Henry Smith (1560-1591?)An Early Elizabethan Silver-Tongued Puritan Preacher
Biography of Henry Smith (1560-1591?):
Henry Smith, who is described in Piers Penniless’s Supplication (1592) as Silver-tongued Smith, was a celebrated preacher in Elizabethan London at St. Clement Danes. On leaving Queens’ College, Cambridge, he continued his studies with Richard Greenham, rector of Dry Drayton, Cambridgeshire, who imbued him with Puritan principles as he did other leading men of the time. In 1575 he also entered Lincoln College, Oxford, graduating in 1579.
Though as the eldest son and heir of Erasmus Smith of Somerby and Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, he was heir-apparent to a large patrimony, he prepared to enter the Ministry of the Church, but, owing to conscientious scruples on the matter of subscription, he determined not to undertake a pastoral charge, but to content himself with a Lectureship.
Thomas Fuller also, in a Life of Henry Smith which he prefixed to the first Collected Edition of his works, said of him: “He was commonly called the Silver-tongued preacher, and that was but one metal below St. Chrysostom himself. His Church was so crowded with auditors that persons of good quality brought their own pews with them, I mean their legs, to stand thereupon in the alleys. Their ears did so attend to his lips, their hearts to their ears, that he held the rudder of their affections in his hands, so that he could steer them whither he was pleased.” Wood, too, tells us that Smith was “esteemed the miracle and wonder of his age, for his prodigious memory and for his fluent, eloquent and practical way of preaching.” (Athenae Oxon. 1:603). And in our own time Marsden, in his History of the Puritans, has described Smith’s Sermons as “noble examples of English prose and pulpit eloquence, and as being free in an astonishing degree from the besetting vices of his age—vulgarity and quaintness and affected learning.”
Owing to ill-health he resigned his Lectureship about the end of 1590, and retired to Husbands Bosworth, where he died the following summer, and was buried July 4th, 1591. (Some have his death at 1601).
His Collected Sermons passed through the following editions:—1592-3-4-5,1599,1604, 1607, 1609, 1612, 1613, 1614, 1617-19, 1620-2, and 1631-2.
The Calling, Rebellion and Punishment of Jonah and Other Sermons by Henry Smith – eBook
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The Pride, Fall and Restitution of King Nebuchadnezzar by Henry Smith – eBook
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Old English Works:
- The sinners confession by Henrie Smith. (1593)
- The affinitie of the faithfull being a verie godlie and fruitfull sermon, made vpon part of the eight chapter of the Gospel of Saint Luke. By Henrie Smith. (1591)
- The Christians sacrifice Seene, and allowed. (1589)
- The examination of vsury in two sermons. (1591)
- The first sermon of Noahs drunkennes A glasse wherein all drunkards may behold their beastliness. Noah also began to be an husbandman and planted a vineyard, and he dranke of the wine and was drunken, and was vncouered in the middest of his tent. Gen. 9.20. Henry Smith. (1591)
- Foure sermons preached by Master Henry Smith. And published by a more perfect copie then heretofore (1599)
- A fruitfull sermon vpon part of the 5. chapter of the first epistle of Saint Paule to the Thessalonians. By Henry Smith, which sermon being taken by characterie, is now published for the benefite of the faithfull (1591)
- Iacobs ladder, or The high way to heauen Being the last sermon that Master Henry Smith made. And now published, not (as many forged things haue beene in his name) to deceiue the Christian reader, but to instruct and prepare him with oyle in his lampe, ioyfully to meete the Lord Iesus in his second comming. (1591)
- The lavviers question The answere to the lawiers question. The censure of Christ vpon the answere. By Henry Smith. (1595)
- The magistrates scripture. (1591)
- The poore mans teares opened in a sermon / preached by Henrie Smith. ; Treating of almes deeds, and releeuing the poore. (1592)
- Satans compassing the earth. By Henrie Smith (1592)
- The sermons of Maister Henrie Smith gathered into one volume. Printed according to his corrected copies in his life time. (1593)
- Three prayers one for the morning, another for the euening: the third for a sick-man. Whereunto is annexed, a godly letter to a sicke freend: and a comfortable speech of a preacher vpon his death bedde. Anno. Dom. 1591. (1591)
- The vvedding garment (1590)
- The trumpet of the soule, sounding to iudgement by Henry Smith. (1591)
- The benefit of contentation Taken by characterie and examined after. (1591)