Gale, John (DNB00)

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GALE, JOHN (1680–1721), general baptist minister, was born in London on 26 May 1680. His father, Nathaniel Gale, is described as ‘an eminent citizen’ who had property in the West Indies. John was well educated. When sent to study at Leyden University, which he entered 7 Dec. 1697 (Peacock, Index, p. 39), he was already a proficient in classics and Hebrew. On 3 July 1699 he received the degrees of M.A. and Ph.D.; the latter, which had not been conferred within living memory, was specially revived in his favour. He printed his graduation thesis ‘De Ente ejusque conceptu,’ dedicated to his uncles Sir John and Sir Joseph Wolf. From Leyden he went to Amsterdam, where he made the acquaintance of Limborch and of Le Clerc, who became his correspondent. Returning home, he pursued his studies in private, especially in the departments of biblical and patristic learning. The university of Leyden offered him (1703) the degree of D.D., but this he declined, being unwilling to subscribe the articles of Dort. Before he was twenty-seven he had written (1706) his examination of Wall, a work (published 1711) which is said to have attracted, while yet in manuscript, the attention of Whiston, and to have first influenced him in the direction of baptist views. It was at Whiston's house in Cross Street, Hatton Garden, that William Wall (vicar of Shoreham, Kent) met Gale for a discussion.

Gale preached his first sermon in February 1706 at Paul's Alley, Barbican. His services were very acceptable, but owing to a ‘heavy burden of domestick affairs’ (Burroughs) he was not in a position to enter on a stated ministry. His residence was at Blackheath. In 1715 he took some part in assisting Joseph Burroughs [q. v.] at Paul's Alley, became alternate morning preacher in July 1718, constant morning preacher in November 1719, and again alternate morning preacher in April 1721. He was never in a pastoral charge, and hence was never ordained; but, in addition to his engagements at Paul's Alley, he undertook preaching duty at Virginia Street, Ratcliff Highway, and at Deptford.

Gale was a member of Whiston's little ‘society for promoting primitive Christianity;’ he acted as its chairman from 3 July 1715 (the first meeting) till 10 Feb. 1716. He did not, however, understand ‘primitive Christianity’ in Whiston's sense; he was a trinitarian by conviction, but a non-subscriber on principle. Accordingly, in the famous dispute at Salters' Hall in 1719 [see Bradbury, Thomas] he took the liberal side, as did all the general baptists. Barrington Shute's ‘Account’ of the proceedings was published (1719) in the form of an anonymous letter to Gale. To Shute, afterwards Viscount Barrington [q. v.], he probably owed his introduction to Lord-chancellor King and the whig bishops. Hoadly esteemed him; Bradford, bishop of Rochester, commends his ‘learning, candour, and largeness of mind.’

In spite of a good constitution Gale died in his prime. In December 1721 he was attacked by a fever, which carried him off in three weeks; the exact date of his death is not stated. Funeral sermons were preached by Joseph Burroughs (24 Dec.) and John Kinch, LL.D. (31 Dec.). He left little to his family; a subscription enabled his widow to open a coffee-house in Finch Lane. Gale was tall in stature and had a striking countenance. Of two original portraits of him the best is by Joseph Highmore [q. v.], one of his hearers; this is engraved by Vertue.

He published: 1. ‘Inquisitio Philosophica Inauguralis de Lapide Solis,’ &c., Leyden, 1699, 4to. 2. ‘Reflections on Mr. Wall's History of Infant Baptism,’ &c., 1711, 8vo; new editions, 1820, 8vo, and 1836, 8vo (Wall wrote a ‘Defence,’ 1720, and other answers were published by Samuel Chandler [q. v.], 1719; Caleb Fleming [q. v.], 1745; and V. Perronet, 1749). Posthumous was 3. ‘Sermons,’ &c., 1726, 8vo, 4 vols. He had published separate sermons in 1713, 1717, and 1718. At the time of his death he was engaged on an answer to Wall's ‘Defence,’ an English translation of the Septuagint, and a ‘history of the notion of original sin.’

[Funeral sermons by Burroughs and Kinch, 1722; Life, prefixed to Sermons, 1726; Crosby's Hist. English Baptists, 1740, iv. 371; Whiston's Memoirs of Clarke, 1748, p. 58; Nichols's Atterbury's Correspondence, 1784, iii. 538; Protestant Dissenter's Magazine, 1796, p. 41 sq. (sketch by J. T., i.e. Joshua Toulmin); Universal Theological Magazine, 1803, i. 6 sq. (account of Barbican congregation by John Evans); Wilson's Dissenting Churches in London, 1810, iii. 242 sq.; Monthly Repository, 1824, p. 712 sq.]

A. G.