Everard, John (1575?-1650?) (DNB00)

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EVERARD, JOHN, D.D.(1575?–1650?), divine and mystic, was probably born about 1575. He was educated at Clare College, Cambridge, where he proceeded to the two degrees in arts in 1600 and 1607 respectively, and to that of D.D. in 1610. His younger days, he is said to have confessed, were days of ignorance and vanity, when he walked as other gentiles and as men living without God in the world (preface to Gospel Treasures opened). But he became ashamed of his former knowledge, expressions, and preachings, although he was known to be a very great scholar and as good a philosopher, few or none exceeding him (ib.) Some time before 1618 he became reader at St Martin's-in-the-Fields, London, for in January of that year he was censured by the Bishop of London, and compelled to publicly apologise to the lord mayor and aldermen for slandering them in a sermon. In 1616, too, he published 'The Arriereban,' a sermon which he had preached to the company of the military yard at St. Andrews, Holborn and which he dedicated to Francis Bacon, lord Verulam. In March 1621 Everard was imprisoned in the Gatehouse for preaching indirectly against the Spanish marriage, by inveighing against the Spanish cruelties in the Indies. He was still in prison in September, when he petitioned the king to release him, promising not to repeat his offence. He failed, however, to keep his promise, and again suffered imprisonment, in August 1622 and at later dates, for the same cause. Each time some lord or other begged his pardon of the king, and as often as Everard regained his liberty he again took up his teit on the unlawfulness of matching with idolaters. The frequency of the appeals for the royal pardon attracted the attention of James I, who is reported to have said. 'What is this Dr. Everard? his name shall be Dr. Never-out.' Everard's great powers of preaching drew large congregations, and when, being appointed chaplain to Lord Holland (Prynne, Hidden Works of Darkness, p. 207), he left St. Martin's for Kensington, his audiences were fashionable and aristocratic, though he professed that his sermons were designed for the poor cobblers and the like who came there to hear him. In 1636 Everard, who had then apparently a living at Fairstead, Essex, was charged before the high commission court with heresy, being accused indifferently of familism, antinomianism, and anabaptism. After being kept some months waiting for his trial he was dismissed, but was soon again prosecuted, when Laud 'threatened to bring him to a morsel of bread because he could not make him stoop or how before him' (preface to Gospel Treasures). It may have been on this occasion that he was deprived of his benefice, worth 400l. a year. In July 1639 he was fined 1,000l., but in the following June, when he read his submission on his knees in court, he was released from his suspension and his bonds were cancelled. His alleged heresy, however, continued to get him into trouble, and he was again waiting his trial when he fell sick. 'He lived to see Strafford and Canterbury put under the black rod, and was gathered to his fathers' (ib.) The date of his death was probably in or shortly before 1650, in which year was published 'The Divine Pymunder of Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus translated out of the original into English by that learned divine, Dr. Everard.' This was the first English version of the 'Pœmander,' and to a second edition published in 1657 was added a translation of Hermes's 'Asclepius.' Everard's translation was republished in 1884 under the editorship of Mr. Hargrave Jennings. Such of Everard's sermons as escaped confiscation by the bishops were issued in 1653 under the title 'Some Gospel Treasures opened; or the Holiest of all unvailing; Discovering yet more the Riches of Grace and Glory to the Vessels of Mercy, in several Sermons preached at, Kensington and elsewhere by John Everard, D.D., deceased: whereunto is added the mystical divinity of Dionysius the Areopagite spoken of, Acts xvii. 34, with collections out of other divine authors, translated by Dr. Everard, never before printed in English,’ London, 8vo, 2 pts. The volumes are dedicated to Oliver Cromwell, and bear the imprimatur of Joseph Caryl. A second edition, called ‘The Gospel Treasury opened,’ but otherwise not differing from the first, was issued in 1659; in 1757 the sermons were reprinted at Germantown, U.S.A., and one of them, ‘Christ the True Salt of the Earth,’ was reprinted in England in 1800. From these sermons, which are excellent as compositions, it would appear that in his unregenerate days Everard was a neoplatonist, and remained a disciple of Tauler. A strong flavour of mysticism distinguishes them, and the author quotes from Plato, Plotinus, and Proclus, as well as from many of the early christian writers. Another small work by Everard, ‘A Parable of Two Drops reasoning together,’ was republished in 1865 by G. E. Roberts of Kidderminster. In the university library at Cambridge are preserved three manuscripts by Everard, two of which are printed in the ‘collections’ appended to ‘Some Gospel Treasures opened.’

[The main but meagre authority for Everard's life is the address ‘to the reader,’ prefixed by Rapha Harford to ‘Some Gospel Treasures opened.’ There are many references to him, for the most part unimportant, in the Calendars of State Papers recording the proceedings of the court of high commission. See also Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. iv. 366, v. 168, vii. 457, 4th ser. i. 597; Gardiner's Hist. of Engl., iv. 118, 346.]

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