Puritan Memoirs - Mr. Calibute DowningPuritan Memoirs - The Life and Death of Some Reformed Ministers
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THIS zealous reformer was born at Shenington, in Gloucestershire, in 1604. He belonged to an ancient and respectable family, and took his education in Ariel College Oxford. After having finished his studies, and entered on the ministerial work, he was successively rector of Ickford in Buckinghamshire, of West Ilsley in Berkshire, and vicar of Hackney, near London. In 1640, Mr. Downing maintained, in a sermon preached before the artillery company, “That in defense of religion, and for the reformation of the church, it was lawful to take arms against the king, providing it could not be otherwise obtained.” In consequence of his having thus expressed his sentiments, he was forced to abscond from the danger with which he was threatened. He retired to the house of the earl of Warwick, in Essex, where he remained till the meeting of the long parliament. In 1643 he resigned his vicarage of Hackney, and was succeeded by Dr. Spurstowe, who was afterwards ejected by the act of uniformity.
The civil war having commenced, Dr. Downing became chaplain to lord Roberts, in the army of the earl of Essex. In which office his conduct has been severely handled by the high church historians. He was appointed one of the licensers of the press. In 1643, according to Wood, he shewed himself a zealous covenanter; and thereupon was chosen one of the assembly of divines. He died in 1644, and has left behind him the reputation of a pious man, a pathetic preacher, and a warm promoter of religion, church reformation, and the good of his native land.
His writings are, 1. A Discourse of the State Ecclesiastical of this Kingdom in relation to the Civil.—2. A Digression, discussing some Exceptions against Ecclesiastical Officers.—3. A Discovery of the false grounds the Bavarian party have laid to settle their own faction, and shake the peace of Europe.—4. A Discourse on the Interest of England.—5. A Discoursive Conjecture upon the Reasons which produce the present trouble of Great Britain different from those of Lower Germany.—6. Several Sermons, etc.