Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Sharp, John (1572?-1648?)

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609180Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 51 — Sharp, John (1572?-1648?)1897Edward Irving Carlyle

SHARP, JOHN (1572?–1648?), Scottish theologian, was born about 1572. He studied at the university of St. Andrews, and received the degree of M.A. in 1592. In 1601 he became minister of Kilmany in Fife, a parish in the gift of St. Salvator's College, St. Andrews. He was appointed clerk to the assembly which met at Aberdeen on 2 July 1605 in opposition to the commands of James VI, who was taking decisive steps to repress the independence of the Scottish church (Scottish P. C. Reg. 1604–7, p. 472). In consequence Sharp and those present at the assembly were ordered to appear before the privy council on 24 Oct. When they presented themselves they declared the authority of the privy council incompetent to judge a purely ecclesiastical question. For this conduct Sharp and five other ministers were confined in Blackness Castle and served with an indictment to stand their trial for high treason before the court of justiciary at Linlithgow. There they were found guilty in January 1606, and on 23 Oct. banished for life (ib. pp. 83–5, 101–5, 112, 123–5, 134, 199; Calderwood, Hist. of the Kirk, vi. 292–332). Sharp went to France, where in 1608 he was appointed professor of theology in the college of Die in Dauphiné. In 1618 Archbishop Spotiswood asserted that Sharp had written to him beseeching him to obtain his recall and promising submission. This statement was vehemently denied by Sharp's friends, and the letter itself was never produced. There is no doubt, however, that he would have welcomed a reconciliation on honourable terms, and he dedicated his ‘Cursus Theologicus’ to King James in the same year. In 1630 Cardinal Richelieu ordered him to leave France, where he had acquired considerable renown as a protestant theologian, and he came over to London. In the same year he became professor of divinity in the university of Edinburgh, and died about 1648, when Alexander Colvill succeeded him.

He published:

  1. ‘Tractatus de Justificatione hominis coram Deo,’ Geneva, 1609 and 1612, 8vo.
  2. ‘Tractatus de misero hominis statu sub peccato,’ Geneva, 1610, 8vo.
  3. ‘Cursus Theologicus,’ Geneva, 1618, 4to; Geneva, 1622, 4to.
  4. ‘Symphonia Prophetarum et Apostolorum,’ Geneva, 1625 and 1639, 4to.

[Scott's Fasti Eccl. Scot. II. ii. 497; M'Crie's Life of Melville, 1st ed. ii. 253; Young's Life of Welsh, p. 169; Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, ii. 494.]

E. I. C.