Puritan Memoirs - John ArrowsmithPuritan Memoirs - The Life and Death of Some Reformed Ministers
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THIS learned divine was born at Gatehead, near Newcastle upon Tyne, March 29th, 1602, had his education at St. John’s college, Cambridge, and was afterwards chosen fellow of Katherinehall, in the same university. He was chosen one of the, university preachers, and preached for some time at Lynn, an ancient seaport in the county of Norfolk; from which he was called to sit in the assembly of divines, which he constantly attended. He was one of several members who drew up the assembly’s catechism, and was greatly distinguished for his learning, piety, and talents. He afterwards preached at St. Margaret’s, Ironmongerlane, London. . April 11th, 1644, he was elected master of St. John’s college, when Dr. Beale was ejected by the earl of Manchester, in pursuance of an ordinance of parliament for regulating and reforming the university of Cambridge. During the same year lie was one of the committee of learned divines,’ which united with a committee of the lords and commons, to treat with the commissioners of the Church of Scotland concerning an agreement in matters of religion. He took his doctor’s degree in 1647, and was chosen vice-chancellor of the university the same year. In 1651 he was elected regius professor of divinity on the death of Dr. Collins, and was, at the same time, presented to the rectory of Somersham. In 1653 he was chosen master of Trinity college, Cambridge, on the death of Dr. Hill; and, in 1665, he resigned his professorship, and was appointed one of the triers, also one of the preachers before the parliament. He was a man of unspotted reputation, of great learning and piety, an acute disputant a judicious divine, and an excellent author; as appears ‘from the learned productions of his pen. He died in Feb. 1659, aged fifty-seven years, and his remains were interred in Trinity college chapel.
Mr. Neal observes (says Dr. Gray), that the learning and piety of Dr. Arrowsmith were unexceptional; but had he added, that he was an eminent preacher, and famed for his flowers of rhetoric, I could have helped him to some passages in support of such an assertion; for example, you have endeavored, says he, to fence this vineyard (meaning the church) with a settled militia, to gather out the malignants as stones, to plant it with choice vines, men of piety and truth, to build the towers of a powerful ministry in the midst of it, and to make a winepress for the squeezing of malignants. Again, it is the main work of the spirit of grace to negotiate a match betwixt the Lord Jesus and the coy souls of sinful men. It is a spiritual affection that hath the Holy Ghost for its father, faith for its mother, prayer for its midwife, and the word of God for its nurse. After some overtures of a match in the reign of Henry VIII, says he, the reformed church in this kingdom was solemnly married to Christ, when the scepter was swayed by his son Edward the VI. That godly young prince, as became the friend of the bridegroom greatly rejoiced because of the bridegroom’s voice. The fatuous nine and thirty articles of her confession, then framed, Were evident signs of her being with child, and that a through reformation was then conceived; though but conceived; many and sore were the breeding fits she conflicted with during the reign of Mary, even such as gave great cause to fear she would have miscarried.” Mr. Arrowsmith was firm and zealous in his attachment to the cause of truth, from which no worldly allurements could shake his faith, or move his confidence; a man of a thousand; those who best knew him gave testimony to his diligence, his zeal, and integrity. His public ministry discovered his great dexterity, sound judgment, admirable learning, and indefatigable labors. His soul aspired to more than his weak and sickly body could possibly perform.
His works are, 1. The Covenant Avenging Sword Brandished, in a Sermon before the House of Commons, at their late Solemn Fast, January 25th, 1643.—2. England’s Ebenezer, or Stone of Help; a Sermon preached before both Houses of Parliament, at Christ’s church, London, March 12th, 1645.—3. A Chain of Principles.—4, Godman.—5. A Great Wonder in Heaven.—6. Tracta Sacra