Collinges, John (DNB00)

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COLLINGES, JOHN, D.D. (1623–1690), presbyterian divine, was the son of Edward Collinges, M. A., 'concerning whose faithfulnesse in his ministery,' his son informs us, 'many soules in glory, many in this and the other England, can beare witnesse.' He was born in 1623 at Boxted, Essex, and educated, 'till I was sixteen,' at the neighbouring grammar school of Dedham, where he came under the influence and preaching of the famous John Rogers and his successor, Matthew Newcomen. His father died when he was fifteen, leaving an estate, 'little above 501. a yeare,' to maintain his wife, son, and two daughters; but the son was sent to Cambridge, 'where I lived, though in no heighth, yet in no want, by the favour of my learned tutor.' At Cambridge he studied diligently, but confesses that he fell into ungodly ways, which he had scarcely abandoned when he became, about two-and-twenty, 'a constant preacher,' living in the family of Mr. Isaac Wyncoll of Bures, Essex, whose eldest daughter he married. After two years at Bures he was called to Norwich, at first apparently to St. Saviour's parish; but in 1653 he took the place of Harding, ejected vicar of St. Stephen's, which he held without institution till the Restoration compelled him to resign it. In September 1646, when he came to Norwich, he was invited by Sir John Hobart 'to take my chamber in his house, . . . and to take some oversight of his family as to the things of God.' After Sir John Hobart's death part of the house was converted into a chapel by his widow, and here for sixteen years, till the passing of the act restraining religious meetings, Collinges lectured on weekdays, and repeated his public discourses on Sunday nights. Collinges was a keen controversialist and most prolific writer. In 1651 he published 'Vindiciae Ministerii Evangelici,' which is a vindication of a Gospel ministry against the claim of 'intercommonage' on the part of 'gifted men' not regularly set apart to preach. This was attacked by William Sheppard in 'The People's Priviledges and Duty guarded against the Pulpit and Preachers,' to which Collinges at once replied in 'Responsoria ad Erratica Pastoris.' In 1653 he attacked two pamphlets, one by Edward Fisher, and the other published anonymously by Alan Blane with the title 'Festorum Metropolis,' in which the puritan observance of the Sabbath was criticised, and the better observance of Christmas day insisted upon. Collinges names his reply 'Responsoria ad Erratica Piscatoris,' and has a dedication in heroic verse 'to my dear Saviour.' He denies that the date of Christ's birth can be fixed. In 1654 he attacked the 'Change of Church Discipline' of Theophilus Brabourne [q. v.] in a tract entitled ' Indoctus Doctor Edoctus. Brabourne replied in part ii. of his work, and Collinges rejoined with 'A New Lesson for the Edoctus Doctor,' in which he gives some particulars of his own life (pp. 8-10). In 1655 he published 'Responsoria Bipartita, again discussing church government, and considering the right of the church to suspend the ignorant and the scandalous from the Lord's Supper. In 1658 these controversies are concluded by the publication of 'Vindiciae Ministerii Evangelici revindicate,' against a book 'in the defence of gifted brethren's preaching,' which answered Collinges, and against a book called ' The Preacher sent.' In the preface to this work he enumerates and classifies his controversial tracts. After this Collinges dropped controversy; but his devotional and exegetical writings are even more voluminous. In 1650 appeared 'Five Lessons for a Christian to learn; ' in 1649, 1650, and 1652, parts i. ii. and iii. respectively of 'A Cordial for a Fainting Soule,' containing thirty-six sermons in its first two parts. In 1675 he produced 'The Weaver's Pocket Book, or Weaving spiritualised,' perhaps his most curious work, intended specially for the weavers of Norwich, in imitation of Flavel's 'Navigation and Husbandry spiritualised.' In 1676 he published 'The Intercourses of Divine Love between Christ and His Church,' an exposition of chapter ii. of Solomon's Song, which in 1683 was incorporated with a similar exposition of chapter i., and a metrical paraphrase. In 1678 there appeared 'Several Discourses concerning the actual Providence of God,' containing ninety-eight sermons. This volume, as well as that last mentioned, contains the author's portrait at the age of fifty-five. In 1680 appeared the 'Defensative Armour against four of Satan's most fiery Darts,' and in 1681 a tract on the 'Improveableness of Water Baptism.' In conclusion, two biographical works must be mentioned: 'Faith and Experience,' published in 1647, containing an account of Mary Simpson of St. Gregory's parish, Norwich, and 'Par Nobile,' begun in 1665 on the death of his patron, Lady Frances Hobart, but hindered from publication by the plague and destroyed in 1666 by the fire. It was rewritten and published in 1675, because of certain slanders of the papists, and contains accounts of the lives of Lady Frances Hobart and Lady Katharine Courten, daughters of the Earl of Bridgewater, which suggests the substance of two discourses. Besides all this work and numerous sermons, Collinges wrote the annotations in Poole's Bible on the last six chapters of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentation, the four Evangelists, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians 1 and 2 Timothy, Philemon, and Revelation He was appointed one of the commissioners at the Savoy Conference, and was extremely anxious for an accommodation. He died in January 1690.

[Brit. Mus. Cat.; Blomefield's Norfolk, iv. 149, 445; Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 428. Palmer's Nonconformist's Memorial, iii. 9, gives a list of his works, which are the only source for the facts of his life. Many of the books mentioned above are omitted, but one or two on presbyterianism and nonconformity not noticed above are inserted.]

R. B.