Cave, William (DNB00)

CAVE, WILLIAM (1637–1713), Anglican divine, was born in 1637 at Pickwell in Leicestershire, of which parish his father, John Cave [q. v.], was vicar. He was educated at Oakham school, and in 1653 was admitted a ‘sub or proper sizar of St. John's College, Cambridge; in 1654 he was likewise admitted scholar of the house in one of the Lady Margaret's own scholarships.’ He was contemporary with William Beveridge at St. John's. He took his B.A. degree in 1656, and his M.A. in 1660. In 1662 he was instituted to the vicarage of Islington, and in 1679 he was collated by the Archbishop of Canterbury (Sancroft) to the rectory of Allhallows the Great, Thames Street, London. During his incumbency the church of Allhallows was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren. In 1681 he was incorporated D.D. at Oxford. He was made chaplain to Charles II, and in 1684 was installed canon of Windsor. He resigned Allhallows in 1689 and Islington in 1691, having been admitted in the previous November to the vicarage of Isleworth, a quiet place which suited his studious temper. He married Anna, the only daughter of the Rev. Walter Stonehouse, by whom he had a large family; she died in 1691, and was buried at Islington; a monument in St. Mary's Church relates that four sons and two daughters were also buried there in their parents' lifetime. Cave himself died (4 July 1713) at Windsor, but was buried at Islington, near his wife and children. He was a very intimate friend of Dr. Comber, dean of Durham, author of ‘The Companion to the Temple,’ and is said to have been ‘of a learned and communicative conversation;’ he is also reported to have been ‘a florid and eloquent preacher,’ and the two printed sermons he has left behind him bear out this character. But his fame rests upon his writings on church history, which are voluminous and valuable. They are as follows: 1. ‘Primitive Christianity, or the Religion of Ancient Christians in the First Ages of the Gospel,’ 1672; it was dedicated to Nathaniel Crewe, lord bishop of Oxford, and has been often reprinted. 2. ‘Tabulæ Ecclesiasticæ; Tables of Ecclesiastical Writers,’ 1674. 3. ‘Antiquitates Apostolicæ; a History of the Lives, Acts, and Martyrdoms of the Holy Apostles of our Saviour and the Two Evangelists, St. Mark and St. Luke. To which is added, an introductory discourse concerning the Three Great Dispensations of the Church—the Patriarchal, the Mosaical, and the Evangelical. Being a continuation of the “Antiquitates Christianæ; or, the Life and Death of Holy Jesus,” by Jeremy Taylor,’ 1676. 4. ‘Apostolici, or a History of the Lives, Acts, Deaths, and Martyrdoms of those who were contemporary with or immediately succeeded the Apostles; as also of the most eminent of the primitive Fathers for the first three hundred years. To which is added a Chronology of the Three First Ages of the Church,’ 1677. 5. ‘Ecclesiastici, or a History of the Lives, Acts, Deaths, and Writings of the most eminent Fathers of the Church in the Fourth Century; wherein, among other things, an account is given of the rise, growth, and progress of Arianism and all other sects of that age descending from it. Together with an Introduction containing an Historical Account of the State of Paganism under the First Christian Emperor,’ 1682. 6. ‘A Dissertation concerning the Government of the Ancient Church by Bishops, Metropolitans, and Patriarchs. More particularly concerning the ancient power and jurisdiction of the Bishops of Rome and the encroachments of that upon other sees, especially the see of Constantinople,’ 1683. 7. ‘Chartophylax Ecclesiasticus,’ 1685; a sort of abridgment of the ‘Tabulæ Ecclesiasticæ’ and ‘Historia Literaria,’ containing a short account of most of the ecclesiastical writers from the birth of Christ to 1517 A.D. 8. ‘Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum Historia Literaria;’ a literary history of ecclesiastical writers, in two parts, the first part published in 1688, the second in 1698. Besides these historical works Dr. Cave published: 9. ‘A Serious Exhortation, with some important Advices relating to the late cases about Conformity, recommended to the present Dissenters from the Church of England, being the twenty-second in the London Cases.’ 10. ‘A Sermon before the Lord Mayor at St. Mary-le-Bow, 5 Nov. 1680.’ 11. ‘A Sermon before the King at Whitehall, 18 Jan. 1684,’ published by his majesty's command. 12. ‘Epistola Apologetica adversùs iniquas J. Clerici Criminationes in Epistolis Criticis et Ecclesiasticis nuper editis. Quâ argumenta ejus pro Eusebii Arianismo ad examen revocantur,’ 1700.

The merits of Cave as a writer consist in the thoroughness of his research, the clearness of his style, and, above all, the admirably lucid method of his arrangement. Thus, in ‘Primitive Christianity,’ in part i., he deals systematically with the charges against the primitive christians—the novelty of their doctrines, their mean condition, their manner of life; then dwells on ‘the positive parts of their religion,’ their piety to God, places of worship, fasts and festivals, ministers, sacraments. In part ii. he discusses their ‘religion as respecting themselves, their humility, heavenly-mindedness, sobriety of dress, temperance, chastity, religious constancy, patience in suffering.’ In part iii. he treats of their ‘religion as respecting other men,’ their justice and honesty, love and charity, unity and peaceableness, obedience to civil government, and discipline and penance.

In his ‘Historia Literaria.’ the most elaborate of all his works, he divides his subject methodically into fifteen ‘sæcula’ (Apostolicum, Gnosticum, &c.), and gives, at the beginning of each, a short ‘conspectus sæculi,’ and then an exhaustive account of the writers in it. Cave had various troubles in connection with his publications. He was accused, without the slightest reason, of Socinianism. He was charged, perhaps with a little more reason, by Le Clerc, who was then writing his ‘Bibliothèque Universelle,’ with ‘writing panegyrics rather than lives,’ and also with ‘having forcibly drawn Eusebius, who was plainly enough Arian, over to the side of the orthodox, and made a trinitarian of him;’ this produced a paper warfare between the two great writers. His ‘Tabulæ Ecclesiasticæ’ was reprinted at Hamburg in 1676 without his knowledge (‘me planè inscio’), and evidently to his great annoyance. His ‘Historia Literaria’ was in a similar way published at Geneva in 1705, which is said to have caused the author great loss, and to have so disgusted him that he would not issue a second edition; but he spent much time during the later years of his life in revising repeatedly this great work. He made alterations and additions equal to one-third of the whole work, and wrote new prolegomena. The copy was left in the hands of executors, Chief-justice Reeve and Dr. Jones, a brother canon of Windsor; they both died soon after the work went to press, and Dr. Daniel Waterland (than whom no more competent man could possibly have been found) undertook the care of it. It was published by subscription in 1740, and this, of course, is the best edition. Cave had another trouble in connection with this work. When he was engaged in compiling it, in 1686, Henry Wharton, then a young man (aged 22), was recommended to him by Dr. Barker, senior fellow of Caius, as an assistant. Cave was suffering from bad health and required such aid; Wharton lived in the house with Cave, and matters went on amicably between the workers, and Cave acknowledged most gratefully in his prolegomena the services of Wharton, testifying that the appendix of the three last centuries was almost wholly owing to him. A rupture, however, arose; Cave complained of Wharton, and Wharton of Cave, but it is not easy, nor at all necessary, to understand the nature of the dispute.

[Cave's Works, passim; Nichols's History and Antiquities of Leicestershire, vol. ii. pt. ii. pp. 773, &c.; Life of Henry Wharton, prefixed to his Sermons; information from Major Cave Orme, Cave's descendant.]

J. H. O.