Patrick, Symon D.D., a celebrated English prelate of the orthodox school, flourished during the important events of the 17th century, and stands next to Tillotson in influence .,and learning. Burnet, his contemporary, ranks Patrick with the most worthy of the English nation, and pronounces him one who was an honor to the Church and the age in which he lived. Symon Patrick was born at Gainsboroagh, in Lincolnshire, in 1626. His father was a mercer of good credit, and sent him, with a view to affording the boy all the educational advantages of his time, early to school. He received his first educational training in his native place, under one Merriweather, the translator of Sir T. Browne's Religio Medici. At the age of eighteen Patrick was admitted into Queen's College, Cambridge, where he studied with great diligence and unceasing perseverance. At the usual time he took the degrees of M.A. and B.A., and was chosen fellow of his college; and very shortly after received holy orders from Hall, bishop of Norwich, in his retirement at Heigham, after his ejection from his bishopric, which, having never vacated, he continued to regard as his see. Very soon after his ordination, Patrick was received as chaplain into the family of Sir Walter St. John, of Battersea, who gave him that living in 1658. In 1661 he was elected, by a majority of fellows, master of Queen's College, in opposition to a royal mandamus appointing Mr. Anthony Sparrow to that place; but the affair, being brought before the king and council, was soon decided in favor of Mr. Sparrow; and some of the fellows, if not all, who had formerly agreed with Mr. Patrick, were ejected. His next preferment was the rectory of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, London, given him by the earl of Bedford in 1662, where he endeared himself much to the parishioners by instruction and example, and particularly by continuing all the while among them during the plague in 1665. He studied, preached, visited the sick, and distributed alms as composedly as if there had not been a plague thought of, and upon a review of the awful season and his own peril, recorded the following words: "I suppose you think I intend to stay here still; though I understand by your question you would not have me. But, my friend, what am I better than another? Somebody must be here; and is it fit I should set such a value upon myself as my going away and leaving another will signify? For it will, in effect, be to say that I am too good to be lost; but it is no matter if another be. Truly, I do not think myself so considerable to the world: and though my friends set a good price upon me, yet that temptation hath not yet made me of their mind; and I know their love makes me pass for more with them than I am worth. When I mention that word, love, I confess it moves me much, and I have a great passion for them, and wish I might live to embrace them once again; but I must not take any undue courses to satisfy this passion, which is but too strong in me. I must let reason prevail, and stay with my charge, which I take hitherto to be my duty, whatever come." A little later he writes: "During my confinement with these afflicted people I had many heavenly meditations in my mind, and found the pleasure wherewith they filled the soul was far beyond all the pleasures of the flesh. Nor could I favor anything that would last so long, nor give me such joy and delight, as those thoughts which I had of the other world, and the taste which God vouchsafed me of it" (Autobiography, p. 52). It is said, further, that, out of a special regard to these people, he refused the archdeaconry of Huntingdon. Having sufficient reasons for dislike to his college at Cambridge, he went to Oxford for his degrees in divinity; and, entering himself of Christ Church, took his doctor's degree there in 1666. He was made chaplain in ordinary to the king about the same time. In 1672 he was made prebendary of Westminster, and dean of Peterborough in 1679. In 1680 the lord-chancellor, Finch, offered him the living of St. Martin's in the Fields; but Dr. Patrick refused it, and recommended Dr. Thomas Tenison. In 1682 Dr. Lewis de Moulin, who had been history professor at Oxford, and had written many bitter books against the Church of England, sent for Patrick upon his sickbed, and solemnly declared his regret upon that account, which declaration, being signed, was published after his death. During the reign of James II Dr. Patrick was one of those champions who defended the Protestant religion against the papists. In the proposed revision of the Liturgy, his special share was the remodeling of the Collects; the process employed for which purpose is described in Birch's Life of Tillotson, who at that time was dean of St. Paul's, and was the soul of the commission. In Tillotson's commonplace-book was found a paper in short-hand, entitled "Concessions which will probably be made by the Church of England for the union of Protestants; which I sent to the earl of Portland by Dr. Stillingfleet, Sept. 13, 1689." There were seven heads, which it may not be foreign to our subject to transcribe, as Patrick was one of the most active commissioners:
"1. That the ceremonies enjoined or recommended in the Liturgy or Canons be left indifferent.
"2. That the Liturgy be carefully reviewed, and such alterations and changes therein made as may supply the defects, and remove, as much as possible, all grounds of exception to any part of it, by leaving out the apocryphal lessons, and corrected the translation of the Psalms, used in the public service, where there is need of it; and in many other particulars.
"3. That, instead of all former declarations and subscriptions to be made by ministers, it shall be sufficient for them that are admitted to the exercise of their ministry in the Church of England to subscribe one general declaration and promise to this purpose, viz. that we do submit to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Church of England as it shall be established by law, and promise to teach and practice accordingly.
"4. That a new body of ecclesiastical canons be made, particularly with a regard to a more effectual provision for the reformation of manners both in ministers and people.
"5. That there be an effectual regulation of ecclesiastical courts to remedy the great abuses and inconveniences which, by degrees and length of time, have crept into them; and, particularly, that the power of excommunication be taken out of the hands of lay officers, and placed in the bishop, and not to be exercised for trivial matters, but upon great and weighty occasions.
"6. That for the future those who have been ordained in any of the foreign Reformed churches be not required to be re-ordained here to render them capable of preferment in this Church.
"7. That for the future none be capable of any ecclesiastical benefice or preferment in the Church of England that shall be ordained in England otherwise than by bishops. And that those who have been ordained only by presbyters shall not be compelled to renounce their former ordination. But because many have and do still doubt of the validity of such ordination, where episcopal ordination may be had, and is by law required, it shall be sufficient for such persons to receive ordination from a bishop in this or the like form: If thou art not already ordained, I ordain thee, etc.; as in case a doubt be made of any one's baptism, it is appointed by the Liturgy that he be baptized in this form: If thou art not baptized, I baptize thee," etc.
At the Revolution in 1688 great use was made of dean Patrick, who was very active in settling the affairs of the Church: he was called upon to preach before the prince and princess of Orange, and soon afterwards was appointed one of the commissioners for the review of the liturgy. In 1689 he was made bishop of Chichester, and employed, with other bishops, to compose the disorders of the Church of Ireland. In 1691 he was translated to the see of Ely, in the room of Turner, who was deprived for refusing the oaths to the government. Here he continued to perform all the offices of a good bishop, as well as a good man, which he had proved himself to be. In his early life he had regarded the Nonconformists with little favor, and had even written against them in a pamphlet entitled A friendly Debate between a Conformist and Nonconformist (1668), but in his latter years, especially while in the episcopate, he had had occasion to change his opinion. He had even a great share in the comprehension projected by archbishop Sancroft, in order to gain over the Dissenters. This may appear strange, as in the preface to his dialogue between a Conformist and a Nonconformist he had opposed such a design, and thereby given great offense to lord chief-justice Hale, who was zealous for it. His notices of the comprehension proceedings, in his autobiographical detail, are meager, and cast no light upon the subject. The chief particulars may be found in Calamy's Life of Baxter, Birch's Life of Tillotson, Burnet's Own Time, and other publications. Says Harris, the biographer of Dr. Manton: "Bishop Patrick, in advanced age, remarked, in a speech in the House of Lords in favor of the 'Occasional Conformity' Bill, that 'He had been known to write against the Dissenters in his younger years, but that he had lived long enough to see reason to alter his opinion of that people, and that way of writing.'" The reason was probably, his more intimate, and therefore more accurate knowledge of the Nonconformists. Many of these with whom he was brought into personal contact he was disappointed, happily, not to find violent political partisans, but men who professed the constitutional principles of the Revolution of 1688; men of devout and exemplary life; men who held the doctrinal articles of the Church of England, and lamented that a few things — and only a few — prevented their embracing its communion; for they entertained no opposition as to the utility of national ecclesiastical establishments. Indeed it remains an open question at this day whether Dissent might not have been forever ended in that period of English history had not the Altitudinarians, or Tractarians as we now call them, been so powerful in the Anglican Church. Indeed, we think, had there not been such moderate men as Tillotson and Patrick to allay the storm which was then preparing again, there might have been a renewal of the melancholy scenes of the days of Charles I. Bishop Patrick's services to the English Church, and the English people as well, cannot, then, be too highly prized. He died at Ely May 31, 1707, and was interred in the cathedral, where a monument is erected to his memory. Bishop Patrick was one of the most learned men as well as best writers of his time. He published many and various works: some of the devotional kind, many Sermons, Tracts against Popery, and Paraphrases and Commentaries upon the Holy Scriptures. These last are excellent in their way, and perhaps the most useful of any ever written in the English language. They were published at various times, but as this prelate did not proceed beyond the Song of Solomon, the commentaries of Lowth, Arnald, Whitby, and Lownan are generally added to complete the work. In this enlarged or completed form it is published, entitled A critical Commentary and
Paraphrase on the Old and New Testament and the Apocrypha, by Patrick, Lowth, Arnald, Whitby, and Lowman; corrected by the Rev. J. R. Pitman (Lond. 1822, 6 vols. 4to). The historical and poetical hooks of the Old Testament are by Bp. Patrick; the Prophets, by W. Lowth; the Apocrypha, by Arnald; the New Testament (with the exception of the Revelation), by Whitby; the Revelation, by Lowman. There is a new edition, with the text printed at large (not formerly given), 4 vols. imp. 8vo, 1853, and other dates. There are various editions in folio, which are esteemed for the large type with which they are printed; but none of them contain Lowman, and but few copies contain Arnald. In that size the work is in 6 vols. without Arnald. which makes a seventh when added. An edition of all Bp. Patrick's works was brought out in 1858 by the Rev. Alexander Taylor, A.M. (Oxf. 9 vols. 8vo). His Autobiography was published at Oxford in 1839. A list of all his writings is given by Darling, Cyclop. Bibl. 2:2304-2307. See Debary, Hist. of the Ch. of England, 1685-1717, p. 20, 81, 203, 380; Perry, Hist. of the Ch. of England, 2:397; 3:82; Stoughton, Eccles. Hist. of England, 1:338; 2:140, 354; Christian Observer, Nov. 1843, art. 1.