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Benjamin Hoadly

Benjamin HoadlyBorn: 14-Nov-1676
Birthplace: Westerham, Kent, England
Died: 17-Apr-1761
Location of death: London, England
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Anglican/Episcopalian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Religion

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Anglican Bishop and controversialist

English divine, born at Westerham, Kent, on the 14th of November 1676. In 1691 he entered Catharine Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated M.A. and was for two years tutor, after which he held from 1701 to 1711 the lectureship of St. Mildred in the Poultry, and along with it from 1704 the rectory of St. Peter-le-Poer, London. His first important appearance as a controversialist was against Edmund Calamy "the younger" in reference to conformity (1703-07), and after this he came into conflict with Francis Atterbury, first on the interpretation of certain texts and then on the whole Anglican doctrine of non-resistance. His principal treatises on this subject were the Measures of Submission to the Civil Magistrate and The Origin and Institution of Civil Government discussed; and his part in the discussion was so much appreciated by the Commons that in 1709 they presented an address to the queen praying her to "bestow some dignity in the church on Mr. Hoadly for his eminent services both to church and state." The queen returned a favorable answer, but the dignity was not conferred. In 1710 he was presented by a private patron to the rectory of Streatham in Surrey. In 1715 he was appointed chaplain to the king, and the same year he obtained the bishopric of Bangor. He held the see for six years, but never visited the diocese.

In 1716, in reply to George Hickes, he published a Preservative against the Principles and Practices of Nonjurors in Church and State, and in the following year preached before the king his famous sermon on the Kingdom of Christ, which was immediately published by royal command. These works were attacks on the divine authority of kings and of the clergy, but as the sermon dealt more specifically and distinctly with the power of the church, its publication caused an ecclesiastical ferment which in certain aspects has no parallel in religious history. It was at once resolved to proceed against him in convocation, but this was prevented by the king proroguing the assembly, a step which had consequences of vital bearing on the history of the Church of England, since from that period the great Anglican council ceased to transact business of a more than formal nature. The restrained sentiments of the council in regard to Hoadly found expression in a war of pamphlets known as the Bangorian Controversy, which, partly from a want of clearness in the statements of Hoadly, partly from the disingenuousness of his opponents and the confusion resulting from exasperated feelings, developed into an intricate and bewildering maze of side discussions in which the main issues of the dispute were concealed almost beyond the possibility of discovery. But however vague and uncertain might be the meaning of Hoadly in regard to several of the important bearings of the questions around which he aroused discussion, he was explicit in denying the power of the Church over the conscience, and its right to determine the condition of men in relation to the favor of God.

The most able of his opponents was William Law; others were Andrew Snape, provost of Eton, and Thomas Sherlock, dean of Chichester. So exercised was the mind of the religious world over the dispute that in July 1717 as many as seventy-four pamphlets made their appearance; and at one period the crisis became so serious that the business of London was for some days virtually at a standstill. Hoadly, being not unskilled in the art of flattery, was translated in 1721 to the see of Hereford, in 1723 to Salisbury and in 1734 to Winchester. He died at his palace at Chelsea on the 17th of April 1761. His controversial writings are vigorous if prolix and his theological essays have little merit. He must have been a much hated man, for his latitudinarianism offended the high church party and his rationalism the other sections. He was an intimate friend of Samuel Clarke, of whom he wrote a life. The works of Benjamin Hoadly were collected and published by his son John in 3 volumes (1773).

Son: John Hoadly

    University: MA, Catharine Hall, Cambridge University

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