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Philip Nye (1595-1672)

An Independent and Member of the Westminster Assembly
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His Works:

  1. A case of great and present use (1677) by Philip Nye
  2. A discourse of ecclesiastical lawes (1687) by Philip Nye
  3. A sermon preached to the Honorable citizens of London, September 29. 1659 (1661) by Philip Nye
  4. An exhortation to the taking of the Solemne League and Covenant for reformation and defence of religion (1643) by Philip Nye
  5. Beames of former light, discovering how evil it is to impose doubtfull and disputable formes or practises, upon ministers (1660) by Philip Nye
  6. Mr Sadler re-examined, or, his disguise discovered (1654) by Philip Nye
  7. The case of Philip Nye, minister (1660) by Philip Nye
  8. The excellency and lawfulnesse of the Solemne league and covenant (1646) by Philip Nye
  9. The king’s authority in dispensing with ecclesiastical laws, asserted and vindicated (1687) by Philip Nye
  10. The lawfulnes of the oath of supremacy and power of the civil magistrate in ecclesiastical affairs (1662) by Philip Nye
  11. The lawfulnes of the oath of supremacy, and power of the King in ecclesiastical affairs (1683) by Philip Nye
  12. Two speeches delivered before the subscribing of the Covenant, the 25. of September (1643) by Philip Nye

Biography of Philip Nye:

Philip Nye (1596-1672) was born of a genteel family in Sussex in England, in the year 1596. He entered a commoner of Brazen-nose college, Oxford, 2ist of July, 1615. He did not continue long there, but removed to Magdalenhall, in the same University, where, being put under the care of a Puritanical tutor, he remained until he had taken the degrees in art*. He was a very diligent student, while he continued at Oxford. In due time, he entered into the holy ministry, and officiated sometime at Michael’s church, in Cornhill, London, where he was in the year 1630.

In the year 1633, upon the death of Archbishop Abbot, Laud was made Archbishop of Canterbury; when he and his brethren renewed their blind zeal in the violent persecution of the Puritans. Many lecturers were silenced, and their lectures- put down. The most eminent divines were often silenced, driven from place to plate, and some of them. were driven out of the country. Mr Nye, and others, to escape the fury of the storm, fled to Holland. He crossed the seas, that he might avoid the severe censures of the Episcopal inquisitions, and be free from impositions, with which he was much dissatisfied. Wood says, that there he continued for the most part at Arnheim in Guelderland. He returned to England about the beginning of the Long Parliament, and, by the favour of the Earl of Manchester, he became minister of Kimbolton in Huntingdonshire. In the year 1643, he was appointed one of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, sitting in which he had the rectory of Acton near London conferred upon him. He was one of the dissenting brethren in that Assembly. Mr Baillie says, speaking of Mr Nye, ” When it came to his turn in the Assembly to oppose the presbytery, he had, from Mat. xviii. drawn in a crooked unformal way, which he never could get in a syllogism, the inconsistence of a presbytery with a civil state. In this he was cried down as impertinent. The day following, when he saw the Assembly full of the prime nobles and chief members of both Houses, he entered on that argument again, and very boldly offered to demonstrate, that our way of drawing a whole kingdom under one national assembly, is formidable; yea, thrice pernicious to civil states and kingdoms. All cried him down, and some would have had him expelled the Assembly as seditious. Mr Henderson shewed, that he spake against the government of our’s, and all the Reformed churches, as Lucian and the Pagans were wont to stir up princes and states against the Christian religion. We were all highly offended with him. The Assembly voted him to have spoken against the order; which was the highest of their censures. Maitland was absent; but enraged when he heard of it. We had many consultations what to do: at last, we were resolved to pursue it no farther, only we would not meet with him, except he acknowledged his fault. The Independents were resolute not to meet without him, “and he was resolute to recal nothing of the substance of what he had said. At last, we were intreated by our friends, to shuffle it over the best way might be, and to go on in our business. God, who brings good out of evil, made that miscarriage of Nye a mean to do him some good; for, ever since, we find him, in all things, the most accommodating man in the company.”

When Mr Baillie is speaking respecting the Independents having the communion every Sabbath, without any preparation before, or thanksgiving after; little examination of the people, and the hke, he adds: “Mr Nye told tis his private judgement was, that in preaching he thinks the minister should be covered, and the people uncovered; but in the sacrament, the minister should be uncovered, as a servant, and the guests all covered.” b Mr Baillie also says, “As for the Assembly, these three weeks, Mr Nye, and his good friend Mr Herle, has kept us on one point of our directory alone, the recommending of the communicants coming up to the table to communicate. Their way of communicating, of some at the table, and some about it, without any succession of companies to more tables, is that whereon we stick, and are like to stick longer.”

In 1643, Mr Nye and Mr Stephen Marshall were sent with the commissioners who went from the English Parliament into Scotland, in order to obtain and establish an agreement with the Scottish nation, and to desire their assistance. The reader may see more respecting that important business, in the Life of Mr Marshall.—Mr Hume says, in his history of England, chap, lvii, 1643, “That Marshall and Nye were two clergymen of signal authority.”—Mr Nye was exceedingly zealous and active in promoting, and in recommending, the Solemn League and Covenant. He delivered an excellent speech, before the subscribing of that covenant, to the honourable House of Commons, and to the reverend Divines of the Assembly, at Margaret’s, Westminster, 25th of Sept. 1643. This speech was published by special order of the House of Commons, and has been repeatedly printed. He was one of the chaplains who attended the commissioners, who went from the Parliament to King Charles I. into the isle of Wight, in the year 1647.

a Baillie’s Letters, vol. i. p. 437.
b Letters, vol. i. p. 440. c Letters, vol. ii. p. 33.

In the year 1653, he was appointed one of the Triers of ministers. In the year 1654, when the Parliament voted a toleration of all who professed to hold the fundamentals of Christianity, Mr Nye was appointed one of the committee of learned divines, to draw up a catalogue of the fundamentals to be presented to the House; and he acted in that business. He was also constituted an assistant to the commissioners of London for ejecting ignorant and scandalous ministers and schooUmasters. He was a principal man in managing the meeting of the congregational churches at the Savoy by the Protector’s order, where the Declaration of the Faith and Order and Practice in the congregational churches in England was agreed upon, by their elders and commissioners, Oct* 12, 1658. This Declaration was printed, 1659, and in the following year was translated into Latin by Professor Hornbeck, and published at the end of his Epistola ad Duraem de Independentismo. There was scarcely a book upon the disciplinarian controversy, which Mr Nye had not looked into; as may be seen by his little book which is entitled, Beams of former Light, &c. Soon after the restoration of King Charles II. there was an order of Parliament for lodging his papers with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth, where these are said to have remained a considerable time. He was a great politician; and it was debated in council after the King’s restoration, for several hours, whether he should be excepted for life, because he had acted highly against the King, and had been a particular instrument in bringing all things into confusion. The result was, M That if Philip Nye should after the first of September, in the same year, accept or exercise any office, ecclesiastical, civil, or military, he should to all intents and purposes in law stand as if be had been totally excepted for life.” He was ejected from Bartholomew behind the Exchange, London, and lived and preached privately as opportunity offered, to a congregation of dissenters. He died in the parish of Michael, Cornhill, or near it, in London, in the month of September, in the year 1672, when he was about seventy-six years of age. His remains were buried in Michael’s church, Comhill. He left behind him the character of a man of uncommon depth, and one who was seldom if ever out-reached. Dr Calamy says, that he had a complete History of the Old Puritan Dissenters in manuscript, which was burned at Alderman Clarkson’s, in the fire of London.*

a Wood’s Athenx Oxon. vol. ii. edit. 2d. Calamy’s Account, vol. ii. Cont. vol. i. p. 28. and Neal’s Puritans, vol. iv.


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