Pearson, John an English prelate of high celebrity, and one of the greatest divines of his age, was born in 1612 at Snoring, in Nnorfolk, of which place his father was rector. He was educated first at Eton, and then at King's College, Cambridge, and took the degree of M.A. in 1639. In the same year he took orders, and was collated to a prebend in Salisbury Cathedral. In 1640 he was appointed chaplain to Finch, lord-keeper of the great seal, and on the outbreak of the civil war became chaplain to lord Goring, and afterwards to Sir Robert Cook, in London. In 1650 he was appointed minister of St. Clement's, Eastcheap, London; and this was the chief scene of his labors as a parochial minister. In 1659 he published the great work by which he will be remembered as long as the English tongue shall last and Christian theology continue to have any interest for men, An Exposition of the Apostle's Creed. It was dedicated to his flock, to whom the substance of it had been preached some years before in a series of discourses. The laborious learning and the judicial calmness displayed by the author in this treatise have long been acknowledged, and command the respect even of those who take exception to his elaborate argumentation. It was republished, with the author's corrections, in folio, first in 1676, and again in 1686; since that time it has gone through many editions, and still sustains its reputation. It is used as a text-book at the universities, and is regarded as one of the principal standards of appeal on doctrinal matters in the Church of England. It was translated into Latin for use on the Continent. It has also been republished in this country in Dobson's edition of 1840 (see Allibone); besides which there are editions by Burton (1847) and Chevalier (1849). It is generally acknowledged to be one of the most remarkable productions of what is usually called the greatest age of English theology — the 17th century. Dibdin says: "The Exposition of the Creed has nothing superior to it in any language. Metaphysics, logic, classical and theological erudition, are all brought to bear upon that momentous subject, in a manner so happy and so natural that the depths of research and variety of knowledge are most concealed by the felicitous manner of their adaptation. Well might the great Bentley say of this yet greater man that his 'very dust was gold' (Literary Companion, p. 56). Dr. Samuel Johnson recommends Pearson as one of the three authors (Dr. Clarke and Grotius are the others) whom every man whose faith is unsettled should study. During the same year which brought out the Creed, Dr. Pearson published The Golden Remains of the ever-memorable Mr. John Hales, of Eton. At the Restoration a proper regard was had for Pearson's eminent merits, and honors and emoluments were lavishly showered upon him. Before the close of 1660 he received the rectory of St. Christopher's, in London; was created D.D. at Cambridge; installed prebendary of Ely and archdeacon of Surrey, and made master of Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1661 he obtained the Margaret professorship of divinity, and was one of the most prominent commissioners in the famous Savoy Conference; in 1662 he was made master of Trinity, Cambridge, and assisted in the course of that year in the revision of the Liturgy — a task for which his previous publications had indicated him as peculiarly well fitted. In 1673 he was promoted to the bishopric of Chester. The year preceding he had published his Vindiciae Epistolarum S. Ignatii, in answer to Daille, who had denied the genuineness of the Epistles. It was imagined for years that Pearson had triumphed in this controversy, but recent investigations have weakened Pearson's arguments. SEE IGNATIUS. In 1682 bishop Pearson published Annales Cyprianici, together with bishop Fell's edition of Cyprian. SEE FELL. He edited, with a preface of 19 pp., Vetum Testamentum Graecum
ex Vers. LXX (1665, 12mo), and was one of the editors of the Critici Sacri. Bishop Pearson died July 16,1686. His Opera Posthuma Chronologica were published by Dodwell (Lond. 1688, 4to, in Le Clerc's Bibl. Univ. 9:127). They contain (1) the Annales Paulini, which bishop Randolph inserted in his Enchiridion Theologicum, of which an English translation, with notes, was published by Williams (Cambr. 1825, and often)-a critical dissertation on the series of events in the life of the apostle Paul; (2) the Lectiones in Acta Apostolorum, which extend from the first to the ninth chapter of the Acts, "and (as might be expected) contain many valuable critical and chronological observations for the elucidation of the apostle Luke's narrative" (Horne, Bibl. Bib. p. 315). Both the lectures on Acts and Annals of St. Paul were brought out in an English version by Crowfoot, also with notes (1853, 8vo). Besides these writings were published, Adversaria lesychian2a (Lond. 1844,2 vols. 8vo): — Minor Theological Works, with memoir, notes, and index by Churton (Qxf. 1844, 2 vols. 8vo). His Orationes, Conciones, et Determinationes Theologicae contain much valuable matter. Bishop Burnet thought Pearson "in all respects the greatest divine of his age." See Burnet, My Own Times (ed. 1833), 3:142 sq.; Biogrophia Brit. s.v.; Macaulay, Hist. of England, vol. ii, ch. vi; Hallam, Literary Hist. of Europe; Perry, Ch. Hist. of Elnnglland, 2:323, 661; Stoughton, Eccles. Hist. of England (Ch. of the Restor.); Whewell, Moral Philos. p. 174; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. vol. ii, s.v.; (Lond.) Gentleman's Magazine, February, 1848, p. 158 sq.