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Lord Say, and then to Charles Count Palatine of the Rhine, and Prince Elector of the Empire, with whom he continued for some time.
Upon the breaking out of the civil war, he joined with the parliament, and took the solemn league and covenant. He was afterwards made warden of Wadham College by the committee of parliament appointed for reforming the university; and being created bachelor of divinity, April 12, 1648, was the day following put in possession of his wardenship. Next year he was created doctor of divinity, and about that time took the engagement then enjoined by the powers in being.
In 1656, he married Robina, the widow of Peter French, formerly, canon of Christ-Church, sister to Oliver, then Lord Protector. In 1659, he was by Richard the Protector made head of Trinity College in Cambridge, the best preferment in that university.
After king Charles the Ild's restoration, he was ejected from thence, and became preacher to the honourable society of Gray's-Inn, and minister of St. Lawrence Jury, London, in the room of Dr. Ward. About this time he became a member of the royal society, was chosen one of their council, and proved one of their most eminent members, and chief benefactors. Soon after this he was
made dean of Rippon, and by the interest of the late duke of Buckingham, he was created bishop of Chester, and consecrated in the chapel of Elyhouse in Holborn, the 15th of November, 1668, by Dr. Cosin, bishop of Durham; Dr. Laney, bishop of Ely; and Dr. Ward, bishop of Salisbury, on which occasion Dr. Tillotson, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, preached an excellent
He was a person of great natural endowments, and by his indefatigable study attained to an universal insight into all, or at least most parts of useful learning. He was a great mathematician, and very much advanced the study of astronomy, both while he was warden of Wadham College in Oxford, and at London, when he was a member of the royal society. He was as well seen in mechanics and experimental philosophy as any man in his time, and was a great promoter of them. In divinity, which was his main business, he excelled, and was a very able critic; his talent of preaching was admirable, and more suited to profit than to please his hearers; he affected an apt and plain way of speech, and expressed his conceptions in a natural style. In his writings he was judicious and plain, and valued not circumstances so much as the substance. This appeared evident in whatever subject he undertook, which he always made easier for those that came after him.
He treated sometimes on matters that did not properly belong to his profession; but always with a design to make men wiser and better; which was his chief end in promoting universal knowledge, and one of the main reasons for his entering into the royal society. His virtues and graces were very uncommon; at least as to that degree of them to which he attained: his prudence was very remarkable, and seldom failed him; but he was so openhearted and sincere himself, that he was ready (except he knew some cause to the contrary) to think other men to be so too; by which he was sometimes imposed on.
His greatness of mind was evident to all that knew any thing of him, nor was the depth of his judgment less discernible. He never was eager in pursuit of dignities; but was advanced to them by his merit. He contemned riches as much as others admired them; and spent his ecclesiastical revenues in the service of the church from which he received them; and being secured against want, he would often say, that he would be no richer: and his conduct made it evident that he was as good as his word.
He was a stranger to revenge, and yet not insensible of personal injuries, especially such as reflected on his good name, if they proceeded from such as had a good reputation of their own. The
reproaches of others he despised; but frequently wished he had been better understood by the former: he bore it, however, patiently, as his misfortune; never requited them with the like measure; but always mentioned them with respect, and laid hold on all opportunities to oblige and do
His conversation was profitable and pleasant; and his discourse was commonly of useful things; without occasioning trouble or weariness in those that conversed with him. He cultivated that most necessary (but too much neglected) part of friendship, to give seasonable reproof, and wholesome advice, upon occasion. This he did with a great deal of freedom; but with so much calmness and prudence, that it seldom
He was particularly careful of the reputation of his friends; and would suffer no blot to lie upon the good name or memory of any of them, if he could help it.
His enemies, who were strangers to moderation themselves, made that virtue in which he excelled, the chief subject of their reproaches, as if he had been a person of unsteady principles, and not fixed in matters of religion; this drew severe censures upon him from archbishop Sheldon, bishop Fell, and archbishop Dolben, &c. without considering
that he could not but have a great deal of charity for dissenters, by reason of his education under Mr. John Dod his grandfather, a truly pious and learned man; who dissented in many things from the church of England long before the separation which afterwards followed upon archbishop Laud's severities and new impositions.
And as his said grandfather never approved of the extremities on the other side, but continued loyal to the last, and advised others to continue in their allegiance; in like manner Doctor Wilkins, (though he had clearness when the government was dissolved, to submit to the powers then in being, by which he procured an interest and a share in the government of both universities ;) was always a friend to those who were loyal, and continued well affected to the church of England, and protected several of them by the interest he had in the then government.
After the restoration he conformed himself to the church of England, and stood up for her government and liturgy; but disliked vehemence in little and unnecessary things, and freely censured it as fanatacism on both sides.
Having thus conformed to the church himself, he was very willing to bring over others : in which he was not without success, especially in his own