Sanderson, Dr. Robert

, an eminent English bishop, was descended from an ancient family, and was the youngest son of Robert Sanderson, of Gilthwaite-hall, Yorkshire, by Elizabeth, one of the daughters of Richard Carr, of Butterthwaite-hall, in the parish of Ecclesfield. He was born at Rotherham, in Yorkshire, Sept. 19, 1587, and educated in the grammar-school there, where he made so uncommon a progress in the languages, that, at thirteen, he was sent to Lincoln college in Oxford. Soon after taking his degree of B. A. his tutor told Dr. Kilbie, the rector, that his “pupil Sanderson had a metaphysical brain, and a matchless memory, and that he thought he had improved or made the last so by an art of his own invention.” While at college, he generally spent eleven hours a day in study, chiefly of philosophy and the classics. In 1606 he was chosen fellow, and in July 1608, completed his degree of M. A. In November of the same year, he was elected logic reader, and re-elected in Nov. 1609. His lectures on this subject were published in 1615, and ran through several editions. In 1613, 1614, and 1616, he served the office of sub-rector, and in the latter of those years, that of proctor. In 1611, he was ordained deacon and priest by Dr. King, bishop of London, and took the degree of bachelor of divinity in 1617. In 1618, he was presented by his cousin sir Nicolas Sanderson, lord viscount Castleton, to the rectory of Wybberton, near Boston, in Lincolnshire, but resigned it the year following on account of the unhealthiness of its situation; and about the same time was collated to the rectory of Boothby-Paniiell, or Paynel, in the same county, which he enjoyed above forty years. Having now quitted his fellowship, he married Anne, the daughter of Henry Nelson, B. D. rector of Haugham in the county of Lincoln; and soon after was made a prebendary of Southwell, as he was also of Lincoln in 1629. He continued to attend to his parochial duties in a very exemplary manner, and particularly laboured much to reconcile differences, and prevent law-suits both in his parish, and in the neighbourhood. He also often visited sick and disconsolate families, giving advice | and often pecuniary assistance, or obtaining the latter by applications to persons of opulence. He was often called upon to preach at assizes and visitations; but his practice of reading his sermons, as it was then not very common, raised some prejudice against him. Walton observes, that notwithstanding he had an extraordinary memory, he had such an innate bashfulness and sense of fear, as to render it of little use in the delivery of his sermons. It was remarked, when his sermons were printed in 1632, that “the best sermons that were ever read, were never preached.” At the beginning of the reign of Charles I. he was chosen one of the clerks in convocation for the diocese of Lincoln; and Laud, then bishop of London, having recommended him to that king as a man excellently skilled in casuistical learning, he was appointed chaplain to his majesty in 1631. When he became known to the king, his majesty put many cases of conscience to him, and received from him solutions which gave him so great satisfaction, that at the end of his month’s attendance, which was in November, the king told him, that “he should long for next November; for he resolved to have more inward acquaintance with him, when the month and he returned.” The king indeed was never absent from his sermons, and used to say, that “he carried his ears to hear other preachers, but his conscience to hear Mr. Sanderson.” In 1633 he obtained, through the earl of Rutland’s interest, the rectory of Muston, in Leicestershire, which he held eight years. In Aug. 1636, when the court was entertained at Oxford, he was,‘ among others, created D. D. In 1642, he was proposed by both Houses of parliament to king Charles, who was then at Oxford, to be one of their trustees for the settling of church affairs, and approved by the king: but that treaty came to nothing. The same year, his majesty appointed him regius professor of divinity at Oxford, with the canonry of Christ church annexed: but the national calamities hindered him from entering on it till 1646, and then he did not hold it undisturbed much more than a year. In 1643, he was nominated by the parliament one of the assembly of divines, but never sat among them neither did he take the covenant or engagement, so that his living was sequestered but, so great was his reputation for piety and learning, that he was not deprived of it. He had the’ chief hand in drawing up “The Reasons of the university of Oxford against the solemn League and Covenant, the Negative Oath, and the | Ordinances concerning Discipline and Worship:” and, when the parliament had sent proposals to the king for a peace in church and state, his majesty desired, that Dr. Sanderson, with the doctors Hammond, Sheldon, and Morley, should attend him, and advise him how far he might with a good conscience comply with those proposals. This request was rejected by the presbyterian party; but, it being complied with afterwards by the independents, when his majesty was at Hampton-court, and in the isle of Wight, in 1647 and 1648, those divines attended him there. Dr. Sanderson often preached before him, and had many public and private conferences with him, to his majesty’s great satisfaction. The king also desired him, at Hampton-court, since the parliament had proposed the abolishing of episcopal government as inconsistent with monarchy, that he would consider of it, and declare his judgment; and what he wrote upon that subject was afterwards printed in 1661, 8vo, under this title, “Episcopacy, as established by law in England, not prejudicial to Regal power.” At Sanderson’s taking leave of his majesty in this his last attendance on him, the king requested him to apply himself to the writing of “Cases of Conscience;” to which his answer was, that “he was now grown old, and unfit to write cases of conscience.” But the king told him plainly, “it was the simplest thing he ever heard from him; for, no young man was fit to be a judge, or write cases of conscience.” Upon this occasion, Walton relates the following anecdote: that in one of these conferences the king told Sanderson, or one of them that then waited with him, that “the remembrance of two errors did much afflict him, which were, his assent to the earl of Stafford’s death, and the abolishing of episcopacy in Scotland; and that, if God ever restored him to the peaceable possession of his crown, he would demonstrate his repentance by a public confession and a voluntary penance, by walking barefoot from the Tower of London, or Whitehall, to St. Paul’s church, and would desire the people to intercede with God for his pardon.” In 1643, Dr. Sanderson was ejected from his professorship and canonry in Oxford by the parliamentary visitors, and retired to his living of Boothby-Pannel. Soon after, he was taken prisoner, and carried to Lincoln, to be exchanged for one Clarke, a puritan divine, and minister of Alington, who had been made prisoner by the king’s party. He was, however, soon released upon articles, one | of which was, that the sequestration of his living should be recalled; by which means he enjoyed a moderate subsistence for himself, wife, and children, till the restoration. But, though the articles imported also, that he should live undisturbed, yet he was far from bein^r either quiet or safe, being once wounded, and several times plundered; and the outrage of the soldiers was such, that they not only came into his church, and disturbed him when reading prayers, but even forced the common prayer book from him, and tore it to pieces. During this retirement, he received a visit from Dr. Hammond, who wanted to discourse with him upon some points disputed between the Caivinists and Arminians; and he was often applied to for resolution in cases of conscience, several letters upon which subjects were afterwards printed*. In 1658, the hon, Robert Boyle sent him a present of 50l.; his circumstances, as of most of the royalists at that time, being very low. Boyle had read his lectures “De juramenti obligatione,” published the preceding year, with great satisfaction; and asked Barlow, afterwards bishop of Lincoln, if he thought Sanderson could be induced to write cases of conscience, provided he had an honorary pension allowed, to supply him with books and an amanuensis But Sanderson told Barlow, “that, if any future tract of his could bring any benefit to mankind, he would readily set about it without a pension.” Upon this, Boyle sent the above present by the hands of Barlow; and Sanderson presently revised, finished, and published, his book “De obligatione conscientiae,” which, as well as

* While Dr. Hammond was at San- turn Dr. Sanderson said with much

derson’s house, he laboured to per- earnestness, "Good doctor, give me

suade him to trust to his excellent my sermon, and know, that neither

memory, and not to read his sermons, you, nor any man I’mug, shall ever

Dr. Sanderson promised to try the ex- persuade me to preach ag) in without

periment, and having on the Sunday book." Hammond replied, Good

following, exchanged pulpits with a doctor, be not angry; for if I ever

neighbouring clergyman, he gave Dr. persuade you to preach again without

Hammond his sermon, which was a bor-k, I will give you leave to burn all

very short one, intending to preach it those that 1 am master off." Dr.

as it was written, but before he had Sanderson on some occasions expressed

gone through a third part, he became his sense of the great timidity and

disordered, incoherent, and almost ba-shfulness of his temper, and thought

incapable of finishing. Ou their re- it bad been injurious to him.

f Aubrey says, "When I was a fresh- he hesitated so much, and repeated so

man and heard him read his first lee- often, that at the time of reading, he

lure, he was out in the Lord’s prayer." was often forced to produce, not what

Letters written by Eminent Persons, was best, but what happened to be

1813, 3 vols. 8vo. Even when “Dr. at band.Rambler, No. 19. Sanderson was preparing his lectures, | that “De juramenti obligatione,” were the substance of part of his divinity lectures.

In Aug. 1660, upon the restoration, he was restored to his professorship and canonry; and soon after, at the recommendation of Sheldon, raised to the bishopric of Lincoln, and consecrated Oct. 28. He enjoyed his new dignity but about two years and a quarter: during which time he did all the good in his power, by repairing the palace at Bugden, augmenting poor vicarages, &c. notwithstanding he was old, and had a family; and when his friends suggested a little more attention to them, he replied, that he left them to God, yet hoped he should be able at his death to give them a competency. He died Jan. 29, 1662-3, in his seventy-sixth year; and was buried in the chancel at Bugden, in the plainest and least expensive manner, according to his own directions. Dr. Sanderson was in his person moderately tall, of a healthy constitution, of a mild, cheerful, and even temper, and very abstemious. In his behaviour, he was affable, civil, and obliging, but not ceremonious. He was a man of great piety, modesty, learning and abilities, but not of such universal reading as might be supposed. Being asked by a friend, what books he studied most, when he laid the foundation of his great learning, he answered, that “he declined to read many books, but what he did read were well chosen, and read often; and added, that they were chiefly three, Aristotle’s ‘ Rhetoric,’ Aquinas’s ‘ Secunda Secunclse/ and Tully, but especially his ’ Offices,‘ which he had not read over less than twenty times, and could even in his old age recite without book.” He told him also, the learned civilian Dr. Zoucb had written “Elementa Jurisprudentioe,” which he thought he could also say without book, and that no wise man could read it too often. Besides his great knowledge in the fathers, schoolmen, and casuistical and controversial divinity, he was exactly versed in ancient and modern history, was a good antiquary, and indefatigable searcher into records, and well acquainted with heraldry and genealogies; of which last subject he left 20 vols. in ms. now in the library of sir Joseph Banks. The worthiest and most learned of his contemporaries speak of him in the most respectful terms: “That staid and well-weighed man Dr. Sanderson,” says Hammond, “conceives all things deliberately, dwells upon them discretely, discerns things that differ exactly, passeth his judgment rationally, and expresses it aptly, clearly, and honestly.| The moral character of this great and good man, Mr. Granger observes, has lately been rashly and feebly attacked by the author of the “Confessional,” and as ably defended by the author of “A Dialogue between Isaac Walton and Homologistes,1768. Every enemy to church government has been, for the same reason, an enemy to bishop Sanderson and every other prelate; but the uprightness and integrity of his heart, as a casuist, was never before called in question by any man who was not an entire stranger to his character. He saw and deplored, and did his utmost, honestly and rationally, to remedy the complicated ills of anarchy in church and state; when il every man projected and reformed, and did what was right in his own eyes. No image can better express such a condition, than that of a dead animal in a state of putrefaction, when, instead of one noble creature, as it was, when life held it together, there are ten thousand little nauseous reptiles growing out of it, every one crawling in a path of its own."*


Mudge’s Sermons, Sermon on the evils of Anarchy, p. 86.

We shall now give some account of his writings, which, for good sense, clear reasoning, and manly style, have always been much esteemed. In 1615, he published, 1. “Logicse Artis Compendium,” as we have already mentioned. In 1671 appeared, as a posthumous work, his “Physicae scientiss compendium,” printed at Oxford. 2. “Sermons,” preached and printed at different times, amounting to the number of thirty-six, 1681, folio; with the author’s life by Walton prefixed. 3. “Nine Cases of Conscience resolved;” published at different times, but first collected in 1678, 8vo. The last of these nine cases is “Of the use of the Liturgy,” the very same tract which was published by Walton in his Life of Sanderson, 1678, under the title of “Bishop Sanderson’s judgment concerning submission to Usurpers.” In this tract is given a full account of the manner in which Dr. Sanderson conducted himself, in performing the service of the church, in the times of the usurpation. 4. “De Juramenti Obligatione,1647, 8vo; reprinted several times since, with, 5. “De Obligatione Conscientiae.” This last was first printed, as we have said, at the request of Mr. Boyle, and dedicated to him; tfye former, viz. “De Juramenti Obligatione,” was translated into English by Charles I., during his confinement in the Isle of Wight, and printed at London in | 1655, 8vo; and of both there is an English translation, entitled “Prelections on the Nature and Obligation of promissory oaths and of conscience,London, 1722, 3 vols. 8vo, 6, “Censure of Mr. Antony Ascham his book of the Confusions and Revolutions of Government,1649, 8vo. This Ascham was the rump parliament’s agent at Madrid, and was murdered there by some English royalists. 7. “Episcopacy, as established by Law in England, not prejudicial to the Regal Power,’ 7 1661, mentioned before. 8.” Pax Ecciesiae about Predestination, or theFive Points;“printed at the end of his Life by Walton, 8vo. Our bishop seems at first to have been a strict Calvinist in those points: for in 1632, when twelve of hissermons were printed together, the reader may observe in the margin some accusations of Arminius for false doctrine; but in consequence of his conferences with Dr. Hammond, he relaxed from the rigid sense, as appears by some letters that passed between them, and which are printed in Hammond’s works. 9.” Discourse concerning the Church in these particulars: first, concerning the visibility of the true Church; secondly, concerning the Church of Rome,“&c. 1688 published by Dr. William Asheton, from a ms copy, which he had from Mr. Pullen, the bishop’s domestic chaplain. 10. A large preface to a book of Usher’s, written at the special command of Charles I. and entitled,” The Power communicated by God to the Prince, and the Obedience required of the Subject,“&c. 1661, 4to, and 1633, 8vo. 11. A prefatory Discourse, in defence of Usher and his writings, prefixed to a collection of learned treatises, entitled,” Clavi Trabales; or, nails fastened by some great masters of atsemblies, confirming the king’s supremacy, the subjects’ duty, and church government by bishops,“1661, 4to. 12.” Prophecies concerning the return of Popery,“inserted in a book entitled” Fair Warning, the second part,“London, 1663. This volume contains also several extracts from the writings of Whitgift and Hooker, and was published with a view to oppose the sectaries, who were said to be opening a door at which popery would certainly enter. 13.” The preface to the Book of Common Prayer,“beginning with these words,” It hath been the wisdom of the church.“14.Ectvo/X^, seu Explanatio Juramenti,“&c. inserted in the” Excerpta e corpore statutorum Univ. Oxon.“p. 194. It was written to explain the oath of obligation to observe the penal statutes. 15.” Articles of Visitation and | Inquiry concerning matters ecclesiastical,“&c. Lotid. 1662, 4to. Dr. Sanderson and Dr. Hammond were jointly concerned in a work entitledA pacific discourse of God’s grace and decrees,“and published by the latter in 1660. In the preface to the Polygiott, Dr. Bryan Walton has classed Dr. Sanderson among those of his much honoured friends who assisted him in that noble work. Peck, in the second volume of his” Desiderata Curiosa,“has published the” History and Antiquities of the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin St. Mary at Lincoln: containing an exact copy of all the ancient monumental inscriptions there, in number 163, as they stood in 1641, most of which were soon after torn up, or otherways defaced. Collected by Robert Sanderson, S.T. P. afterwards lord bishop of that church, and compared with and corrected by sir William DugdaleVMS survey." 1


Life by Walton, with tracts, 1678, 8vo. Walton’s Lives by Zouch. Biog. Brit. —Ath. Ox. vol. II. Bishop Barlow’s Remains, p. 333 and 634. Wordsworth’s Eccl. Biography, —Gent. Mag. vol. LXXI.