페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

the usual exercises with universal applause *. This extraordinary testimony of his son's merit could not fail to be very acceptable to the father; and the rector of the uni. versity communicated it, in a strong letter of commendation. Upon this occasion our author published his “Thesis," and dedicated it to his father and his two uncles, sir John and sir Joseph Wolf; and a noble attestation of bis merit was subjoined by Adrian Reland in a Latin panegyric.

Thus honoured at Leyden, he went to Amsterdam, where he continued his studies under professor Limborch. At the same time he contracted an acquaintance with John Le Clerc, took all opportunities of visiting him, settled a correspondence with him, and became afterwards a zealous as well as able defender of his character t. Upon his return home he continued his studies with equal ardour; and, improving himself particularly in the Oriental languages, obtained critical skill in the books of the Old and New Testament. He had not been abore four

years

thus employed, when the university of Leyden sent him an offer of a doctor's degree in divinity, provided he would assent to the articles of Dort; but he refused that honour, on the principle of preserving a freedom of judgment.

This was about 1703; and Wall's defence of Infant Baptism coming out in less than two years after, proved an occasion for Gale to exert his talents in controversy. Soon after the publication of that book, he undertook to answer it, and pursued the subject in several letters written in 1705 and 1706; which were handed about in manuscript several years, till he consented to make them public in 1711, under the title of “ Reflections on Mr. Wall's His

tory of Infant Baptism." The extraordinary merit of this · piece raised him to the first place among the baptists;

yet he did not think fit to take upon himself the preacher's office immediately. He was five and thirty years of age before he began to preach constantly and statedly I ; when he was chosen one of the ministers of the baptist congre. gation in Paul's alley, near Barbican.

* The professor's speech on the oc Le Clerc, which, he says, render it casion was printed afterwards by Boer. very evident that he acknowlodged the haave. Among other things, he obe divinity of Christ as plainly and ex. serves, that our student had obtained pressly taught in the scriptures. such a readiness in the Greek language, | He had, however, preached be. as to be able to declaim in it publicly fore, on the anniversary of the gun, Bibl. Choisée, tom. XVIII. p. 300. powder-plot; and he published his dis

See our author's first lettes upon course with the title of a Thanksgiving Mr. Wall's History of Infant Baptism, Sermon, preached Nov. 5, 1713, os wbere he cites several passages from Psalm cv. rer. d, and 15.

As he was zealous to maintain and propagate those nor tions which he thought authorized by primitive antiquity, he became chairman to a society for promoting what they called primitive Christianity; from July 3, 1715, to Feb, the 10th following. This society met every week, at Mr. Whiston's house in Cross-street, Hatton-garden, which they named the " Primitive Library." But though Dr. Gale testified a strong desire to extinguish all disputes among Christians, he was by no means willing to give up his own peculiar opinions. Hence it was that when Mr. Wall consented to hold a conference with him upon the subject of infant baptism, the dispute 'ended, as usual, without any good issue; and Wall was so far from being satisfied with the arguments of his antagonist, that he drew up an answer to the Reflections, and published it under the title of “ A Defence of the History of Infant Baptism, in 1719. This book, as well as the History, was so much approved by the university of Oxford, that Wall was hopoured with the degree of D. D. upon the occasion. Dr, Gale's Reflections were not without considerable advocates; and it is supposed, that he meditated an answer to Dr. Wall's reply, byt a premature death prevented the execution of this and several designs which he had formed, for the promotion of Oriental learning and his own notions of scriptural knowledge, as he was seized with a fever, Dec. 1721, of which, after an illness of about three weeks, he died, in his forty-second year.

In his person, Dr. Gale was rather taļler than the com, mon size, and of an open pleasant countenance; in his temper, of an easy and affable behaviour, serious without any tincture of moroseness. In his manners and morals, chearful without ļevity, having a most perfect command over his passions. He was greatly esteemed by, and lived in friendship with, Bradford bishop of Rochester, Hoadly bishop of Bangor, and the lord chancellor King. After his death a collection of his sermons were printed by subscription; the second edition whereof was published 1726, in 4 vols. 8vo, to which is prefixed an account of his life. It appears from some passages in his funeral sermon, that he was married, and had a family, left in great want. A contribution, however, was raised, which enabled his widow to set up a coffee-house in Finch-lane for the maintenance of her children. What became of them afterwards we are not told. Of Dr. Gale’s principal performance it may be

said, that, as Wall's “ History of Infant Baptism” is the best vindication of this doctrine, so the answer of Gale is the best defence of the baptists ; which, as the subject had been handled by very great men before, is an ample commendation of both parties.'

GALE (THEOPHILUS), a learned divine among the nonconformists, was born in 1628, at King's-Teignton in Deyonshire, where his father, Dr. Theophilus Gale, was then vicar, with which he likewise held a prebend in the church of Exeter. Being descended of a very good family in the West of England, his education was begun under a private preceptor, in his father's house, and he was then sent to a school in the neighbourhood, where he made a great proficiency in classical learning, and was removed to Oxford in 1647. He was entered a commoner in Magdalen college, a little after that city, with the university, had been surrendered to the parliament; and their visitors in the general reformation (as they called it) of the university, had put Dr. Wilkinson into the presidentship of Magdalen college, who took particular notice of young Gale, and procured him to be appointed a demy of his college in 1648. But the current of kindness to him was far from stopping here; he was recommended to the degree of ba. chelor of arts Dec. 1649, by the commissioners, long before the time appointed for taking that degree by the sta, tutes of the university, viz. four years after admission. Of this departure from the usual term of granting a degree they were so sensible, that care was taken by them to have a particular reason set forth, for conferring it so early upon him; expressing, that he was fully ripe for that honour, both in respect of his age, and the excellence of his abilities. It was probably owing to the countenance of the same patrons that he was chosen fellow of his college in 1650, in preference to many of his seniors, who were set aside to make room for him. It is acknowledged, however, that he deserved those distinctions. He took the degree of M. A. June 18, 1652, and being encouraged to take pupils, soon became an eminent tutor, and had, among other pupils, Ezekie! Hopkins, afterwards bishop of Ra. phoe, in Ireland,

In the mean time he continued to prosecute his own · Life prefixed to his works.-General Diet.—Biog. Brit.-Crosby's Hist. of the Baptists, vol. IV. p. 366.-Nichols's Atterbury's Correspondence, volo V. p. 462

studies with vigour; and choosing divinity for his profession, applied himself particularly to that study. On reading Grotius, on the “ Truth of the Christian Religion," he began to think it possible to make it appear, that the wisest of the pagan philosophers borrowed their more sublime contemplations, as well natural and moral, as divine, from the Scriptures; and that, how different soever they might be in their appearance, not only their theology, but their philosophy and philology, were derived from the sacred oracles. Upon this principle he undertook the arduous work, which from this time became the principal object of his theological researches for many years. He did not, however, neglect the duties of the priesthood, and his discourses from the pulpit were conspicuous proofs of his distinguished piety and learning. He was invited to Winchester, and became a stated preacher there in 1657; in this station he continued for some years, generally admired and esteemed, both for his excellent sermons and his exemplary life and conversation. But, being bred up in puritanical principles, he was unalterably devoted to them ; so that upon the re-establishment of the church by Charles II. he could not prevail with himself to comply with the act of uniformity in 1661, and, rather than violate his conscience, chose to suffer all the penalties of the law.

Thus excluded from the public service of his function, and deprived of bis fellowship at Oxford, he found friends among his own party, and was taken into the family of Philip lord Wharton, in quality of tutor to his two sons. The state of the universities at home being now very discordant to the principles of lord Wharton, be sent his sons, with their tutor, in 1662, to Caen, in Normandy, a seminary which flourished at that time under the direction of the most distinguished professors of the reformed religion in France; among whom was the celebrated Bochart. With this learned divine and several other persons of distinguished erudition Gale became acquainted, and by this intercourse, as well as by travel, greatly improved himself without neglecting his charge.

In 1665 he returned to England with his pupils, and attending them home to their father's seat at Quainton, in Buckinghamshire, continued in the family till 1666; when, . being released from this employ, he set out thence for London, and was struck on the road with the dreadful sight

of the city in flames. The first shock being over, he recollected his own papers, his greatest treasure, which, when he left England, he had committed to the care of a particular friend in London. He soon learnt that the house of this friend was burnt, and gave up his papers as lost, and with them all hopes of completing his great work. They had, however, by a fortunate accident, been preserved, and the “Court of the Gentiles" was destined to receive its completion. At this period he became assistant to Mr. John Rowe, his countryman, who had then a private congregation in Holborn; and continued in that station till the death of his principal, Oct. 12, 1677, when Mr. Gale was chosen to succeed him, together with Mr. Samuel Lee, his assistant.

In the mean time the publication of his “ Court of the Gentiles” had proceeded gradually, in consequence of the great care he took to complete and digest his collections, and to make the work in all respects a masterly production. The first part was published at Oxford in 1669, and, being received with great applause, was followed by the other three, the last of which came out in 1677, the year when he succeeded Mr. Rowe. But this work, large and laborious as it was, did not prove sufficient to employ his spare hours: he wrote also, within the same period, several other works; namely, 2.“ The true Idea of Jansenism," 1669, 4to; with a large preface by Dr. John Owen, 3." Theophilus; or a Discourse of the Saints' amity with God in Christ," 1671, 8vo. 4. "The Anatomy of Infidelity, &c.” 1672, 8vo. 5.

A Discourse of Christ's coming, &c.” 1673, 8vo. 6. “ Idea Theologiæ tam contemplativæ quam activæ, ad formam 8. S. delineata,”. 1673, 12mo. 7.“ A Sermon, entitled, Wherein the Love of the World is inconsistent with the Love of God," 1674 ; printed also in the supplement to the morning exercise at Cripplegate. 8. “ Philosophia generalis in duas partes disterminata, &c.” 1676, 8vo. 9. " A Summary of the two Covenants," prefixed to a piece published by him, entitled “ A Discourse of the two Covenants,” written by William Strong, sometime preacher at the Abbey church at Westminster. 66 The Life and death of Thomas Tregosse, minister of the gospel at Milar and Mabe in Cornwal, with his Character," was also written by him, and published in 1671, though he seems to have concealed the circumstance as much as possible,

« 이전계속 »