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CARYL, JOSEPH (1602–1673), nonconformist leader and commentator, born in London in 1602, was educated at Exeter College, Oxford, where he soon became eminent as a speaker and debater. Entering into holy orders, he held for some time the office of preacher to Lincoln's Inn, and was frequently called to preach to the Long parliament at their solemn feasts and thanksgivings and on other occasions. His eminence and zeal in his profession procured his appointment in 1643 as a member of the assembly of divines at Westminster. In ecclesiastical connection he was a moderate independent, and at the same time zealous for the covenant. In 1645 he was appointed minister of the church of St. Magnus, near London Bridge. For a considerable number of years he discharged the duties of this sphere with great zeal and success, being especially esteemed as an expositor of Scripture. Among other work committed to him at this time, he was appointed by the parliament, along with Stephen Marshall, chaplain to the commissioners who were sent to the king at Holmby House in order to arrange terms of peace. The chaplains never had a chance of influencing the king, not being even invited to say grace at meals, which the king always did himself. Caryl and John Owen were afterwards nominated to attend Oliver Cromwell in his journey to Scotland. Caryl was also one of the triers for judging of the qualifications of ministers of the gospel. After the restoration of Charles II, Caryl was ejected from the church of St. Magnus by the Act of Uniformity in 1662. He continued, however, to live in London, and he does not seem to have been interfered with in gathering a congregation in the neighbourhood of his former charge. In this he was so successful that when he died the number of communicants was 136. He died 10 March 1672–3 at his house in Bury Street. On his death his congregation chose Dr. John Owen as his successor, uniting with a previous flock of Dr. Owen's. Another of his successors was Dr. Isaac Watts, for whom the congregation built a new meeting-house in Bury Street, near St. Mary Axe.

About a dozen of Caryl's sermons were published separately, preached on public occasions before the commons, the lords, or both houses, or before the lord mayor. But the great work of Caryl was his ‘Commentary on the Book of Job.’ The first edition was in 12 vols. 4to (1651–66); the second in 2 vols. folio (1676–7); and the work has always commanded a high character for sound judgment, extensive learning, and fervent piety. It ranks with other great puritan commentaries—Greenhill on Ezekiel, Burroughs on Hosea, or Owen on the Hebrews. After his death a volume of posthumous sermons was published with preface by Dr. Owen. He was one of the authors of an English Greek lexicon for the New Testament (1661), and of ‘Saints' Memorials, or words fitly spoken, like Apples of Gold in Pictures of Silver.’

[Reid's Memoirs of the Westminster Divines; Neal's History of the Puritans, iv. 53; Calamy's Nonconformist's Memorial, i. 146–8; Wood's Athenæ (Bliss), iii. 979; Granger, iii. 312.]

W. G. B.