Peter Sterry, B. D.—This zealous minister was born in the county of Surrey, and educated in Emanuel college, Cambridge, where, in the year 1636, he was chosen fellow. In 1643 he was appointed one of the assembly of divines for the city of London, and gave constant attendance during the session. He wns nfterwards one of Cromwell's chaplains, and is styled "a high-flown mystical divine." He lived till afler the restoration of King Charles, when he is said to' have held a conventicle in London. It is further observed, that he and one Sadler were the first who were observed to make a public profession of Platonism in the university of Cambridge.J
During the national confusions Mr. Sterry appears to have been a zealous and firm advocate in the cause of the parliament. He frequently preached at Whitehall V and before the parliament, on which occasions he declared his sentiments without the least reserve. As these sentiments are selected and transcribed, loo evidently with a view to reproach his memory, we shall give them in the words of our author. In his sermon before the house of commons, November 26, 1645, speaking of the discomfiture of the royal forces, lie adds, " What ailed you, ye mighty armies, at Keinton, Newbury, York, Naseby, tliat ye fled, and were driven backwards? What ailed you, ye strong treasons, close conspiracies, tb.it ye trembled and fell, and your foundations were discovered before you could take effect? They saw thee, O Jesus! They saw thee opening in the midst of us; so they fled before us. You sit at the right hand of the Lord Jesus in this commonwealth; as the Lord Jesus sits at the right hand of his Father, in that kingdom; which is over all. The Lord Jesus hath his concubines, his queens, his virgins; saints in remoter forms; saints in higher forms; saints unmarried to any forms, who keep themselves single for the immediate embraces of their Lord."* Tlie impartial reader is left to judge for himself what degree of reproach is attached to these sentiments.
* Palmer's Noncon. Mem. vol. iii. p. 441. + Thore*by's Viraria Lcodiensis, p. 96—98. t Baker"s, MS. Collec. vol. vi. p. 84. S E<lw;irds'.- Gangricna, part ii. p. 119.
Mr. Sterry was author of a number of tracts, the titles of which have not reached us. He appears to have been deeply tinctured with mysticism. Mr. Baxter observes that he was intimate with Sir Henry Vane, and thought to have been of his opinion in matters of religion; and that "vanity and sterility were never more happily conjoined."t He was so famous tor obscurity in preaching, fliat Sir Benjamin Rudyard said, he was "too high for this world, and too low for the other."! Mr. Erlwry includes him in the list of divines "who had the knowledge of Christ in the
• L'Estrange'sDisserrtcrs' Saying*, part ii. p. 10—IS.
+ Sir Henry V use, a principal loader in the house of commons, ni one of those singular characters thai are seen hut once in an age, and suck an age as that of Charles 1. It is hard to say whether he was a more fantastic visionary or profound politician. He did not, like the generality of eatlmsiasls, rely supinely on heaven, as if he expected every thing from thence; but exerted himself as if lie entirely depended on his own activity. His enthusiasm serins never to have precipitated him into injudicious measures, bat to have ndded new power; fo fiis natural sagacity. He mistook bis derp penetra.ioa for a prophetic spirit, and live light of hi» genius for divine irradiation. The solemn lengue and covenant was the fruit of his proline btaiu, which teemed with i:.-w systems of politics and religion. He deserves to be ranked in the llrst class of mystics j yet he had a groins far above the level of mankind; and he spoke like a philosopher upon ever) subject except religion. He preserved a uniformity of character to the last, and died in expectation of the crown 01 martyrdom. He was beheaded June 14, 166*. — Sylvester a Lift of Batter, part i. p. 75,— Granger's Biog. Hist. vol. ii. p. 2)3. iii. 109.
J Sylvester's Life of Baxter, part i. p. 75.'
Spirit, and held forth Christ in the Spirit. These men," says he, " are nearest to Zion, yet are they not come into it. For as every prophet shall one day be ashamed of his vision; yea prophesy itself shall fail; so it is manifest these men are of a dark acid deeper speech than can be easily nnderetood; therefore it is not Zion."*
It is related by Lndlow, that when news was brought of Cromwell's death, Mr. Sterry stood up, and desired those about him not to be troubled. "For," said he, " this is good news: because, if he was of great use to the people of God when he was amongst us, now he will be much more so, being ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of Jesus Christ, there to intercede for us, and to be mindful of ns on all occasions."t This, if true, was flattery or phrenzy in perfection.