Bull, George Dd
Bull, George D.D., bishop of St. David's, was born in Wells, Somersetshire, March 25, 1634, and entered at Exeter College, Oxford, 1648. His first living was that of St.
George's, near Bristol, and in 1658 he was presented to Suddington. In 1669 he published his Harmonia Apostolica. The object of this book was to explain and defend, in Part I, the doctrine of St. James, and in Part II, to demonstrate the agreement with him of St. Paul, it being more particularly the aim of the first dissertation to show "that good works, which proceed from faith, and are conjoined with faith, are a necessary condition required from us by God. to the end that by the New Evangelical Covenant, obtained by and sealed in the blood of Christ, the mediator of it, we may be justified according to his free and unmerited grace." In the second, "having, in the first place, established this one point for his foundation, 'That St. Paul is to be interpreted by St. James, and not St. James by St. Paul,' in consent with many of the ancients (and particularly of St. Augustine himself), who are of the opinion that the General Epistle of St. James, the first of St. John, and the second of St. Peter, with that of St. Jude, were written against those who, by misinterpreting St. Paul's epistles, had imbibed a fond notion, as if faith 'without works' were sufficient to save them, he showeth whence this obscurity and ambiguity in the terms of St. Paul might probably arise, which was the occasion that persons not well-grounded came to mistake or pervert the same." Bull attempts to prove that where St. Paul speaks of justification by faith, he intends the whole condition of the Gospel covenant; that the faith required implies obedience; that it cannot be separated from obedience; and that obedience is made necessary to justification. The publication raised much dispute among divines. The first open antagonist was Mr. John Truman, a Non-conformist minister. Dr. Morley, bishop of Winchester, and Dr. Barker, the one from the divinity chair at Oxford, and the other in a charge to his clergy, forbade the reading of the book as a rash intrusion into things too high for such discussion. In 1675 Bull issued his Examen' censure and Apologia pro Harmonia; and in 1680, at Oxford, his Defensio fidei Nicaenae (also at Pavia, 1784, with notes by Zola). Preferment flowed in upon Bull after 1684; and the University of Oxford conferred on him the degree of D.D., although he had never taken any other academical degree. In 1694 appeared his Judicium Ecclesiae Catholicae, in defense of the anathema decreed by the Council of Nicaea, for which he received the thanks of the assembly of the Gallican clergy at St. Germain's. His last treatise was his Primitiva et Apostolica Traditio, against David Zuicker, Leclerc, and others, who held that the apostles and their immediate successors taught that our blessed Lord was merely a man. In theology he was an Arminian. His defense of the Trinity is one of the great works of theology not likely to be superseded. Grabe collected all his Latin works (Lond. 1703, fol.). His Sermons were edited, with a Life, by Nelson (Lond. 1703, 3 vols. 8vo). He was seventy-one years of age when the see of St. David's was offered to him. He at first refused it, but was at length persuaded to consent, and was consecrated at Lambeth April 29, 1705. He died Feb. 17, 1710. A new translation of the Defensio appeared in the "Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology" (Oxford, 1851, 2 vols. 8vo). Bull's Works have been collected anew by Burton (Oxford, 1827, 8 vols. 8vo, and again in 1846). — Hook, Ecclesiastical Biography, 3, 229-258; Bibliotheca Sacra, 6, 162; Dorner, Person of Christ, v. 342 sq.