John White, A. M.—This excellent divine was born at Stanton St. John in Oxfordshire, in the year 1576, and educated first at Winchester, then in New College, Oxford, where he was chosen fellow. In the year 1606, he left the university, and became rector of Trinity church, Dorchester, 'where he continued, with little interruption, above forty years. He was a-judicious expositor of scripture; and, during his public ministry at Dorchester, he expounded the whole Bible, and went through one half a second time.*
About the year 1624, Mr. White, with some of his friends, projected the new colony of Massachusetts in New England, as an asylum for the persecuted nonconformists; but, for several years, the object met with numerous discouragements. Indeed, the difficulties became so formidable, that the undertaking was about to be relinquished, and those who had settled in the new plantation were on the point of returning home. At this juncture the worthy settlers, who had already outbraved many a stonn, and surmounted the greatest difficulties, received letters from Mr. White, assuring them, that if they could endure their painful conflict a little longer, he would procure for them a patent, and all the necessary supplies for the new settlement. They concluded to wait the event; and in all these particulars he made his promise good. Thus, by the blessing of God upon his active and vigorous endeavours, the colonists were enabled to maintain their ground; and they afterwards greatly prospered.+ This was the first peopling of Massachusett's Bay in New England.
About the year 1630, Mr. White was brought into trouble by Bishop Laud, and prosecuted in the high comnussion court, for preaching against Arminianism and the popish ceremonies.J Wood is therefore mistaken when he says "that he conformed as well after as before the advancement of Laud." Though it does not appear how long his troubles continued, or what sentence was inflicted upon him; yet these proceedings against a divine of such distinguished
* Wood's Alhenie Oion. Toi. ii. p. 60. «
+ Mataer'sNew Eng. b. i. p. 19—Prince'iChnta.Hist. vol. i. p.144—149.
t Prynne's Cant. Doomc, j>. 362.
excellence, and one so universally beloved, were sure to bring the greatest odium upon his persecutors. Mr. White was afterwards a great sufferer from the public confusions of the nation. His excellencies could not screen him from the destructive ravages of the civil wars. Prince Rupert and his forces being in those parts, a party of horse was sent into the town, when the soldiers plundered his house, and carried away his library. But, upon the approach of these calamities, the good man fled from the storm; and, retiring to London, was made minister of the Savoy.*
In the year 1640, Mr. White was appointed one of the learned divines to assist the committee of religion, consisting of ten earls, ten bishops, and ten barons.t In 1643, he was chosen one of the assembly of divines, and constantly attended. He was deservedly admired on account of his great zeal, activity, learning, moderation, and usefulness, during the whole session. Upon the meeting of both houses of parliament, the assembly of divines, and the Scots comsioners, in Margaret's church, Westminster, to take the covenant, he engaged in the public prayer; and, to prepare their minds for so sacred an engagement, as our author observes, he prayed a full hour4 In 1645, upon the revival of the committee of accommodation, he was chosen one of its members.^ And about the same time he was appointed to succeed Dr. Featley in the sequestered rectory of Lambeth; and, according to our historian, he was appointed to have the care and use of the doctor's library, until the doctor should be able to procure his, which had been carried away by Prince Rupert's soldiers.|| In 1647, Mr. White was offered the wardenship of New College, Oxford, but refused the office.
When the public broils of the nation were concluded, he returned to his flock and his ministry at Dorchester; where he continued in peace the remainder of his days. He died suddenly, July 21, 1648, aged seventy-two years. His remains were interred in the porch of St. Peter's church, Dorchester, but without any monumental inscription.! He was a most faithful pastor; and a divine of sound doctrine, an admirable judgment, and a most powerful genius, being no less eminent for piety, faith, and diligence. Also, he was a person of uncommon gravity, and so universally beloved and respected, that he was usually called the patriarch of Dorchester. The puritans at a distance, as well as those about him, according to Wood, " had more respect for him than even for their diocesan; yet he was a most moderate puritan."* "He was a constant preacher," says Fuller, "and, by his wisdom and ministerial labours, Dorchester was much enriched with knowledge, piety, and industry."! Mr. John White, the ejected nonconformist, was his son.}
• Wood"s Athena- Oxon. vol. ii. p. 61.
+ This committer was appointed by the house of lords, and designed (o examine all innovations, as well in doctrine as discipline, illegally introduced into the church since the reformation. It was extremelj offensive to the intolerant spirit of Archbishop Laud.—Wharton's Trouble* of Laud, vol. i. p. 174, 175.
t WhitlockeS Mem. p. 70.
^ Papers of Accommodation, p. 13.
H Wood's Athens Oxon. vol. ii. p. 61.
I Wood's Hist. & Antiq. I. ii. p. 149.
His Works.—1. The Way to the Tree »f Life, 1647.—2. A Commentary upon the Three first Chapters of Genesis, 1666.—3. Directions for Beading the Scriptures.—4. Of the Sabbath.—5. Several Sermons.—Most probably iie was author of some other articles.