Mountagu, Richard

, a learned English divine, born in 1578, at Dorney in Buckinghamshire, was the son of the rev. Lawrence Mountague, vicar of that place. He was educated at Eton school, on the foundation, and was elected thence to King’s college, Cambridge, in 1594, where he obtained a fellowship. After taking his bachelor’s degree in 1598, and that of M. A. in 1602, he entered into orders, and obtained the living of Wotton-Courtney in the diocese of Wells, and also a prebend of that church. The editor of his life in the Biog. Brit, says that his next promotion was to a fellowship of Eton college, where he assisted sir Henry Savile in preparing his celebrated edition of St. Chrysostom’s works; and in 1610, he published there, in 4to, “The two Invectives of Gregory Nazianzen against Julian,” with the notes of Nonnus; but although the latter part of this may be true, | he was not chosen fellow of Eton until April 29, 1613, in which year also (May 14) he was inducted into the rectory of Stamford Rivers in Essex, then in the gift of Eton college. On the death of Isaac Casaubon, he was requested by the king to write some animadversions on the Annals of Baronius, for which he was well qualified, having made ecclesiastical history very much his study from his earliest years. He had in fact begun to make notes on Baronius for his private use, which coming to the ears of the king, James I., himself no contemptible theologian, he intimated his pleasure on the subject to Mr. Mountagu, who began to prepare for the press in 1615. He was at this time chaplain to his majesty, and the following year was promoted to the deanery of Hereford, which he resigned soon after for the archdeaconry, and was admitted into that office Sept. 15, 1617. In July 1620, he proceeded bachelor of divinity, and with his fellowship of Eton held, by dispensation, a canonry of Windsor.

In 1621, he preached a sermon before the king at Windsor, upon Ps. 1. 15, in which there were some expressions supposed by some of his hearers to favour the Romish doctrine of invocation of saints; and this obliged him to publish his sentiments more fully in a treatise On the Invocation of Saints,“which, although he fancied it a complete defence, certainly gave rise to those suspicions which his enemies afterwards urged more fully against him. The same year, he published his” iatribae upon the first part of Mr. Selden’s History of Tythes.“In this work he endeavours, and certainly not unsuccessfully, to convict Selden of many errors, and of obligations to other authors which he has neglected to acknowledge. The king, at least, was so much pleased with it, as to order Selden to desist from the dispute. It appears by this work that Mr. Mountagu availed himself of many manuscripts which he had been at the expence of procuring from abroad, and it is said that there were a great many of these in his library when he died, but that they were taken away by Millicent, his chaplain, who became a Jesuit. In 1622 he published his animadversions on the annals of Baronius, under the title of” Analecta Ecclesiasticarum Exercitationum," fol.

In 1624 he became involved in those controversies and imputations on his character as a divine, which, more or less, disturbed the tranquillity of the whole of his life. They were occasioned by the following circumstance:?. | Some popish priests and Jesuits were executing their mission at Stamford -Rivers, in Essex, of which he was then rector; and to secure his flock against their attempts, he ]eft some propositions at the place of their meeting, with an intimation that, if any of those missionaries could give a satisfactory answer to the queries he had put, he would immediately become their proselyte. In these, he required of the papists to prove, that the present Roman church is either the catholic church, or a sound member of the catholic church that the present church of England is not a true member of the catholic church and that all those points, or any one of those points which the church of Rome maintains against the church of England, were, or was, the perpetual doctrine of the catholic church, the decided doctrine of the representative church in any general council, or national approved by a general council, or the dogmatical resolution of any one father for 500 years after Cnrist. On their proving all this in the affirmative, he promised to subscribe to their faith. Instead, however, of returning any answer, a small pamphlet was left at last for him, entitled “A new Gag for the old Gospel.” To this he replied, in “An Answer to the late Gagger of the Protestants,1624, 4to, which gave great offence to the Calvinists, at that time a very numerous and powerful party in the church, and thus drew upon him enemies from a quarter he did not expect: and their indignation against him ran so high, that Ward and Yates, two lecturers at Ipswich, collected out of his book some points, which they conceived to savour of popery and Arminianism, in order to have, them presented to the next parliament. Mountagu, having procured a copy of the information against him, applied to the king for protection, who gave him leave to appeal to himself, and to print his defence. Upon this, he wrote his book entitled “Appello Ccesarem a just Appeal against two unjust Informers” which, having the approbation of Dr. White, dean of Carlisle, whom king James ordered to read, and give his sense of it, was published in 1625, 4to, but addressed to Charles I. James dying before the book was printed off.

In this work many of the acknowledged doctrines of the church of England are undoubtedly maintained with great force of argument, but there are other points in which he afforded just ground for the suspicions alleged against him; and that this was the opinion of many divines of that period | appeared from the answers to his “Appeal” published by, It Dr. Matthew Sutcliffe, dean of Exeter. 2. Mr. Henry Burton in his “Plea to an Appeale,” Lond. 1626, 4to. 3. Mr. Francis Rous, afterwards provost of Eton college, in his “Testis Veritatis,” ibid. 1626, 4to. 4. Mr. John Yates, B. D. formerly fellow of Emanuel college in Cambridge, afterwards minister of St. Andrew’s in Norwich, in his book entitled “Ibis ad Caesarem,” ibid. 1626, 4to. 5. Mr. Anthony Wotton, professor of. divinity in Gresham college. 6. Dr. Daniel Featly, in his “Pelagius Redivivus; or, Pelagius raked out of the ashes by Arminius and his scholars,” ibid. 1626, 4to. This book contains two parallels, one between the Pelagians and Arminians; the other between the church of Rome, the appealer, Mr. Mountagu, and the church of England, in three columns; together with a writ of error sued against the appealer. 7. Dr. George Carleton, bishop of Chichester, in his “Examination of those things, wherein the author of the late Appeale holdeth the doctrines of the Pelagians and Arminians to be the doc-” trines of the church of England," ibid. 1626, 4to.

The controversy, however, was not to be left to divines, who may be supposed judges of the subject. The parliament which met June 18, 1625, thought proper to take up the subject, and Mr. Mountagu was ordered to appear before the House of Commons, and being brought to the bar July 17, the speaker told him, that it was the pleasure of the House, that the censure of his books hould be postponed for some time; but that in the interim he should be committed to the custody of the serjeant at arms. He was afterwards obliged to give the security of 2000l. for his appearance. The king, however, was displeased with the parliament’s proceedings against our author and bishop Laud applied to the duke of Buckingham in his favour Mr. Mountagu also wrote a letter to that duke, entreating him to represent his case to his majesty; and this application was seconded some few days after by a letter of the bishops of Oxford, Rochester, and St. David’s, to the duke. In the next parliament, in 1626, our author’s Appello Ca3sarem“was referred to the consideration of the committee for religion, from whom Mr. Pym brought a report on the 18th of April concerning several erroneous opinions contained in it. Upon this it was resolved by the House of Commons, 1.” That Mr. Mountagu had disturbed the peace of the church, by publishing doctrines, contrary to | the articles of the church of England, and the book of homilies. 2. That there are clivers passages in his book, especially against those he calleth puritans, apt to move sedition betwixt the king and his subjects, and between subject and subject. 3. That the whole frame and scope of his books is to discourage the well-affected in religion from the true religion established in the church, and to incline them, and, as much as in him lay, to reconcile them to popery." And accordingly articles were exhibited against him; but it does not appear, that this impeachment was laid before the House of Lords, or in what manner the Commons intended to prosecute their charge, or how far they proceeded. Rush worth, after much inquiry, could not find that Mr. Mountagu was brought to his defence, or that he returned any answer to the articles.

This prosecution from the parliament seems to have recommended him more strongly to the court, for, in 1628, he was advanced to the bishopric of Chichester, on the death of one of his opponents, Dr. Carleton. On August 22, 1628, the day appointed for his confirmation, a singular scene took place. On such occasions it is usual to give a formal notice, that if any person can object either against the party elected, or the legality of the election, they are to come and offer their exceptions at the day prefixed. This intimation being given, one Mr. Humphreys, and William Jones, a stationer of London, excepted against Mountagu as a person unqualified for the episcopal function, charging him with popery, Arrninianism, and other heterodoxies, for which his books had been censured in the former parliament. Fuller tells us, “that exception was taken at Jones’s exceptions (which the record calls 4 prætensos Articulos)’ as defective in some legal formalities. I have been informed,” continues he, “it was alledged against him for bringing in his objections viva vocc, and not by a proctor, that court adjudging all private persons effectually dumb, who speak not by one admitted to plead therein. Jones returned, that he could not get any proctor, though pressing them importunately,” and profering them their fee to present his exceptions, and therefore was necessitated ore tenus there to alledge them against Mr. Mountagu. The register mentioneth no particular defects in his exceptions; but Dr. Rives, substitute at that time for the vicar- general, declined to take any notice of and concludeth Jones amongst the contumacious, | e quod nullo modo legitime comparuit, nee aliquid in hac partejuxta Juris exigentiam diceret, exciperet, vel opponeret.' Yet this good Jones did bishop Mountagu, that he caused his addresses to the king to procure a pardon, which was granted unto him, in form like those given at the coronation, save that some particulars were inserted therein, for the pardoning of all errors heretofore committed either in speaking, writing, or publishing, whereby he might hereafter be questioned."

With the bishopric of Chichester, he was allowed to hold the rectory of Petworth, and having now a protection from his enemies, he applied himself closely to his favourite study of ecclesiastical history; and first published his “Originum Ecclesiasticarum Apparatus,” at Oxford, 1635, which was followed in 1636 by his “Originum Ecclesiasticarum, Tomus Primus,” Lond. fol. In 1638, on the promotion of Dr. Wren to Ely, bishop Mountagu was translated to Norwich. Although now in a bad state of health, from an aguish complaint, he continued his researches into ecclesiastical history, and published a second volume under the title of “Theanthropicon; seu de vita Jesu Christi originum ecclesiasticarum libri duo. Accedit Groecorum versio, et index utriusque partis,” Lond. 1640. He died April 13, 1641, and was interred in the choir of Morwich cathedral. * After his death appeared a posthumous work, “The Acts and Monuments of the Church before Christ incarnate,1642, fol. with the singularity of a dedication to Jesus Christ, in Latin, which he had himself prepared. In 1651 also was published his “Versio et notae in Photii epistolas,” Gr. Lat. fol.

Bishop Mountagu was allowed by his opponents to be a man of extensive learning, particularly in ecclesiastical history; but of a warm temper, and from his attachment to the writings of the fathers, holding some peculiar opinions, which were acceptable neither to churchmen or sectaries. Fuller says of him, that “his great parts were attended with a tartness of writing; very sharp the nib of his pen, and much gall in the ink, against such as opposed him. However, such the equability of this sharpness of his style, he was impartial therein: be he ancient or modern writer, papist or protestant, that stood in his way, they should equally taste thereof.” Selden was one of those against whom he exercised not a little of this sharpness of style; and yet, which is a considerable testimony | in his favour, “he owns him to have been a man well skilled in ancient learning.1

1 Gen. Dict. Biog. Brit. Fuller’s Worthies and Church History. Hajwood’s Alumni Etoneuses.