WILLIAM BEVERIDGE, (1637-1708)
from
A History of Preaching
by
F. R. Webber

William Beveridge was born at Barrow, Leicestershire, in 1637. After attending school in Oakham, Rutland, he was graduated from St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1656. While there he excelled in Oriental studies, and when but 21 years of age he published his De linguarum Orientalium, a treatise on the Eastern languages, with particular reference to Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic and Samaritan. With it he compiled a Syriac grammar. While the work is remarkable for a young man of 21, yet it is lacking in depth of scholarship.

Beveridge was ordained in 1661, and appointed vicar of Ealing, at that time a small village near London. A year later the Lord Mayor and aldermen of London appointed him rector of St. Peter's Cornhill. So well did he preach that he was called "the great reviver and restorer of primitive piety." He conducted a daily service, and a weekly celebration of Holy Communion. He was made a prebend of St. Paul's in 1674, and archdeacon of Colchester in 1681. At the latter place he made personal visits to every parish in the diocese, and he made it a point to become personally acquainted with every clergyman. In 1684 he was made prebend of Canterbury and chaplain to the King and Queen. He was offered the bishopric of Bath and Wells, as successor to Ken, but when he declined it, William and Mary were great offended. However, in 1704, he was made bishop of St. Asaph, and he accepted it, although without joy. His first act was to address a touching letter to every clergyman, urging diligent instruction and catechization of old and young in the doctrines of the Christian religion, "to the end that they might know what they were to believe and do in order to obtain salvation." He prepared for his clergy a clear exposition of the Church Catechism. He did not fill the office many years, for he died in 1708, and was buried in St. Paul's, London.

William Beveridge's sermons, while not remarkable, are learned, marked by acuteness of judgment and clearness of language, although inclined to tediousness because of the many quotations from the Hebrew, Latin and Greek. They are often doctrinal, and textual and expository in form. Beveridge evidently was much better as a preacher than as a writer, for when he died many who knew him spoke in superlatives of his preaching, even going so far as to compare him to Chrysostom. His written sermons are evangelical, but rather dry and with little evidence of the fire of conviction that is said by his admirers to have marked his preaching. Beveridge was attacked frequently by his opponents, who charged him with peculiar views in regard to the Trinity; but it is only fair to point out that these critics were men who held Arminian, Socinian, Pelagian and Unitarian views.


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