Neal, Daniel

Neal, Daniel an English dissenting divine and ecclesiastical writer of considerable eminence, was born in London December 14, 1678. His early education was received at Merchant Tailors' School. About 1696 or 1697 he was offered a foundation at St. John's College, Oxford; but feeling that he could not conscientiously meet the religious demands involved in his acceptance, he went to a dissenter's academy, conducted by the celebrated Reverend Thomas Rowe, to whom Dr. Watts addressed his animated ode, called Free Philosophy. After three years' study in this school, he went abroad and studied in the Dutch universities of Utrecht and Levden. Near the close of 1703 Neal returned to England, enjoying at this time the society of the afterwards celebrated Dr. Lardner. Shortly after his return home he was ordained minister of the Independent body, and became assistant to Dr. Singleton, the pastor of a congregation in Aldersgate Street; and at the death of the latter was chosen as successor. He continued in this position until within a year of his death, which occurred April 4, 1743. As a pastor, Mr. Neal met with more than usual success; even as a young man, while yet the assistant of Dr. Singleton, men of all stations came to hear him preach; and so largely did his congregation increase that when he ministered to his people as sole pastor a new church had to be secured. He was known far beyond the pale of his own congregation, and frequently invited to lecture in the interests of Christianity and on Protestant polemics. Mr. Neal had an easy, agreeable manner, both in the style and in the delivery of his sermons, free from affectation. In conversation, he knew how to mix grave and prudent instruction or advice with a becoming cheerfulness, which made his company pleasing and profitable. Yet, notwithstanding these official duties, in the discharge of which he was eminently faithful, he found leisure for valuable literary labors; and the name of Daniel Neal will for some time to come figure prominently in English ecclesiastical history. His chief work is the History of the Puritans, which is written with great minuteness and accuracy, though it reflects seriously and often unjustly on the English establishment, and frequently palliates the errors of the Puritans. It was originally published in 4 vols. 8vo, the first of which appeared in 1732, and the second, third, and fourth in 1733, 1736, and 1738 respectively. It has since passed through many editions (Amer. ed. revised, corrected, and enlarged with additional notes bv John O. Charles, A.M. [N.Y. 1844], 2 volumes, 8vo, and often since). The first volume was reviewed by Dr. Maddox, bishop of St. Asaph, and the remaining volumes by Dr. Zachary Grey. To the former Neal himself replied; and an answer was given to the latter by Dr. Toulmin, in an edition of Neal's History published in 1793-7. Various opinions have been expressed on the character and value of Neal's History, yet no English critic has ever questioned Neal's honesty. Bishop Warburton considered it grossly unjust to the Anglican establishment, but he never impugned Neal's integrity. Bickersteth, himself of the establishment, calls it "a valuable and instructive history, with a strong bias in favor of his subjects, but an upright mind" (Christian Student, page 514). The truth is, Neal is about as far from the mark, as a historian, as Heylin; and Disraeli has well said that "Heylin, in his History of the Presbyterians, blackens them as so many political devils; and Neal, in his History of the Puritans, blanches them into a sweet and almond whiteness" (Miscell. of Lit. ed. 1840, page 298; comp. page 307,308). Neal's other publications are a number of separate Sermons, 1722, 1723, 1726, 1727, 1735 (nine are in a collection of Lectures by several divines, 1735, 2 volumes, 8vo): — A Solemn Prayer against the Plague, 1721: — three Tracts in vindication of his History of the Puritans, 1720, 1734, 1739; and the following works:

1. History of New England: containing an account of the civil and ecclesiastical affairs of the country to the year 1700; to which is added an Appendix, containing their charter, their ecclesiastical discipline, and their municipal laws (Lond. 1720, 2 volumes, 8vo; again, 1747, 2 volumes, 8vo; see Dr. Watts's Letter to Dr. Cotton Mather, 1720, in Mass. Hist. Coll. volume 4): —

2. Narrative of the Method and Success of Inoculating the Small-Pox in New England, by Mr. Benjamin Colman, etc. 1722, 8vo. See Life by Dr. Toulmin, in Neal's History of the Puritans; Wilson's Hist. of Dissenting Churches; Bogue and Bennett's Hist. Of Dissenters, 2:374; Funeral Sermon on Neal, by Jennings; Skeats, Hist. Free Churches of England, pages 257, 258, 280, 306; Prot. Dissent. Mag. volume 1; Smyth's Lects. on Mod. Hist. Lects. 11:18; Mosheim's Eccles. Hist.; Thomas Moore's Memoirs (1853), 4:159; Lowndes, Bibl. Man. 1823; Watts's Bibl. Brit. s.v.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. 2:2160; Lond. Quar. Rev. 10:90 (by Robert Southey); North Amer. Rev. 60:215 (by E. P. Whipple; see his Essays and Reviews, 1:208); Meth. Quar. Rev. 5:54 (by D. Belcher); Princeton Rev. 17:1; Christ. Rev. 8:481; Christ. Exam. 38:126 (by A. Lamson); Church Rev. volume 9; Amer. Presb. Theol. Rev. January 1867. (J.H.W.)

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