Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rogers, John (1679-1729)

ROGERS, JOHN (1679–1729), divine, son of John Rogers, vicar of Eynsham, Oxford, was born at Eynsham in 1679. He was educated at New College School, and was elected scholar of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, whence he matriculated on 7 Feb. 1693, graduating B.A. in 1697, and M.A. in 1700. He took orders, but did not obtain his fellowship by succession until 1706. In 1710 he proceeded B.D. About 1704 he was presented to the vicarage of Buckland, Berkshire, where he was popular as a preacher. In 1712 he became lecturer of St. Clement Danes in the Strand, and afterwards of Christ Church, Newgate Street, with St. Leonard's, Foster Lane. In 1716 he received the rectory of Wrington, Somerset, and resigned his fellowship in order to marry. In 1719 he was appointed a canon, and in 1721 sub-dean of Wells. He seems to have retained all these appointments until 1726, when he resigned the lectureship of St. Clement Danes.

Rogers gained considerable applause by the part that he took in the Bangorian controversy, in which he joined Francis Hare [q. v.] in the attack on Bishop Benjamin Hoadly [q. v.] In 1719 he wrote ‘A Discourse of the Visible and Invisible Church of Christ’ to prove that the powers claimed by the priesthood were not inconsistent with the supremacy of Christ or with the liberty of Christians. An answer was published by Dr. Arthur Ashley Sykes [q. v.], and to this Rogers replied. For this performance the degree of D.D. was conferred on him by diploma at Oxford.

In 1726 he became chaplain in ordinary to George II, then Prince of Wales, and about the same time left London with the intention of spending the remainder of his life at Wrington. In 1727 he published a volume of eight sermons, entitled ‘The Necessity of Divine Revelation and the Truth of the Christian Religion,’ to which was prefixed a preface containing a criticism of the ‘Literal Scheme of Prophecy considered,’ by Anthony Collins [q. v.], the deist. This preface did not entirely satisfy his friends, and drew from Dr. A. Marshall a critical letter. Samuel Chandler [q. v.], bishop of Lichfield, included some remarks on Dr. Rogers's preface in his ‘Conduct of the Modern Deists,’ and Collins wrote ‘A Letter to Dr. Rogers, on occasion of his Eight Sermons.’ To all of these Rogers replied in 1728 in his ‘Vindication of the Civil Establishment of Religion.’ This work occasioned ‘Some Short Reflections,’ by Chubb, 1728, and a preface in Chandler's ‘History of Persecution,’ 1736.

In 1728 Rogers, who was devoted to country life, reluctantly accepted from the dean and chapter of St. Paul's the vicarage of St. Giles, Cripplegate, but held the living little more than six months. He died on 1 May 1729, and was buried on the 13th at Eynsham. His funeral sermon was preached by Dr. Marshall, and was the occasion of ‘Some Remarks,’ by Philalethes—i.e. Dr. Sykes. Many of his sermons were collected and published in three volumes after his death by Dr. John Burton (1696–1771) [q. v.]

Rogers is a clear writer and an able controversialist. He makes no display of learning, but he was well acquainted with the writings of Hooker and Norris. After his death there were published two works by him, entitled respectively ‘A Persuasive to Conformity addressed to the Dissenters’ (London, 1736) and ‘A Persuasive to Conformity addressed to the Quakers,’ London, 1747.

[Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Life, by Dr. J. Burton; Funeral Sermon, by A. Marshall; Remarks, by Philalethes; Foster's Alumni Oxon.]

E. C. M.