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Urian Oakes (1631-1681)

A Learned Divine, Powerful Gospel Colonial Preacher
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“No man is master of events, or absolute determiner of his own endeavors. The sovereign counsel and the providence of God orders all things in the designs of all men, as seems good in his sight.” The Sovereign Efficacy of Divine Providence.

Urian Oakes

His Works:

    1. The Victorious Christian Soldier in Christ’s Army – by Urian Oakes (1631–1681)

    Are you an over-comer? Have you ever been successful in conquering the remaining sin of the old man? Are you engaged in spiritual warfare every day for the good of your soul and glory of the Christ?

    2. The Sovereign Efficacy of Divine Providence – by Urian Oakes (1631–1681)

    Is God really in control of everything, everywhere, and everyone? How does that work with man’s will?

    Biography of Urian Oakes:


    Urian Oakes (1631–1681) was a New England divine, originally born in England in 1631 or possibly 1632. When he was a child, he left England with his father to go to Massachusetts. He graduated at Harvard College in 1649.[1]

    While in America he married Ruth, daughter of a well-known nonconformist minister, William Ames. Oakes returned to England during the time of the Commonwealth, and obtained a pastorate in Titchfield. From there he was ejected in 1662. His wife died in 1669. Two years later a deputation sent over to England to find a minister for the vacant church of Cambridge in Massachusetts and chose Oakes. He commenced his pastoral labors in November of 1671, and soon after he became one of the governors of Harvard College.[2] The college was in a difficult situation owing to the general dissatisfaction of the students with their president, Leonard Hoar. The same feeling was in some measure shared and countenanced by certain of the governors, and among them was Oakes. He and other of his colleagues resigned, and, in spite of the entreaties of the general court of overseers, would not withdraw their resignation until Hoar himself vacated the presidency on March 15, 1675. The vacancy thus created was filled by the appointment of Oakes. He, however, would only accept it provisionally; but after discharging the duties of the office for four years, in 1679 he consented to accept the full appointment, and held it until his death on July 25, 1681. Edmund Calamy states that Oakes was noted for “the uncommon sweetness of his temper,” and in New England he was greatly beloved by his congregation and popular with all who came in contact with him.

    His writings are “The Victorious Christian Soldier,” “The Sovereign Efficacy of Divine Providence,”[3] three sermons—two preached at the annual election of the artillery company in 1672 and 1676, and the third at the election of representatives in 1673—and a monody in English verse (Cambridge, 1677) on the death of Thomas Shepard, minister of the church in Charlestown. Mr. Tyler describes Oakes’ one surviving effort in poetry as “not without some mechanical defects,” yet, on the whole, Oakes’ power, dignity, and directness raise him far above the contemporary verse-writers of New England.

    Oakes stands out far more conspicuously above his contemporaries by the merits of his prose. In substance his sermons wholly break through any mere formalities of Calvinism. They are intensely human, alike in their treatment of moral problems and their application of scriptural examples. The preacher is throughout a vigorous moralist, full of public spirit. The style is concise and precise (as many of his theological puritan counterparts), yet free from conceits or forced antithesis, and capable of rising into real dignity and eloquence. The purity and elegance of his Latin are proved by an example preserved in Cotton Mather’s “Magnalia.”


    For more information, see:


    Savage’s Genealogical Dict. of New England; Cotton Mather’s Magnalia; Tyler’s History of American Literature; Holmes’s History of Cambridge; Peirce’s History of Harvard University, (pp. 44–46); Appleton’s Cyclop. of American Biogr. Volume iv, 548; Hutchinson’s History of Massachusetts.


    [1] Calamy and Palmer, ii. 280.

    [2] Harvard was originally founded to raise up Gospel ministers.

    [3] Republished by Puritan Publications: The Sovereign Efficacy of Divine Providence, preached September 10, 1677, by Mr. Urian Oakes, the late (and still to be Lamented) Reverend Pastor of the Church of Christ in Cambridge, and Learned President of Harvard College. Psa. 29:10, “The Lord sitteth upon the flood: yea the Lord sitteth King forever.” Isa. 41:14-15, “Fear not thou worm of Jacob. I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy Redeemer. Thou shalt thresh the Mountains.” Rom. 11:36, “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.” (Boston, MA: s.n. 1682).


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