Hoadly, Benjamin

, a prelate celebrated for his controversial talents, was the son of the rev. Samuel Hoadly, who kept a private school many years, and was afterwards master of the public grammar-school at Norwich. He was born at Westerham in Kent, Nov. 14, 1676. In 1691 he was admitted a pensioner of Catherine hall, Cambridge, and after taking his bachelor’s degree, was chosen fellow; and when M. A. became tutor. He took orders under Dr. Compton, bishop of London, and next year quitting his fellowship (vacated most probably by his marriage) he was chosen lecturer of St. Mildred in the Poultry, London, which he held ten years, but does not appear to have been very popular, as he informs us himself that he preached it down to 30l. a-year, and then thought it high time to resign it. This was not, however, his only employment, as in 1702 he officiated at St. Swithin’s in the absence of the rector, and in 1704-was presented to the rectory of St. Peter-le-Poor, Broad-street. By this time | he had begun to distinguish himself as a controversial, anthor, and his first contest was;vith Mr. Calamy, the biographer of the non-conformists. Several tracts passed between them, in which Hoadly endeavoured to prove the reasonableness of conformity to the Church of England. How well he was qualified to produce that influence on the non-conformists appears, among other instances, from what the celebrated commentator Matthew Henry says of the eftect of his writings on his own mind-: “I have had much satisfaction this year (1703) in my non-conformity, especially by reading Mr. Hoadly’s books, in which I see a manifest spirit of Christianity unhappily leavened by the spirit of conformity.” In 1705, Hoadly produced his opinions on the subject of civil government, in a sermon before the lord-mayor, and from this time, as he says, “a torrent of angry zeal began to pour itself out upon him.” His attention to this subject was, however, diverted for some time by another controversy into which he entered with Dr. Atterbury. In 1706 he published “Some Remarks on Dr. Atterbury’s Sermon at the Funeral of Mr. Bennet” and two years afterwards c< Exceptions“against another Sermon by the same author, on the power of” Charity to cover Sin.“In 1709, a dispute arose between these combatants, concerning the doctrine of non-resistance, occasioned by the sermon we just mentioned before the lord-mayor, and Hoadly’s defence of it, entitled” The Measures of Obedience;“some positions in which Atterbury endeavoured to confute in a Latin Sermon, preached that year before the London clergy. Hoadly’s politics were at this time so acceptable to the ruling powers, that the house of commons gave him a particular mark of their regard, by representing in an address to the queen, the signal services he had done to the cause of civil and religious liberty. At this time, when his principles were unpopular, (which was indeed the case the greater part of his life), Mrs. Rowland spontaneously presented him to the rectory of Streatham in Surrey. Soon after the accession of George I. his influence at court became so considerable, that he was made bishop of Bangor in 1715, which see, however, from an apprehension of party fury, as was said, he never visited, but still remained in town, preaching against what he considered as the inveterate errors of the clergy. Among other discourses he made at this crisis, one was upon these words,” My kingdom is not | of this world:“which, producing the famous Bangoriau controversy, as it was called, employed the press for many years. The manner in which he explained the text was, that the clergy had no pretensions to any temporal jurisdictions; but this was answered by Dr. Snipe; and, in the course of the debate, the argument insensibly changed, from the rights of the clergy to that of princes, in the government of the church. Bishop Hoadly strenuously maintained, that temporal princes had a right to govern in ecclesiastical polities. His most able opponent was the celebrated William Law, who, in some material points, may be said to have gained a complete victory. He was afterwards involved in another dispute with Dr. Hare, upon the nature of prayer: he maintained, that a calm, rational, and dispassionate manner of offering up our prayers to heaven, was the most acceptable method of address. Hare, on the contrary, insisted, that the fervour of zeal was what added merit to the sacrifice; and that prayer, without warmth, and without coining from the heart, was of n > avail. This dispute, like the former, for a time excited many opponents, but has long subsided. From the bishopric of Bangor, he was translated successively to those of Hereford, Salisbury, and Winchester, of which last see he continued bishop more than 26 years. His latter days were in some measure disturbed by a fraud attempted to be practised on him by one Bernard Fournier, a popish convert, who pretended to have received a notc-of-hand from the bishop for the sum of 8800l.; but this was proved in court to be a forgery. It produced the last, and one of the best written of the bishop’s tracts,A Letter to Clement Chevallier, esq." a gentleman who had too much countenanced F\>urnier in his imposture. This appeared in 1758, when our prelate had completed his eighty-first year. He died April 17, 1761, aged eighty-five, and was buried in Winchester cathedral, where there is an elegant monument to his memory. His first wife was Sarah Curtis, by whom he had two sons, Benjamin, M. D. and John, LL. I) chancellor of Winchester. His second wife was Mary Newey, daughter of the rev. Dr. John Newey, dean of Chichester.

As a writer, he possessed uncommon talents; his greatest defect was in his style, extending his periods to a disagreeable length, for which Pope has thus recorded him:

"Swift for closer style,

But Houdly for a period of a mile."

| In his character he was naturally facetious, easy, and complying, fond of company, from which, however, he would frequently retire, for the purposes of study; happy in every place, but peculiarly so in his own family, where he took all opportunities of instructing by his influence and by example. In his tenets he was far from adhering strictly to the doctrines of the church; so far, indeed, that it is a little to be wondered on what principles he continued throughout life to profess conformity, and his attempt to gain over the dissenters, who was himself the greatest dissenter that ever was preferred in the church, is one of those inconsistencies which his admirers have never explained. But as he took great latitude himself, so he was ready also to allow it to others. His doctrine, that sincerity is sufficient for acceptance, whatever be the nature of opinions, is favourable to such indulgence, but far from defensible on the genuine principles of Christianity *. He was of course in high favour with all who wished to mould religion according to their own imaginations.

A complete edition of his works in 3 vols. folio, was published by his son, Dr. John Hoadly, in 1773, with a short life of the author, originally printed in the Biographia Britannica. The appendix contains some parts of his lordship’s correspondence with lady Sundon, formerly Mrs. Clayton, bed-chamber woman to queen Caroline; to this lady he appears to have been not a little indebted, at various periods, for his influence at court. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Supplement. Nichols’s Bowyer; see Index,