Firmin, Thomas

Firmin, Thomas an English. Unitarian, noted for public benefactions and charities, was born at Ipswich, in Suffolk, June, 1632. His parents were Puritans, very reputable and substantial people, and at a proper age put out their son to, an apprenticeship in London. His master was an Arminian, a hearer of Mr. John Goodwin, to whose sermons young Firmin resorting, "exchanged," as we are told, "the harsh opinions of Calvin, is which he had been educated, for those more reasonable ones of Arminius and the Renmonstrants-." -He was led to certain opinions not agreeable to the orthodox faith, for instance, that "the unity 'of God is a unity of person as well as of nature, and that the Holy Spirit is indeed a person, but not God." He settled in business in Lombard Street, and became intimate with Whichcote, Wilkins, Tillotson, etc.; so particularly with the last that, when obliged to be out of town, at Canterbury, perhaps, where he was dean, he left to Mr. Firmin the provision of preachers for his Tuesday's lecture at St. Laurence. Queen Mary heard of his usefulness, and that he was heterodox in the articles. of the Trinity', the divinity of our Saviour, and the atonement. She spoke to Tillotson, therefore, to set him right in those weighty and necessary' points, who answered that he had often endeavored it, but that Mr, Firmin had now so long imbibed the Socinian doctrine as not to be capable of renouncing it. However, his grace, for he cm-as then archbishop, published his sermons, formerly preached at St. Laurence's, concerning those questions, and sent Mr. Firmin one of the first copies from the press, who, not convinced, caused a respectful answer to be drawn up and published, with this title, Considerations as the Applications and Defences of the Doctrine of the Trinity, himself giving a copy to his grace. The plague in 1665, and the fire in 1666, furnished his- with a variety of objects of charity. He went on with his trade in Lombard Street till 1676, at which time his biographer supposes him to have been worth £9000, though lie had disposed of incredible sums in charities. This year he erected' his warehouse in Little Britain for the employment of the poor in the linen manufacture, on which Tillotson, spoke honorably in his funeral sermon on Mr. Gouge in 1681. In 1680 and 1681 came over the French Protestants, who furnished news work for Mr. Finmin's zeal and charity, and in. 1682 he set up a linen, manufacture for them at Ipswich. During the last twenty years of his life he was one of the governors, of Christ-church Hospital' in London, to which he procured many. considerable donations. In April, 1693, he became a governor of St. Thomas's Hospital in Southwark; and, indeed,-there was hardly any public trust of charity in --which he either was not or might not have been concealed. He was buried, according to his desire, in the cloisters of Christ-church Hospital, and there is placed -in the wall near his grave an inscription in terms of the highest panegyric. His Life, was published in 1698, and again by Cornish, 1780, 12mo.-New Gen. Biog. Dict. s.v.; Wesley, Works (N. Y.), ii, 574. v

 
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