Perkins, William

Perkins, William (1), an eminent divine of the Church of England, noted as one of the best exponents of Calvinism, was born at Warton, in Warwickshire England, in 1558. He was educated in Christ College, Cambridge. In his early life he gave proofs of great genius and philosophic research, but in his habits was exceedingly wild and profligate. After his conversion he was distinguished for his tender sympathy and skill in opening the human heart, so that he became the instrument of salvation to many. At the age of twenty-four he was chosen fellow of Christ College, and obtained high reputation as a tutor. He finally entered into holy orders, and began his ministry by preaching to the prisoners in Cambtridge Jail, where in all his efforts he displayed a mind admirably adapted to his station. So far was he from considering his field of effort circumscribed that he improved every opportunity to do good. On one occasion, perceiving a young man who was about to ascend the ladder to be executed exceedingly distressed, he endeavored to console him, but to no effect. He then said, "Man, what is the matter with thee? art thou afraid of death?" "Ah! no," said the malefactor; "but of a worse thing." "Then come down," said Mr. Perkins, "and thou shalt see what the grace of God can do to strengthen thee." Mr. Perkins then took him by the hand, and, kneeling down with him at the foot of the ladder, so fervently acknowledged sin, its aggravations, and its terrible desert, that the poor culprit burst into tears of contrition. He then proceeded to set forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior of every believing penitent, which he was enabled to do with such success that the poor creature continued indeed to shed tears; but they were now tears of love, gratitude, and joy, flowing from a persuasion that his sins were canceled by the Savior's blood. He afterwards ascended the ladder with composure, while the spectators lifted up their hands and praised God for such a glorious display of his sovereign grace. About 1585 Perkins was chosen rector of St. Andrew's parish, in Cambridge, and in this position he remained until his death in 1602. As a preacher Perkins was very greatly admired. While his discourses were suited to the capacity of the common people, the pious scholar could not but appreciate them. They were said to be "all law and all gospel," so well did he unite the characters of a Boanerges and a Barnabas. He was an able casuist, and was resorted to by afflicted consciences far and near. Bishop Hall says of Perkins that "he excelled in distinct judgment, a rare dexterity in clearing the obscure subtleties of the schools, and an easy explication of perplexed subjects." "The science of morals, according to Mosheim, or rather of casuistry, which Calvin had left in a rude and imperfect state, is confessed to have been first reduced into some kind of form, and explained with some accuracy and precision, by Perkins" (Hallam, Lit. Hist. of Europe, 1:161; see also 2:508). He was the author of Expositions of the Creed; of the Lord's Prayer; of chap. 1-5, (completed by Rodolfe Cudworthe) of the Epistle to the Galatians; of St. Matthew 5-7; of Romans1-3: — Commentary on Hebrews and Cases of Conscience; and many doctrinal. practical, and controversial treatises. Several of his works were translated into Latin, French, Dutch, and Spanish; and their popularity at home is evinced by the number of collective editions of them, each in 3 vols. fol., issued shortly after his death, between 1605 and 1635. We notice, Works newly corrected according to his own Copies (Lond. 3 vols. fol.: 1:1616; 2:1617; 3:1618). The last dates which we find are 1626, 1631, and 1635. Opera, Latin (Geneva, 1611). It is not a little remarkable that, in this day of the exhumation of so much buried theology, Perkins's works have not been republished. Yet few writers have been more commended. "The works of Perkins," says Orme, "are distinguished for their piety, learning, extensive knowledge of the Scriptures, and strong Calvinistic argumentation... . They were highly esteemed by Job Orton, though he was far from being a thorough Calvinist himself" (Bibl. Bib. s.v.). Orton says of him: "Perkins's works are judicious, clear, full of matter and a deep Christian experience. I could wish ministers, especially young ones, would read him, as they would find large materials for composition." "For his time," says Dr. E. Williams, "his style is remarkably pure and neat: he had a clear head, and excelled in defining and analyzing subjects. His method is highly Calvinistic; but he carried the idea of reprobation too far... His commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians is equally sound as Luther's, but more methodical and comprehensive." "His works," says Bickersteth, "have been too much undervalued; they are learned, spiritual, Calvinistic, and practical; . . . holy and evangelical" (Christian Student, ed. 1844, p. 414, 444).

Topical Outlines Nave's Bible Topics International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online King James Bible King James Dictionary

Verse reference tagging and popups powered by VerseClick™.