Thomas Gataker, B. D.—This celebrated divine was the son of Mr. Thomas Gataker, another puritan divine, the pastor of St. Edmund's, Lombard-street, London. He was born in the metropolis, September 4, 1574, and educated in St. John's college, Cambridge, where he had Mr. Henry Alyey for his tutor. He greatly distinguished himself by his assiduous application; and1 he is mentioned among those ardent students who attended the private Greek lectures given by the learned Mr. John Boys, in his chamber, at four o'clock in the morning.^ He was afterwards chosen fellow of Sidney college, in the same university. He entered with great reluctance on the ministerial work while he was at the university, when he engaged with Mr. William Bedell, afterwards Bishop of Kilmoie, and some others, in the pious and laudable woik-of preaching every Lord's day in the adjacent
• Rale's Summary, prefixed to Mr. Strong's " Discourse of the Covenant,."
+ Manton's Preface lo Mr. Strong's Heavenly Treasure. % This is verv evangelical, and uncommonly judicious.— Williams'* Christian Preacher, p. 44S. I) Aikiu's Lives of Selden and Usher, p. 408.
country, where their labours were most wanted. Having continued these exercises some time, he removed to London, and became domestic chaplain to Sir William Cook, to whose lady he was nearly related. His admirable talent for preaching soon gained him so great a reputation, that, in the year 1601, he was chosen preacher to the honourable society of Lincoln's-inn; where, for the space of ten years, he laboured with great acceptance, popularity, and usefulness. Previous to Mr. Gataker s settlement in this situation, Mr. Ley, afterwards Earl of Marlborough and lord treasurer, having been present, with his lady, when Mr. Gataker preached at St. Martin's in the Fields; on their return home she asked an old servant how he liked the preacher. "Why truly," said the man, " he's a pretty pert boy; and he made a reasonable good sermon." Not many weeks after, Mr. Ley, returning from Lincoln's-inn, said to his lady, " 1 will tell you some news. That young man, whom you heard at St. Martin's, is chosen lecturer at Lincoln's-inn." The old servant standing by and hearing this, said, "What! will the benchers be taught by such a boy as he?" Mr. Gataker having observed in one of his sermons, that it was as lawful for the husband* man to cultivate his ground as for counsellors to confer with their clients and give advice on the Lord's day; the appropriate admonition was well received, and occasioned the alteration of the time of public worship; for, instead of preaching at seven o'clock in the morning, as had been the constant practice, he was desired to preach at the usual hour of morning service. He did not, however, entirely leave Sir William Cook's family, but in the vacations went down to their seat in Northamptonshire, where, during his stay, he preached constantly, sometimes in their domestic chapel, and sometimes in the parish church. In this he acted purely from the motive of christian piety, uninfluenced by any worldly considerations, as very clearly appeared from the following circumstance, peculiarly honourable to his memory: our author, after stating this fact, immediately adds, "And this he did with an apostolical mind, not for filthy lucre, but freely making the gospel a burden only to the dispenser. Yet such was the devotion of that religious pair, (.Sir William and his lady,) that they would not serve God without cost; for they afterwards, m consideration of those pains, freely taken, settled upon Mr. Gataker an annuity of twenty pounds per annum, which he indeed received a few years; but afterwards he remitted it unto the heir of that family, forbearing to use the right he had, and forbidding his executor to claim any arrears of that annuity. This is mentioned to shew the generous temper of his christian soul."*
Mr. Gataker's learned preaching to the above society, as it gave him much satisfaction, so it gained him great reputation; and, if it had accorded with his views, would have procured him considerable preferment. But when various valuable benefices were offered him, he refused to accept of them, concluding that the charge of one congregation was sufficient for one man. He therefore chose to remain in his present situation, in which, though his salary was small, his employment was honourable, and his condition safe. Moreover, it afforded him great leisure for the pursuit of his studies, in which he w;is very assiduous, particularly the holy scriptures in the original languages, the fathers of the church, and the best writers among the Greeks and Romans.
In tiii- year Kill, he was prevailed upon, not without some difficulty, to accept of the rectory of Rotherhithe in Surrey, a living of considerable value, with which he was much importuned to hold his former office; but that being inconsistent with his principles, he absolutely refused. In this situation, notwithstanding an almost perpetual head-ache with which he was afflicted from his youth, he continued for many years to discharge his numerous pastoral duties with unremitting and indefatigable industry, and to feed the flock of Christ over which the Holy Ghost made him overseer, God greatly blessing his labours. Although he had not committed any of his learned productions to tfie press; yet his celebrity for erudition was so great, that he held a regular correspondence with the learned Dr. Usher, afterwards the celebrated primate of Ireland. Some of his epistles are still preserved, and afford sufficient testimonies of the nature and extent of his studies, and of his unremitting care to preserve the unpublished works of some of the ancient divines. These letters contain very shining proofs of his modesty and humility, which do not always accompany profound literary acquirements. Mr. Gataker's first letter is dated from Rotherhithe, March IS, Hill), in which he informs Usher, that he had in his possession a manuscript, containing certain treatises which he could not learn ever to have been printed; among which was " Guiehuus de Santo Amore, de periculis novissimorum temporum," and an oration delivered in writing to the Pope at Lyons, by Robert Groslhead, formerly Bishop of Lincoln.
* Clark's Lives annexed to Martyrologie, p. 148—151.
"Some of these," says he, " peradventure, if they be not abroad already, might not be unworthy to see the light, nor should 1 be unwillmg, if they should be so esteemed, to bend my poor and weak endeavours that way. But, of that oration to the pope, certain lines, not many, are pared away in my copy, though so as the sense of them may be guessed and gathered from the context; and in the other treatises there are many faults that cannot easily, or possibly some of them without help of other copies, be amended. My desire is to understand from you, whether, at your being in England, for I wot well how careful you were to make inquiry alter such monuments, you lighted upon any of these, and where, or in whose hands they were."
In another letter to Usher, dated from Rotherhithe, June 24, 1617, he writes thus:—" I esteem myself much beholden unto you, as for your former love, so for this your late kindness, in vouchsafing me so large a letter, with so full instructions concerning this business, that I was bold to break unto you, though the same, as by your information appeareth, were wholly superfluous. True it is, that though not fully purposed to do ought therein myself, willing rather to have offered mine endeavours and furtherance to some others." Having mentioned two of the manuscripts, he adds, " But I perceive now, by your instructions, that the one is out already, and the other perfect and fit for the press, in the hands of one better furnished- and fitter for the performance of such work than myself, whom I would therefore incite to send what he hath perfect abroad, than by his perfect copy, having pieced out mine imperfect one, to take his labours out of his hand. I have heard, since I wrote to you by Mr. Bill, that Sir Henry Savile is about to publish Bishop Grosthead's epistles, out of a manuscript remaining in Merton college library. If I meet with your countryman Malachy, at any time, I will not be unmindful of your request. And if any good office may be performed by me for you here, either about the impression of your learned and religious labours, so esteemed and desired, not of myself alone but of many others of greater judgment than myself, or in any other employment that my weak ability may extend itself unto, 1 shall be ready and glad upon any occasion to do my best therein."*
Dr. Usher and Mr. Gataker had an ardent predilection for publishing the remains of ancient divines, which introduced them to an acquaintance with each other, and occasioned their
• Parr'i Life of Usher, p. 37—76.
friendly correspondence. The letters of our divine, it is said, shew his true genius and disposition, and will account for that hot and eager opposition which his writings met with, when he ventured to publish his opinions from the press. As he never wrote upon any subject which he had not fully studied, and thoroughly examined what had been said upon it by men of all ages and all parties; so his penetrating skill in distinguishing truth, and his honest zeal in supporting it, laid him continually open to the clamours of those who had nothing in view, but the maintenance of those systems to which they were attached from their education, or the magnifying of such notions as were popular in those times; and, by defending which, they were sure to have numerous admirers, though their want of learning, and the weakness of their arguments, were ever so conspicuous. But in these kind of disputes, such furious opponents were sure to have the worst; and how considerable soever they might be, either in figure or number, they served only to heighten the lustre of his triumph. For, it is added, as the modesty of his nature withheld him from printing any thing till he was forty-five years of age; so by that time his judgment was so confirmed, and his learning, supported by an extraordinary and almost incredible memory, so greatly extended, that he constantly carried his point, and effectually baffled all the attempts to envelope again in darkness and obscurity any subject that he had once proposed to enlighten.
The great regularity of his life, his unblemished character, and the general esteem in which he was held by the greatest and best men in the nation, fortified him sufficiently against all those low and little artifices by which a writer, deficient in any of these respects, would certainly have suffered. He had not the least tincture either of spleen or arrogance in his nature; and though it be true that he gave no quarter to the arguments of his adversaries, nothing could provoke him to strike at their persons. He .always remembered that the prize contended for was truth, and that, for the sake of obtaining it, the public undertook to sit as judges: he was cautious, therefore, of letting fall any thing that was unbecoming, or that might be indecent or ungrateful to his readers to peruse. He was not, however,' so scrupulous as to forbear disclosing vulgar errors, through fear of giving the multitude offence. His modesty might, indeed, hinder his preferment, but it never obstructed his duty. He understood perfectly well how easily the people may be wrought either to superstition or profaneuess; and no man could be more sensible than he was, that true religion was as far distant from the one as from the other. He was well acquainted with the arts of hypocrites, and thought it as necessary to guard against them as to avoid the allurements of open libertines, He understood that souls might be ensnared, as well as seduced; and that canting words, and a solemn shew of sanctity, might enable presumptuous or self-interested persons to put a yoke upon the necks of christians, very different from the yoke of Jesus Christ.'
This is certainly a very high character of our learned divine. He was very careful, in the exercises of the pulpit, to preach not only sound, but suitable doctrine, such as might edify any christian congregation; and was particularly appropriate to the people of his charge. His desire to discharge his duty induced him, among other subjects, to discourse on one both curious and critical, which he applied to common use. This was the nature of Lots, about which much had been written, and more spoken; from which, in the opinion of the learned Gataker, some very great inconveniencies had arisen. He, therefore, thought, that, by a minute investigation of the subject, it might give his congregation clear and correct views of the nature, use, and abuse of lots, and might prove very beneficial to them. This induced him to handle the matter, as he did all subjects, freely, fully, and fairly, without suspecting, however, that this would oblige him to have recourse to the press, and involve him in a long and troublesome controversy. Some ill-disposed persons reported that h» defended dice and cards, with other groundless stories; which induced him to publish his thoughts on the subject in a small treatise, " in which," says my author, " it is hard to say whether the accuracy of the method, the conclusiveness of his reasoning, or the prodigious display of learning, deserves most to be admired." He dedicated his work to Sir Henry Hobart, bart. chief justice of the common-pleas, with all the benchers, barristers, and students of Lincoln's-inn, as a mark of his gratitude and respect for their past favours. This piece made a great noise in the world, and gained the author great reputation.
The title of this learned treatise is, " Of the Nature and Use of Lots, a Treatise Historical and Theological, written by Thomas Gataker, B. of D. sometime Preacher at Lincoln' s-inn, and now Pastor of Rotherhithe," 1619. In the preface to the judicious and ingenuous reader, he observes,
• Bicg. Britau. vol. It. p. 2160.
that how backward be had ever been to publish any thing from the press, they knew best who had often pressed him thereto, but had never till that time prevailed. "A twofold necessity," says he, "is now imposed upon me of doing somewhat in this kind, partly by the importunity of divers christian fciends, religious and judicious, who having either heard, being partakers of my public ministry, or heard of by the report of others, or upon request seen some part of this weak work, have not ceased to solicit the further publishing of it; as also partly, and more especially, by the iniquity of some others; who, being of a contrary judgment on some particulars therein disputed, have been more forward than Mas fit, by unchristian slanders, and uncharitable censures, to tax and traduce both me and it." He then remarks, that, if any should surmise that these kind of writings might occasion too much liberty, a thing not necessary in that licentious age; he answers briefly, " First, that it is unequal, that, for the looseness of some, the consciences of those that be godly should be entangled and ensnared; and, secondly, that whosoever shall take no more liberty than is here given shall be sure to keep within the bounds of piety and sobriety, of equity and of charity, than which I know not what can be more required. For no sinister ends, I protest before God's lace, and in his fear, undertook I this task; neither have I averred or defended any thing therein but what I am verily persuaded to be agreeable to God's word."
The first chapter describes what a lot is, and treats of lottery in general; the second, of chance or casualty, and of casual events; the third, of the several sorts or kinds of lots; the fourth, of ordinary lots; the fifth, of the lawfulness of such lots, with cautions to be observed in the use of them; the sixth, of ordinary lots lusorious, and of the lawfulness of them; the seventh contains an answer to the principal objections against lusorious lots; the eighth, an answer to the lesser arguments used against them; the ninth, of cautions to be observed in the use of them; the tenth, of extraordinary or divinitary lots; the eleventh, of the unlawfulness of such lots; the twelfth contains an admonition to avoid them, with an -answer to some arguments produced in the defence of them, and the concltrston of the whole. The second edition of this treatise, revised, corrected, and enlarged by the author, was published in 1627:
The publication of the first edition of this work drew Mr. Gataker into a public controversy, which continued many years. A very warm writer, who had been misled by comanon report, tendered what he took to be a refutation of his doctrine, to those who were then intrusted with Uie licensing of the press. But his performance, being written with greater appearance of anger than argument, was stopped ; which the passionate writer considered as an additional injury, and of which he so loudly complained, that our author, who only sought the investigation of truth, generously interposed, and opened the way as well for his adversary as for himself. He was, indeed, convinced that he could not better defend his own character and sentiments against evil reports, than by affording his virulent adversary the fairest opportunity. He did not, however, treat him with total silence. After the publication of his opponent's angry piece, he employed his pen in a most learned refutation of his arguments and objections, m a work entitled, " A just Defence of certain Passages in a former Treatise concerning the Nature and Use of Lots, against such exceptions and oppositions as have been made thereunto by Mr. J. B. i. e. John Balmford, wherein the insufficiency of his Answers given to the Arguments brought in defence of a Lusorious Lot is manifested; the imbecility of his Arguments produced against the same further discovered; and the point in controversy more fully cleared," 1623.
About twelve years after, Mr. Gataker had to contend witk more learned opponents, and he found himself under the necessity of publishing a defence of his sentiments in Latin, against two very learned men who had written on the same subject. His treatise is entitled, "Thomae Gatakeri Londinatis Antithesis partim Gulielmi Amesii partim Gisberti Vaetii de sorte Thesibus reposita," 1637- In this performance he discovered, as in all the productions of his pen, his great piety, modesty, and erudition.'
Mr. Gataker, in the year 1620, made a tour into the Low Countries, which gave him a very favourable impression of the protestantism of the Dutch, and doubtlessly inclined him to the religious moderation by which he was characterized. While he gave much satisfaction to the protestants, by his preaching to the English church at Middleburg, he excited the warm displeasure of the catholics, by disputing with great freedom and boldness against the ablest of their priests. Though he might not convert them, he certainly confounded them, which occasioned their great resentment. His mother, therefore, knowing his fervent zeal in the cause of truth, and
• Biog. Britao. vol. iv. p. 2160—SiGi.
the provocation his works had already given, had certainly some cause to apprehend his danger from a party never famous for their moderation. Upon his return he applied himself, with his former assiduity, to his beloved studies and the duties of his charge. He also addressed a letter to his learned and pious friend Usher, now preferred to a bishopric, in which he gives a very affecting description of, the state of the foreign protestants. In this letter, dated from Rotherhilhe, September 29, 1621, he expresses himself as follows:
"My duty to your lordship remembered. This messenger so fitly offering himself to me, I could not but in a line or two salute your lordship, and therefore signify my continued and deserved remembrance of you, and hearty desire of your welfare. By this time I presume your lordship is settled in your weighty charge of oversight, wherein I beseech the Lord in mercy to bless your labours and endeavours, to the glory of his own name and the good of his church, never more oppressed and opposed by mighty and malicious adversaries, both .at home and abroad; never in foreign parts generally more distracted and distressed than at present. Out of France there is daily news of murders and massacres, cities and town taken, and all sorts put to the sword. Nor are those few that stand out likely to hold long against the power of so great a prince, having no succours from without. In the Palatinate likewise all is reported to go to ruin. Nor do the Hollanders sit, for ought 1 see, any surer; for that the coals that have been heretofore kindled against them about transportation of coin, and the fine imposed for it, the quarrels of the East Indies, arid the command of the narrow seas, the interrupting of the trade into Flanders, &c. are daily more and more blown up, and fire begiuneth to break out, which I pray God may not burn up both them and. us.
"I doubt not, worthy sir, but you see as well, yea much better I suppose, than myself and many others, being able further to pierce into the state of the times, and the consequences of these things, what need the forlorn flock of Christ hath of hearts and hands to help to repair her ruins; and to fence that part of the fold that as yet is not so openly broken down, against the incursions of such ravenous wolves, as, having prevailed so freely against the other parts, will not in likelihood leave it also unassaulted: as also what need she hath, if ever, of prayers and tears (her ancient principal armour) unto Him who hath the hearts and hands of all men .in his hand, and whose help (our only hope as things now stand) is oftentimes then most present when all human helps and hopes do fail. But these lamentable occurrences carry me farther than I had purposed when I put my pen to paper. I shall be right glad to hear of your lordship's health and welfare, which the Lord vouchsafe to continue; gladder to see the remainder of your former learned and laborious work abroad. The Lord bless and protect you. And thus ready to do your lordship any service I may in these parts, I rest, &c"?
Mr. Gataker had not yet finished all his writings ou points of controversy. His zeal and courage in the cause of protestantism engaged him to enter the list of disputants against the popish party. Observing that the papists laboured to prove the doctrine of traiisubstantiation to be agreeable to the holy scriptures, he resolved to shew, in the most convincing manner, the absurdity and impossibility of their attempts; and, having driven them from this, which was their strongest post, he prosecuted his attack, and forced his opponents to quit every other refuge. This he did in his work entitled " Transubstantiation declared by the Popish Writers to have no necessary Foundation in God's Word," 1624. He also published a " Defence" of this work. His learned performances in this controversy proved a great and seasonable service to the cause of protestants, and very deservedly rendered him conspicuous in the eyes of the most worthy persons of those times, who admired his erudition and his fortitude as much as his humility and his readiness to serve the church of Christ.t
In the year 1640, he was deeply engaged in the controversy about justification, which greatly iucreased his reputation. In 1643, he was chosen one of the assembly of divmes, and constantly attended during the session. His endeavours in this learned synod, for promoting truth and suppressing error, were equally strenuous and sincere; yet his study of peace was so remarkable, that when his reason concerning Christ's obedience in order to our justification, could not obtain tin- majority of that assembly, by whom the question was determined contrary to his sense, his peaceable and pious spirit caused him to keep silence, and hindered him from publishing the discourses which he had designed to publish on that subject. In the year 1644, he was chosen one of the committee for the examination of ministers. He was repeatedly urged to take his doctor's degree, but he always
• Farr't Life of Uiber, p. 76. + Biog. BritaD. to). It. p. 2164.
VOL. III. P
refused: and when he was offered the mastership of Trinity college, Cambridge, by the Earl of Manchester, he declined the honourable preferment.*
Mr. Gataker, content with his own pastoral charge, was more ambitious of doing good to others than of exalting himself; he therefore assiduously applied himself in those turbulent times to his ancient studies, which could give offence to no party, and which might entitle him to the gratitude and approbation of all the friends of good literature. With this object in view he published his judicious and laborious discourse on the name by which God made himself known to Moses and the people of Israel. In this performance he chewed himself a very great master of Hebrew; and the work was so well received by all competent judges, that it has been often reprinted. This very profound, curious, and instructive treatise is entitled, " Dc nomine Tetragrammato Dissertatio, quS, vocis Jehovah apud nostras receptae usus defenditur, & a quorundam cavillationibus iniquis pariter atque inanibus vindicatur," 1645. The work was reprinted in 1652; it is also inserted amongst his " Opera Critica;" and it found a place among the ten Discourses upon this subject, collected and published by Hadrian Reland, the first five of which were written by John Drusius, Sextinus Amarna, Lewis Capel, John Buxtorff, and James Alting, who opposed the received usage, which is defended in the other five dissertations, the first of which was written by Nicholas Fuller, the second by our author, and the three others by John Leusden.
This celebrated scholar, by his continual application to the study of the best Greek authors, his wonderful memory, his uncommon penetration, and his accurate judgment, was enabled to look into the very principles and elements of that copious, elegant, and expressive language. This might seem beneath the attention of so great a man; but he resolved to yindicate these inquiries, and to shew how much a thorough. knowledge of grammatical learning contributes to the improvement of science. He was aware that the singularities of his opinion might lessen his reputation, if they were not clearly and fully established. He knew that they did not spring either from a naked imagination, or an affectation of opposing common opinions; but were in reality the produce of much reading and reflection, and they had, at least to himself, the appearance of certain, though not vulgar truths. It
• Clark't Live., p. 158—155.
was from these motives, therefore, that he ventured to publish a work which would scarcely have been noticed from any other hand, but which, from its own merit, and the respect due to its author's skill, especially in Greek literature, was very well received, and highly commended,by able and candid judges. This learned and critical work is entitled, "De Diphthongis sive Bivocalibus Dissertatio Philologica, in qua Literaruin quarundam sonus germanus natura genuina figura nova et scriptura vetus veraque investigatur," 1646. This is also printed amongst his " Opera Critica." The point which he endeavours to establish is, that there are in reality no diphthongs, and that it is impossible two vowels should be so blended together as to enter into one syllable. This, as we have observed, was one of our author's singularities. We shall not enter into this controversy, nor attempt to decide whether he was right or wrong in his views of orthography.*
Notwithstanding Mr. Gataker's assiduous application to these deep and critical studies, he paid the most exact attendance to his pastoral duties, and to the assembly of divines. In obedience to their appointment, he wrote the annotations upon Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Lamentations, published in the Assembly's Annotations on the Bible.t Though he was a divine most distinguished for moderation, he disapproved of many things in the national church, but would have been satisfied with moderate episcopacy. He was of opinion, that bishops and presbyters, according to the New Testament, were the same. He was always opposed to the great power and splendour of the prelates; and concluded, that they ought to be divested of their pompous titles and their seats in parliament.t He differed more than once with the very learned Dr. Lightfoot, in their meetings at the assembly; and though they sometimes debated warmly, they never lost their tempers, or indulged any rancour on account of these disputes.
As our divine advanced in years, his incessant labours, both of body and mind, brought upon him those infirmities which slackened his speed, but did not wholly stop the progress of his studies. For even under these infirmities, and when confined to his chamber by the direction of his,physicians, h« was continually employed in his beloved contemplations. But when, through the excellency of his constitution, his temperate manner of living, and the skilful efforts of the faculty, he recovered a moderate share of health, he betook himself again to the duties of his ministry; but was afterwards under the necessity of declining the exercises of the pulpit, though he continued to administer the sacraments, and to deliver short discourses at funerals. The chief part of his time was now employed in study, and in composing several learned works. He employed his learning, his zeal, and his moderation in the antiuomian controversy, by pub.lishing a work, entitled, " A Mistake or Misconstruction removed, (whereby little difference is pretended to have been acknowledged between the antinomians and us,) and Free Grace, as it is held forth in God's Word, as well by the Prophets in the Old Testament, as by the Apostles and Christ himself in the New, shewed to be other than is by the Aiitinomian Party in these times maintained. In way of Answer to some Passages in a Treatise of Mr. John Saltmarsh, concerning that subject," 1646. This is written in answer to Mr. Saltmarsh's " Free Grace, or the Flowings of Christ's Blood freely to Sinners; being an Experiment of Jesus Christ upon one who hath been in Bondage of a troubled Spirit at times for twelve years," 1645. Mr. Gataker in his work observes, " That it seems a thing much to be /eared, that this course, which I see some effect, and many people are much taken with, of extracting divinity in a kind of chymical way, even chimerical conceits, will, if it hold on, 'as much corrupt the simplicity of the gospel, and the doctrine of faith, as ever the quirks and quillets of the old schoolmen did." Dming the same year he published "Shadows without Substance, in the pretended New Lights," in answer to Saltmarsh's " Shadows Hying away." Also his " Mysterious Clouds aud Mists," in answer to Mr. J. Simpson.
* Biog. Brilan. Toi. iv. p. 2165.
+ This useful work ia improperly ascribed to the assembly of divines, but was undertaken by certain divines appointed by the parliament, part of whom were members of the assembly. Each person bad his portion of scripture appointed him by those who set him on work. Several of them were celebrated puritans, as the reader will find noticed in this work.
t Clark's Lives, p. 256, 257.
Mr. Gataker soon after published his discourse on the ttyle of the New Testament, in which he opposed the sentiments of Pfochenius, who maintained that there were no Hebraisms in those sacred writings, which he endeavoured to prove as well by authorities as arguments. All this our author undertook to overthrow, which, in the opinion of the best critics, he most effectually accomplished; and more than this, he so clearly and concisely explained the true meaning of many texts in the Old as well as the New Testament; corrected such a variety of passages in ancient authors; and -discovered such a consummate skill in both the living and dead languages, as very justly gained him the character of •ne of the ablest philologists of the age. His. work is entitled, "Thoma? Gatakeri Londinatis de Novi Testamenti stylo Dissertatio: qua viri doctissimi Sebastiani Pfochenii de Linguae Gr»cae Novi Testamenti puritate, in qua Hebraismis
Jute vulga finguntur quam plurimis larva detrahi dicitur iatribe ad examen revocatur; Scriptorumque qua sacrorum 3ua profanorum loca aliquant multa obiter exphcantur atque lustrantur. Cum indicibus necessariis," 1648. The author tells us, in the first chapter of his Dissertation, that, meeting with the treatise of Sebastian Pfochenius, a German divine, published in 1629, he read it with great attention, and found it very weighty in matter, and abundantly full of good literature. Notwithstanding this, he found many of the author's sentiments repugnant to his own, and in his judgment not agreeable to truth. He saw likewise that many learned and great men were censured without cause, and sometimes represented as speaking a language very different from what he took to be their real sentiments. These observations induced him to examine a multitude of questions started in that treatise, or that which naturally flowed from them, in which he shews his candour to be every way equal to his skill in criticism. He does not use harsh expressions or hard names, but contents himself with discovering mistakes, and shewing the grounds of them. In following this method, he opens a field of very curious and instructive learning, and shews such quickness of penetration, such soundness of judgment, and such compass of reading, as are truly admirable. He begins by refuting a principle that Pfochenius had assumed, viz. that the Greek, Latin, German, &c. are original tongues; whereas, in Mr. Gataker's opinion, it is very difficult to know which are original, but with repect to the Latin he maintains that it is not. He shews from the authority, both of ancient and modern writers, that it was a compound of several languages spoken by the Sabines, Oscans, and other old inhabitants of Italy, but more especially of Greek; and to demonstrate this more effectually, he takes the first five lines of Virgil, one of the purest and most elegant of the Latin poets, and proves that there is scarcely n single word in them which is not derived from the Greek. Thus he saps the very foundation of Pfochenius's system, by making it evident, that there can be no assurance of the purity of any language, in the sense in which he understands it.
In the fifth chapter he states Pfochenius's three principal questions, first, whether the text of the New Testament be truly Greek, or not different from that used by profane authors. Next, whether if Homer, Pindar, Plato, Demosthenes, &c. were to rise from the dead, they would be able to understand the New Testament? And lastly, by what name the language of that book is to be called, whether Gra±canic, Hellemstic, or Gracran r Our author obsei ves, that the last question is merely a dispute about woids, with which he will have nothing to do. On tie other two questions he gives his opinion plainly, and without reserve. When it is alleged in proof of the fii st, that the phrases used by the writers of the New Testament are hkewise used by profane authors, he denies that this is conclusive; "for," says he, " who that haa any taste of the purity of the Latin tongue, will allow that it is to be found in scholastic writings, notwithstanding that the words, and even the phrases in which Cicero, Sallust, Livy, Terence, &c. wrote, are here and there found in them i" He adds further, that those who do not see that though the sacred writers used the same words, and even the same phrases, that are to be found in profane authors in another manner than they do, and to convey a different sense, must not only be said to see indifferently and obscurely, but that they willingly shut their eyes. He then produces many Latin words used by the sacred writers, though written in Greek characters, or disguised with Greek terminations. He also produces Hebrew and Syriac words to the same purpose; and from hence he concludes, that though Pfochenius could really shew, which however he undertakes to prove that he has not done, that the sacred writers make use of a multitude of phrases to be met with in profane authors, yet this would not amount to what he has asserted, if the former have also used many words and phrases which are not to be met with m authors who are allowed to write pure Greek.
As to the second question, he tells Pfochenius, that it can be granted or denied him only in part. Notwithstanding some places might in a measure be understood by those great men whom he mentions, if it were possible for them to come from the dead; yet this would but go a little way towards provmg what he has asserted; because, though they might understand some parts, yet others they could not understand. He puts a parallel case in reference to the writings of Apuleius, which, says he, if Cicero were to rise from the dead, he might for the most part understand; but would any competent judge conclude from thence, that the Latin of Apuleius resembles that of Tully, or of the age in which Tully wrote? But, says Pfochemus, Paul conversed with th« Greeks of his time, and was he not understood by them P and if by them, why not by the ancients? "I could readily grant you that," says our divine, " and yet deny the consequence that you would draw from it. For the Greek language itself was much declined, in the time of the apostles, by the admission of a multitude of exotic words and phrases borrowed from the Italians, Sicilians, Cyrenians, and Carthagenians, partly from their being under the same government, and partly from their commercial intercourse with those nation*. But, after all," says he, " if Demosthenes could live again, it is most likely he would find many obstacles in reading Paul's writings, and would object to many of the words and phrases." He then quotes a long passage from Beza's Annotations on the Acts of the Apostles, m which that learned commentator shews the reasons why the apostles were not studious about their style, but endeavoured to make themselves understood by those with whom they conversed, rather than to render their discourses elegant from their pure and correct language.
In the same manner he proceeds through the rest of his treatise, in which he explains, as they occur, a multitude of passages in sacred and profane authors, correcting some and commending other critics who have gone before; but with so much mildness and moderation, with such apparent candour and respect to truth above all things, that it is impossible for the reader not to admire his excellent temper, while he ruins the reputation of the contrary party. In the fortyfourth chapter, Mr. Gataker gives a recapitulation of the whole dispute between him and Pfochenius, and observes, that the true state of the question is, whether the style of the New Testament in Greek is every where the same with that which was used by the ancient writers, at the time when the language was in its greatest purity f Or, whether it is not such as frequently admits of Hebraisms and Syriasms? Pfochemus affirms the former, and denies the latter; while our learned critic maintains the opposite sentiments. Mr. Gataker concludes by observing, that, notwithstanding all that Pfochenius has urged, he does not doubt that nearly six hundred phrases might be produced from the New Testament, and a much greater number from the Greek version of the Old Testament, the purity of which Pfochenius seems tacitly to maintain, in which there are plain characters of the Hebrew or the Syriac tongues, and not the least resemblance of the ancient Greek, so far as men of the greatest labour and erudition have hitherto discovered.* The venerable primate of Ireland,
• Bio(. Brilan. vol. ir. p. 2167—2169.
than whom there could not be a better judge, shewed his great respect both for our author and his performance, by sending it with his own Anna.ls as a present to Dr. Arnold Boate, then residing at Paris.*
Though this literary production was a very considerable work, and greatly increased the author's reputation, it was, indeed, no more than a specimen of a much larger work, in which he had been employed for many years. He at first intended his discourse against Pfochenius only as an appendix to this celebrated performance; but that treatise being ready for the press, and it being very doubtful whether he should live to complete the other, he judged it most expedient to publish that alone, particularly that he might see what kind of reception his larger work was likely to meet with from the republic of letters. Finding this specimen universally applauded, he determined to publish the first two books of the other, the whole being divided into six, to which he gave this title: "Thomae Gatakeri- Londiuatis Cinnus; sive adversaria miscellanea animadversionum veriarum libris sex comprehensa: 3110111m premorcs duo nunc piimitius prodeunt reliquis einceps (Deo favente) seorsim insecuturis," 1651. In the preface the author shews, that these collections were published in fulfilment of his promise made in his dissertation on the style of the New Testament; which promise would have been fulfilled much sooner, had he not been prevented by his numerous avocations, and by a dangerous eruption of blood, by which he was brought very low, and for a long tune withheld from his studies. The first book is divided into eleven chapters, and the second into twenty, but they are mostly independent one of another. The account given of the foregoing work renders it unnecessary to enlarge upon this performance. They are exactly the same in their nature, except that this tends to no one particular point, but discovers, in numerous instances, the author's opinion on difficult passages in the Old and New Testaments, the primitive fathers, modern critics, and, as his subjects occasionally led him, he illustrates a vast variety of obscure or perplexed places both in Greek and Latin authors; and there are some observations on words and phrases in our own language. This work was received with the highest commendation. Morhoff particularly applauds the author for his singular happiness in distinguishmg the true sense of the most difficult passages, and of making it appear that what he defends is
• Parr'i Life of Uiher, p. 559.
the true sense, and this in few words, without any ostentation, and without ever insulting those whom he corrects: but, on the contrary, he ascribes their mistakes, sometimes as a slip of the memory, and at others, to the bad editions of the books'which they used.* The remaining books of this collection were published after his decease, by his son Mr. Charles Gataker, with the following title: " Adversaria Miscellanea Posthuma, in quibus sacra: Scriptune primo deinde aliorum Scriptorum locis multis Lux affiinditur," 1659.
Mr. Gataker's natural modesty, as well as his christian moderation, kept him from that publicity of character which, from his great abilities, and his numerous friends, he might easily have attained. Notwithstanding the mildness of his temper, and his aversion to whatever might render him the object of public discourse; yet the trial of the king moved him to make a public declaration of his sentiments. He was, accordingly, the first of the forty-seven London ministers who subscribed their " Letter to the Generall and his Councell of Warre," commonly called their " Declaration" against the king's death. In this address they firmly remind them of their duty to the parliament, and of the obligations they were under, as well as the parliament, to defend, his majesty's person and maintain his just rights. They told the general and his council that the one could not be injured, or the other invaded, without manifest breach of many solemn oaths, particularly the covenant: they taught them to distinguish between God's approbation and permission; they set, in its true light, the folly of pretending to secret impulses in violation of God's written laws; they made it evident that necessity was a false plea; and they concluded by recommending them to follow the rule of John the Baptist, Do violence to no man, neither accuse ant/ falsely, and scrupled not to tell them, that, if they persisted in their design, their sin would surely find them out.f
During the year in which Mr. Gataker published the first two books of his Miscellanies, he printed a small piece on infant baptism, which was very much admired. He was deeply versed in that controversy; therefore, in addition to this, he wrote several other discourses, in which he treated the main questions with great seriousness and solidity of argument. He published two Latin discourses on this subject, which, in point of modesty, learning, and argumentation, it is said, were not at all inferior to any of the other
• Biog. Briian. vol. It. p. 2169, 8170. t Letter to the Gen.
productions of his pen. The first of these is entitled, " De Baptismatis Infantilis vi & efiicacia Disceptatio privatimhabita inter V. C. Dom. Samuelem Wardum, theologiae sacra, doctorem, & in academia Cantabrigiensi Professorem, & Ihomam Gatakerum," 1651. The other is entitled, "Stricture ad Epistolam Joannis Davenantiide Baptismo Infantum," 1654. In the year 1652, he favoured the world with his admirable edition of the Emperor Marcus Antoninus's Meditations, to which he prefixed a preliminary discourse on the philosophy of the Stoics, which, in the opinion of the ablest critics, both at home and abroad, is allowed to be a most complete and correct treatise, as well as a most useful compendium of morality. He added also an exact translation, together with a commentary. In some of his former works he had given occasional specimens of his perfect acquaintance with the works of this imperial philosopher, whose celebrity has always been as high among the learned as his station was in the world; therefore, when the work was published, men's expectations were highly raised, and abundantly gratified. It had been published in Greek by Conrad Gesner, with a Latin translation by William Hylander, and had passed through several editions. Mr. Gataker found both the text and the translation exceedingly faulty, and spent nearly forty years in considering how the former might be amended, and a new translation made, which might do justice to so exquisite a production. He found prodigious difficulties in the arduous undertaking, being able to meet with very few manuscript copies, and receiving very slender helps from those learned persons, whose assistance he solicited in the progress of his endeavours. He sent indeed a list of his prmcipal difficulties to the celebrated Salmasius, who, in his answer, very gratefully acknowledged, and warmly commended his undertaking; but gave him, at the same time, a dismal prospect of the obstacles he had to overcome: as, innumerable corruptions, frequent chasms, more frequent transpositions, and many other misfortunes, for the removal of which he promised his assistance; which, however, his frequent journies and other occurrences prevented. Mr. Gataker, nevertheless, persevered in the arduous work, and, with the few helps he enjoyed, his own sagacity, and the comparing of various copies, at length completed his design, and, to the great satisfaction of the learned world, published his admirable edition of this valuable work about two years before his death, under the following titlu: " Marci Antonini Imperatoris de rebus suis sive de iis qua; ad se perlinere censebat Lebri xii. cum Versione Latina & commentariis Gatakeri," 1652. The work was reprinted in 1697, with the addition of the Emperoi 's life, by Mr. Dacier, together with some select notes of the same author, by Dr. George Stanhope, who, in his dedication to the Lord Chancellor Somers, gives a high character of our author.*
Mr. Gataker, in the evening of his days, when he earnestly desired that repose which his labours so well deserved, was warmly attacked, by an active and angry adversary, who was infinitely beneath him in point of knowledge, but who had credit with certain persons high in office, and who was esteemed by the vulgar as a person of transcendent abilities. This was Mr. William Lilly, the famous astrologer, who, finding that our author had a very bad opinion of his pretended art, and a worse opinion of his personal character, had the confidence to take up his pen against hiin; but he experienced the disappointment which he might easily have foreseen. Mr. Gataker, who possessed all the sacred and profane learning relative to this subject, not only defended himself with great strength of argument, but very clearly detected all the plausible sophisms that could be urged in support of this pretended science. The ground of this controversy was Mr. Gataker's Annotations on Jeremiah x. 2., in which chapter the Jews are warned against listening to the predictions of astrologers, and complying with the practice of idolaters, the two great sins -to which they would be tempted in a state of captivity. Our author considered it his duty to expose the vanity of predictions from the stars, and to shew to the christian world, that it was not only folly and ignorance, but great wickedness to rely upon them. His exposition is curious, full of solid sense and sound learning, and effectually destroys the credit of that delusive art, by which, in all ages, weak and wandering minds have been misled.
These annotations roused all the tribe of astrologers against our learned author, from the highest to the lowest. William Lilly, John Swan, and Sir Christopher lleydon, took great offence, and wrote against him without mercy. '1 his induced Mr. Gataker to publish a discourse in defence of himself, and what he had before advanced against the illuminated stargazers, which is entitled, " A Vindication of the Annotations on Jeremiah, chap. x. ver. 2., against the scurrilous aspersions of that grand impostor Mr. William Lilly; as also against the various expositions of two of his advocates, Mr. John Swan, and another by him cited but not named. Together with the annotations themselves; wherein the pretended grounds of judiciary astrology, and the scripture proofs produced for it, are discussed and refuted," 1653. In this treatise he fully and openly exposed his opponents and their pretended science; and enforced all that he had said against it by substantial arguments, and produced, in support of his own sentiments, a numerous train of respectable authorities. This excited their scurrility and abuse more than ever; which induced him to publish a reply to their raillery and bitter language, in a piece entitled, "A Discourse Apolegitical,whereinLillieslewd and lowd lies in his Merlin or Pasquil for the year 1654, are clearly laid open; his shameful desertion of his own cause it further discovered; his shameless slanders fully refuted; and his malicious and murtherous mind inciting to a general massacre of God's ministers, from his own pen evidently evinced: together with an advertisement concerning two allegations produced in the close of his postscript; aud a postscript concerning an epistole dedicatory of one I. Gadburie," 1654. In this treatise our venerable author speaks of the most considerable transactions of his life, relates at large the manner in which he arrived at his several preferments, and completely refutes all the idle and malicious reflections of Lilly and his associates. He mentions, among other particulars, his sentiments upon church government, and declares that he never was an advocate for the power and splendour of the prelacy; but that, on the contrary, he had always inclined to a mode rate episcopacy. As, for the sake of doing good in his generation, he had submitted to the bishops; so, when they were taken away by what he esteemed the supreme power, he submitted to that likewise, yet never sought any preferment, but refused it from both parties. This, it appeals, was written a very little time before his death.
* Biog. BriUn. vol. It. p. 2171.
Although Mr. Gataker convinced all judicious and impartial inquirers after truth of the vanity of this delusive science; he couid never silence his conceited aud obstinate antagonist, whose bread, indeed, was in some degree at stake; and who was, therefore, bound by one of the strongest ties to defend that craft by which he lived. By his frequent pubhc;,lions, he vilified and persecuted our venerable divine to the i'nd of his days, and, contrary to all the rules of religion or humanity, insulted him when laid in his silent grave." As for the pious and learned Mr. Gataker, he pursued the same peaceable and useful course, till his years, his infirmities, and his perpetual labours, wore out his constitution.
• Biog. Britan. Tol. it. p. 2172—2175.
In his last sickness his faith and patience were strikingly manifest. To a servant who waited upon him when routined to his bed, and who told him that his head did not lie right, he said, "It will lie right in my coffin." The day before hi* departure, being exercised with extreme pain, he cried, " How long, Lord, how long? come speedily!" A little before he died, he called his son, his sister, and his daughter, to each of whom he delivered his dying charge, saying, " My heart fails, and my strength fails: but God is my fortress, and the rock of my salvation. Into Uiy hands, therefore, I commend my soul; for thou hast redeemed me, O God of truth.—Son," said he, " you have a great charge, look to it. Instruct your wife and family in the fear of God, and discharge your ministry conscientiously.—Sister," said he "I thought you might have gone before me, but God calls me first. I hope we shall meet in heaven. I pray God bless you.—Daughter," ■aid he, " mind the world less and God more; for all things, without religion and the fear^of God, are nothing worth." He then wished them all to withdraw and leave him to rest, when he presently expired, July 27, 1654, aged seventy-nine years, having been forty-three years pastor at Rotherhithe. His funeral sermon was preached by his very esteemed friend Mr. Simeon Ashe, and afterwards published with the following title: "Gray Heyres crowned with Grace, a Sermon preached at Redriff, August 1, at the Funeral of thal reverend and eminently learned and faithful Minister of Jesus Christ, Mr. Thomas Gataker."
This venerable divine was married four times. His third wife was sister to Sir George Farwell. He would never suffer his picture to be taken; but the following is said to be a just description of his person. He was of a middle stature, a thin body, a lively countenance, and a fresh complexion. He was temperate in diet, free and cheerful in conversation, and addicted to study, but did not seclude himself from useful company. He possessed a quick apprehension, a solid judgment, and so extraordinary a memory, that, though he used no common-place book, he had in readiness whatever he had read. His house was a private seminary for both Englishmen and foreigners, who resorted to him, lodged at his house, and received instructions from him. His extensive learning was admired by the great men of the age, both at home and abroad, with whom he held a regular correspondence. It is said, " Of all the critics of this age who have employed their pens in illustrating polite learning, there are few, if indeed any, who deserve to be preferred to Thomas Gataker for diligence and accuracy, in explaining those authors whose writmgs he has exammed." He is styled " a writer of infinite learning and accurate judgment ;"* and his name as a scholar is paralleled with those of Selden and Usher.i He was an ornament to the university, a light to the church, a loving husband, a discreet parent, a faithful friend, a kind benefactor, a candid encourager of students, and a stout champion for the truth; yet so much for peace and moderation, that he maintained unity and affection towards those who differed in lesser matters.* Echard says, " He was remarkable for his skill in Greek and Hebrew, and the most celebrated among the assembly of divines;" and adds, " it is hard to say which was most remarkable, his exemplary piety and charity, his polite literature, or his humility and modesty in refusing preferment."}
His Works, in addition to those whose titles have been already given.—I. David's Instructor.—2. The Christian Man's Care.—
3. The Spiritual Watch.—i. The Gain .of Godliness 5. The Just
Man's Joy. with Signs of Sincerity.—6. Jacob's Thankfulness.—. 7. David's Remembrances.—8. Noah's Obedience.—9. A Memorial of Kngland's Deliverance.—10. Sorrow for Zion.—11. God's Parley with Princes, with an Appeal from them to Him.—12. Elcazer's Prayer, a Marriage Sermon.—13. A Good Wife God's Gift.— 14. A Wife Indeed.—15. Marriage Duties.—16. Death's Advantage.— 17. The Benefit of a Good Name, and a Good End.—18. Abraham's Decease, delivered at the Funeral of Mr. Richard Stock, late Pastor of All-hallows, Bread-street—19. Jeroboam's Son's Decease.— 20. Christian Constancy Crowned by Christ.—The above Sermons, of which the pious Bishop Wilkin's gives a very high character,|| were published separate, but, in 1637, collected and published m one volume folio.—21. Francisci Gomari Disputationis Elencticae, do Justificationis, etc., 1640.—22. Animadvertionis in J. Piscatoris & L. Lucii scripta adversaria, de causa meritoria Justificationis, 1641.— 23. Mr. Anthony Wotton's Defence, 1641.—24. A true Relation of Passages between Mr. Wotton and Mr, Walker, 1642.—25. An Answer to Mr. Walker's Vindication, 1642.—26. Stricture in Bartb. Wigelini Sangallensis de obedient ia Christi dispntatiouum Theologicam, 1663.—27. Kjnsdum Vindicatio adversus Capellum.—28. The Decease of Lazarus.—29. St. Stephen's last Will and Testament.— 30. God's Eye on his Israel.—31. A Defence of Mr. Bradshaw against Mr. J. Cannc.—The celebrated Hermannns Witsius, in the year 1698, collected and published in one volume all Mr. Gataker's critical works, entitled, " Opera Critica;" which will stand a monument to his memory as durable as time.