Robinson, Benjamin (DNB00)

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ROBINSON, BENJAMIN (1666–1724), presbyterian minister, born at Derby in 1666, was a pupil of Samuel Ogden (1626?–1697) [q. v.], and was educated for the ministry by John Woodhouse [q. v.] at. Sheriffhales, Shropshire. He began life as chaplain and tutor in the family of Sir John Gell at Hopton, Derbyshire, where he made the acquaintance of Richard Baxter. He was subsequently chaplain at Normanton to Samuel Saunders, upon whose death he married and settled as presbyterian minister of Findern, Derbyshire, being ordained on 10 Oct. 1688. In 1693 he opened a school at Findern, and for so doing was cited into the bishop's court. Knowing William Lloyd (1627-1717) [q. v.], then Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, he went to remonstrate with him. Lloyd stayed the prosecution, and discussed nonconformity with Robinson till two o'clock in the morning; they afterwards corresponded. John Howe recommended him to a congregation at Hungerford, Berkshire, to which he removed from Findern in 1693. Here also, in 1696, he set up a school which developed into an academy for training ministers; students sent to him by the presbyterian fund. Gilbert Burnet [q. v.], bishop of Salisbury, being at Hungerford on a visitation, sent for Burnet's friendship. Subsequently he and Edmund Calamy had several interviews with Burnet in 1702, when nonconformist matters were before parliament.

In 1700 he succeeded Woodhouse, his former tutor, as presbyterisn minister at Little St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate Street. Here he enjoyed great popularity as a preacher, having much natural eloquence, and a gift of rapid composition with a strong pen. In 1705 he succeeded George Hammond as one of the Salters' Hall lecturers, and made this his first business when declining health compelled him to limit his work. He was assisted at Little St. Helen's, Bishopsgate Street. Here he enjoyed great popularity as a preacher, having much natural eloquence, and a gift of rapid composition with a strong pen. In 1705 he succeeded George Hammond as one of the Salters' Hall lecturers, and made this his first business when declining health compelled him to limit his work. He was assisted at Little St. Helen's by Harman Hood, and, from 1721, by Edward Godwin, grandfather of William Godwin the elder [q. v.] He was an original trustee (1715) of the foundations of Daniel Williams [q. v.] At the Salters' Hall conferences of 1719 [see Bradbury, Thomas], Robinson was a prominent advocate of subscription, and in the pamphlet war which succeeded he was an able exponent of the scriptural argument for the doctrine of the Trinity. He died on 30 April 1724, and was buried in Bunhill Fields. He left a widow, Anne, and several children. His portrait is at Dr. Williams's Library, Gordon Square, London; an engraving by Hopwood is given in Wilson.

He published, besides single sermons: 1. ‘A Plea for … Mr. Baxter … in answer to Mr. Lobb,’ &c., 1697, 8vo (defends Baxter's view of the Atonement). 2. ‘A Review of the Case of Liturgies,’ &c., 1710, 8vo. 3. ‘A Letter … in defence of the Review,’ &c., 1710, 8vo (both in reply to Thomas Bennet, D.D. [q. v.]) 4. ‘The Question stated, and the Scripture Evidence of the Trinity proposed,’ 1719, 4to, being the second part of ‘The Doctrine of the Ever Blessed Trinity stated and defended … by four subscribing ministers.’

[Funeral Sermon by John Cumming of the Scots Church, London Wall, 1724; Wilson's Dissenting Churches of London, 1808, i. 373 sq. (chiefly from Cumming); Toulmin's Historical View, 1814, pp. 251 sq.; Calamy's Own Life, 1830, i. 466 sq. ii. 413 sq. 483; Jones's Bunhill Memorials, 1849, pp. 236 sq.; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, pp. 13, 34, 109.]

A. G.