Venn, Henry

, a pious divine of the church of England, was the son of the rev. Richard Venn, rector of St. | Antholiri’s, London, who distinguished himself as a noted disputant in his day, particularly in conjunction with bishop Gibson, in opposing the promotion of Dr. Rundle to a bishopric, on account of a conversation in which the doctor had expressed sentiments rather favourable to deism. Mr. Venn also assisted Dr. Webster in writing the “Weekly Miscellany,” a periodical publication which, under the venerable name of Richard Hooker, laboured zealously in defence of high church principles. He died in 1740; and a volume of his sermons and tracts was published by his widow, the daughter of Mr. Ashton, who had been executed in the reign of William III. for being concerned in a plot to bring back the Stuart family.

Mr. Henry Venn was born at Barnes, in the county of Surrey, 1725. He was educated, partly under Dr. Pitman, at Market-street, and partly under the reverend Mr. Catcott, rector of St. Stephen, Bristol, a Hutchinsonian divine of great ingenuity and learning, the author of a curious treatise on the deluge, and a volume of sermons. In 1742 Mr. Venn was admitted of Jesus college, Cambridge, proceeded to the degree of B.A. in 1745, and to that of M.A. in 1749. There being no fellowship vacant in his own college, the fellows of Queen’s unanimously elected him a member of their society, in which he continued till his marriage in 1757. The lady to whom he became united was daughter of Dr. Bishop of Ipswich, author of an Exposition of the creed, and a volume of Sermons preached at Lady Moyer’s lecture in 1724.

At this period Mr. Venn was curate of Glapham, where he was greatly beloved by the inhabitants, and contracted a close friendship with those eminently good men, sir John Barnard and John Thornton, esq. By way of exhibiting his gratitude to his parishioners, he published and dedicated to them, in 1759, on his resignation of the curacy, a volume cf sermons. In the course of that same year he was presented to the vicarage of Huddersfield in Yorkshire. While here, he laboured with unwearied assiduity in his vocation, and his memory will long be cherished with affection and veneration in that extensive parish. His zeal, however, carried him beyond his strength. By his earnest and frequent preaching, in the course of ten years, he had materially injured his constitution, and brought on a cough and spitting of blood, which rendered him incapable of officiating any longer in so extensive a sphere. He | therefore accepted, in 1770, the rectory of Yelling in Huntingdonshire, a crown living, which was presented to him by his great and good friend the lord chief baron Smythe, then one of the commissioners of the great' seal During his residence at Huddersfield he published “The Complete Duty of Man,” which has gone through seven large editions, including those printed in Ireland and America. The great object of this book is to counteract certain Arniinian principles of the celebrated work which bears a similar title, and to infuse more of an evangelical spirit into the mind of the reader.

He continued to reside at Yelling until the month of December 1796, when, in consequence of a paralytic stroke, which not only shook his bodily frame but his intellects, he removed to the house of his son, the late rector of Clapham, where he died in June following, aged seventy-three.

Mr. Venn was remarkably cheerful and facetious in conversation, so that piety, as recommended by him, was pleasant and alluring; and the young and the careless were often struck, in his company, with admiration at this circumstance. His works were, 1. “The Perfect Contrast, or the entire opposition of Popery to the Religion of Jesus the Son of God; a sermon preached at Clapham, November 5, 1758,” 8vo. A second edition was printed in 1778. 2. “Sermons on various subjects,1759, 8vo. 3. “The Variance between real and nominal Christians considered, and the cause of it explained,” a sermon, 1759, 8vo. 4. “The Duty of a parish priest,” a sermon preached at WakefieM, July 2, 1760, 8vo. 5. “Christ the joy of the Christian life, and death his gain,” a sermon preached at Haworth, on the death of William Grimshaw, minister of that parish, 1763, 8vo. 6. “The Complete Duty of Man, or a System of Doctrinal and Practical Christianity. Designed for the use of families,1764, 8vo. 7. “Man a condemned sinner, and Christ the strong hold to save him,” an assize sermon, 1769, 8vo. 8. “A full and free Examination of the rev. Dr. Priestley’s Address on the Lord’s Supper, with some siricrures on the treatise itself,1769, 8vo. 9. “A token of respect to the Memory of the rev. Mr. Whitfield,” preached at the countess of Huntingdon’s, Bath, 1770, 8vo. Jo. “Mistakes in religion exposed, in an essay on the Prophecy of Zachariah,1774, 8vo. 11. “The Conversion of Sinners the greatest charity: a | sermon preached before the Society for promoting religions knowledge,” 1779, 8vo.

His son, John, whom we have mentioned as the late rector of Clapham, was born in that parish March 9, 1759, and received the early part of his education under Mr. Shute at Leeds. He was then removed to Hippasholme school, where he was well grounded in classics by the care of Mr. Sutcliffe. He had afterwards the benefit of the rev. Joseph Milner’s instruction at the grammar-school at Hull; and of the rev. Thomas Robinson’s and the rev. William Ludlam’s, the last an eminent mathematician at Leicester. He was admitted a member of Sidney Sussex college, Cambridge, where he took the degree of A. B. in 1781. In September 1782, he was ordained deacon, as curate to his father; he entered into priest’s orders in March 1783, and two days afterwards was instituted to the living of little Dunham, in Norfolk. In Oct. 1789, he married Miss Catherine King, of Hull, who died April 15, 1803, leaving a family of seven children. In June 1792, on the death of sir James Stonehouse (predecessor in the baronetcy to the sir James Stonehouse recorded in our vol. XXVIII.) he was instituted to the rectory of Clapham. In August Is 12, he married Miss Turton, daughter of John Turton, esq. of Clapham, and resided at this place from the beginning of 1793, to the day of his death, July 1, 1813, aged fifty-four. Mr. Venn never appeared in the character of an author, nor prepared any sermons for the press; but two volumes have since been published, selected from his manuscripts, and may be considered “as a fair exhibition of his manner, sentiments, and doctrine.” They are more polished in style than his father’s, but there is a perceptible difference in their opinions on some points, the father being a more decided Calvinist. Prefixed to these sermons, is a brief account of the author, from which we have extracted the above particulars. 1

1 Gent. Mag. vol. LXVII. Sermons as above.