Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/355

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Gunning
Gunning
347

stated in his own writings to allow us to admit the last assertion. It is quite likely that when 'Dr. Bates urged Dr. Gunning that on the same reasons that they so imposed the cross and surplice they might bring in holy water and lights and abundance of such ceremonies of Rome,' Gunning may have 'answered, "Yea, and so I think we ought to have more and not fewer, if we do well."' But this is a very different thing from being 'set upon reconciling the church of England to Rome;' and the charge will rather incline an impartial person to believe the statement of a writer of the next generation (N.Salmon, Lives of the English Bishops, 1733), who says that 'this apostolical man [Gunning] hath by his conduct at the Savoy Conference, raised himself many enemies, who have endeavoured to perpetuate their resentment by an unfair representation of matters to posterity.' Gunning is also charged with being harsh in his treatment of the nonconformists when he became a bishop. Neale writes that 'he often disturbed meetings in person,' and that, 'once finding the doors shut, he ordered the constable to break them open with a sledge.' There is no doubt that he was ready on occasion to invoke the secular arm. Neither is there any doubt that he was wrong-headed enough to oppose the lately founded Royal Society, fearing that researches into natural science might tend to undermine revealed truth. There are, however, few divines of the seventeenth century who are spoken of in such enthusiastic terms by their friends and among his friends he numbered some of whom all men spoke well. Evelyn can hardly find language strong enough to express his admiration. He is 'Dr. Gunning, who can do nothing but what is well; 'and he records with great satisfaction that he carried his son to 'that learned and pious man … to be instructed of him before he received the Holy Sacrament,' when Gunning gave admirable advice (Diary, 29 March 1672-3). He counts, it as one of the advantages of Mrs. Godolphin that 'she was brought by her excellent mother to be confirmed by Dr. Gunning' (Life of Mrs. Godolphin). Peter Barwick admired exceedingly 'that incomparable hammer of the schismatics, Peter Gunning,' and his brother John Barwick, the dean of St. Paul's, had so high an opinion of him that he sent for 'Peter Gunning, the best friend of his soul and by far the most learned of theologians,' to prepare him for his end during the last three days of his life; and Gunning preached his funeral sermon. Sir John Reresby refers to him as 'that excellent man, Dr. Gunning' (Travels and Memoirs). Denis Grenville [q. v.], dean of Durham (afterwards a nonjuror), regarded Gunning as 'his first spiritual father,' and tells us how he 'prepared a draught of his whole life by way of confession in order to demand an absolution from Bp. Gunning,' and then records on 9 Nov. 1679, London, his satisfaction at receiving 'the Blessed Sacrament at the hands of good Bp. Gunning in his own chapell.' He had the evening before unburdened his conscience to his 'spiritual guide,' and received 'a solemne absolution on my knees to my great comfort' (Remains).

Pepys combines the views naturally taken of an uncompromising divine. He mentions over and over again 'the excellent sermons' of Gunning at the Exeter House chapel ; but he also records that 'at Cambridge Mr. Pechell, Sanchy, and others tell me how high the old doctors are in the University over those they found there; for which I am very sorry, and, above all, Dr. Gunning.' Gunning succeeded Tuckney (the Platonist) both in the divinity chair and the mastership of St. John's, and allowed him a considerable annuity, 'which act,' says Anthony à Wood, 'of his being excellent and singular is here remembered to his everlasting fame' (Athenæ Oxon.} Wood also tells us that Gunning's 'schismatical and factious adversaries were sorry that they could not possibly fasten the least spot upon him.' He then speaks of his liberality to the poor, to his sees, and to poor vicarages. This last point is confirmed by other testimonies, which specify his benefactions in detail (see inter alia, White Kennet's Case of Impropriations, &c.). It is also touched upon in his funeral sermon by Dr. Gower, his successor in the mastership of St. John's, who mentions what must have been known to his hearers, Gunning's liberality to scholars, his bountiful benefactions in that place, and his gifts to the poor.

Gunning's works are: 1. ‘A Contention for Truth, in two public disputations upon Infant Baptism, between him and Henry Denne [q. v.], in the Church of S. Clement Danes,’ 1658. 2. ‘Schisme Unmaskt, or a late Conference between him and Mr. John Pierson on the one part, and Two Disputants of the Romish persuasion on the other, in 1657, wherein is defined both what Schism is, and to whom it belongs,’ Paris, 1658. 3. ‘Account of the last Conference between Mr. Gunning and Signor Dandulo,’ 1658. 4. ‘A View and Correction of the Common Prayer,’ 1662. 5. ‘The Paschal or Lent Fast, Apostolical and Perpetual. At first delivered in a Sermon [on S. Luke v. 35-8] preached before His Majesty in Lent, and since enlarged. With an Appendix containing an Answer to the Objections of the Pres-