bountiful master to his servants, and obliging to all in employment under him. His charities were a | principal article of his expence. He gave an hundred pounds at a time for the augmentation of small livings: he bestowed constant pensions on poor clergymen and their widows, on students for their education at the universities, and on industrious, but unfortunate families: he contributed frequent sums towards the repairs or building of churches and parsonage-houses, to all public collections, to the support of charity-schools (one of which, for fifty children at Salisbury, was wholh' maintained by him), and to the putting out apprentices to trades. Nor were his alms confined to one nation, sect, or party; but want, and merit, in the object, were the only measures of his liberality. He looked upon himself, with regard to his episcopal revenue, as a mere trustee for the church, bound to expend the whole in a decent maintenance of his station, and in acts of hospitality and charity; and he had so faithfully balanced this account, that, at his death, no more of the income of his bishopric remained to his family than was barely sufficient to pay his debts. 1


Biog. Brit, and Life, by Flexman. Swift’s Works. See Index. —Neal’s Puritans. See Index. Letters from, in Granger’s Letters published by Mr. Malcolm. Lains’s Hist, of Scotland, vol. IV. p. 390, 397. —Gent. Mag. vol. LVIII. p. 853, 952 LXI. p. 725, 788. Whiston’s Life. See Index. Birch’s Tillotson. Nichols’s Atterbury. See Index. Bowyer. Apthorp’s Letters On the prevalence of Christianity, Dalryrnple’s Memoirs, p. 34, note, &c. &c.