Gouge, William

, a very celebrated puritan divine, was born at Bow near Stratford, Middlesex, Nov. 1, 1575, | and educated at Eton school, whence he went in 1595 to King’s college, Cambridge. He was endowed with considerable powers of mind, and by close application to study, accumulated a great fund of learning. Such was his ardour and regularity in his literary pursuits, that during his first three years, he slept only one night out of college, and for nine years never missed college prayers at halfpast five in the morning, unless when from home. It was his invariable rule to read fifteen chapters in the Bible every day, at three times. When chosen reader of logic and philosophy in the college, he was equally precise in regularity of duty and attendance. Having taken his degrees, and been admitted into orders, he was in 1608 preferred to the rectory of St. Anne’s Blackfiiars, London, where he became extremely popular; and having instituted a lecture on Wednesday mornings, it was frequented by many persons of the first rank. Having, however, imbibed some of the prejudices which were then so common against the church of England, he was occasionally censured, and at one time threatened with a prosecution in the Star-chamber for having become a member of a society for the purchase of impropriations; but this did not take effect, and the subsequent disturbances relieved him from any farther molestation. In 1643, he was nominated one of the assembly of divines, and took an active part in the various proceedings instituted by the then ruling powers for the reformation of the church. But when in 1648, he saw the lengths to which their reformations tended, he united with a large body of his brethren in declaring against putting the king to death. For forty-five years, says Granger, he was the laborious, the exemplary, and the much loved minister of St. Anne’s Blackfriars, where none ever thought or spoke ill of him, but such as were inclined to think or speak ill of religion itself. He died Dec. 12, 1653. He appears, indeed, to have had the suffrages of all his contemporaries, and is honourably mentioned by many foreign divines. He was at one time offered the provostship of King’s college, but declined it; his usual saying was, that it was his highest ambition “to go from Blackfriars to heaven.” He published several pious tracts and some sermons, which bishop Wilkins classes among the most excellent of his time; but his principal work was “A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews,| 1655, fol. He had also a share in the commentary on the Bible, usually called “The Assembly’s Annotations.1


Clarke’s Lives at the end of his Marty rotoffv. Funeral Sermon by Jenkyn, 4to. Wood’s Fasti, vol. I.