Hoadly, Benjamin (1676-1761) (DNB00)

HOADLY, BENJAMIN (1676–1761), bishop in succession of Bangor, Hereford, Salisbury, and Winchester, was born at Westerham in Kent 14 Nov. 1676, being the second son of the Rev. Samuel Hoadly [q. v.] by Martha Pickering, his second wife. John Hoadly, archbishop of Armagh [q. v.], was his brother. Benjamin Hoadly was educated by his father until his admission to Catharine Hall, Cambridge, where he entered as pensioner 18 Feb. 1691. He graduated B.A. in January 1696, having lost seven terms through ill-health. He was thenceforth crippled, and was obliged to preach in a kneeling posture. On 23 Aug. 1697 Hoadly was elected fellow of Catharine Hall; proceeded M.A. in 1699, and was college tutor (1699–1701). He vacated his fellowship by his marriage with Mrs. Sarah Curtis on 30 May 1701, and took holy orders. From 1701 to 1711 Hoadly was lecturer of St. Mildred's, Poultry. In 1704 he obtained the rectory of St. Peter-le-Poor in Broad Street.

Hoadly's first publication was a letter to William Fleetwood (afterwards bishop of Ely) [q. v.], occasioned by his ‘Essay on Miracles’ (1702). Hoadly maintains, in opposition to Fleetwood, that some miracles were and others were not within the power of angels, both good and bad. In 1703 he took part in the controversy as to conformity to the church of England. Strongly as he advocated conformity, he was opposed to the bill against occasional conformity, and when it was thrown out a third time in the House of Lords he defended the bishops who had voted for its rejection (Letter to a Clergyman concerning the votes of the Bishops, &c. 1703). About the same time he published the first of his treatises on the ‘Reasonableness of Conformity to the Church of England.’ This was directed against the tenth chapter of Calamy's ‘Life of Baxter,’ which was admitted to contain the strongest case against the Act of Uniformity. Hoadly met the objections to the prayer-book, and then argued that even if tenable they would not justify nonconformity, because of its fatal effect on unity and concord. In 1704 he published ‘A Persuasive to Lay Conformity,’ urging upon lay nonconformists the obligation to be constant conformists. By occasional conformity they admitted that conformity was not sinful, and therefore in the interests of peace it might be constant. Calamy having answered the ‘Reasonableness’ with some rather contemptuous expressions, Hoadly replied in two treatises. The first of these (1705), called ‘A Serious Admonition,’ &c., was designed to get rid of irrelevant topics introduced by Calamy, and complained of ‘unhandsome treatment.’ In the second treatise (‘A Defence of the Reasonableness of Conformity to the Church of England’), which was published in 1707, Hoadly laboured to prove that the declaration of ‘assent and consent’ to be made to the liturgy was only equivalent to a promise to use it, and did not imply a formal approval of every part. Appended to this treatise was ‘A Brief Defence of Episcopal Ordination’ (which, however, extended to ninety large folio pages). It was a work of considerable power, and exhibited Hoadly's almost unrivalled controversial abilities at their best. Two other treatises, ‘A Reply to the Introduction of the Second Part,’ and a ‘Postscript relating to the Third Part of Mr. Calamy's Defence of Moderate Nonconformity’ (1707), brought this controversy to an end. Before the conclusion of it Hoadly was engaged in another contest with the leader of the high church party, Francis Atterbury [q. v.], upon the interpretation of the text 1 Cor. xv. 19. This had been explained in a funeral sermon by Atterbury as implying that Christians, while losing happiness in this world, were to be compensated in the future. Hoadly, taking much higher ground, demonstrated that the greatest happiness in this life was attained by those who rightly used the highest parts of their nature (1706). Atterbury replied to his strictures and was answered in a more full and elaborate manner in a second letter (1708). In a postscript to this letter Hoadly attacked another sermon of the same divine, in which he had clearly mistaken the meaning of 1 Peter iv. 8 as to charity covering a multitude of sins (1708).

The next year (1709) brought Hoadly into the arena of political churchmanship, and made him the leader of the ‘low church’ divines who upheld ‘revolution principles’ against the champions of hereditary right and passive obedience. In 1705 Hoadly had preached a sermon before the lord mayor and aldermen, in which he maintained that the teaching of St. Paul in Romans xiii. only amounted to a charge to obey rulers who governed for the good of their people. This doctrine was exceedingly distasteful to the high church party. The lower house of the convocation of Canterbury voted a request ‘that some synodical notice might be taken of the dishonour done to the church by a sermon preached by Mr. Benjamin Hoadly at St. Lawrence Jewry,’ and Hoadly was strongly attacked by Atterbury in a tract called ‘An Enquiry into the Nature of the Liberty of the Subject.’ He immediately replied to this in a ‘Review of the Doctrine of the Sermon’ (1705). Having entered upon this controversy, which, as he said, ‘he thought himself under some sort of obligation to prosecute,’ he was next engaged in it with Dr. Offspring Blackall [q. v.], bishop of Exeter. Blackall had preached a sermon before the queen (1708) in which he had maintained that rulers were ‘ministers of God,’ and hence that ‘none upon earth had the right to question or resist them.’ Hoadly replied to this in ‘Some Considerations humbly offered to the Bishop of Exeter,’ in which he maintained that ‘the Gospel of Jesus Christ hath not utterly deprived men of the right of self-defense.’ The bishop responded somewhat angrily, complaining of being misrepresented, and to this Hoadly replied in an ‘Humble Reply to the Bishop of Exeter's Answer’ (1709). Meantime, Atterbury preached the Latin sermon to the London clergy at Sion College on 17 May 1709, advocating the highest doctrine as to the rights of governors, and asserting that subjects when injuriously treated were bound to suffer in silence. This sermon was published at once at the request of the clergy. Hoadly had long had a bitter feeling against Atterbury, both on account of former controversies, and because Atterbury had charged him in a published tract (‘Some Proceedings in Convocation,’ &c. 1705) with ‘imputing rebellion to the clergy in the church, while he himself preached it in the State.’ Hoadly's answer to the sermon was severe and long, extending to nearly one hundred folio pages (1709). An ‘Essay on the Origin of Civil Government’ was appended, and the effect of all his writings on this subject was to raise Hoadly to the highest point in the estimation of the whig party. This was demonstrated when on 14 Dec. 1709, immediately after the publication of his book on civil government, it was moved in the House of Commons by Anthony Henley [q. v.] that Hoadly for his strenuous assertion of revolution principles had merited the favour of the house, and that the queen should be addressed to bestow some dignity upon him. The queen answered that she ‘would take a proper opportunity to comply with their desires.’ The accession to power of the tories was fatal to Hoadly's claims for the time. Mrs. Howland, however, widow of a rich London merchant, presented him to the rectory of Streatham (1710), which he was enabled to hold with his other benefice by being made chaplain to the Duke of Bedford. In 1710, when tory principles were greatly in the ascendant, Hoadly published a collection of twelve political pieces, which were designed to be satirical and ironical, all strongly in support of ‘revolution principles.’ For the next few years his publications were chiefly of a religious character and do not require any special notice.

The queen's death and the accession of the Hanoverian prince brought a great prospect of advancement to Hoadly. He was almost immediately made royal chaplain, having previously obtained the degree of D.D. from Archbishop Wake. In this year (1715) came out a publication which is of very great importance in the history of Hoadly's theological career, namely, a satirical ‘Dedication to Pope Clement XI,’ prefixed to Sir R. Steele's ‘Account of the State of the Roman Catholic Religion.’ Hoadly has here entirely quitted the standpoint of his treatise on ‘Episcopal Ordination’ and his controversy with Calamy. He now ridicules the notion of church authority, and shows himself quite prepared to accept the Arian teaching of Clarke and Whiston. This piece is disfigured by some very fulsome adulation of the new king. The desired effect was quickly realised. On 21 Dec. 1715 Hoadly was promoted to the bishopric of Bangor, and was consecrated 18 March following. He was allowed to hold both his livings in commendam, and he remained in London as the advocate of extreme latitudinarian principles, never visiting his diocese during his six years tenure of the see.

In 1716 Hoadly endeavoured to justify the favour shown to him by the publication of his famous treatise ‘A Preservative against the Principles and Practices of the Nonjurors both in Church and State.’ This treatise was occasioned by the publication of some of the papers of the nonjuror, George Hickes [q. v.] It is a popular work, designed, according to its author, (1) to state the case between the protestant branches of the royal family and the popish; (2) to maintain the right in all civil governments to preserve themselves against persons in ecclesiastical offices as well as others; (3) to state the cause between Jesus Christ and those who, professing to be his followers and ministers, substitute themselves in his place. The most notable sentence in the treatise is that in which Hoadly affirms that a man's ‘title to God's favour cannot depend upon his actual being or continuing in any particular method, but upon his real sincerity in the conduct of his conscience and of his own actions under it.’ This doctrine, sufficiently startling to all churchmen, was followed up in a sermon preached before the king, 31 March 1717, on the ‘Nature of the Kingdom or Church of Christ.’ The preacher denies absolutely and pointedly that there is such a thing as a visible church of Christ, or rather in which ‘any one more than another has authority either to make new laws for Christ's subjects, or to impose a sense upon the old ones, or to judge, censure, or punish the servants of another master in matters relating purely to conscience or salvation.’ It is asserted that the subject of this sermon was suggested by the king, and the sermon was immediately printed by his command. It was a distinct challenge to the high churchmen, and it was at once accepted. What is known as the ‘Bangorian Controversy’ forthwith commenced. The first writer who attacked Hoadly's views was Dr. Andrew Snape, provost of Eton and chaplain to the king. He maintains that Christ had appointed certain ministers in his church who had authority to act in his stead. Hoadly replied, denying that even the apostles had absolute authority. In a second pamphlet Snape accuses Hoadly of sophistry and equivocation, and reproaches him with having a jesuit in his family as the tutor of his sons. This was M. de la Pillonière, a converted jesuit, whose name appears prominently in this controversy. On 3 May 1717 the lower house of the convocation of Canterbury voted the appointment of a committee to consider the Bishop of Bangor's sermon. On the 10th the committee brought in their report to the house. It was to the effect that the sermon, taken together with the treatise on the ‘Principles and Practice of the Nonjurors,’ had a tendency to subvert all government and discipline in the church of Christ, and to impugn the regal supremacy in causes ecclesiastical and the authority of the legislature to enforce obedience in matters of religion by civil sanctions. The report of the committee was not formally accepted by the lower house, but was ordered, nemine contradicente, to be presented to the upper house. At this the ministers took fright. To have a formal condemnation of Hoadly's doctrine, which would carry with it almost the whole of the clergy, would have been inconvenient to the government. The royal supremacy was therefore used to order the prorogation of the convocation to 22 Nov. Hoadly was accused of having sought to silence his opponents by this act of authority. This he strongly denies in his ‘Reply to the Representation of Convocation,’ a lengthy treatise of 130 folio pages. Part of this treatise is directed against the convocation report and part against a tract which had been written by Sherlock, dean of Chichester. Numerous writers assailed Hoadly's reply. By far the most remarkable of these was William Law [q. v.] Law's ‘Letters’ are rightly said by his biographer to have ‘raised him at once to the very highest rank in controversial divinity’ (Overton, Life of Law). For the most part the tracts written in this controversy were of no great merit or importance. Hallam professes that after looking over forty or fifty of them he felt a difficulty in stating the propositions in dispute (Const. Hist. ii. 394). In fact all the topics in dispute between whig and tory, high and low churchmen, were brought into the controversy, and an unusual amount of heat and bitterness animated the writers. The number of the tracts was prodigious, amounting probably to near two hundred. The catalogue of them as printed in Hoadly's works occupies eighteen folio pages. The list of the writers' names gives fifty-three; most of these wrote several pamphlets, and there were also a great number of anonymous publications. Hoadly made the following contributions to the controversy between 1717 and 1720: 1. ‘An Answer to Dr. Snape's Letter to the Bishop of Bangor.’ 2. ‘Advertisements in the “Daily Courant” and “Evening Post.”’ 3. ‘Preface to F. de la Pillonière's Answer to Dr. Snape.’ 4. ‘Letter to Dr. Snape prefixed to F. de la Pillonière's Reply.’ 5. ‘Some few Remarks on Dr. Snape's Letter before Mr. Mill's Book.’ 6. ‘A Postscript to Dr. Sherlock, dean of Chichester.’ 7. ‘An Answer to the Representation drawn up by a Committee of the Lower House of Convocation.’ 8. ‘Answer to a Calumny cast upon the Bishop of Bangor by Dr. Sherlock.’ 9. ‘Answer to a late Book written by Dr. Sherlock, intituled “The Condition and Example of Our Blessed Saviour vindicated.”’ 10. ‘The Common Rights of Subjects vindicated, and the Nature of the Sacramental Tests considered’ (1718). 11. ‘An Answer to Dr. Hare's Sermon, intituled “Church Authority vindicated.”’ 12. ‘The Dean of W——r still the same, or his new Defence of the Lord Bishop of Bangor's Sermon considered’ (1720). The antagonists whom Hoadly selected for attack were Snape, Hare, and Sherlock. The two former were royal chaplains, and as such their opinions were thought to require notice from one who wrote under royal patronage. They were deprived of their office for their attacks on the popular doctrines. Sherlock was certainly among the ablest of the writers in opposition to him, and had been an old opponent of Hoadly at Cambridge; but the bishop, perhaps prudently, abstained from answering Law, the most powerful of all his critics.

Hoadly was now in the highest favour at court, the intimate friend of Mrs. Clayton, afterwards Lady Sundon, the favourite of the queen, and might expect high preferment. In 1721 he was translated to Hereford, having previously resigned the rectory of St. Peter-le-Poer. During his occupancy of this see occurred the famous trial of his old opponent, Atterbury, for high treason. Hoadly cordially acquiesced in the sentence passed on the bishop, but he did not take any prominent part in the debate on the trial, as he was a poor orator. For this, however, he made ample amends to his patrons by the letters published in the ‘London Journal’ under the signature of ‘Britannicus.’ These letters (42–55) attack and dissect with great vigour and minute criticism the defence made by Atterbury in the House of Lords, and labour to damage the reputation and character of the bishop in every way. The whole series of the ‘Britannicus’ letters, which occupy nearly a folio volume in Hoadly's works, must have been most valuable to the government. In October 1723 Hoadly was translated to the see of Salisbury, having previously resigned his benefice of Streatham. Being now the occupant of a prominent English see, Hoadly thought it necessary to make some episcopal utterances for the guidance of his clergy. In 1726 he delivered his primary charge at Salisbury, a jejune composition, very different in spirit and power from the ‘Britannicus’ letters. He is much more at home in his tract on the ‘Enquiry into the Reasons of the Conduct of Great Britain,’ in which he criticises the proceedings of the emperor and king of Spain in making the secret treaty of Vienna (1725), and defends the action of England and the other powers, which had responded by the Alliance of Hanover (3 Sept. 1725). This performance was very severely criticised by Hoadly's political opponents, and was defended by him in a tract published two or three years afterwards, ‘A Defense of the Enquiry,’ &c. In 1732 the bishop wrote an ‘Essay on the Life, Writings, and Character of Dr. Samuel Clarke’ [q. v.], prefixed to the edition of his ‘Sermons’ in 10 vols. Hoadly, being almost in entire sympathy with the refined Arianism of Clarke, and greatly admiring his learning and power, desired that for a memorial ‘he may be thought and spoken of in ages to come under the character of the friend of Dr. Clarke.’

In September 1734 Hoadly was advanced to the rich see of Winchester, this being his fourth bishopric in succession. In the charge which he delivered to his clergy two years after his translation (1736) he entered into an apology for his life and writings, and strongly repudiated the conclusions drawn from his writings by others. He alluded in particular to ‘A Plain Account of the Nature and End of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper,’ published (1735) anonymously, but never disowned by the bishop, and included in his son's edition of his works. This treatise, which caused great theological excitement, was an elaborate attempt to explain the sacrament of the Lord's Supper as in no sense a mystery, and as having no special benefits attached to it, but as a mere commemorative rite. Bishop Van Mildert mentioned, among a host of eminent writers who controverted the ‘Plain Account,’ the names of Warren, Wheatly, Whiston, Ridley, Leslie, Law, Brett, Johnson, and Stebbing (Life of Waterland, p. 163). Dr. Waterland's great treatise, ‘A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist,’ was no doubt due in part to this publication. It was thought by many that Socinianism was plainly to be detected in Hoadly's treatment of the subject, and it may be added that the prayers published in the bishop's works go far to substantiate this charge.

Hoadly's literary activity declined with advancing years. In 1736 was published (anonymously) a short tract on ‘The Repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts.’ This, which was an answer to Bishop Gibson's pamphlet, did not see the light till some years after it was written, when it was published with a preface by Dr. Avery. It was an enlightened argument against the retention of these objectionable restrictions. Nothing more from the bishop's pen came out for nearly twenty years. In 1754 and 1755 were published two volumes of sermons. Hoadly, so dexterous as a controversialist, does not shine as a teacher of positive theology. There is a coldness and heaviness about his utterances, and his style is sometimes so involved that we can appreciate Pope's satirical description of ‘Hoadly with his periods of a mile.’ The bishop's literary life was brought to a conclusion by a very remarkable production published when he was eighty-one years old (1757), in which he was said by Horace Walpole not only to have got the better of his adversary, but to have conquered old age itself. The occasion of this publication—‘A Letter to Clement Chevallier, Esq.’—was as follows: One Bernard Fournier, a convert from popery, and a curate in Jersey, had come into England to appeal to the Bishop of Winchester (ordinary of Jersey) on some matter. He was kindly received by Hoadly, and obtained from him his signature as a frank to a letter. Over this he wrote a forged promissory note for 8,800l. The bishop might have prosecuted him for forgery, and would no doubt have obtained his condemnation. But shrinking from this he brought the forged promissory note into chancery, and obtained a decree that it was ‘a gross fraud and contrivance.’ Fournier continued to be troublesome, and met with some support; the bishop thought it necessary to write the letter, in which he exposed Fournier with great skill and acuteness. Hoadly died at his palace of Chelsea, at the age of eighty-five, on 17 April 1761. He was twice married.

His first wife, Sarah Curtis, achieved before her marriage some reputation as a portrait painter. She was a pupil of Mary Beale [q. v.], and among her sitters were Whiston, Burnet, and her husband. Her portrait of Burnet was engraved by Faithorne. The picture of her husband, which was, ‘as is believed, touched up by Hogarth,’ is in the National Portrait Gallery. She died in 1743. By her the bishop had five children, all sons, two still-born, and Samuel, Benjamin (1706–1757) [q. v.], and John (1711–1776) [q. v.], afterwards the editor of his works. The bishop's second marriage (23 July 1745) was with Mary, daughter and coheiress of Dr. John Newey, dean of Chichester.

Probably no divine of the church of England has been more violently attacked than Hoadly. As the prominent and aggressive leader of the extreme latitudinarian party in church and state he naturally attracted all the strongest assaults of the tory and high church party. As a minimising divine, writing down mysteries and dogma, he was especially offensive to churchmen, whether of the nonjuring school or not—to Waterland equally as to Brett. Probably the attacks made on him were not altogether unwelcome, as they enabled him to display his great skill as a controversialist. His controversial writings are remarkable for their temper, but there is in them a good deal of plausible sophistry. His dogmatic theological writings have no great merit. His political essays are clear and forcible, but they are disfigured by frequent adulation of the king and royal family. The letters to Lady Sundon show that he was well able to flatter influential personages in the state. As a bishop he was certainly negligent in the performance of his duties. He never visited the diocese of Bangor, and probably not that of Hereford; at Salisbury, however, he acted creditably on one occasion. John Jackson (1686–1763) [q. v.], being presented to a prebend at Salisbury, desired Hoadly to admit him without requiring subscription to the prayer-book and articles. Hoadly, though himself disliking subscription, refused on the ground that subscription was the law of the church. He did not, as many other clergy did, omit the Athanasian creed in using the service. A poem of somewhat fulsome praise of Hoadly was written by Akenside. John Dunton [q. v.] commends ‘his grave polemic mind.’ Numerous contemptuous notices of Hoadly are to be found in the writings of Atterbury, Swift, and his various high church opponents.

[Works of Benjamin Hoadly, D.D., published by his son, John Hoadly, LL.D., 3 vols. folio, London, 1773, with Life from Biographia Britannica; Nichols's Literary Anecdotes of 18th Century, vols. i–v.; Atterbury's Epistolary Correspondence, 5 vols., 1791; Wilkins's Concilia, &c., vol. iv., 1721; Van Mildert's Life of Waterland, Oxford, 1823; Lathbury's History of Convocation, 1853; Hughes's Life of Sherlock, 1830; Overton's Life of Law, 1881; Hallam's Constitutional History, vol. ii., 1842; Perry's History of the Church of England, vol. iii., 1864; Hunt's History of Religious Thought in England, vol. iii., 1860; Abbey's The English Church and its Bishops, 1887, ii. 1–20; Leslie Stephen's English Thought in the Eighteenth Century, ii. 152–61 (x. 37–41).]

G. G. P.