Williams, John

, an able divine, and bishop of Chichester, was born in Northamptonshire in 1634. In 1651 he entered a commoner of Magdalen-hall, Oxford, where in 1658 he completed his degrees in arts, and was ordained. In 1673 he was collated to the rectory of St. Mildred in the Poultry, London, and in 1683 to the prebend of Reymere in the cathedral of St. Paul. After the revolution he became chaplain to king William and queen Mary, and was preferred to a prebend of Canterbury, and in December 1696 advanced to the bishopric of Chichester, in which he died in 1709. He was a considerable writer in the controversies with the papists and dissenters, and preached the lectures founded by Mr. Boyle, his sermons on that occasion being published in 1695, 4to, under the title of “The characters of Divine Revelation.” He wrote also a “History of the Gunpowder Treason,” and many controversial pamphlets enumerated by Wood. He lived in great intimacy with Tillotson, who says of him, “Mr. Williams is really one of the best men I know, and most unwearied in doing good, and his preaching is very weighty and judicious.” When Firmin, the Socinian, published his “Considerations on the explications of the doctrine of the Trinity,” Pr. Williams wrote the same year (1694) a “Vindication of archbishop Tillotson’s Four Sermons (concerning the divinity and incarnation of our blessed Saviour) and of the bishop of Worcester’s sermon on the mysteries of the Christian faith.” In this, which was not published till 1695, after 'Tillotson’s death, Dr. Williams observes that it was not without the archbishop’s direction and encouragement, that he entered upon it, and that had he lived to have perused the whole, as he did a part of it a few days before his last hours, it had come with greater advantage into the world, &c. 1


Ath. Ox. vol. II. Birch’s Life of Tillotson.