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Herbert Palmer

Herbert Palmer, B. D.—This most pious divine wai the son of Sir Thomas Palmer, born at Wingham near Canterbury, in the year 1601, and educated in St. John's college, Cambridge; but was afterwards chosen fellow of Queen's college, in the same university. He was a man celebrated for genuine piety, and thought to have been sane titicd from the womb. In the year 1626, he entered upon his first ministerial exercises in the city of Canterbury, having previously obtained a license from Archbishop Abbot,* authorizing him to deliver a lecture at St. Alphage church, every Lord's day afternoon. In this situation, by his sound doctrine and unblemished deportment, his great usefulness was presently manifest to all. By his zealous and judicious efforts, the corruptions so prevalent among the ecclesiastics of the cathedral, who preferred pompous ceremonies above the power of godliness, were greatly interrupted. This, indeed, soon roused the malice and enmity of the bigot ted ecclesiastics. They could not endure the soundness of his doctrine and the holiness of his life, so much opposed to their dead formality, and their unrighteous doings. Though his high birth and numerous friends .screened him for a time, articles were at length exhibited against him; but his replies to those articles, it is said, were such, that he was honourably acquitted. +

In the year 16C9, upon the complaint of the dean and archdeacon, Mr. Palmer was silenced and his lecture put down, to the great grief of his numerous audience. The charges brought against him were,—" That he read prayers and catechized against the minister's will, and not according to the ecclesiastical canons:—that in the catechizing, he took upon him to declare the king's mind in his instructions:— that he preached a factious sermon in the cathedral, and detracted from its divine service:—and that factious persons from all the parishes in the city, were his auditors."* However, by the petition of many of the citizens and gentry, and the honourable testimony of several ministers, concerning ■his orthodox doctrine and unblemished character, together with the testimony of ten knights and others, presented to the archbishop, he was again restored, and the archdeacon inhibited from his jurisdiction^ It is likewise observed, that all who took an active part in this affair, exposed themselves to the scorn and contempt of the people.}

* When Archbishop Abbot's mother was pregnant of him, the is said to have had a dream, which proved at once an omen and an instrument of bis future promotion. She fancied she »;i- told in her sleep, that if she could eat a jack, or pike, the child she went with would prove a son, and rise to great preferment, Not long after tbis, in taking a pail of water out of the river Wey, which ran by their house, she arcidently caught a jack, and had thus an odd opportunity of fulfilling her dream. This story excited much conversation, and coming to the knowledge of certain persons of distinction, they offered to become sponsors to the child, which was kindly accepted, and had the goodness to afford many testimonies of their affection to their godson while at school, and after he went to the university. Such were the good effects of his mother's dream.—BiogBritan. vol. i. p. 3.

+ Clark's Lives annexed to Martyrologie, p. 183—187.

Mr. Palmer afterwards removed to the vicarage of Ashwell in Hertfordshire, to which, on account of his amiable character, though a puritan, he was presented by Bishop Laud, receiving his institution February 7, 1632. Laud mentioned this circumstance as an instance of his impartiality, in his own defence, at his trials There Mr. Palmer, as in his former situation, discovered his zealous care and unwearied diligence, in promoting the welfare of'his flock. Though he was a man of great learning, he never wished to make it appear. He sought not the applause of men, or any worldly emolument, but the approbation of God, the testimony of a good conscience, and the salvation of souls.

During the above year, he was chosen one of the preachers to the university of Cambridge, and afterwards one of die clerks in convocation. In 1643, he was appointed one of the assembly of divines, and afterwards one'of the assessors. During the assembly, he was highly distinguished by his excellent talents, his unwearied industry, his great usefulness, and was seldom absent. Upon his removal from Ashwell, he was succeeded by Mr. Crow, afterwards silenced in 1662,|| and he accepted an invitation to Duke's-place, London. But afterwards, having received a pressing invitation, he became pastor at New Church, Westminster, being succeeded at Duke's-place by Mr. (afterwards Dr.) Thomas Young, another worthy puritan. In each of these situations he was highly admired, and his preaching, expounding, catechizing, and other ministerial labours, were abundant. He was always abounding in the work of the Lord. In 1644, he was con-, stituted master of Queen's college, Cambridge, by the Earl ofManchester. He succeeded Dr. Mtrtin, one of Laud's chaplains, and a man of high principles. Under the peculiar care

* Prynue's Cant. Doomc, p. 379,873.—Rushwortli'sCollec. vol. ii.p.S4,

+ Clark's lives, p. 187.—Pry line's Caul. Doomc, p. S73.

t fleylin'i Life of Land, p. 801.

S Clark's Lives, p. 187.

| Palmer's Nohcoh. Mem. Toi. ii. p. 302.

ami encouragement of the new master, the college flourished, even to the great admiration of all •• In 1645, he was appointed, by order of parliament, one of the committee of accommodation.*

Mr. Palmer was always firm to his principles. Though he would deny himself when only his own interest was concerned, he was constantly zealous and unmoved in whatever concerned the honour of God and the glory of his kingdom. Therefore, when he was called to preach at the Bishop of Lincoln's visitation, he spoke with great freedom against the existing corruptions of the church, not fearing the consequences, though sensible of his great danger. When the Book of Sports, bowing to the altar, reading part of the service in the chancel, and other innovations, were enjoined, he resolved to lose all, rather than offend God by the encouragement of superstition and profaneness. He constantly and vigorously opposed the superstitious and unrighteous oath of canonical obedience.^ He was always a most consistent and conscientious nonconformist.

This worthy divine, being highly reputed for learning and piety, was often called, to preach before the parliament, for which he has incurred the severe displeasure of certain historians. One of these bitter writers, with an evident design to reproach his memory, has transcribed the following passage from one of Mr. Palmer's dedications addressed to the Earl of Essex, then general to the parliament's army: "God hath put you in his own place: God hath graced you with his own name, Lord of Hosts, general of armies. God hath committed to your care what is most precious to himself, precious gospel, precious ordinances, a precious parliament, a precious people. God hath called forth your excellency as a choice worthy to be a general, and the champion of Jesus Christ, to fight the great and last battle with antichrist iu this your native kingdom."^ Another of these writers observes, that, June 28, 1643, "Mr. Palmer made a long-winded tittle-tattle, stuft with rebellion and sedition, before the house of commons; at the end of which he found out a pretty device, to have all the cavaliers' throats cut; and all this to be justified by inspiration of Almighty God. '/ humbly entreat you,' said he, ' to ask God's consent Jirst, whether he will spare such or such, or pardon them; and if he uill not, you must not.' Probably this politician," adds

• Clark's Lives, p. 187—197.

+ Papers of Accommodation, p. IS. \ Clark's 1 ive*, p. 199.

I) J.'Ksirango's Dissenters' Sayings, part ii. p. 56.

our author, " was very well acquainted with the subtle robber of old, who made the country parson pray for riches, and then took all his gold from him. The greatest wickedness in the world," says he, "may be perpetrated by this rule of Palmer's, and so religion prove only a piece of policy; yet, was it very fitting for the parliament's actions, which, I suppose, was the cause that they ordered Sir Oliver Luke to give him thanks for his seditious preachment, and to desire hiin to print it, the better to infect the people."* Such scurrility and falsehood, evidently designed to blacken the memory of one of the best of men, only requires to be stated in the author's own words; it can noed no other refutation.

During Mr. Palmer's last sickness, he was much engaged in prayer, for himself, for the nation, for the church of God, and for all with whom he stood connected. When his friends recommended him to cast the burden of his pains and sickness upon the Lord, he said, " I should act unworthily, if after I have uiged others to cast their burdeas upon the Lord, I should not do so myself." As he lived a life of holy devotedness to God, so he died a holy and happy death, in the year 1(>47, aged forty-six years. His remains were interred in the New Church, Westminster; where he was succeeded by Mr. Rood, afterwards ejected by the act of uniformity.t Mr. Clark says, "he was remarkable for humility, meekness, faith and patience; he possessed a quick apprehension, a sound judgment, a strong memory, and a happy elocution; and he was almost unbounded in acts of liberality, and a most strict observer of the sabbath, not suffering any one of his family to be detained from public worship, by cooking victuals on the Lord's day."t Granger styles him "a man of uncommon learning, generosity, and politeness;" and observes, " that he possessed a most excellent character; that he wished for peace during the civil war; and that he spoke the French language with as much facility as his mother tongue."§

His Works.—1. The Principles of the Christian Religion made plain and eas*.—2. Of making Religion one's Business.—This last and several other pieces were afterwards published together, entitled, "Memorials of Godliness and Christianity;" the thirteenth edition of which was printed in 1708.—3. Sermons preached before the Parliament, one of which is entitled, "The Necessity and Encouragement

• Fonlia's Wicked Plots, p. 183.

+ Palmer's Nodcoii. Mrm. vol. i. p. 195.

i Clark's Lives, p. 190—200.

S Granger's Biog. Hut. vol. ii. p. 183, 188.

«f Utmost Venturing for the Churches Help, together with the Sin, Folly ami Mischief of Self-idolizing, a Senium before the Honourable House of Commons on the Day of the monthly Solemn Fast, 28 June, 1643." Another is entitled, "The Glasse of God's Providence towards his Faithful Ones, held forth in a Sermon to the two Honourable Houses of Parliament, at Margaret's Westminster, Aug'. 13, 1644, being an extraordinary Day of Humiliation," 1644.— 4. Vindiciae Sabbathe, assisted by Mr. Daniel Cawdrey.—5. Scripture and Reason pleaded for defensive Armcs, assisted by several others.