Cosin, John (DNB00)
|←Cosin, Edmund||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 12
COSIN, JOHN (1594–1672), bishop of Durham, was born on 30 Nov. 1594 (Sloane MS. 1708, f. 109) at Norwich, where his father, Giles Cosin, was a wealthy citizen. His mother, Elizabeth Cosin (née Remington), belonged to a Norfolk county family. He was educated at the Norwich grammar school, and at the age of fourteen was elected to a Norwich scholarship at Caius College, Cambridge. In due time he was elected fellow of his college, and was then appointed secretary and librarian to Bishop Overall of Lichfield. A similar offer was made to him by Bishop Lancelot Andrewes of Ely; but on the advice of his tutor he preferred Bishop Overall's offer. As the bishop died in 1619, Cosin was not long with his patron, but long enough to acquire an immense reverence for him, whom he always spoke of in later life as his ‘lord and master.’ Cosin next became domestic chaplain in the household of Bishop Neile of Durham, by whom he was appointed in 1624 to the mastership of Greatham Hospital, and (4 Dec. 1624) to a stall in Durham Cathedral. He speedily exchanged his mastership for the rectory of Elwick. In 1625 he became archdeacon of the East Riding of Yorkshire, and in 1626 rector of Brancepeth in Durham. In the same year he married Frances, daughter of Matthew Blakiston of Newton Hall, a canon of Durham, and a man of ancient family in that county. Cosin was soon brought into collision with the puritans. He was a personal friend of Laud, and still more intimate with Montague; and in 1626 he attended the conference at York House respecting Montague's books, ‘Appello Cæsarem’ and ‘A Gagg for the New Gospell,’ as a defender of the author. The publication of his ‘Collection of Private Devotions’ in 1627 brought Cosin into still more hostile relations with the puritan party, and in 1628 he was further embroiled with them, owing to a violent sermon preached in Durham Cathedral by one of the prebendaries, Peter Smart, who inveighed against ‘the reparation and beautifying of the cathedral,’ in which Cosin had taken a leading part. The preacher referred to Cosin as ‘our young Apollo, who repaireth the Quire and sets it out gayly with strange Babylonish ornaments.’ For this sermon Smart was cited before a commission of the chapter, Cosin being one of the commissioners, and was suspended ‘ab ingressu ecclesiæ,’ and soon after his prebendal stall was sequestered. Smart twice (1628 and 1629) brought an indictment against the commission before the assizes, and, both times failing, brought the articles before Archbishop Harsnett at York, again without success. The principal things objected to were the position of the altar, the altar lights, the vestments used at Holy Communion, and the position of the celebrant. It is a curious illustration of that force of character which was a striking feature in Cosin that, though he was probably the youngest of the chapter (he was only thirty-two), he was evidently and rightly regarded as the prime mover in the obnoxious alterations. This prominence of Cosin is further shown by the fact that in 1633, when Charles I visited Durham Cathedral, Cosin had the whole regulation of the king's reception, and the arrangement of the services which the king attended.
In 1634–5 Cosin was elected to the mastership of Peterhouse, Cambridge, vacant by the promotion of Dr. Matthew Wren to the see of Hereford. Here again he at once made his mark. The chapel services were brought up by the new master to the Laudian level. ‘A glorious new altar,’ writes Prynne, ‘was set up, and mounted on steps, to which the master, fellowes, schollers bowed, and were enjoyned to bow by Doctor Cosins, the master who set it up. There were basons, candlestickes, tapers standing on it, and a great crucifix hanging over it,’ and much more in the same vein (Canterbury's Doom, pp. 73, 74). In 1639 Cosin became vice-chancellor of the university, and in 1640 was appointed by Charles I, whose chaplain he was, dean of Peterborough.
But his old enemy, Smart, had now an opportunity of paying off old scores. He presented a petition to the House of Commons complaining of Cosin's ‘superstitious and popish innovations in the church of Durham,’ and of his own ‘severe prosecution in the high commission court.’ Cosin was sentenced by the whole house to be ‘sequestered from all his ecclesiastical benefices,’ and thus became ‘the first victim of puritanical vengeance who suffered by a vote of the commons’ (Surtees, Hist. of Durham). In 1642 he was an active instrument in sending the college plate to supply the royal mint at York, and was, in consequence, ejected from the mastership (13 March 1643–4) by warrant from the Earl of Manchester, being again the first to be thus ejected.
He retired to Paris, and officiated, by order of the king, as chaplain to those of Queen Henrietta Maria's household who belonged to the church of England. He first officiated in a private house; but that soon proved too small to contain the congregation, and Sir Richard Brown, the English ambassador in France, and the father-in-law of John Evelyn, fitted up the chapel at the residency, and there the English services were conducted for nearly nineteen years, with all that imposing ritual which Cosin loved. The Romanists made persistent efforts both to win over Cosin with offers of great preferment, and to seduce the English in the household of Queen Henrietta, who was herself a Romanist. Perhaps they thought the way would be prepared for them by Cosin himself, who had been regarded by the puritans in England as half a Romanist. But if so, they quite mistook their man. Cosin was much further removed from Romanism than he was even from puritanism; and the attempts of the Romanists only incited him to forge some formidable weapons against themselves. He held controversies with Roman priests; he devoted his enforced leisure to literary work against Romanism, and used his great personal influence for the same purpose. So that ‘whilst he remained in France he was the Atlas of the protestant religion, supporting the same with his piety and learning, confirming the wavering therein, yea, daily adding proselytes (not of the meanest rank) thereunto’ (Fuller, Worthies). One convert the Romanists did succeed in making, viz. Cosin's only son, to the intense grief of his father, who disinherited him in consequence. It has been thought that Cosin's annoyance caused him to fraternise with the Huguenots more closely than might have been expected from one of his views. He attended the services of the reformed church at Charenton, and was on terms of great intimacy with several ministers of that communion, who allowed him to officiate in their chapels, using the office of the church of England. But it is quite unlike Cosin to be influenced by personal pique in such a matter; and there is not the slightest trace of any such feeling in his own writings. On the contrary, he gives a perfectly clear and logical account of the course which he adopted. He drew a marked distinction between those who had not received ordination from bishops because they could not help themselves, and those who deliberately rejected it when it was within their reach. This was also the view taken by Bishop Overall, and Cosin was always deeply influenced by the judgment of his ‘lord and master.’
Cosin ‘had lodgings assigned him in the Louvre, together with a small pension from France, on account of his connection with the Queen of England’ (Surtees). He also received some pecuniary assistance from friends in England, notably from Dr. (after wards Archbishop) Sancroft, to whom he gave practical proof of his gratitude as soon as it lay in his power. But there is no doubt that he was reduced to great straits at Paris, a stronger proof of which could not be found than in the fact that he was on the point of selling his books to meet his exigencies. Cosin was an enthusiastic book collector, and his library was ‘one of the choicest collections of any private person in England’ (Evelyn). Happily he was spared this sacrifice by the occurrence of the Restoration. Upon this event he returned to England and resumed his preferments. It is thoroughly characteristic of the man that, as he had been the first to suffer for his principles in the rebellion, he was the first to avow them openly at the Restoration. While other men were, as Pepys terms it, ‘nibbling at the Common Prayer,’ waiting timidly to see which way the wind would blow, Cosin, as dean of Peterborough, ‘in the year 1660, about the end of July, revived the ancient usage [in Peterborough Cathedral], and read divine service first himself, and caused it to be read every day afterwards, according to the old laudable use and custom, and settled the church and quire in that order wherein it now (1685) continues’ (Kennet, Register, p. 229). Cosin, however, did not remain long at Peterborough. On 2 Dec. 1660 he was consecrated bishop of Durham at Westminster Abbey, his friend and kind helper in adversity, and now his domestic chaplain, Sancroft, preaching the consecration sermon. He now began that course which deservedly won for him the reputation of being one of the greatest prelates of his own, or indeed of any age. This reputation he won not so much as a preacher or a writer, though he was great as both. But his preaching cannot be compared with that of Jeremy Taylor or Barrow or South; nor can his writings be compared with those of Pearson or Stillingfleet or Brian Walton. His strength lay in his administrative powers. He always had the clearest and most definite conception of the position of the English church, and was deterred by no obstacles from making good that position. His personal influence was immense, and that influence was no doubt enhanced by his splendid munificence. Hence the diocese of Durham, from being exceptionally backward, soon became exceptionally forward under his rule, and mainly owing to his energy. He gathered around him men of a kindred spirit, who worked loyally under him, and upon whom, like most strong men, he left a permanent impression, which survived long after his death.
The bishop of Durham was prince of the palatinate as well as bishop of the diocese, and Cosin was as well fitted to sustain the former as the latter character. His reception into the see was enthusiastic. ‘The confluence,’ he writes to Sancroft, ‘and alacritie, both of the gentry, clergie, and other people, was very greate; and at my first entrance through the river of Tease there was scarce any water to be seene for the multitude of horse and men that filled it when the sword that killed the dragon was delivered to me with all the formality of trumpets and gunshots and acclamations that might be made.’ (This was the tenure on which the bishops held the manor of Sockburn.) ‘I am not much affected with such showes; but, however, the cheerfullness of the country in the reception of their bishop is a good earnest given for better matters which, by the grace and blessing of God, may in good time follow here among us all.’ ‘The country’ had no reason to be disappointed. No doubt Cosin spoke truly when he said he was ‘not much affected by such showes,’ for he was personally a plain, homely man. Nevertheless he was, both in mind and appearance, admirably adapted to play the part that was required of him. With a tall, handsome, and erect person, he possessed a commanding character, such as befitted the temporal as well as the spiritual ruler of the county palatine. He at once held ‘a solemne confirmation,’ at which a vast number of catechumens were presented, as was natural, seeing that the arrears of twenty years had to be made up. He then held a synod of the clergy, determining, he says, ‘to put them in order, if by any fayre means I can.’
But meanwhile, besides the affairs of his diocese, the affairs of the church at large had to be settled; and in the settlement of them Cosin took a leading part. In 1661 the Savoy conference, ‘to advise upon and review the Book of Common Prayer,’ was held. Cosin was a constant attendant, and the part which he took, both at this conference and at the convocation which immediately followed it, is exceedingly characteristic. At the conference he showed himself, as Baxter, after some depreciation of him, owns, ‘excellently well versed in canons, councils, and fathers;’ and, ‘as he was of rustick wit and carriage, so he would endure more freedom of our discourse with him, and was more affable and familiar than the rest.’ He earnestly endeavoured to effect a reconciliation with the presbyterians, but in vain.
At the convocation in November 1661 Cosin's proposals were all in favour of making the services more in accordance with the ancient liturgies. There was no inconsistency in this. As a staunch churchman he yearned for unity, and was quite ready to stretch a point in order to secure it. But equally as a staunch churchman his personal predilections were in favour of ancient ritual and order. All his proposals as a very influential member of the revision committee were in this direction. The committee was instructed ‘to compare the prayer-book with the most antient liturgies which have been used in the church in the primitive and purest times;’ and no one was better fitted for this task than Cosin, for he was a profound liturgical scholar, and his suggestions were based on a thorough study of ancient liturgies, whose spirit as well as letter he had deeply imbibed. He possessed the now almost lost art of composing prayers after the best and most ancient models; and to him we are indebted for some of the most beautiful collects in our prayer-book, and probably for most of the alterations made. He suggested, at the revision of 1661, many further alterations, a few of which may be noticed. They are all in the direction of a greater strictness of order, or definiteness of doctrine, or supply obvious omissions. The rubric enjoining all priests and deacons to say daily the morning and evening prayer is worded more strictly. Proper psalms are suggested for the Epiphany, rogation days, St. Michael and All Angels' day, and All Saints' day. In the rubric concerning chancels the words ‘shall be divided from the body of the church’ are inserted. Instead of ‘Endue thy ministers,’ Cosin suggests ‘Let Thy priests be clothed’ with righteousness. In the rubric respecting the Litany it is added, ‘The priests (or clerks) kneeling in the midst of the quire, and all the people kneeling and answering as followeth.’ In the rubric before the Communion Service, instead of ‘the table at the communion time shall stand in the body of the church,’ &c., Cosin suggests ‘the table always standing at the upper end of the chancell (or of the church, where a chancell is wanting), and being at all times covered with a carpet of silk, shall also have a faire white linnen cloth upon it, with paten, chalice, and other decent furniture, meet for the high mysteries there to be celebrated.’ To the rubric ‘The priest standing at the north side,’ &c., is added ‘or end.’ The rubric respecting the Gospel runs: ‘And the Epistle ended, the priest (or the gospeller appointed) or a deacon that ministereth shall read the Gospel, saying first, “The Holy Gospel,” &c.; and the people all standing up shall say “Glory be to Thee, O Lord,” and at the end of the Gospel he that readeth it shall say, “Here endeth the Holy Gospel,” and the people shall answer, “Thanks be to Thee, O Lord.”’ In the prayer for the church militant the clause referring to the faithful departed is considerably amplified; and after the prayer of consecration there is a very beautiful ‘memoriall, or prayer of oblation.’ The Order of Confirmation is enlarged; and in the ‘Thanksgiving of Women’ &c. the rubric directs that ‘the woman shall, upon some Sunday or other holy-day, come decently vayled into the parish church, and at the beginning of the Communion Service shall kneele down in some convenient place appointed unto her by the minister before the holy table.’ The fact that some of Cosin's suggestions have been adopted without specific direction shows how seemly they were.
A prayer-book of 1619, with the emendations and alterations in Cosin's own handwriting, together with some further suggestions of Cosin in Sancroft's handwriting, which Canon Ornsby thinks may ‘certainly be regarded as that which was laid by him before the convocation,’ is still preserved in the library at Durham. Convocation committed to Cosin's care the preparation of a form of consecration of parish churches and chapels. The bishop drew up a form based on that of Bishop Andrewes, and used it in his own diocese; but it was not generally adopted by authority. One rubric in this consecration service is very significant, in regard of Cosin's views on the much-vexed question of the eastward position: ‘Then shall the bishop ascend towards the table of the Lord, and then kneele downe at his falstoole before it,’ &c.
The convocation ended, Cosin returned to Durham, and pursued that career of unwearied diligence and extraordinary munificence which left an impress upon the diocese greater, perhaps, than was made by any bishop in the kingdom. In 1662 he held a visitation both in Northumberland and Durham; and in November of the same year ‘made a fair progress through the larger part of this county palatine, preaching on every Sunday in several churches, and being received with great joy and alacrity, both of the gentry and all the people’ (KENNET). In the same year he held his primary visitation of the cathedral, making the fullest and most minute inquiries. The intervals of the year were filled up with visits to country churches in his own neighbourhood, preaching, catechising, and inducing parents to bring their children to baptism, which sacrament had been much neglected during ‘the troubles.’ He had always one definite object in view, viz. to have the church system fully worked, with the utmost order and the greatest beauty of ritual, and he succeeded to a marvellous extent. Personally, he was disposed to be friendly to men of all opinions; but he was a strict disciplinarian, and he felt it his duty to use rigorously the powers which the law gave him to bring all men into outward conformity with the church he served, and then to turn mere conformists into real churchmen, or at least the semblance of such. His position gave him a double power; for he was not only bishop of the diocese, but also, quâ bishop, lord-lieutenant of the county, and he had not the slightest scruple, as such, in employing the train-bands to hunt out nonconformists. There was a strong puritan element in his diocese, perhaps owing to its near neighbourhood to Scotland. There were also many old and influential Roman catholics; and these of course drew after them many dependents. ‘Popish recusant’ and nonconforming presbyterian were equally obnoxious to Cosin. Many of his acts in relation especially to the latter were utterly unjustifiable, according to our modern notions; but it is obviously unfair to judge a prelate of the Restoration era by the standard of the nineteenth century. And again, it is only fair to take into account the very real, though no doubt exaggerated, fear of danger both to the altar and the throne which prevailed. But after making full allowance for all this, such sentences as the following naturally shock us: ‘I am sorry to heare that Mr. Davison, vicar of Norton, hath so many obstinate men and women in his parish that will not yet let downe their conventicles. Here at London they are ferretted out of every hole by the train-bands of the city and the troops employed for that purpose by the king and his officers,’ and so forth. In other respects Cosin was not a perfect character. His violent opposition to the election of parliamentary representatives for the county—a point which he succeeded in carrying—seems rather an arbitrary proceeding; nor can we at all approve of his sanctioning the sale of offices in his patronage. Indeed, he had always rather too keen an eye for business, exacting all that he considered his due to the utmost farthing. But if he loved to acquire money, he also loved to spend it on purely unselfish objects. The amount he spent upon the castles at Durham and Auckland, upon the cathedral at Durham, upon the chapel at Auckland (which he brought up externally to the standard of ornate ritual which he loved), upon the library at Durham which still bears his name, upon the foundation of scholarships, both at Caius and Peterhouse, upon general and rather indiscriminate almsgiving, upon help to the sufferers from the plague in London, at Durham, and at Cambridge, upon lavish hospitality, upon the redemption of christian captives at Algiers, upon the building and endowment of hospitals at Durham and Auckland, upon the augmentation of poor livings, and upon innumerable other objects of benevolence, must have been enormous. We can well understand his being called par excellence ‘the munificent bishop of Durham;’ and we could imagine that Archdeacon Basire's statement in his funeral sermon, that he spent 2,000l. every year of his episcopate on works of charity, was below rather than above the mark. When his friends remonstrated with him for spending such vast sums of money upon church building and ornamentation, to the detriment of his children, he replied, ‘The church is my firstborn.’ But his business habits enabled him also to make ample provision for his younger children.
Cosin died in London on 15 Jan. 1671–2, after a long and painful illness, which was probably aggravated by his persistence in attending church, ‘though the weather was never so ill.’ When his friends and physicians remonstrated with him, he replied that ‘when his body was unfitt to serve and honour God, 'twas fitt to go to the dust from whence it came.’ He was buried, according to his own desire expressed in his will, at Bishop Auckland, with a magnificent funeral, as befitted one who may fairly be called a magnificent prelate. The funeral sermon was preached by the archdeacon of Northumberland, Isaac Basire [q. v.], who had loyally seconded all his chief's efforts during his lifetime, and continued to carry them out after his death. The sermon is entitled ‘The Dead Man's Real Speech,’ and appended to it is a ‘Brief’ of the great prelate's life.
Though Cosin was a staunch and unflinching churchman of a very marked type, and may, broadly speaking, be grouped with the Laudian school, he differed, both in general tone and in special opinions, from many churchmen of his day. For instance, at the Savoy conference he was, as we have seen, more favourable to the nonconformists than any of the bishops except Reynolds and Gauden, one of whom virtually was, and the other had been, a presbyterian. His attitude towards the foreign protestant churches was certainly different from that of many churchmen in his day. He acted in this matter at Paris in a way which his friend, Bishop Morley, for instance, who on the whole was by no means so advanced a churchman, could neither approve nor imitate. He held the same views to the end of his life, and drew an elaborate parallel between Rome and Geneva, showing that on every point the English church was more in accord with the latter than the former. He also took quite a different line from most churchmen on the Sabbath question. He laid great stress on the Fourth Commandment, which he termed ‘the very pith of all the Decalogue, by due observance whereof we come both to learn and put in practice all the rest of God's commandments the better, and without which, in a short time, they would all come to nothing.’ Three out of his twenty-two extant sermons are on this commandment, and he wrote a letter, which almost amounts to a treatise, on the subject. Of course, he fully distinguished between the Jewish Sabbath and the christian Lord's day. He classes the latter among other holy days, and he would have had all of them observed as strictly, though not as austerely, as the puritans would have had their Sabbath. His teaching on this point is strangely different from that which led to and defended the ‘Book of Sports.’ His attitude towards Romanism was always one of uncompromising hostility; and by far the greatest proportion of his literary work is expressly directed against that system. He was also strongly in favour of divorce in the case of adultery, and of permission to the innocent party in such cases to remarry. In the famous case of Lord Ross eighteen bishops voted against the divorce, and only two in favour of it, and Cosin was one of the two. Again, though he was always emphatically the priest, though he maintained to the end the traditions of his early intimacy with men like Laud, Mountague, Erle, Morley, and especially Overall, yet he was also, in the good sense of the term, a man of the world. He was full of bonhomie, interested in the minutest points of secular business, on terms of great intimacy with the laity, and a great smoker. He was singularly frank and outspoken, and showed a quaint originality of character and expression, which must have been very attractive.
Cosin's writings acquire an adventitious importance from the writer's own forcible and interesting character. It is not the writings that have preserved the man, but the man who has preserved the writings from oblivion. Still, the writings themselves possess a great intrinsic value. With two exceptions, none of them were published during the bishop's lifetime. Probably the first written, though not the first published, of Cosin's works is that entitled ‘The Sum and Substance of the Conferences lately held at York House concerning Mr. Mountague's Books, which it pleased the Duke of Buckingham to appoint, and with divers other honourable persons to hear, at the special and earnest request of the Earl of Warwick and the Lord Say.’ These conferences were held in February 1625–6. The books were ‘The Gagg’ and the ‘Appello Cæsarem;’ and it appears from Mountague's letters to Cosin that the latter had seen and approved, if he had not actually had a considerable share in the production of, the offending volumes. ‘The Sum and Substance’ is simply a narrative of all that took place at the conferences. In February 1626–7 Cosin published his famous ‘Collection of Private Devotions, in the practice of the Ancient Church, called the Hours of Prayer; as they were after this manner published by authority of Queen Elizabeth, 1560.’ John Evelyn gives the following account of its publication: ‘Oct. 12, 1651.—I asked Mr. Deane (Cosin) the occasion of its being publish'd, which was this: the Queene coming over into England with a great traine of French ladys, they were often upbraiding our English ladys of the court that, having so much leisure, trifled away their time in the antechambers among the young gallants, without having something to divert themselves of more devotion; whereas the Ro. Catholick ladys had their Hours and the Breviarys, which entertained them in religious exercise. Our Protestant ladys scandalized at this reproach, it was complained of to the king.’ The king consulted Bishop White, and ‘the bishop presently named Dr. Cosin (whom the king exceedingly approv'd of) to prepare [a book], as speedily as he cou'd, and as like to their pockett offices as he cou'd, with regard to the antient forms before Popery.’ Cosin prepared his book in three months; and the Bishop of London (Mountain) ‘so well lik'd and approv'd, that (contrary to the usual custome of referring it to his chaplain) he wou'd needs give the imprimatur under his own hand.’ The book sold very rapidly; and if it had been published at any other time no outcry would have been raised against it. But it appeared when Laud and Mountague had lately roused the antipathy of the puritans, and Cosin was a known friend of both. It was therefore found to contain popery in disguise. Henry Burton wrote against it his ‘Examination of Private Devotions; or the Hours of Prayer, &c.,’ W. Prynne his ‘Brief Survey and Censure of Mr. Cozen's Cozening [or ‘cousining’ or ‘cozenizing’] Devotions.’ In fact Cosin, as he told Laud, was ‘the subject of every man's censure.’ Most of the objections were of the most ridiculous nature. ‘In the frontispiece the name of I.H.S. is engraven, which is the Jesuit's marke.’ ‘The title, “The Houres,” is both a popish and a Jewish name.’ ‘Matins and Evensong are popish words.’ ‘Nunc Dimittis and De Profundis are two papistical songs.’ ‘Lent is made a religious fast,’ and so forth. Two points only required an answer: (1) seven sacraments are mentioned, but Cosin clearly showed that he distinguished markedly between the two sacraments of the Gospel and the five commonly but not so truly called sacraments; (2) prayers for the departed, but Cosin pointed out ‘the tytle at the top of the page was, “Praiers at the point of death,”’ not after it, and that the printer omitted to place in the margin, as he was directed to do, ‘repeating the sentences untill the soule were departed.’ Cosin, however, contends that ‘the substance of these two prayers be nothynge els but what we all used to say, even after we heare a man is dead, God's peace be with him, and God send him a joyfull resurrection, which kind of praiers for the dead the Archbishopp of Armagh doth highly approve and acknowledge to be the old and perpetuall practice of the church of Christ.’ Of course, after the Restoration the tide turned, and ‘Cosin's Devotions’ became one of the favourite devotional works with churchmen of the period.
Cosin was a most uncompromising enemy to popery. In France he wrote his ‘Historia Transubstantialis Papalis’ at the request of Gilbert Talbot, who had undertaken to argue the matter out with ‘a German prince’ (the Duke of Newbourg), in the presence of Charles II at Cologne, and apparently did not feel quite equal to the task. Cosin readily consented, and showed in his treatise that the church of England held the doctrine of a real presence without in any way countenancing the doctrine of transubstantiation. It was not published until nineteen years after it was written (in 1675), and three years after the death of the author; but the title says it was ‘allowed by him to be published a little before his death, at the earnest request of his friends.’ It was then given to the world, with an interesting preface by Dr. Durel, in the original Latin. In the following year (1676) an English translation was published by Luke de Beaulieu. Cosin also wrote, in 1652, ‘Regiæ Angliæ Religio Catholica,’ at the request of Edward Hyde, afterwards earl of Clarendon, in order to give foreigners a right notion of the doctrine and discipline of the church of England as constituted by authority. This, too, was written in Latin, and was first published in Dr. Thomas Smith's ‘Vitæ,’ as a sort of appendix to the ‘Vita Joannis Cosini,’ in 1707. The most elaborate and important work which Cosin wrote during his exile, and the only one of them which he himself gave to the world, was ‘A Scholastical History of the Canon of Holy Scripture; or the certain indubitable Books thereof as they are received in the Church of England.’ Cosin tells us that Dr. Peter Gunning (afterwards bishop of Ely) ‘first requested him to make it a part of his employment,’ and the same Peter Gunning saw the work through the press when it was published in London in 1657. Cosin took so much pains over this learned work that he injured his eyesight. It was dedicated to Bishop Matthew Wren, then a prisoner in the Tower. It gives a history of all the books that were held canonical before the Council of Trent formed a new canon, and shows that the universal testimony of the church was for the books we have without the Apocrypha. Cosin also wrote many minor pieces, almost all of them bearing upon the same subject, viz. the position of the Anglican as opposed to the Romish church; but these scarcely require a separate notice. There is, however, one work of importance, which was not published until 1710, when Dr. Nicholls inserted it at the end of his ‘Comment on the Book of Common Prayer.’ It is entitled ‘Notes on the Book of Common Prayer,’ and contains (1) the first series of notes in the interleaved Book of Common Prayer, A.D. 1619; (2) the second series of notes in the interleaved Book of Common Prayer, A.D. 1638; (3) the third series in the manuscript book, and three appendices. The importance of this work to all who are interested in our Book of Common Prayer cannot be exaggerated. Only twenty-two of Cosin's sermons are now extant, and these all belong to the period before he was bishop. They are in the style of the earlier part of the seventeenth century, before the quaint roughness of Andrewes was exchanged for the rather vapid smoothness of Tillotson. But in one respect they differ from the fashion of the day, in that they are but sparingly embellished with quotations from the learned languages, and then only from the Latin. Cosin's ‘Correspondence,’ in two volumes (1868 and 1870), edited by the Surtees Society, with an admirable introduction to each volume by Canon Ornsby, the editor, gives an interesting picture of the life and character of the man, and also of his friends and times. A full collection of Cosin's works was not published until the excellent edition, in five octavo volumes, of the ‘Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology’ was issued (1843–55). Dr. T. Smith, in 1692, began to prepare an edition, but did not carry it out. He inserts a short ‘Vita Joannis Cosini’ in his ‘Vitæ quorundam eruditissimorum, &c. Virorum,’ &c. (1707); but though he had the advantage of knowing and receiving information from several friends and contemporaries of the bishop, it is but a meagre performance, and hardly worth the trouble of wading through in Latin, now that Canon Ornsby has given us the substance, and much more than the substance, in a graphic and interesting form in the vernacular.
[The Works of Bishop Cosin, 5 vols. (Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology); Bishop Cosin's Correspondence, 2 vols. (Surtees Society); Vitæ quorundam eruditissimorum et illustrium virorum, scriptore Thomâ Smitho; The Dead Man's Real Speech, with a Brief of the Life of the late Bishop of Durham, by I. Basire; Surtees's History of Durham; Prynne's Canterbury's Doom; Neal's History of the Puritans; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy.]