Lowth, William

Lowth, William D.D., a distinguished English divine, father of bishop Robert Lowth, was born in London September 11, 1661. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, whence he was elected to a scholarship at St. John's College, Oxford, in 1675, when not yet 14 years old; became M.A. in 1683, and B.D. in 1688. His Vindication of the Divine Authority of the Old and New Test. (Lond. 1692; 3d edit. with two sermons, 1821, 12mo), in answer to Le Clerc's attacks on the inspiration of Scripture, brought him prominently into notice; and the first to favor him was bishop Mew, of Winchester, who had been president of St. John's College, and well knew Lowth's great attainments. He made him his chaplain, and presented him with a prebendal stall in his cathedral at Winchester in 1696, and with the living of Buriton and Petersfield in 1699. Dr. Lowth died May 17, 1732. Though less celebrated as a writer than his son Robert, he is generally acknowledged to have been the profounder scholar, and might, and no doubt would, have attained to as great distinction in the Church as his son had he lived as much in the public eye, and, instead of serving others in the preparation of their works, gone directly before the people himself. So great, indeed, was his modesty, that, in an estimate of his scholarship, w ca e can be just only after a careful inquiry of the amount and extent of the assistance he furnished to the works of his contemporaries, upon whom Dr. Lowth, having carefully read and annotated almost every Greek and Latin author, whether profane or ecclesiastical, especially the latter, dispensed his stores with a most liberal hand. The edition of Clemens Alexandrinus, by Dr. (afterwards archbishop) Potter; that of Josephus, by Hudson; the Ecclesiastical Historians, by Reading (Cambridge); the Bibliotheca Biblica, were all enriched with valuable notes from his pen. Bishop Chandler, of Durham, during the preparation of his Defense of Christianity from the prophecies of the Old Testament, against the discourse of the "Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion," and in his vindication of the "Defence" in answer to The Scheme of literal Prophecy considered, held a constant correspondence with him, and consulted him upon many difficulties that occurred in the course of that work. Many other English scholars were also indebted to Dr. William Lowth's labors for important aid. But the most valuable part of his character was that which least appeared in the eyes of the world. His piety, diligence, hospitality, and beneficence rendered his life highly exemplary, and greatly enforced his public exhortations. Besides the Vindication already mentioned above, Dr. Lowth wrote Directions for the profitable Reading of the Holy Scriptures, etc. (1708, 12mo; 7th edit. Lond. 1799, 12mo), an excellent little work, which has gone through many editions; and last, but chiefly, A Commentary on the prophetical Books of the Old Testament, originally published in separate portions (1714-1725), and afterwards collected in a folio volume as a continuation of bishop Patrick's commentary, and generally accompanying the commentary collected severally from Patrick, Whitby, Arnaid, and Lowman (best editions of the whole commentary, Lond. 1822, 6 volumes, royal 4to; Philad. 1860, 4 volumes, imp. 8vo). "Lowth," says Orme (Bibl. Bib.), "is one of the most judicious commentators on the prophets. He never prophesies himself, adheres strictly to the meaning of the inspired writer, and is yet generally evangelical in his interpretations. There is not much appearance of criticism; but the original text and other critical aids were doubtless closely studied by the respectable author. It is often quoted by Scott, and.... is pronounced by bishop Coutson the best commentary in the English language." See Life of Dr. William Lowth by his son, Biog. Brit.;

Churchman's Magazine, 1809 (March and April), 781 sq.; Jones, Christian Biog. s.v.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibl. 2:1875; Hook, Eccles. Biog. 7:75; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, volume 2, s.v.; Kitto, Cyclop. of Bibl. Lit. volume 2, s.v.

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