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On the landing of the earl of Essex, às Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in 1598, there was a solemn act of the university, for his entertainment, in which Mr. Usher acquitted himself with universal applause, though only bachelor of arts. The bent of his inclinations, and the course of his studies lay entirely towards divinity ; bun his father, who designed him for his own profession, recommended hiin to study the common law, and was about to send him for that purpose to Lon: don, that he might become a member of one of the Ions of Court. This, however, was frustrated by his father's deathı ; and the paternal estate, which was of considerable value, descended to this the eldest son; but finding it somewhat encumbered with law suits and sister's portions, and fearing that these might hinder him in the course of his studies, he chose rather commit himself to Providence, and so very frankly gave up his inheritance to his brother and sisters, reserving only so much as might enable him to purchase books and to support him in the College.
About the eighteenth year of his age, he held a disputation with one Henry Fitzsymonds, a very learned Jesuit, who had challenged the whole university to dispute with him upon the points in controversy between the two churches. When Usher accepted the challenge, the Jesuit was surprised, and treated his juvenile antagonist with the same contempt that Goliath did David ; but after one of two conferences, he declined any further combat with him; and in the preface to one of his books, he made this ingenuous confession: " There came to me once a youth of about eighteen years of age, of a ripe wit, when scarcely, as you would think, gone through his course of philosophy, or got out of his childhood, yet ready to dispute on the most abstruse points of divinity.”
In 1600, he took the degree of M. A. and the same year was ap. pointed to read the catichetical lecture, in which he gave great satisfaction to his auditors; the year following, he was ordained deacon and priest by his uncle the archbishop of Armagh, which, though uncanonical, yet bis own extraordinary merit, and the necessity the church then had of such a labourer, rendered a dispensation in this case at least excusable, if not necessary.
He was soon laken notice of as a preacher; and had frequent occasion to exercise his talents before the government at Christ Church in Dublin, and his discourses were so clear, powerful and convincing, that he therefore settled many that were wavering, and converted several from the Romish persuasion to the church of England. " Neither must it be forgotten (says the author of his life) that after the English forces had, in 1603, beaten and driven out the Spaniards, who then came to the assistance of the Irish at Kinsale, that army resolved to do some worthy act that might be a lasting memorial of the gallantry of military men, and that respect which they had for true religion and learning. To promote which they raised among themselves the sum of 18001. to buy books to furnish the library of the universiiy of Dublin. And when the sum was raised, it was re. solved by the benefactors that Dr. Challoner and Mr. Usher should have the said 18001. paid into their hands to procure such books as they should jutge most necessary for the library, and most useful
for the advancement of learning, which they accordingly undertook, and coming into England for that purpose, where, as also from be: yond sea, they procured the best books of all kinds which were then to be had. So that they most faithfully discharged that great trust, to the donors' and the whole college's great satisfaction. And it is somewhat remarkable that at that tiine, when the said persons were at London, about laying out this money in books, they met Sir Thomas Bodley there, buying books for his new erected library at Oxford ; so that there began a correspondence between them upon this occasion, helping each other to procure the choicest and best books on several subjects that could be gotten; so that the famous Bodley: an library at Oxford and that at Dublin began together."
About this time the Chancellorship of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, was conferred on him by Dr. Loftus, archbishop of that see. :Here he lived single for some years, and kept hospitality proportionable to his incomes, nor cared he for any overplus a: the year's end, being never a hoarder of money; but for books and learning he had a kind of laudable covetousness, and never thought a good book, either manuscript or printed, too dear. And in this place Mr. Camden found him in 1607, when he was putting out the last edition of his Britannia, where, speaking of Dublin, he concludes thus : “ Most of which I acknowledge to owe to the diligence and labor of James Usher, chancellor of the church of St. Patrick, who in various learning and judgment far exceeds his years." And though he had here no particular obligation to preach, unless sometimes in his course before the state, yet he would not omit it in the place from whence he received the profits, viz. Finglass, not far from Dublin, which he endowed with a vicarage, and preached there every Lord's day, unless hindered by very extraordinary occasions.”+
In 1607, he took his degree of B. D. and soon after was chosen professor of divinity in the university of Dublin, which station he held thirteen years, reading lectures weekly upon the controversy between Papists and Protestants, as of principal concern at that time and place. In 1609, he again visited England, to purchase books and converse with learned men; and so highly was he esteeni. ed, as to be appointed frequently to preach before the king's household, which was a great honor in those days. Here he contracted an intimacy with the greatest scholars of the age, as Mr. Camden, Sir Robert Cotton, Mr. Selden, Mr. Briggs, Dr. Davenant, afterwards Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Samuel Ward, and others. After this he constantly came to England once in three years, spending une month of the summer at Oxford, another at Cambridge and the rest of the time in London.
The year following, he was unanimously chosen by the fellows of Dublin college to the Provostship of that house, wblch honour he modestly declined. In 1612, he took his doctor's degree, and next year published at London his first treatise on the Constitution und Succession of the Christian Church, which was presented by archbishop Abbot with high commendations to King James.
Parr's Life of Archbishop Lsher, p. 9.
About this time he married Phebe, only daughter of Dr. Challo. ner, who had such a regard for him that he courted his alliance, and enjoined his daughter on his death bed, that if Dr. Usher would marry her, she should think of no other person for her husband, which command she punctually obeyed. By her he had but one child, who was married to Sir Timothy Tyrrel.
In 1620, king James, notwithstanding some endeavors which had been made to prejudice him against Dr. Usher, conferred on him the bishopric of Meath. “ Being thus advanced to the Episcopal Degree, his province and employ might be altered, but not his mind, nor humble temper of spirit ; neither did he cease to turn as many as he could from darkness unto light, from sin and satan tó Christ, by his preaching, writing, and exemplary life ; observing that which St. Augustin said of St. Ambrose, I have, every Lord's day, heard him clearly expounding the word of truth unto the people, by which I was more and more confirmed," &c.*
After the archbishop had been in Ireland about two years, king James thought fit to employ him in writing the antiquities of the British Church ; and for that purpose sent over a letter to the lord deputy and council of Ireland, commanding them to grant him a li. cence to be absent from his see. On this summons the bishop re. turned to England, and spent about a year in consulting MSS. in both universities and private libraries, for the perfecting of his noble work, On the Antiquities of the British Church.
In 1624, we find him again in Ireland, engaged in a dispute with one Malone, a Jesuit of the college of Louvain, and conducting the controversy with equal credit to his great abilities and the truth of his cause. Shortly after this, he came back to England to complete his work, On the Antiquities; and while here, the archbishopric of Armagh becoming vacant, king James voluntarily nominated the bishop of Meath to it, as the fittest person for that great charge and high station in the church.
But before his return to Ireland, a circumstance happened, which shows that he neglected no opportunity of bringing men from the darkness of Popery into the clearer light of the reformed religion, The particulars are taken from the following note of his own : "that in Nov. 1625, he was invited by the lord Mordaunt and his lady to my lord's house in Drayton in Northamptonshire, to confer with a priest he then kept, by the name of Beaumont, upon the points in dispute between the church of Rome and ours; and particularly, that the religion maintained by public authority in the Church of England, was no new religion, but the same that was taught by our Savior and his apostles, and ever continued in the primitive church during the purest times.” “What was the isue of this dispute (says his biographer) we must take from the report of my lord and lady, and other persons there present ; that this conference held for some clays, and at last ended with that satisfaction to them both, and confusion of his adversary, chat, as it confirmed the lady in her religion, (whom her lord, by means of this priest, endeavored to pervert,) so it made his lordship so firm a convert to the protestant religion, that he lived and died in it."
• Parr. p. 18.
On his return into his native country in 1626, he began to inspect his own diocese first, and the manners and abilities of his clergy, by personal visitations; admonishing those whom he found faulty, and giving excellent directions to the rest, charging them to use the liturgy of the church in all public administrations ; and to preach and catechise diligently in their respective cures; to make the holy scriptures the rule as well as the subject of their doctrine. Nor did he only endeavor to reform the clergy, but also the officers in the ecclesiastical courts, against whoin he had many complaints.
Finding Popery greatly upon the increase, he set himself strenu. ously against its progress, and when some overtures were made for a general toleration of the members of that communion), he labored with such zeal to oppose that unseasonable and dangerous measure, that it fell to the ground.
King Charles the first was much concerned at the low estate of the Protestant interest in Ireland, and in 1631 sent a letter to the bishops in that kingdom, exciting them to diligence in their respective dio. ceses, and to a zealous superintendence over their clergy. This we choose rather to notice in this place, as affording a clear refutation of that infamous slander of the king's being favorable to popery. .
The lord Primate, in obedience to his majesty's command, set himself diligently to put in execution what had been entrusted to his carc. He therefore endeavored, first, to reform those abuses which remained in his own province, having already proceeded a considerable way in that good work ; and in the next place, he made it his business to , reclaim those deluded people who had been bred up in the Romish religion ; for which end he began to converse more frequently and familiarly with the gentry and nobility of that persuasion; and like. Wise with many of the lower orders who dwelt near him, inviting them often to his house, and discoursing with them mildly, on the chief tenets of their religion ; by which courteous behavior he was very successful, and brought many of theni over to the truth. He advised also the bishops and clergy to deal with the Popish recusants after the same manner, that is possible they might make them sensible of their errors and their danger.'
Nor was his care confined to the conversion of the Irish papists; he also endeavored to bring the Scotch and English sectaries to the bosom of the church, conferring with them, and demonstrating the weakness of their scruples, and the injury which their heedless se. paration did to the Protestant cause.
About this time he carried on a frequent correspondence with Archbishop Laud, concerning the condition of the church of Ireland, and by the interest of that great and generous Prelate, many im. portant benefits were obtained from the crown for the Irish clergy. At the instance also of that archbishop, the thirty-nine articles of religion were received in the convocation of Ireland, that there might be still a closer agreement in doctrine and discipline between the two churches.
At the end of 1639, the Lord Primate published his long expected work, entitled Antiquities of the British Church ; in which there is a very curious history of the Pelagian heresy. The year
following he came to England with his wife and family, intending to continue a year or two, and then to return ; but it pleased God to disappoint him in his resolution, for he never saw his native country any more. After a short stay in London, he removed to Oxford, as well to be absent from the violent political heat which then enraged in the capital, as to have the advantage of pursuing his studies.
In 1641, was published at Oxford, the Lord Primate's original of bishops and Metropolitans, wherein he proves from scripture and the ancient monuments of the church, that they owe their original to the apostles, and that they are the stars in the right hand of Christ." Rev. 2. To this discourse the presbyterian party never published any reply.
FOR THE CHURCHMAN'S MAGAZINE.
Every scribe which is instructed into the kingdom of heaven, is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasures things new and old- Matthew xiii. 52. Ireneus on the Boundaries of Human Knowledge in the
Things of God. The following extract from Ireneus was levelled at the absurd fancies of cer. tain heretics who troubled the church in his day. And although their opinions have long since been exploded and done a way, yet the extract contains many good thoughts that deserve to be impressed upon the minds of every christian, to preserve them from giving way to the pride of their owu hearts, from thinking to penetrate beyond what is given them to know, and thereby falling into like errors.
HAVING then the truth itself for our rule, and the manifest testimony of God concerning himself, we ought not, by running after curious questions, and endless disquisitions, to reject the plain and certain knowledge of God. But we should rath. er, in all our enquiries, direct our attention to this one point, so far to know and understand the mystery of God's nature and existence, as may increase our love of him, who has done, and is doing so much for us: and that we may never relinquish that faith which manifestly represents him as the only God and Father of all, who made this world, who formed man, and endowed his creatures with faculties for endless improvement; and who promises to guide him by his spirit from these poor elements to much greater things concerning himself, as he bringeth forth an infant from the womb, to the light of the sun, and layeth up the wheat in the barn, wlien bc has brought it to perfection in the straw. It is one and the same almighty first-cause that formed the womb, and created the sun.It is one and the same Lord who bringeth forth the straw, and inultiplietb the grain in it, and hath prepared the barn. But with regarito things contained in the scriptures, if we are unable to solve every question that may be raised, we should not have course to anutier God besides him who is the God of all things; for this is the