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EDWARD STILLINGFLEET (1635—1699)

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 921 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EDWARD STILLINGFLEET (1635—1699), English divine, was born at Cranborne, Dorset, on the 17th of April 1635. There and at Ringwood he received his early education, and at the age of thirteen was entered at St John's College, Cambridge. He took his B.A. in 1652, and in the following year was elected to a fellow-ship. After residing as tutor first in the family of Sir Roger Burgoyne in Warwickshire and then with the Hon. Francis Pierrepoint at Nottingham, he was in 1657 presented by the former to the living of Sutton in Bedfordshire. Here he published (1659) his Irenicum, in which he sought to give expression to the prevailing weariness of the faction between Episcopacy and Presbyterianism, and to find some compromise in which all could conscientiously unite. He looks upon the form of church government as non-essential, but condemns Nonconformity. In 1662 (the year of the Act of Uniformity) he reprinted the Irenicum with an appendix, in which he sought to prove that " the church is a distinct society from the state, and has divers rights and privileges of its own." Stillingfleet's actions were as liberal as his opinions, and he aided more than one ejected minister. In later years he was not so liberal. But, though in 168o he published his Unreasonableness of Separation, his willingness to serve on the ecclesiastical commission of 1689, and the interpretation he then proposed of the damnatory clauses of the Athanasian creed, are proof that to the end he leaned towards toleration. His rapid promotion dates from 1662, when he published Origines sacrae, or a Rational Account of the Christian Faiti, as to the Truth and Divine Authority of the Scriptures and the Matters therein contained. Humphrey Henchman, bishop of London, employed him to write a vindication of Laud's answer to John Fisher, the Jesuit. In 1665 the earl of Southampton presented him to St Andrew's, Holborn, two years later he became prebendary of St Paul's, in 1668 chaplain to Charles II., in 167o canon residentiary, and in 1678 dean of St Paul's. He was also preacher at the Rolls Chapel and reader at the Temple. Finally he was consecrated bishop of Worcester on the 13th of October 1689. During these years he was ceaselessly engaged in controversy with Nonconformists, Romanists, Deists and Socinians. His unrivalled and various learning, his dialectical expertness, and his massive judgment, rendered him a formidable antagonist; but the respect entertained for him by his opponents was chiefly aroused by his recognized love of truth and superiority to personal considerations. He was one of the seven bishops who resisted the proposed Declaration of Indulgence (1688). The range of his learning is most clearly seen in his Bishob's Right to Vote in Parliament in Cases Capital. His Origines Britannicae, or Antiquities of the British Church (1685), is a strange mixture of critical and uncritical research. He was so handsome in person as to have earned the sobriquet of " the beauty of holiness." In his closing years he had some controversy with John Locke, whom he considered to have impugned the doctrine of the Trinity. He died at Westminster on the 28th of March 1690, and was buried at Worcester. His manuscripts were bought by Robert Harley (afterwards earl of Oxford), his books by Narcissus Marsh, archbishop of Armagh. A collected edition of his works, with life by Richard Bentley, was published in London (171o) ; and a useful edition of The Doctrines and Practices of the Church of Rome Truly Represented was published in 1845 by William Cunningham.
End of Article: EDWARD STILLINGFLEET (1635—1699)
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