John Vicars was born in the city of London, in the year 1582, descended from the Vicars in Cumberland, and educated first in Christ-church hospital, London, then in Queen's college, Oxford. Having finished his academical studies, he retired to London, and became usher at Christ'schurch, which he kept till towards the close of life. Wood calls him " a puritanical poet, and a zealous brother in the cause;" and says, that, " upon the commencement of the civil wars, he shewed his great forwardness for presbyterianism, hated all people that loved obedience, and affrighted many of the weaker sort, and others, from having any agreement with the king's party, by continually inculcating into their heads strange stories of God's wrath against the cavaliers. Afterwards, when the independents became predominant, he manifested great enmity against them, especially after the king's death."+ He is said to have "hated all people who loved obedience, as the devil doth holy-water; and he could out-scold the boldest face in Billingsgate, especially if kings, bishops, organs, or maypoles, were to be the objects of their zealous indignation.J He is warmly censured for calling tltc ceremonies of the church" a stinking heap of atheistical and Roman rubbish <" and for saying, " Throw away the rubbish with the Lord's enemies. Vex the Midiauitcs, abolish the Amalckites: let popery find no favour."^
Mr. Vicars was a most furious adversary to the independents. The title of one of his pieces written against them will afford a curious specimen of the length to which the different parties at that time carried their animosity. It is as follows: "Coleman-street Conclave visited; and that grand Impostor, the Schismatics Cheater in Chief, (who hath long slily lurked therein,) truly and duly discovered; containing a most palpable and plain Display of Mr. John Goodwin's self-conviction, (under his own hand writing,) and of the notorious Heresies, Errors, Malice, Pride, and Hypocrisy of this most hugeGaragantua in falsely pretended Piety, to the lamentable misleading of his too credulous soul-murdered Proselytes of Coleman-street, and elsewhere: collected principally out of his own big-braggadochio wave-like swelling and swaggering Writings, full fraught with six-footed Terms, and rfeshlie rhetorical Phrases, far more than solid and sacred Truths, and may fitly serve, (if it be the Lord's will,) like Belshazzar's Hand-writing on the Wall of his Conscience, to strike Terror and Shame into his own Soul and shameless Face, and to undeceive his most miserably cheated, and inchanted or bewitched Followers," 1648. Facing the title is John Goodwin's picture, with a wind-mill over his head, and a weather-cock upon it: the devil is represented blowing the sails; and there are other hieroglyphics or emblems about him, "designed," says Wood, "to shew the instability of the man."* The late
• Fuller'i Worthies, part ii. p. 118.—Wood's Athena Oxon. vol. i. p. 840.
+ Wood's Athene, vol. ii. p. 86, 86.
| Foulis's Hist, of Plots, p. 179.
S Walker's Attempt, parti, p. I7, 18.
• Mr. Toplady, in the fervour of his zeal against arminianism,
seems highly delighted with what he calls "this facetious title."+ To us, however, it afTords a lamentable proof of the degradation to which even good men sometimes subject themselves, when they suffer their passions to get the better of their reason. Such language, in the present day, would injustice be treated with silent contempt.
Though it does not appear at what place Mr. Vicars laboured in the ministry, one of his name was beneficed at Stamford in Lincolnshire, and prosecuted for nonconformity. He was apprehended by a pursuivant and cast into prison, upon the bare accusation of a drunken, popish iimkeeper, where he continued many weeks before any articles were exhibited against him. He was afterwards bailed, but forced to enter into bonds not to go ten miles-from London. And when he was carried before his spiritual judges, be was again cast into prison, sentenced to pay a great fine, and deprived of his living, upon the most frivolous charges,
c which were disproved by many respectable witnesses. $
• Altitun- Oxon. vol. ii. p. 85. •
+ Topladv's Historic Proof, vol. i. p. 41.
I Huntley's Prelate*' Usurpations, p. 163.
This, in all probability, was the snme person.* Mr. Vicars died August If, 1652, aged seventy-two years. His remains were interred in the church of Christ-church hospital, and over iiis grave was a large monument il inscription, which, with the church, was destroyed by the conflagration in 1666.
His Works.—1. A Prospective Glass <o look into Heaven; or, the Celestial Canaan Described, 1618—2. The Soulc's Sacred Soliloquie, 1618.—3. England's Hallelujah; or, Great Britain's grateful Retribution lor Coil's gracious Benediction in our many and famous Deliverances, 1C31.—4. Quintessence of Cruelty; or, the Popish Powder-plot related, 16...—5. England's Remembrancer; or, a thankful Acknowledgement of Parliamentaric Mercies to the English Nation, 1641.—6. The Sinfulness and Unlawfulness of making the Picture of Christ's Humanity, 1641.—7. God in the Mount; or, England's Remembrancer, being a Pauegerick'Piramides erected to the Honour of England's God, 1642.—8. A Looking Glass for Malignant*; or, God's Hand against God-haters, 1643.—9. God in the Mount; or England's Remembrancer, being the First and Second Part of a Parliamentary Chronicle, 1644.—10. God's Arke overtopping the World's Waves; or, a Third Part of Parliamentary Chronicle, 1646.—11. The Burning-bush not consumed; or, the Fourth and Last Part of a Parliamentary Chronicle, 1646.—The three last articles were collected and published together, entitled, " Magnalia Dei Anglicana; or, England's Parliamentary Chronicle, 1646.—12. Coleman-street Conclave Visited, as noticed above, 1648.—13. The Schis-.
matick Sifted, 16...—14. Soul-saving Knowledge, &c, 16 16. The
Picture of a Puritan, 16...—16. Dagon Demolished; or, Twenty admirable Examples of God's severe Justice and Displeasure against the Subscribers of the late Engagement against the King and the whole House of Peers, 1660.—He also published several Translations of the Works of learned Men, among which was " Mischief's Mysterie; or, Treason's Master-piece, the Powder-plot, invented by Hellish Malice, prevented by Heavenly Means," 1617. This was licensed; and a new edition afterwards being wanted, he waited upon Dr. Baker, chaplain to Archbishop Laud, requesting to have the license renewed, when the doctor refused, saying, "We are not so angry with the papists now as we were twenty years ago." f