Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Mayer, John

1404893Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 37 — Mayer, John1894Bertha Porter

MAYER, JOHN (1583–1664), biblical commentator, was born in 1583, at Long Melford in Suffolk. He was admitted to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, as a sizar on 2 March 1597, graduated B.A. in 1602, M.A. in 1605, B.D. in 1612, and D.D. 1627. From 1609 to 1631 he was rector of Little Wrattingin Suffolk, and from 1631 till his death rector of Raydon, near Hadleigh.

Mayer's life was spent in digesting the work of former commentators on the Bible and adding notes of his own. The publication of his work as it was prepared was hindered 'by the Hierarchicall Government that then was,' and it only began to appear in 1627. The commentary of the whole Bible was published in seven volumes: i., on the Pentateuch, in 1653; ii., on the Historical Books, in 1647; iii., on Job, the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Solomon's Song, in 1653 and again in 1659; iv., on the Prophets, in 1652; v., on the Evangelists and the Acts, in 1631; vi., on the Epistles of St. Paul, in 1631; vii., on the Seven Small Epistles, called Catholic, and the Revelation, in 1627 and 1631. The last named was originally issued, under the title of 'Ecclesiastica Interpretatio,' in 1627. The complete work is difficult to obtain, the first volume being especially scarce. But for the delay in publication it would have preceded the commentaries of Diodati and Jackson.

Mayer always suffered from delicate health. He died on 5 March 1663-4, and was buried at Raydon on the 8th. In the chancel of the church is a monument with a long inscription to his memory.

Besides the 'Commentary' he published: 1. ' A Fourfold Resolution,' London, 1609. 2. ' A Patterne for Women,' on Mrs. Lucy Thornton, 'whereunto is annexed a most pithy and persuasive Discourse of the . . . Father Jerome,' London, 1619. 3. 'The English Catechisme, or a Commentarie on the Short Catechisme,' London, 1621; 4th edit. 1630; 5th edit. 1635. An abridged edition, consisting of the questions only, was published in 1630, under the title of 'The English Teacher, or the A, B, C enlarged,' and several times subsequently with slightly varying titles; the 7th edit, appeared in 1639. 4. 'A Treasury of Ecclesiastical Expositions upon the difficult and doubtful Passages of the Scriptures,' London, 1623. 5. 'An Antidote against Popery,' London, 1625, 1627, 1630. 6. 'Praxis Theologica, or the Epistle of the Apostle St. James resolved,' London, 1629. 7. 'Christian Liberty vindicated from grave Mistakes, occasioning so great Divisions in England,’ London, 1647. 8. ‘Unity restored to the Church of England,’ London, 1661.

At the time of his death Mayer had ready for publication ‘The History of the World from the Creation to the year 1648’ (Preface to Unity Restored). Mention is also made on his memorial stone at Raydon that he left in manuscript ‘The Topography of the Three Parts of the World, and the Countries and most famous Cities therein,’ and eight sermons on Genesis, and on the Song of Solomon.

[Davy's Athenæ Suffolc. (Addit. MS. 19165, fol. 382*); Darling's Cyclop. Bibliogr.; Spurgeon's Commenting and Commentaries, pp. 10–11; Cole's B.A.'s (Addit. MS. 5885, fol. 51); Harl. MS. 7038, ff. 89, 96; Raydon par. reg. per the Rev. Dennis Coyle; Emmanuel Coll. Admission Reg. per the Master; Melford Terrier, communicated by the Rev. B. S. Fryer.]

B. P.