Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Patrick, Simon (1626-1707)

PATRICK, SIMON (1626–1707), bishop of Ely, born at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, on 8 Sept. 1626, was eldest son of Henry Patrick, a thriving mercer, by his wife, Mary Naylor (see pedigree in Proc. Lincolnshire Architect. Soc. 1866, p. 274). John Patrick [q. v.] was his brother. He was educated at the Gainsborough grammar school under Merryweather, ‘an excellent Latinist’ (Patrick, Autobiography), and was intended for business, probably his father's. But from his boyhood he determined to be a scholar; and, apparently with little or no money to help him, made his way to Cambridge, entering Queens' College. He found a kind friend in the master, Dr. Herbert Palmer [q. v.], ‘who,’ he tells us in his ‘Autobiography,’ ‘sent for me to transcribe some things he intended for the press, and soon after made me the college scribe, which brought me in a great deal of money, many leases being to be renewed. It was not long before I had one of the best scholarships in the college bestowed upon me.’ His tutor was a John Wells, who ‘showed extraordinary affection’ for him. But the man who influenced him most was John Smith (1618–1652) [q. v.], the Cambridge platonist, then a young fellow of Queens'. After graduating B.A. in 1647–8 Patrick received presbyterian orders; but, having read the works of Hammond and Thorndike, he became convinced that episcopal ordination was necessary. He proceeded M.A. in 1651, and in 1654 he sought out the ejected bishop of Norwich, Dr. Joseph Hall [q. v.], who privately ordained him in his parlour at Higham. In 1655 he became domestic chaplain to Sir Walter St. John at Battersea, and in 1658 (when he took the degree of B.D.) was appointed vicar of Battersea through the influence of Sir Walter. In 1661 he was elected master of Queens' College by the majority of fellows, but a royal mandate in favour of Anthony Sparrow [q. v.] overrode Patrick's election. In 1662 he was presented by William, earl of Bedford, to the rectory of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, and there Patrick remained for nearly thirty years. He was an excellent parish priest, and greatly endeared himself to his parishioners by remaining at his post all through the great plague of London in 1665. He had services in his church four times every day, and the offerings were so large that he was embarrassed as to how to dispose of the money; he warned the churchwardens that the offertories were not intended to relieve the rates. His success brought him offers of preferment. In 1666 he took the degree of D.D., and by the advice of Dr. Willis was incorporated of Christ Church, Oxford (July). In 1669 the bishop of Lincoln (Dr. Fuller) offered him the archdeaconry of Huntingdon, which he declined, ‘not thinking himself worthy of it.’ In 1671 he was made a royal chaplain ‘whether he would or no;’ and in 1672 Charles II gave him a prebend at Westminster. In 1679 he accepted the deanery of Peterborough, holding it with his living; but when later in the same year Lord-chancellor Finch offered him the rectory of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, then reputed to be the best living in England, he declined it on the plea that ‘his parish had been so extraordinary kind to him that he could not with decency remove from there to another; he recommended Dr. Tenison,’ who was appointed. In 1686 James II selected him and Dr. Jane to hold a conference with two Roman catholic priests, Fathers Gifford and Godwin, for the benefit of Lord-treasurer Rochester, whom the king desired to convert to his own faith. In 1687 he founded, in conjunction with his neighbour, Dr. Tenison, excellent schools in London, with the object of keeping the rising generation true to the English church. In the same year he was among the most prominent of those who resisted the king's efforts to procure the reading of the declaration of indulgence in church. On the revolution of 1688 he took the oath of allegiance to the new sovereigns, though he respected the conscientious scruples of those who declined to take it. Bishop Burnet recommended him to King William as ‘a man of an eminently shining life, who would be a great ornament to the episcopal order.’ On 13 Oct. 1689 he was consecrated bishop of Chichester, and was made at the same time a member of the ecclesiastical commission which was appointed to revise the prayer-book; but the recommendations of the commission were happily rejected by convocation. On 22 April 1691 he was translated to Ely. In both dioceses, but especially at Ely, where he remained for sixteen years, he made his mark. He was one of the chief instruments in that revival of church life which marked the late years of the seventeenth century. He took a warm interest in the two great societies for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge and the Propagation of the Gospel, both of which were founded during his episcopate. Of the former he was one of the five original founders, and of the latter he was so effective a supporter that it is supposed to have been in compliment to him that all bishops of Ely are ex-officio members. He died on 31 May 1707, and was buried on 7 June in Ely Cathedral.

Bishop Patrick was a voluminous writer in polemical theology, scriptural exegesis, and edificatory literature. One of his most interesting works was ‘The Parable of the Pilgrim,’ which was published in 1664. The insertion of the date 1663 in the original letter to the friend to whom it was written shows that it was completed by that year. It is constructed on similar lines to Bunyan's ‘Pilgrim's Progress,’ but the dates show that Patrick was no borrower from Bunyan. Although Patrick's work never attained the popularity of the ‘Pilgrim's Progress,’ it passed through several editions. Thomas Scott, in his edition of the ‘Pilgrim's Progress,’ commends Patrick's allegory. ‘The Parable of the Pilgrim,’ with an account of Patrick, by the Rev. T. Chamberlayne, was republished in ‘The Englishman's Library’ in 1839.

In polemical theology Patrick's chief efforts were produced in defence of the church of England against the Roman catholics. ‘Search the Scriptures, a Treatise shewing that all Christians ought to read the Holy Books’ (1685, 1693), was his first work in this direction. ‘A Full View of the Doctrines and Practices of the Ancient Church relating to the Eucharist’ and the ‘Texts examined which Papists cite out of the Bible to prove the Supremacy of St. Peter and the Pope over the whole Church’ both appeared in 1688. They are reprinted in Bishop Gibson's ‘Preservative against Popery,’ 1738. Patrick had already been engaged in controversy with adversaries from the opposite quarter. In 1669 he published ‘A Friendly Debate between a Conformist and a Non-conformist,’ in which he defended the Five Mile Act. He followed this up by a ‘Continuation,’ a ‘Further Continuation,’ and an appendix to the third part, which contained replies to adverse criticism of the ‘Friendly Debate.’

An industrious and sensible commentator on the Old Testament, Patrick issued a long series of volumes of paraphrases. ‘The Book of Job paraphrased’ appeared in 1679; ‘The Books of Psalms paraphrased’ in 1680 (2nd edit. 1691); ‘The Proverbs of Solomon,’ 1683, 8vo; ‘The Book of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon,’ London, 1685, 8vo. Subsequently Patrick's complete paraphrase and commentary on all the books of the Bible from Genesis to Solomon's Song (inclusive) were published, in 10 vols. 4to, between 1695 and 1710. They were included in the popular ‘Critical Commentary on the Old and New Testaments and Apocrypha,’ which combined with Patrick's work that of Lowth, Whitby, Arnold, and Lowman, London, 1809, 4to; later editions appeared in 1822, 1841, 1849, 1850, 1853, 1857.

Patrick's chief works, besides those already described, were: 1. ‘A Funeral Sermon preached at the Burial of John Smith,’ 1652, 4to (bound up with the ‘Select Discourses’ of that preacher). 2. ‘Aqua Genitalis: a Discourse on Baptism,’ 1659, 12mo; 1667, 8vo; and 1670, 4to; an amplification of a sermon previously preached at All Hallows' Church, Lombard Street, on the occasion of the baptism of the infant son ‘of a minister in Lombard Street’ [see Vaughan]. 3. ‘Mensa Mystica,’ London, 1660, 1673, 4to, a treatise on the Eucharist; like the preceding, written in a more florid style than Patrick afterwards adopted when parochial experience had taught him the value of simplicity. 4. ‘The Heart's Ease, or a Remedy against Trouble, written for Lady St. John,’ 1660, 1671, 1665, 1699, 1839, and 1849. 5. ‘A Brief Account of the New Sect of Latitudinarians, together with some Reflections upon the New Philosophy, by S. P. of Cambridge, in answer to a Friend at Oxford,’ 1662 (anon.); assigned to Patrick on both internal and external evidence. 6. ‘A Book for Beginners, or a Help to Young Communicants,’ 1662, which reached a seventeenth edition in 1713. 7. ‘An Exposition of the Ten Commandments and the Lord's Prayer,’ 1665, 1668, 1672. 8. ‘The Christian Sacrifice,’ 1671, which reached a fifth edition ‘corrected’ in 1679, 1684, 1687, 1841 (ed. the Rev. W. B. Hawkins). 9. ‘The Devout Christian instructed how to pray,’ 1672; a book of family prayers, with private prayers for all emergencies. 10. ‘Advice to a Friend,’ 1673; one of the most beautiful of all Patrick's writings, and worthy of being bound up, as it was in Pickering's ‘Christian Classics’ in 1847, with Jeremy Taylor's ‘Contemplations of the State of Man in this Life and that which is to come.’ 11. ‘The Witnesses of Christianity, or the Certainty of our Faith and Hope’ (2 pts.), 1675–7, 1703. 12. ‘The Glorious Epiphany,’ 1675, 8vo. 13. ‘A Treatise of Repentance and Fasting, especially of the Lent Fast,’ 1686, Oxford, 1840. 14. ‘A Discourse concerning Prayer,’ 1686, 1705, 1838, and 1849. 15. ‘The Work of the Ministry represented to the Clergy of Ely,’ 1698, a new edition by W. B. Hawkins in 1841. 16. ‘The Dignity of the Christian Priesthood,’ 1704. He also translated Grotius's ‘Truth of the Christian Religion,’ 1680, and issued in 1681 a corrected version of Simon Gunton's ‘History of the Church of Peterborough.’

Besides these works, which were published in his lifetime, there appeared in 1719, twelve years after his death, a volume of attractive ‘Poems upon Divine and Moral Subjects, Original and Translations, by Bishop Patrick and other Eminent Hands.’ His verse translation of Aquinas ‘Upon the Morning we are to receive the Holy Communion,’ and his English version of the ‘Alleluia! Dulce Carmen’ are especially noticeable. In 1863 was published by Harvey Goodwin, for the first time, the ‘Appearing of Jesus Christ.’ Patrick's ‘Autobiography’ was first published from his own manuscript at Oxford in 1839.

‘Fifteen Sermons upon Contentment and Resignation’ appeared, ‘with an exact [but not exhaustive] catalogue of his works,’ in 1719. His chief works were collected (with the autobiography, but excluding the commentary and ‘The Appearing of Jesus Christ’) in nine volumes by the Rev. Alexander Taylor in 1858.

Kneller painted a portrait which was engraved both by Vandergucht and R. White. A portrait by an unknown artist is at Lambeth.

[Bishop Patrick's Works, passim, especially his Autobiography; Hunt's Religious Thought in England; Overton's Life in the English Church; Burnet's History of his own Time; Chamberlayne's Memoir of Bishop Patrick in his edition of the Parable of the Pilgrim; Notes and Queries, 8th ser. viii. 444; private information from Canon Warner, formerly vicar of Gainsborough.]

J. H. O.