Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Rule, Gilbert

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RULE, GILBERT, M.D. (1629?–1701), principal of Edinburgh University, was born about 1629, probably in Edinburgh, where his brother Archibald was a merchant and magistrate. He was educated at Glasgow University, where he gained repute as a regent, and in 1651 he was promoted to be sub-principal of King's College, Aberdeen. About 1656 he became perpetual curate of Alnwick, Northumberland. At the Restoration Major Orde, one of the churchwardens, provided a prayer-book. Rule, however, preached against its use, whereupon Orde indicted him (August 1660) at the Newcastle assizes for depraving the common prayer. Before the trial Orde lost his life by a fall from his horse at Ovingham, Northumberland, and, in the absence of a prosecutor, Rule was acquitted. Ejected from Alnwick by the Uniformity Act (1662), Rule returned to Scotland, and thence by way of France made his way to Holland, where he studied medicine, and graduated M.D. at Leyden in 1665. He practised with great success at Berwick, preaching at the same time in conventicles, often at much peril. At Linton Bridge, near Prestonkirk, Haddingtonshire, Charles Hamilton, fifth earl of Haddington (1650–1685), fitted up for him a meeting-house, which was indulged by the privy council on 18 Dec. 1679. Next year, while visiting his niece, Mrs. Kennedy, in Edinburgh, he baptised her child in St. Giles's Church, after preaching a weekday lecture there, on the invitation of the minister, Archibald Turner. For this offence Rule was brought before the privy council, and imprisoned more than twelve months on the Bass Rock. His health failed, and he was at length discharged, under a bond of five thousand merks to quit the kingdom within eight days. He repaired to Ireland, where for about five years (1682–1687) he acted as colleague to Daniel Williams [q. v.] at Wood Street, Dublin.

Returning to Scotland, he received a call on 7 Dec. 1688 to the ministry of Greyfriars church, Edinburgh; this was confirmed by the town council on 24 July 1689. Rule in the meantime had been in London, to forward the presbyterian interest, and had gained the special notice of William III. In 1690 he was appointed by the privy council one of the commissioners for purging Edinburgh University, and on the expulsion, in September 1690, of the principal, Alexander Monro (d. 1715?) [q. v.], Rule, while retaining his ministerial charge, was made principal by the town council. He distinguished himself by writings in defence of the presbyterian polity against Monro and John Sage [q. v.] He sat late at his studies while his friend, George Campbell (d. 1701), professor of divinity, rose early; hence they were known as the ‘evening star’ and the ‘morning star.’ Rule died on 7 June 1701, at the age of seventy-two. He married Janet Turnbull, and had issue, Gilbert, a physician; Andrew, an advocate (d. December 1708); and Alexander, professor of Hebrew from 1694 to 1702 in Edinburgh University.

He published, besides two single sermons (1690 and 1701): 1. ‘Disputatio … de Rachitide,’ &c., Leyden, 1665, 4to. 2. ‘A Rational Defence of Non-Conformity,’ &c., 1689, 4to. 3. ‘A Second Vindication of the Church of Scotland … Answer to Five Pamphlets,’ &c. [1691], 4to. (This and the foregoing are roughly handled in ‘The Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence,’ &c., 1692, 4to.) 4. ‘The Good Old Way defended against … A. M. D.D.,’ &c., Edinburgh, 1697, 4to. He was one of those who prefaced ‘A Plain and Easy Explication of the … Shorter Catechism,’ &c., 1697, 12mo. A broadsheet ‘Elegie’ on his death was published, Edinburgh, 1701.

[Hew Scott's Fasti Eccles. Scoticanæ; Calamy's Account, 1713, pp. 514 seq.; Calamy's Continuation, 1727, ii. 676 seq.; Wodrow's Hist. of the Kirk (Laing), 1842, iii. 194 seq.; Armstrong's App. to Martineau's Ordination, 1829, p. 69; Grant's Hist. of the University of Edinburgh, 1884, i. 239, ii. 256 seq. 288.]

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