Burnet, Thomas Lld

Burnet, Thomas LL.D., was born at Croft, Yorkshire, 1635, and educated at Cambridge, where he became fellow of Christ's, 1657. In 1680 he published the first part of his Telluris Theoria Sacra (4to; best ed. 1699), treating of the physical changes the earth has gone through, etc. Burnet himself translated it into English, and in 1726 this translation had gone through six editions. The work was attacked by Herbert in 1685, Warren in 1690, and by Dr. Keill, Savilian professor, in 1698. Archbishop Tillotson, who was a great patron of Burnet, procured for him the office of chaplain to the king, but the general dissatisfaction occasioned by the publication of his Archaeologia philosophica, sive doctrina antiqua do rerum ori inbus, in 1692, in which the Mosaic account of the Fall. was treated with at least apparent levity, and which was not only censured by the clergy, but applauded by: Charles Blount, compelled him to resign his place and retire from court. He also wrote De fide et oficiis Christianorum, and De statu mortu: rum et resurgentium, two posthumous publications (Lond. 1723, 8vo). He died Sept. 27, 1715. "Few works have called forth higher contemporary eulogy than The Sacred Theory of the Earth. It will not indeed stand the test of being confronted with the known facts of the history of the earth; and Flamstead observed of it that he 'could overthrow its doctrine on one sheet of paper, and that there went more to the making of the world than a fine- turned period.' Its mistakes arise from too close adherence to the philosophy of Des Cartes, and an ignorance of those facts without a knowledge of which such an attempt, however ingenious, can only be considered as a visionary system of cosmogony; but, whatever may be its failure as a work of science, it has rarely been exceeded in splendor of imagination or in high poetical conception" (Eng. Cyclopaedia). Addison wrote a Latin ode in praise of the book (1699), which is prefixed to most editions of it. Warton, in his Essay on Pope, classes Burnet with the very few in whom the three great faculties, viz. judgment, imagination, and memory, have been found united. As a theologian, Burnet is not distinguished. In his treatise De Statu Mortuorum he advocates Millenarian doctrines, and also the limited duration of future punishment. — Hook, Eccl. Biog., 3, 300; Retrospective Review, 6, 133; Allibone, Dict. of Authors, 1, 298.

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