Gibbon, Nicholas (1605-1697) (DNB00)

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GIBBON, NICHOLAS, the younger (1605–1697), divine, son of Nicholas Gibbon of Heckford, Dorsetshire [see preceding art.], was born at Poole in 1605. He was admitted into Queen's College, Oxford, in 1622, but soon afterwards migrated to St. Edmund Hall. He took the degrees of B.A. in 1626, M.A. in 1629, B.D. and D.D. in 1639. In 1632 he became rector of Sevenoaks. Charles I, when at Carisbrooke Castle in 1647, sent for him in order to consult him on questions of church government. He was ejected from Sevenoaks in 1650 or earlier, and had to work as a farm labourer in order to support himself and his eleven children. While thus engaged he was brought before the committee in Kent, and asked how he spent his time. He answered that he studied during part of the night, and performed manual labour by day, and showed his hardened hands, remarking to some who scoffed, ‘Mallem callum in manu quam in conscientiâ.’ He was then offered possession of his living if he would take the covenant, and he refused to do so. At the Restoration he regained the rectory of Sevenoaks, and was also put in possession of the rectory of Corfe Castle, to which he had been presented more than ten years before. He died at Corfe Castle on 12 Feb. 1697.

His writings were: 1. ‘The Tender of Dr. Gibbon unto the Christian Church for the Reconciliation of Differences,’ s. sh. fol. 1640 (?). 2. ‘The Reconciler, earnestly endeavouring to unite in sincere affection the Presbyters and their dissenting brethren of all sorts,’ 1646. 3. ‘A Paper delivered to the Commissioners of the Parliament (as they call themselves) at the personal Treaty with his Majesty King Charles I in the Isle of Wight, anno 1648.’ 4. ‘A Summe or Body of Divinity Real,’ 1653. This is a large diagram in which the attempt is made to illustrate the connection between the various truths of religion by means of lines, semicircles, and similar devices. 5. ‘Theology Real and truly Scientificall; in overture for the conciliation of all Christians, and (after them) the Theist, Atheist, and all Mankind into the Unity of the Spirit and the Bond of Peace,’ 1663. 6. ‘The Scheme or Diagramme adjusted for future use in a larger Prodromus ere long to be published, and whereof this is then to be a part: at present printed for private hands.’ This is a key to the ‘Summe or Body.’ Baxter, to whom he showed one of his schemes of divinity, denounces it as ‘the contrivance of a very strong headpiece, secretly and cunningly fitted to usher in a Socinian Popery,’ and describes its author as an impostor (Reliquiæ Baxterianæ, pt. i. p. 78, pt. ii. p. 205, pt. iii. p. 69).

[Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses, iv. 787–9; Fasti, i. 422, 451, 508, 510; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, pt. ii. pp. 251, 252; Hutchins's Dorset (3rd ed.), i. 539, 542, 543; Hasted's Kent, i. 358; Bodleian Library and Brit. Mus. Catalogues of Printed Books.]

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