Cosin, John

, an English prelate, was the son of Giles Cosin, a rich citizen of Norwich, and born in that city Nov. 30, 1594. He was educated in the free-school there, till 14 years of age; and then removed to Caius college in Cambridge, of which he was successively scholar and fellow. Being at length distinguished for his ingenuity and learning, he had, in 1616, an offer of a librarian’s place from Overall bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, and Andrews bishop of Ely, and accepted the invitation of the former; who dying in 1619, he became domestic chaplain to Neil bishop of Durham. He was made a prebendary of Durham in 1624; and the year following collated to the archdeaconry of the east riding in the church of York, | vacant by the resignation of Marmaduke Blakestone, whose daughter he had married that year. July 1626, Neil presented him to the rich rectory of Branspeth, in the diocese of Durham; the parochial church of which he beautified in an extraordinary manner. About that time, having frequent meetings at the bishop of Durham’s house in London, with Laud and other divines of that party, he began to be obnoxious to the puritans, who suspected him to be popishly affected; grounding their suspicion on his “Collection of Private Devotions,” published in 1627. This collection, according to one of his biographers, was drawn up at the command of Charles I. for the use of those protestants who attended upon the queen; and, by way of preserving them from the taint of certain popish books of devotion, supposed to be thrown, on purpose, about the royal apartments. Collier, however, says that it was written at the request of the countess of Denbigh, the duke of Buckingham’s sister. This lady being then somewhat unsettled in her religion, and inclining towards popery, these devotions were drawn up to recommend the Church of England farther to her esteem, and preserve her in that communion. This book, though furnished with a great deal of good matter, was not altogether acceptable in the contexture; although the title-page sets forth, that it was formed npon the model of a book of private Prayers, authorized by queen Elizabeth, in 1560. The top of the frontispiece had the name of Jesus in three capital letters, I. H. 8. Upon these there was a cross, encircled with the sun supported by two angels, with two devout women praying towards it. Burton, Prynne, and other celebrated puritans, attacked it very severely; and there is no doubt but it greatly contributed to draw upon him all that persecution which he afterwards underwent.

About 1628 he took the degree of D. D. and the same year was concerned, with his brethren of the church of Durham, in a prosecution against Peter Smart, a prebeiidary there, for a seditious sermon preached in that cathedral, npon Psalm xxxi. 7. “I hate them that hold of superstitious vanities.” Smart was degraded, and dispossessed of his preferments; but, as we shall perceive, afterwards amply revenged of Cosin for his share in the prosecution. In 163 4 Cosin was elected master of Peterhouse in Cambridge; and in 1640 made dean of Peterborough by Charles I, whose chaplain he then was; but on Nov. 10, | three days after his installation into that deanry, a petition from Peter Smart against him was read in the house of commons; wherein complaint was made of his superstition, innovations in the church of Durham, and severe prosecution of himself in the high commission-court. This ended in his being, Jan. 22, 1642, sequestered by a vote of the whole house from his ecclesiastical benefices; and he is remarkable for having been the first clergyman in those times who was treated in that manner. March 15th ensuing, the commons sent twenty -one articles of impeachment against him to the house of lords, tending to prove him popishly affected; and about the same time he was put under restraint, upon a surmise that he had enticed a young scholar to popery: of all which charges he fully cleared himself, and was indeed acquitted; but in those days of tyrannical oppression, this availed him little, nor was any recompense made him for his expences. In 1642, being concerned with others in sending the plate of the university of Cambridge to the king, who was then at York, he was ejected from his mastership of Peter-house; so that, as he was the first who was sequestered from his ecclesiastical benefices, he was also the first that was displaced in the university. Thus deprived of all his preferments, and not without fears of something worse, he resolved to leave the kingdom, and retire to Paris; which accordingly he did in 1643.

Here, by the king’s order, he officiated as chaplain to such of the queen’s household as were protestants; and with them, and other exiles daily resorting thither, he formed a congregation, which was held first in a private house, and afterwards at the English ambassador’s chapel. Not long after, he had lodgings assigned him in the Louvre, with a small pension, on account of his relation to queen Henrietta. During his residence in this place, he continued firm in the protestant religion; reclaimed some who had gone over to popery, and confirmed others who were wavering about going; had disputes and controversies with Jesuits and Romish priests, and about the same time employed himself in writing several learned pieces against them. One accident befel him abroad, which he often spoke of as the most sensible affliction in his whole life; and that was, his only son’s turning papist. This son was educated in grammar learning in a Jesuit’s school, as were! many others of our youths during the civil war; and | occasion was thence taken of inveigling him into popery. He was prevailed upon, not only to embrace popery, but also to take religious orders in the church of Rome: and though his father used all the ways imaginable, and even the authority of the French king, which by interest he had procured, to regain him out of their power, and from their persuasion, yet all proved ineffectual. Upon this he disinherited him, allowing him only an annuity of 100l. He pretended indeed to turn protestant again, but relapsed before his father’s decease.

At the restoration of Charles II. Cosin returned to England, and took possession of all his preferments, and before the year was out, was raised to the see of Durham. As soon as he could get down to his diocese, he set about reforming abuses there during the late anarchy; and distinguished himself by his charity and public spirit. He laid out a great share of his large revenues in repairing or rebuilding the several edifices belonging to the bishopric of Durham, which had either been demolished, or neglected, during the civil wars. He repaired the castle at Bishop’s Aukland, the chief country-seat of the bishops of Durham; that at Durham, which he greatly enlarged; and the bishop’s house at Darlington, then very ruinous. He also enriched his new chapel at Aukland, and that at Durham, with several pieces of gilt plate, books, and other costly ornaments; the charge of all which buildings, repairs, and ornaments, amounted, according to Dr. Smith, to near 16,000l. but, as others say, to no less than 26,000l. He likewise built and endowed two hospitals; the one at Durham for eight poor people, the other at Aukland for four. The annual revenue of the former was TOl. that of the latter 30l.; and near his hospital at Durham, he rebuilt the school-houses, which cost about 300l. He also built a library near the castle of Durham, the charge whereof, with the pictures with which he adorned it, amounted to 800l. and gave books thereto to the value of 2000l. as also an annual pension of 20 marks for ever to a librarian. But his generosity in this way was not confined within the precincts of his diocese. He rebuilt the east end of the chapel at Peter-house in Cambridge, which cost 320l. and gave books to the library of that college to the value of 1000l. He founded eight scholarships in the same university: namely, five in Peter-house* of 101. a year each and three in Caius college, of 20 nobles apiece per-annum: both which, together with a provision of 8l. | yearly, to the common chest of those two colleges respectively, amounted to 2500l. Without mentioning the whole of his benefactions, we shall only notice farther that he gave, in ornaments to the cathedral at Durham, 45l.; upon the new building of the bishop’s court, exchequer, and chancery, and towards erecting two sessions houses in Durham, \000l.; towards the redemption of Christian captives at Algiers, 500l.; towards the relief of the distressed loyal party in England, 800l.; for repairing the banks in Howdenshire, 100 marks; towards repairing St. Paul’s cathedral in London, 50l. In a word, this generous bishop, during the eleven years he sat in the see of Durham, is said to have spent above 2000l. yearly in pious and charitable uses.

He died, Jan. 15, 1672, of a pectoral dropsy, in his 78th year, after having been much afflicted with the stone for some time before; and his body was conveyed from his house in Westminster to Bishop’s Aukland, where it was buried in the chapel belonging to the palace, under a tomb of black marble, with a plain inscription prepared by the bishop in his life-time. Besides the son already mentioned, he had four daughters. By his will he bequeathed considerable sums of money to charitable purposes: to be distributed among the poor in several places, a sum amounting to near 400l.; towards rebuilding St. Paul’s cathedral, when it should be raised five yards from the ground, 1001.; to the cathedral at Norwich, whereof the one half to be bestowed on a marble tablet, with an inscription in memory of Dr. John Overall, some time bishop there, whose chaplain he had been, the rest for providing some useful ornaments for the altar, 40l.; towards repairing the south and north side of Peter-house chapel in Cambridge, suitable to the east and west sides, already by him perfected, 200l.; towards the new building of a chapel at Emanuel college in Cambridge, 50l.; to the children of r. John Hayward, late prebendary of Lichfield, as a stimony of his gratitude to their deceased father, who in his younger years placed him with his uncle bishop Overall, 20l. each; to some of his domestic servants 100 marks, to some 50l. and to the rest half a year’s wages, over and above their last quarter’s pay. In his will also, he made a large and open declaration of his faith, and was particularly explicit and emphatical in vindicating himself from the imputation of popery: “I do profess,” says he, “with | holy observation, and from my very heart, that I am now, and ever have been from my youth, altogether free and averse from the corruptions, and impertinent, new-fangled, or papistical superstitions and doctrines, long since introduced, contrary to the holy scripture, and the rules and customs of the ancient fathers.” In the third volume of the Clarendon State Papers, lately published, we find a letter, written, in 1658, to the lord chancellor Hyde, by Dr. Cosin, which affords a farther proof that, notwithstanding his superstition and his fondness for the pomp of external worship, he was steadily attached to the protestant religion. In this letter, speaking of the queen dowager Henrietta and lord Jermyn, he says, “They hold it for a mortal sin to give one penny towards the maintenance of such heretics as Dr. Cosin is.” The accusation of popery, however, answered the purposes of his persecutors, and his minute attention to the decorations and repairs of churches and cathedrals afforded some ground of suspicion even with those of more honest and candid minds.

Dr. Cosin wrote a great number of books, from all which he has sufficiently confuted the calumny of his being a papist, or popishly affected. Besides his “Collection of Private Devotions,” mentioned above, he published “A Scholastical History of the Canon of the Holy Scripture; or, the certain and indubitable books thereof, as they are received in the Church of England,” Condon, 1657, 4to, reprinted in 1672. This history, which is still in esteem, is deduced from the time of the Jewish church, to the year 1546, that is, the time when the council of Trent corrupted, and made unwarrantable additions to, the ancient Canon of the Holy Scriptures, and was written by the author during his exile at Paris. He dedicated it to Dr. M. Wren, bishop of Ely, then a prisoner in the Tower. Dr. P. Gunning had the care of the edition. Since the bishop’s decease the following books and tracts of his have been published: 1. “A Letter to Dr. Collins, concerning the Sabbath,” dated from Peterhouse, Jan. 24, 1635, printed in the “Bibliotheca Literaria,1723, 4to; in which he proves, that the keeping of our Sunday is immutable, as being grounded upon divine institution and apostolical tradition, which he confirms by several instances. 2. “A Letter from our author to Mr. Cordel, dated Paris, Feb. 7, 165O,” printed at the end of a pamphlet entitled “The Judgment of the Church of England, in the case of | Laybaptism, and of Dissenters baptism,‘ 1 a second edition of which was published in 1712, 8vo. 3.” Regni Anglise Religio Catholica, prisca, casta, defoecata: omnibus Christianis monarchis, principibus, ordinibus, ostensa, anno MDCLII.“i. e. A short scheme of the ancient and pure doctrine and discipline of the Church of England. Written at the request of sir Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, and printed at the end of Smith’s Life of bishop Cosin. 4.” The History of Popish Transubstantiation,“&c. written in Latin by the author at Paris, for the use of some of his countrymen, who were frequently attacked upon that point by the papists. It was published by Dr. Durrell, at London, 1675, 8vo, and translated into English in 1676, by Luke de Beaulieu, 8vo. There is a second part still in manuscript. 5.” The differences in the chief points of religion between the Roman Catholics and us of the Church of England; together with the agreements which we, for our parts, profess, and are ready to embrace, if they, for theirs, were as ready to accord with us in the same. Written to the countess of Peterborough, “printed at the end of bishop Bull’s” Corruptions of the Church of Rome.“6.” Notes on the Book of CommonPrayer.“Published by Dr. William Nicholls, at the end of his Comment on the Book of Common-Prayer, Lond. 171O, fol. 7.” Account of a Conference in Paris, between Cyril, archbishop of Trapezond, and Dr. John Cosin;“printed in the same book. 8.A Letter from Dr. Cosin to bishop Moreton his predecessor, giving an account of his studies and employment when an exile abroad;“and,A Memorial of his, against what the Romanists call the Great General Council of Lateran under Innocent III. in 1215,“both published by Des Maizeaux in vol. VI. of” The Present State of the Republic of Letters,“1730. 9.” An Apology of Dr. John Cosin,“in answer to Fuller’s misrepresentations of him in that author’s Church History, printed at the end of the first part of Heylin’s” Examen Historicum.“The following pieces were also written by bishop Cosin, but never primed: I.” An Answer to a Popish pamphlet pretending that St. Cyprian was a Papist.“2.” An Answer to four queries of a Roman Catholic, about the Protestant Religion.“3. ti An Answer to a paper delivered by a Popish BifUop to the lord Inchiquin. ’ 4.” Annales Ecclesiastic!,“imperfect. 5.” An Answer to Father Robinson’s Papers concerning the validity of the Ordinations of the Church | of England.“6.” Historia Conciliorum,“imperfect. 7.” Against the foraakers of the Church of England, and their seducers in this time of her tryal.“8.” Chronologia Sacra,“imperfect. 9.A Treatise concerning the abuse of auricular confession in the Church of Rome." Some few of Dr. Cosin’s letters are extant among Dr. Birch’s collections in the British Museum. 1


Basire’s Funeral Sermon and Life, 1C73, 12mo. Life by Smith in “Vitz F.ruditissimorum Virorum,” 4to. Biog. Brit. Barwick’s Life see Index. Hutchinson’s Hist, of Durham.