Calamy, Benjamin

, an eminent divine of the church of England, was the son of Mr. Edmund Calamy, minister of Aldermanbury before-mentioned, by a second wife, and received the first tincture of learning at St. Paul’s school, from whence he was sent, when very young, to the university of Cambridge, and there entered of Catherine-hall. In 1664-5, he took the degree of bachelor of arts; in 1668, that of master of arts, and became also fellow of that hall, and a very eminent tutor there. April 25, 1677, he was chosen in the room of Dr. Simon Ford, minister of St. Mary Aldermanbury; and soon after appointed one of his majesty’s chaplains in ordinary. In 1680, he took his degree of doctor in divinity. In 1683, he preached in that church his famous sermon, which he afterwards published under the title of “A Discourse about a Scrupulous Conscience,” than which no piece of its kind or size gamed more credit to its author, or was more taken notice of by the public. This sermon he preached a second time at Bow church with great effect, and this excited a zealous nonconformist, one Mr. Thomas De Laune, who had been formerly a schoolmaster, to write against it; which he did in such a manner as drew upon him a fatal imprisonment, | which he endeavoured by all means to ascribe to Dr. Calamy, though his complaints on this head had little or no foundation. In 1683, Dr. Calamy was admitted to the vicarage of St. Lawrence Jewry, with St. Mary Magdalen Milk-street annexed, to which he was collated by the dean and chapter of St. Paul’s, in the room of Dr. Benjamin Whichcot. June 18, 1685, he was, on the decease of Dr. John Wells, installed into the prebend of Harleston, in the cathedral church of St. Paul. These preferments are abundant proofs of his merit, and of his great interest in the city of London, which he maintained, not by attaching himself to any party, but by living in great intimacy with the best men of all parties. He was particularly acquainted with alderman Cornish, who was his parishioner, and for whom he had so great a respect, that he gave testimony in his favour when he was tried for high-treason, October 16, 1685, which was no ordinary mark of friendship in those times. It is thought, that a sense of public calamities had a great share in bringing his last illness upon our author, who fell into a declining state in the autumn of the year last mentioned, and died of a pleuritic fever in the month of January 1686. He was a man equally valuable for the abilities which he possessed, and the uses to which he applied them. He was a sincere son of the church of England, and very intent on gaining over dissenters of all sorts to her communion; and had an extensive charity, and a just aversion to persecution. He was heartily loyal, but without bitterness or passion; and his loyalty occasioned his grief, when he saw those steps taken which could end in nothing but public confusion. His own virtues, however, exempted him in a great measure from envy and scandal, even in the worst of times; insomuch, that the greatest men of all sects and all parties readily joined in paying a just tribute of praise to his memory. Though few in his situation were either better or more frequent preachers, yet he left behind him very little in print. Some sermons of his were after his decease, published by his brother, which served only to raise a great regret in the world, as that so many more of his excellent performances were buried in oblivion. His sermons are still valued as well for the beauty of their language as the excellent sentiments contained in them. 1


Biog. Brit.—Funeral Sermon by Sherlock.