Overall, John

Overall, John an English prelate, was born in 1559, and, after a proper preliminary training, was educated successively at St. John's College, Cambridge and at Trinity College, of which he was chosen fellow. In 1596 he was appointed regius professor of divinity, when he took the degree of D.D., and about the same time was elected master of Catherine Hall in the same university. In 1601 he was preferred to the deanery of St. Paul's, London, by the. recommendation of his patron, Sir Fulk Greville, and queen Elizabeth; and in the beginning of James's reign was chosen prolocutor of the lower house of convocation. In 1612 he was appointed one of the first governors of the Charterhouse Hospital, then just founded by Thomas Sutton. In April, 1614, he was made bishop of Lichfield and Coventry; and in 1618 was transferred to Norwich. where he died in May, 1619. He was buried in that cathedral, where he lay unnoticed till some time after the restoration of Charles II, when Cosin, bishop of Durham, who had been his secretary, erected a monument in 1669 to his memory. Overall is characterized by Wood as being the best scholastic divine in the English nation; and Cosin, who perhaps may be thought to rival him in that learning, calls himself his scholar, and expressly declares that he derived all his knowledge from him. Bishop Overall is also extolled by Smith for his .distinguished wisdom, erudition, and piety. In the controversy which in his time divided the Reformed churches about predestination and grace, he held ground inclining rather to Arminianism; and seems to have paved the way for the reception of that doctrine in England, where it was generally embraced a few years afterwards, chiefly by the authority and influence of archbishop Laud. Overall had a particular friendship for Gerard Vossius and Grotius; and was much grieved to see the love of peace, and the projects of this last great man to obtain it, so ill requited. He labored heartily himself to accord the differences in Holland, upon what is known by the name of the Quin- quarticular controversy. Overall's chief work was the Convocation Book concerning the Government of God's Catholick Church and the Kingdoms of the Whole World (London, 1690). This treatise was adopted by the convocations of Canterbury and York, but was left unpublished by request of king James I. Overall's object in its compilation was to advocate the superior claims of the throne, and to dispute the claim of those who would place the episcopal office, as by divine right, superior to the throne. He also denies the Presbyterian claim of the superiority of the πρεσβύτερος over the king by divine right. He also teaches that "there is no more necessity of one visible head over the Catholic Church than of one visible monarch over all the world," and that "a government, which had originated in rebellion, ought, when thoroughly settled, to be considered as ordained by God, and as such to be obeyed by clergy and laity." Not having received the royal confirmation, the book is held as possessing no legal authority, yet there is no room to doubt that it was designed to be received as an authentic exposition of the mind of the Anglican Church on the subjects of which it treats. This work, preserved in manuscript for eighty-four years, was first given to the world by archbishop Sancroft in 1690, with the design of injuring the new government; but an important passage in it which had been overlooked reconciled William Sherlock to the oaths, and he no longer refused to take them. Anew edition of the work was published in the "Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology" (1844). — Bishop Overall also wrote Sententia de Predestinatione (London, 1651). He is besides named among the translators of the Bible, and as a writer of that portion of the Catechism of the Church of England which concerns the sacraments. For Overall's Notes on the Common Prayer, see Nichols, Commentary; for his remarks on The Necessity of One Visible Head, see Wordsworth, Christian Institutes, 4:135 and for his remarks On a Middle State, see Campbell, Doctrines of a Middle State. See also Biographical Dictionary, s.v.; Allibone, Dictionary of British and American Authors, s.v.; Adolphus, Manual four Students in Theology (see Index); M'Elhinney, The Doctrine of the Church, p. 260; Hallam, Literature, 2:358; Stoughton, Ecclesiastical History of England (Church of the Restoration), 1:219; Wordsworth, Ecclesiastical Biography, 1:128 sq.; 4:297 sq.

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