Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Earle, Jabez

EARLE, JABEZ, D.D. (1676?–1768), presbyterian minister, was probably a native of Yorkshire; the date of his birth is uncertain. He was brought up for the ministry by Thomas Brand (1635–1691) [q. v.] In December 1691 he witnessed the funeral of Richard Baxter, and long afterwards told Palmer, of the ‘Nonconformist's Memorial,’ that the coaches reached from Merchant Taylors' Hall (whence the body was carried) to Christ Church, Newgate, the place of burial. Next year he became tutor and chaplain in the family of Sir Thomas Roberts, at Glassenbury, near Cranbrook, Kent. In 1699 he became assistant to Thomas Reynolds at the Weighhouse presbyterian chapel, Eastcheap, and soon afterwards became one of the evening lecturers at Lime Street. In 1706 or 1707 he succeeded Glascock as pastor of the presbyterian congregation in Drury Street, Westminster. In 1708 he joined with four presbyterians and an independent (Thomas Bradbury) in a course of Friday evening lectures at the Weighhouse on the conduct of public religious worship. He increased his congregation, partly by help of a secession from the ministry of Daniel Burgess (1645–1713) [q. v.], and removed it to a new meeting-house in Hanover Street, Long Acre. At Hanover Street he established a Thursday morning lecture, and maintained it till Christmas 1767. In the Salters' Hall conferences in 1719 [see Bradbury, Thomas] Earle was one of the twenty-seven presbyterian subscribers. In 1723 he was elected one of the trustees of Dr. Williams's foundations. On 21 Aug. 1728 the degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by Edinburgh University; shortly afterwards the same degree was conferred upon him by King's College, Aberdeen. At this time he held the position of chaplain to Archibald, duke of Douglas (1694–1761) [q. v.] In June 1730 he was chosen one of the Tuesday lecturers at Salters' Hall, and held this post, in connection with other duties, to the last, in spite of extreme age and blindness; remarking, when his friends pressed him to resign the lectureship, ‘I am sure you will not choose a better in my stead.’ In his congregation he had several assistants from 1732, including Benjamin Hollis (d. 11 March, 1749), John Allen, M.D. (1749–59), Samuel Morton Savage, D.D. (1759–66), and Rice Harris, D.D., Earle's successor. Earle had remarkable vigour; he was never out of health, though he once broke his arm, and became blind many years before his death. At the age of ninety he could easily repeat a hundred lines at any given place from his favourite classic authors. The hackneyed stories of his jokes relate chiefly to his three wives, whom he called ‘the world, the flesh, and the devil;’ to one of them he explained the difference between exportation and transportation by saying, ‘If you were exported I should be transported.’ He preached on the last Sunday of his life, smoking his pipe in the vestry before sermon as usual, and died suddenly in his chair on 29 May 1768, aged 92, or, according to another account, 94 years.

He published: 1. ‘Sermon to the Societies for the Reformation of Manners … at Salters' Hall, 26 July,’ 1704, 12mo (dedicated to Sir T. Roberts). 2. ‘Hearing without Doing,’ 1706, 4to (last sermon at Lime Street lecture). 3. ‘Sacramental Exercises,’ 1707, 12mo; reprinted, Boston, Mass., 1756, 12mo; a version in Gaelic, Edinb. 1827, 12mo. 4. ‘On Prayer and Hearing the Word,’ 1708, 12mo (part of the Weighhouse Friday series; reprinted in ‘Twenty-four Practical Discourses,’ 1810, 12mo, 2 vols.). 5. ‘Sacred Poems,’ 1726, 12mo (dedication, dated 27 June, to Mrs. Susanna Langford; styles himself ‘chaplain to his grace the Duke of Douglas’). 6. ‘Umbritii Cantiani Poemata,’ 1729, 12mo (anon. dated ‘ex agro Cantiano Cal. Mart. 1729;’ a small volume of Latin verse; contains poem addressed to Prince Frederick, also elegies on Addison, Burnet, Tong, &c.). Earle published some twenty other separate sermons, including—7. ‘Ordination Sermon’ at Newport Pagnell (William Hunt), 1725, 8vo; and funeral sermons—8. For John Cumming, D.D., 1729, 8vo. 9. Joseph Hayes, 1729, 8vo. 10. Alice Hayes, 1733, 8vo. His latest publication seems to have been—11. ‘The Popish Doctrine of Purgatory,’ 1735, 8vo; a sermon at Salters' Hall. He contributed to the ‘Occasional Papers,’ 1716–19 [see Avery, Benjamin, LL.D.]; and translated into Latin sundry treatises by Daniel Williams, D.D., for foreign distribution in accordance with the terms of Williams's will. At the end of Matthew Clarke's funeral sermon for the Rev. Jeremiah Smith, 1723, 8vo, is Smith's character attempted in verse by Earle. Kippis publishes his facetious lines on the value of degrees in divinity; his lines on the burial service are given in ‘Evangelical Magazine,’ ii. 264.

[Biog. Brit. (Kippis), i. 177; Prot. Diss. Mag. 1799, 349, 389; Wilson's Diss. Churches, 1808, i. 169, ii. 225, iii. 508; Calamy's Hist. of my own Time, 1830, ii. 513, 529; Cat. of Graduates, Edinb. Univ. 1858; James's Hist. Litig. Presb. Chapels, 1867, 669; Jeremy's Presb. Fund, 1885, 123; Walter Wilson's MSS. in Dr. Williams's Library (Biog. Coll. 40, vol. ii.)]

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