Chillingworth, William

, a divine of the church of England, celebrated for his controversial talents, was the son of William Chillingworth, citizen, afterwards mayor of Oxford, and born there October 1602. He was baptized on the last of that month, Laud, archbishop of Canterbury, but then fellow of St. John’s -college, being his godfather. After he had been educated in grammar learning at a private school in that city, he was admitted a scholar of Trinity-college, June 2, 1618, and elected fellow June 10, 1628; after having taken his degrees of B A. and M. A. in the regular way. He did not confine his studies to divinity: he applied himself with great success to mathematics; and, what shews the extent of his genius, he was also accounted a good poet. Accordingly, | sir John Suckling has mentioned him in his Session of the Poets"

“There was Selden, and he set hard by the chair;

Wainman not far off, which was very fair.

Sands with Townshend, for they kept no order,

Digby and Chillingsworth a little further.”

The conversation and study of the university scholars, in his time, turned chiefly upon the controversies between the church of England and the church of Rome, occasioned by the uncommon liberty allowed the Romish priests by James I. and Charles I. Several of them lived at or near Oxford, and made frequent attempts upon the young scholars; some of whom they deluded to the Romish religion, and afterwards conveyed to the English seminaries beyond sea. Among these there was the famous Jesuit, John Fisher, alias John Perse, for that was his true name, who was then much at Oxford and Chillingworth being accounted a very ingenious man, Fisher used all possible means of being acquainted with him. Their conversation, soon turned upon the points controverted between the two churches, but particularly on the necessity of an infallible living judge in matters of faith. Chillingworth found himself unable to answer the arguments of the Jesuit on this head; and being convinced of the necessity of such a judge, he was easily brought to believe that this judge was to be found in the church of Rome; that therefore the church of Rome must be the true church, and the only church in which men could be saved. Upon this he forsook the communion of the church of England, and cordially embraced the Romish religion.

In order to secure his conquest, Fisher persuaded him to go over to the college of the Jesuits at Doway; and he was desired to set down in writing the motives or reasons which had engaged him to embrace the Romish religion. But his godfather, Laud, who was then bishop of London, hearing of this affair, and being extremely concerned at it, wrote to him; and Chillingworth’s answer expressing much moderation, candour, and impartiality, that prelate continued to correspond with him, and to press him with several arguments against the doctrine and practice of the Romanists, This set him upon a new inquiry, which had the desired effect. But the place where he was not being suitable to the state of a free and impartial inquirer, he resolved to come back to England, and left Doway in | 1631, after a short stay there. Upon his return, he was received with great kindness and affection hy bishop Laud, who approved his design of retiring to Oxford, of which university that prelate was then chancellor, in order to complete the important work he was then upon, “A free Enquiry into Religion.” At last, after a thorough examination, the protestant principles appearing to him the most agreeable to holy scripture and reason, he declared for them; and having fully discovered the sophistry of the motives which had induced him to go over to the church of Rome, he wrote a paper about 1634 to confute them, but did not think proper to publish it. This paper is now lost; for though we have a paper of his upon the same subject, which was first published in 1687, among his additional discourses, yet it seems to have been written on some other occasion, probably at the desire of some of his friends. That his return to the church of England ‘was owing to bishop Laud, appears from that prelate’s appeal to the letters which passed between them; which appeal was made in his speech before the lords at his trial, in order to vindicate himself from the charge of popery.

As, in forsaking the church of England, as well as in returning to it, he was solely influenced by a love of truth, so, upon the same principles, even after his return to protestantism, he thought it incumbent upon him to re-examine the grounds of it. This appears from a letter he wrote to Sheldon, containing some scruples he had about leaving the church of Rome, and returning to the church of England; and these scruples, which he declared ingenuously to his friends, seemed to have occasioned a report that he had turned papist a second time, and then protestant again. It would have been more just, perhaps, to conclude that his principles were still unsettled, but, as his return to the protestant religion made much noise, he became engaged in several disputes with those of the Homish; and particularly with John Lewgar, John Floyd a Jesuit, who went under the name of Daniel, or Dan. a. Jesu, and White. Lewgar, a great zealot for the church of Rome, and one who had been an intimate friend of our author, as soon as he heard of his return to the church of England, sent him a very angry and abusive letter; to which Chillingvvorth returned so mild and affectionate an answer, that Lewgar could not help being touched with it, and desired to see his old friend again. They had a conference | upon religion before Skinner and Sheldon and we have a paper of Chillingworth printed among the additional discourses above-mentioned, which seems to contain the abstract or summary of their dispute. Besides the pieces already mentioned, he wrote one to demonstrate, that “the doctrine of infallibility is neither evident of itself, nor grounded upon certain and infallible reasons, nor warranted by any passage of scripture.” And in two other papers, he shews that the church of Rome had formerly erred; first, “by admitting of infants to the eucharist, and holding, that without it they could not be saved;” and secondly, “by teaching the doctrine of the millenaries, viz. that before the world’s end Christ shall reign upon the earth 1000 years, and that the saints should live under him in all holiness and happiness;” both which doctrines are condemned as false and heretical by the present church of Rome. He wrote also a short letter, in answer to some objections by one of his friends, in which he shews, that “neither the fathers nor the councils are infallible witnesses of tradition and that the infallibility of the church of Rome must first of all be proved from Scripture.” Lastly, he wrote an answer to some passages in the dialogues published under the name of Rush worth. In 1635 he was engaged in a work which gave him a far greater opportunity to confute the principles of the church of Rome, and to vindicate the religion of protestants. A Jesuit called Edward Knott, though his true name was Matthias Wilson, had published in 1630 a little book called “Charity mistaken, with the want whereof catholics are unjustly charged, for affirming, as they do with grief, that protestancy unrepented destroys salvation.” This was answered by Dr. Potter, provost of Queen Vcollege, Oxford, in 1633, in a tract entitled “Want of Charity justly charged on all such Romanists as dare without truth or modesty affirm, that protestancy destroyeth salvation.” The Jesuit in 1634 published an answer, called “Mercy and Truth, or Charity maintained by catholics with the want whereof they are unjustly chargetl, for affirming that protestancy destroyeth salvation.” Knott being informed of Chillingworth’s intention to reply to this, resolved to prejudice the public both against the author and his book, in a pamphlet called “A Direction to be observed by N. N. if he means to proceed in answering the book entitled Mercy and Truth, &c. printed in 1636, | permissu superiorum:” in which he makes no scruple to represent Chillingworth as a Socinian, a charge which has been since brought against him with more effect. Chillingworth’s answer to Knott was very nearly finished in the beginning of 1637, when Laud, who knew our author’s freedom in delivering his thoughts, and was under some apprehension he might indulge it too much in his book, recommended the revisal of it to Dr. Prideaux, professor of divinity at Oxford, afterwards bishop of Worcester; and desired it might be published with his approbation annexed to it. Dr. Baylie, vice-chancellor, and Dr. Fell, lady Margaret’s professor in divinity, also examined the book; and at the end of the year it was published, with their approbation, under this title: “The religion of Protestants a safe way to Salvation: or, an answer to a book entitled Mercy and Truth, or Charity maintained by Catholics, which pretends to prove the contrary.” It was presented by the author to Charles I. with a very elegant dedication i from whence we learn this remarkable circumstance, that Dr. Potter’s vindication of the protestant religion against Knott’s books was written by special order of the king 5 and that, by giving such an order, that prince, besides the general good, had also some aim at the recovery of Chillingworth from the danger he was then in by the change of his religion. This work was received with general applause; and what perhaps never happened to any other controversial work of that bulk, two editions of it wer6 published within less than five months: the first at Oxford, 1638, in folio; the second at London, with some small improvements, the same year. A third was published in 1664 to which were added some pieces of Chillingworth a fourth in 1674; a fifth in 1684, with the addition of his Letter to Lewgar, mentioned above. In 1687, when the nation was in imminent danger of popery, and this work was in its Cull popularity, Dr. John Patrick, at the request of the London clergy, published an abridgment of it in 4to, with the additional pieces, which we have taken notice of already. The sixth edition of the original appeared in 1704, with the “Additional Discourses,” but full of typographical errors; the seventh edition in 1719; the eighth in ———; and the ninth in 1727. This last edition was prepared from that of 1664, carefully examined and compared with the two preceding editions. The various readings of these editions are. taken | notice of at the bottom of each page, with the words Oxf, or Lond. after them. The tenth and last edition is of the year 1742, with the “Life of Mr. Chillingworth,”by Dr. Birch', which life was copied into the General Dictionary, 10 vols. fol. The Jesuit Knott, as well as Floyd and Lacy, Jesuits, wrote against Chillingworth; but their answers were soon forgotten.

In the mean time he had refused preferment, which was offered him by sir Thomas Coventry, keeper of the great seal, because his conscience would not allow him to subscribe the thirty-nine articles. Considering that, by subscribing the articles, he must not only declare, willingly, and ex animo, that every one of the articles is agreeable to the word of God, but also that the book of common prayer contained nothing contrary to the word of God; that it might lawfully be used; and that he himself would use it: and conceiving at the same time that, both in the articles and in the book of common prayer, there were some things repugnant to the scripture, or which were not lawful to be used, he fully resolved to lose for ever all hopes of preferment, rather than comply with the subscriptions required. One of his chief objections to the common prayer related to the Athanasian dreed, the damnatory clauses of which he lodked upon as contrary to the word of God. Another objection concerned the fourth corttmantlmentj which, by the prayer subjoined to it, f; Lord, have mercy updn us,“&c. appeared to him to be mfcde a part of the Christian law, and consequently to bind Christians to the observation of the Jewish sabbath. These scruples of but authoi’j about subscribing the articles, furnished his antagonist Knott with an objection against him, as an improper champion for the protestant caw&e. To which he answers in the close of his preface to theReligion of Protestants.“He expresses here not only his readiness to subscribe, but also what he conceives to be the sense and intent of such a subscription; that is, a subscription of peace or union, and not of belief or assent, as he formerly thought it was. This was also the sense of archbishop Laud, with which he could not then be unacquainted; and of his friend Sheldon, who laboured to convince him of it, and was, no doubt, the person that Brought him at last into it. For there is in Des Maizeaux’s Account, a letter which he wrote to Sheldon upon this occasion; and it seems there passed several letters between | them upon this subject. Such at least is the apqjqgy which his biographers have offered for his ready subscription, after it had appeared to every impartial person that his objections were insurmountable. The apology we tiring as weak, as his subscription was strong and decisive, running in the usual language,” omnibus hisce articulis et singulis in iisdem contentis volens, et ex animo subscribe, et conspnsum meum iisdem praebeo.“The distinction, after such a declaration, between peace and union, and belief and assent, is, we fear, too subtle for common understandings. When, by whatever means, he had got the better of his scruples, he was prompted to the chancellorship of Salisbury, with the prebend of Bri$wqrth, in Northamptonshire, annexed and, as appears from the subscription-book of the church of Salisbury, upon July 20, 1638, complied with the usual subscription, in the manner just related. About the same time he was appointed master of Wigston’s hospital, in Leicestershire” both which,“says Wood,” and perhaps some other preferments, he kept to his dying day.“In 1646 he was deputed by the chapter of Salisbury their proctor in convocation. He was likewise deputed to the convocation which met the same year with the new parliament, and was opened Nov. 4. In 1642 he was put into the roll with some others by his majesty, to be created D. D.; but the civil war breaking out, he never received it. He was zealously attached to the royal party, and at the siege of Gloucester, begun Aug. 10, 1643, was present in the king’s army, where he advised and directed the making certain engines for assaulting the town, after the manner of the Roman testudines cum pluteis, but which the success of the enemy prevented him from employing. Soon after f having accompanied the lord Hopton, general of the king’s forces ip the west, to Arundel castle, in Sussex, and choosing to repose himself in that garrison, on account of an indisposition, occasioned by the severity of the season, he was taken prisoner Dec, 9, 1643, by the parliament forces under the command of sir William Waller, when the castle surrendered. But his illness increasing, and not being able to go to London with the garrison, he obtained leave to be conveyed to Chichester; where he was lodged in the bishop’s palace; and where, after a short illness, he died. We have a very particular account of his sickness and death, written by his great adversary, Mr. Cheynell, in his” Chillingworthi Novissima, or the | sickness, heresy, death, and burial, of William Chillingworth, &c.“London, 1644, 4to. Cheynell accidentally met him at Arundel castle, and frequently visited him at Chichester, till he died. It was indeed at the request of this gentleman, that our author was removed to Chichester; where Cheynell attended him constantly, and behaved to him with as much compassion and charity as his bigotted and uncharitable principles would suffer him. There is no reason, however, to doubt the truth of Cheynell’s account, as to the most material circumstances, which prove that Chillingworth was attended during his sickness, and provided with all necessaries, by one 1 lieutenant Golledge, and his wife Christobel, at the command of the governor of Chichester; that at first he refused the assistance of sir William Waller’s physician, but afterwards was persuaded to admit his visits, though there were no hopes of his recovery; that his indisposition was increased by the abusive treatment he met with from most of the officers who were taken prisoners with him in Arundel castle, and who looked upon him as a spy set over them and their proceedings; and that during his whole illness he was often teased by Cheynell himself, and by an officer of the garrison of Chichester, with impertinent questions and disputes. And on the same authority we may conclude that lord Clarendon was misinformed of the particulars of his death for, after having observed that he was taken prisoner in Arundel castle, he adds” As soon as his person was known, which would have drawn reverence from any noble enemy, the clergy that attended that army prosecuted him with all the inhumanity imaginable; so that by their barbarous usage, he died within a few days, to the grief of all that knew him, and of many who knew him not, but by his book, and the reputation he had with learned men." From this it appears that the noble historian did not know, or had forgot, that he was sent to Chichester, but believed that he died in Arundel castle, and within a few days after the taking of it by sir William Waller. Wood tells us also, that the royal party in Chichester looked upon the impertinent discourses of Cheynell to our author, as a shortening of his days. He is supposed to have died Jan. 30, though the day is not precisely known, and was buried, according to his own desire, in the cathedral church of Chichpster, Cheynell appeared at his funeral, and gave | that instance of bigotry and buffoonery which we have related already under his article.

For his character Wood has given the following: “He was a most noted philosopher and orator, and, without doubt, a poet also; and had such an admirable faculty in reclaiming schismatics and confuting papists, that none in his time went beyond him. He had also very great skill in mathematics. He was a subtle and quick disputant, and would several times put the king’s professor to a push. Hobbes of Malmesbury would often say, that he was like a lusty fighting fellow, that did drive his enemies before him, but would often give his own party smart back-blows; and it was the current opinion of the university, that he and Lucius lord Falkland,” who by the way was his most intimate friend, “had such extraordinary clear reason, that, if the great Turk or devil were to be converted, they were able to do it. He was a man of little stature, but of great soul: which, if times had been serene, and life spared, might have done incomparable services to the church of England.” Archbishop Tillotson has spoken of him in the highest terms: “I know not how it comes to pass,” says that eminent prelate, “but so it is, that every one that offers to give a reasonable account of his faith, and to establish religion upon rational principles, is presently branded for a Socinian; of which we have a sad instance in that incomparable person Mr. Chillingworth, the glory of this age and nation: who, for no other cause that I know of, but his worthy and successful attempts to make the Christian religion reasonable, and to discover those firm and solid foundations upon which our faith is built, has been requited with this black and odious character. But, if this be Socinianism, for a man to inquire into the grounds and reasons of Christian religion, and to endeavour to give a satisfactory account why he believes it, I know no way, but that all considerate and inquisitive men, that are above fancy and enthusiasm, must be either Socinians or atheists.” Mr. Locke has also spoken of Chillingworth with equal commendation. In a small tract, containing “Some thoughts concerning reading and study for a gentleman,” after having observed that the art of speaking well consists chiefly in two things, namely, perspicuity and right reasoning, and proposed Dr. Tillotson as a pat tern for the attainment of the art of speaking clearly, he adds: “Besides perspicuity, there masjt-be also right | reasoning, without which, perspicuity serves but to expose the speaker. And for attaining of this, I should propose the constant reading of Chillingworth, who, by his example, will teach both perspicuity and the way of right reasoning, better than any book that I know: and therefore will deserve to be read upon that account over and over again; not to say any thing of his argument.

Lord Clarendon’s character of him, however, appears superior to any given by those who had no personal knowledge of Chillingworth. “Mr. Chillingworth,” says that admirable portrait-painter, "was of a stature little superior to Mr. Hales, (and it was an age in which there were many great and wonderful men of that size) and a man of so great a subtilty of understanding, and so rare a temper in debate, that as it was impossible to provoke him into any passion, so it was very difficult to keep a man’s self from being a little discomposed by his sharpness, and quickness of argument, and instances, in which he had a rare facility, and a great advantage over all the men I ever knew. He had spent all his younger time in disputation; and had arrived to so great a mastery, as he was inferior to no man in those skirmishes; but he had, with his notable perfection in this exercise, contracted such an irresolution, and habit of doubting, that by degrees he grew confident of nothing, and a sceptic at least, in the greatest mysteries of faith.

"This made him from first wavering in religion, and indulging to scruples, to reconcile himself too soon, and too easily to the church of Rome; and carrying still his own inquisitiveness about him, without any resignation to their authority (which is the only temper can make that church sure of its proselytes) having made a journey to St. Omers (Doway), purely to perfect his conversion, by the conversation of those who had the greatest name, he found as little satisfaction there, and returned with as much haste from them; with a belief that an entire exemption from error was neither inherent in, nor necessary to any church: which occasioned that war, which was carried on by the Jesuits with so great asperity and reproaches against him, and in which he defended himself by such an admirable eloquence of language, and clear and incomparable power of reason, that he not only made them appear unequal adversaries, but carried the war into their own quarters $ and made the pope’s infallibility to be | as much shaken, and declined by their own doctors (and as great an acrimony amongst themselves upon that subject) and to be at least as much doubted, as in the schools of the reformed or protestant; and forced them since, to defend and maintain those unhappy controversies in religion, with arms and weapons of another nature, than were used, or known in the church of Rome, when Bellarmine died; and which probably will in time undermine the very foundation that supports it.

"Such a levity and propensity to change is commonly attended with great infirmities in, and no less reproach and prejudice to the person; but the sincerity of his heart was so conspicuous and without the least temptation of any corrupt end, and the innocence and candour in his nature so evident and without any perverseness; that all who knew him, clearly discerned, that all those restless motions and fluctuations proceeded only from the warmth and jealousy of his own thoughts, in a too nice inquisition for truth. Neither the books of the adversary, nor any of their persons, though he was acquainted with the best of both, had ever made great impression upon him: all his doubts grew out of himself, when he assisted his scruples with all the strength of his own reason, and was then too hard for himself; but finding as little quiet and repose in those victories, he quickly recovered, by a new appeal to his own judgment; so that he was in truth, upon the matter, in all his sallies, and retreats, his own convert; though he was not so totally divested of all thoughts of this world, but that when he was ready for it, he admitted some great and considerable churchmen to be sharers with him in his public conversion.

"He did readily believe all war to be unlawful and did not think that the parliament (whose proceedings he perfectly abhorred) did in truth intend to involve the nation in a civil war, till after the battle of Edgehill; and then he thought any expedient, or stratagem that was like to put a speedy end to it, to be the most commendable.

He was a man of excellent parts, and of a cheerful disposition void of all kind of vice, and endued with many notable virtues of a very public heart, and an indefatigable desire to do good his only un happiness proceeded from his sleeping too little, and thinking too much which sometimes threw him into violent fevers.| With respect to his inclination to Socinian tenets, that point has been so clearly demonstrated by the late Mr. Whitaker, in his “Origin of Arianism disclosed,” p. 482 492, as to admit of no doubt. Dr. Kippis, in the last edition of the Biographia Britannica, acknowledged himself to be convinced by Mr. Whitaker’s testimonies and reasonings, and therefore retracted what he had said on the subject, in a preceding volume.

Besides the works already noticed, there are extant of Mr. Chillingworth’s, “Nine Sermons on occasional subjects,1664, 4to; and a tract called “The Apostolical Institution of Episcopacy,1644, 4to. It was also added to an edition of a tract on the same subject, by Dr. Morton, bishop of Durham, entitled “Confessions and proofs of protestant divines,1644, 4to. A volume of his manuscript tracts, chiefly of the controversial kind, is among the manuscripts in the Lambeth library, which archbishop Tenison purchased of Mr. Henry Wharton. Mr. Chillingworth left his relations residuary legatees to his property, after a few trifling legacies, and the sum of 400l. to the corporation of Oxford for charitable purposes. 1

1 Life by Des Maizeaux, London, 1725, 8vo. Gen. Dict. Bio. Brit.­Cheynell’s Chillingvvorthi Novissima. Clarendon’s Life. —Ath. Ox. vol. li.