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Truth of the Christian Religion; the substance of which was afterwards incorporated in a work of his, entitled Discourses concerning the Truth of the Christian Religion; printed in 1746, in octavo.
In 1731 he published Miscellaneous Observations upon Authors Antient and Modern, in two volumes, octavo. This is a collection of critical remarks, of which however he was not the sole, though principal, author; Pearce, Mason, and others, were contributors to it. In 1751, Archbishop Herring gave him, unasked, the living of St. Dunstan in the East, London. This prelate, with whom he had been long acquainted, had entertained a high and affectionate regard for him had endeavoured aforetime to serve him in many instances, with others; and afterwards, in 1755, conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity. This same year, 1751, came out his first volume of Remarks upon Ecclesiastical History, octavo. This work was inscribed to the Earl of Burlington, by whom, as trustee for the Boylean Lecture, he had, through the application of Archbishop Herring and Bishop Sherlock, been appointed in 1749 to preach that Lecture. There is a Preface to this volume of more than forty pages, an admirable one indeed; for, besides much learning and ingenuity displayed throughout, it is full of the spirit of liberty and candour. These Remarks upon Ecclesiastical History were continued, in four succeeding volumes, down to the year 1517, when Luther began the work of Reformation : two published by himself, in 1752 and 1754; and two after his death, in 1773.
In 1755 he published Six Dissertations upon different Subjects, in octavo. The Sixth Dissertation is on the state of the dead, as described by
Homer and Virgil; and the remarks in this, tending to establish the great antiquity of the doctrine of a future state, interfered with Dr. Warburton, in his Divine Legation of Moses, and drew upon him a very severe attack from that quarter. He made no reply; but in his Adversaria the following memorandum is found, which shows that he did not oppose the notions of other men from any spirit of envy or opposition, but from a full persuasion that the real matter of fact was as he had represented it. I have examined,' says he, the state of the dead as described by Homer and Virgil, and upon that Dissertation I am willing to stake all the little credit that I have as a critic and a philologer. I have there observed, that Homer was not the inventor of the fabulous histories of the gods: he had those stories, and also the doctrine of a future state, from old traditions. Many notions of the Pagans, which came from tradition, are considered by Barrow, Serm. VIII. Vol. II, in which sermon the existence of God is proved from universal consent. See also Bibl. Chois. I, 356. and Bibl. Univ. IV. 433.'
In 1758 came out his Life of Erasmus, in one volume, quarto; and in 1760 another volume, quarto, containing Remarks upon the Works of Erasmus, and an Appendix of Extracts from Erasmus, and other Writers. In the Preface to the former volume, he says, that 'Le Clerc, while he published the works of Erasmus at Leyden, drew up his Life in French, collected principally from his Letters, and inserted it into the Bibliothèque Choisie; that as this Life was favourably received by the public, he had taken it as a ground-work to build and had translated it, not superstiupon; tiously and closely, but with much freedom, and
with more attention to things than to words; but that he had made continual additions, not only with relation to the history of those days, but to the Life of Erasmus; especially where Le Clerc grew more remiss, either wearied with the task, or called off from these to other labours.' After mentioning a few other matters to his Readers, he turns his discourse to his Friends; recommending himself to their favour, whilst he is with them, and his name when he is gone hence; and entreating them in a wish, that he may pass the evening of a studious and unambitious life in a humble but not a slothful obscurity; and never forfeit the kind continuance of their accustomed approbation.'
But whatever he or his friends might wish, he was to live hereafter neither so studiously nor so obscurely as his imagination had figured out to him: more public scenes than any he had yet been engaged in still awaited him. For Dr. Hayter, Bishop of London, with whom, by the way, he had always been upon intimate terms, dying in 1762; and Dr. Osbaldeston, who was also his friend, succeeding to that see; he was made domestic chaplain to this bishop in March, admitted into a Prebend of St. Paul's the same month, and in October presented to the living of Kensington, whither he went to reside soon after.
In 1764 he was appointed Archdeacon of London, and might have had the Rectory of St. James, Westminster; but chose rather to continue at Kensington, that being a situation he much liked, and better adapted to his then advanced age. Here he lived, occupied (when his pastoral functions permitted) amongst his books, and enjoying himself with his usual serenity, till the 27th of
August, 1770, when, being seized with a disorder in his breast and lungs, he grew continually worse, notwithstanding all assistance; and, without undergoing much pain in the course of his illness, or losing his understanding in the least, died the 5th of September, in the seventy-second year of his age. He was buried in the new church-yard at Kensington, as he had directed; and had a flat stone laid over him, with this Inscription, dictated by himself:
Mortalis esse desiit
He left a widow and two children: Rogers Jortin, of Lincoln's Inn, in the profession of the law and Martha, married to the Rev. Samuel Darby, late Fellow of Jesus College in Cambridge, and now Rector of Whatfield in Suffolk.
Besides his principal works, which have already been mentioned, and these Sermons and Charges, there are some things of a smaller kind: as Remarks upon Spencer's Poems, 1734, octavo, at the end of which are some Remarks upon Milton; Remarks on L. Annæus Seneca, printed in The Present State of the Republic of Letters, for August 1734; a Sermon preached at the Consecration of Pearce, Bishop of Bangor, in 1747; a few Remarks on Tillotson's Sermons, given to his friend Dr. Birch, and printed in the Appendix to Birch's Life of that Prelate, in 1752; Letter to Avison, concerning the Music of the Antients, subjoined to a second edition of Avison's Essay on Musical Expression, in 1753; and a few Remarks on Phillips's Life of Cardinal Pole, printed in an Appendix to Neve's Animadversions upon that history, 1766.
Besides great integrity, great humanity, and other qualities which make men amiable as well as useful, this learned and excellent person was of a very pleasant and facetious turn, as his writings abundantly show. He had nevertheless great sensibility, and could express himself with warmth, and even some degree of indignation, when he thought the occasion warranted him so to do. For instance, he had a great respect and fondness for critical learning, which he so much cultivated; and though he knew and allowed it to have been disgraced by the manners of certain proud, fastidious, and insolent critics, such as Scaliger, Salmasius, Scioppius, &c., yet he thought the restoration of letters, and the civilization of Europe, so much indebted to it, that he could ill bear to see it contemptuously treated; and to this may be imputed the little satirical strokes which sometimes occur in his works, against those that did so contemptuously treat it.
For the motto of his Life of Erasmus, he chose some words of Erasmus himself: Illud certe præsagio, de meis lucubrationibus, qualescunque sunt, candidius judicaturam posteritatem, tametsi nec de meo seculo queri possum. Yet it is certain that he had very slight notions of posthumous fame or glory, and of any real good which could arise from it; as appears from what he had collected and written about it in a note on Milton, at the end of his Remarks upon Spencer. He could sometimes complain, and doubtless with good reason, of the low estimation into which learning was fallen; and thought it discountenanced and discouraged, indirectly at least, when ignorant and worthless persons were advanced to high stations and great preferments, while men of merit and abilities were