Colenso, John William, Dd

Colenso, John William, D.D.

an Anglican prelate, was born at St. Austell, Cornwall, January 24, 1814. He took all but the highest mathematical honors at Cambridge in 1836; was successively a master at Harrow (1838), a resident fellow and private tutor at St. John's College, Cambridge (1842); rector of Forncett St. Mary, near Norwich (1846), and was consecrated bishop of Natal on the creation of that see in 1853. Great excitement was caused by his publication of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, newly Translated (1861), in which he denied the doctrine of eternal punishment. But a still greater agitation was caused by his Pentateuch and Book of Joshua Critically Examined (in seven parts, 1862-79), in which he questioned the authenticity of the Pentateuch. This called forth innumerable replies and criticisms, and even severe Church discipline. The bishop of Capetown, who, by the various letters patent, was metropolitan of the Church of England in South Africa, summoned the bishop qf Natal to his tribunal on a charge of heresy, and deposed him from office. The judicial committee of the privy council set aside, on constitutional grounds, the sentence of deposition. The trustees of the Colonial Church Bishoprics' Fund nevertheless withheld bishop Colenso's salary, and he sued for it before lord Romilly, master of the rolls. That judge declared that heresy would be a justification for withholding the salary, and that, if the charge were preferred, it would be his duty to try it in accordance with the law of the Church of England. But the charge was not preferred, and, of course, the Capetown deposition could not be held a justification. Thus the bishop of Natal continued to enjoy his salary and the property of his see, and with a good conscience, for it was the opinion of his friends that a charge of heresy could not have been maintained against him under the standards of the Church of England. He died at Natal, June 20, 1883. Besides a series of mathematics for schools, and some minor works, bishop Colensot published, Lectures on the Pentateuch and the Moabite Stone (1873): — the New Bible Commentary Critically Examined (1871-74). He also translated the New Test. and part of the Old Test. into the Zulu language, and published a Zulu grammar with dictionary. (B.P.)

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