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LIFE, WALK, AND TRIUMPH
REV, W, ROMAINE, A. M.
EREOTYPED BY A. CHANDLER, NEW-YORE
(SUCCESSORS TO LEAVITT, LORD AND CO.)
LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
WILLIAM ROMAINE, an English divine and writer of great popularity, was born at Hartlepool in the county of Durham, Sept. 25, i714. His father, one of the French Protestants, who took refuge in England upon the revocation of the edict of Nantz, resided at Hartlepool as a merchant, and particularly as a dealer in corn. He had two sons and three daughters, whom he educated in the strict doctrines and discipline of the church of England, and lived to see well settled in the world before he left it in 1757. His second son, William, gave indication, at a very early age, of considerable talents, and a laudable eagerness to improve them. This induced his father to send him to the grammar-school, at Houghton-le-Spring, a village in the road from Durham to Sunderland. This school was founded by the celebrated Bernard Gilpin, rector of that parish at the memorable era of the Reformation. At this seminary Mr. Romaine continued seven years, and in 1730 or 1731 was sent to Oxford, where he was entered first at Hertford college, and thence removed to Christ-church. He resided principally at Oxford till he took his degree of master of arts, Oct. 15, 1737, having been ordained a deacon at Hereford, a year before, by Dr. Egerton, bishop of that diocess.
His first engagement was the curacy of Loe Trenchard, near Lidford, in Devonshire. In the year following he appears to have been resident at Epsom, in Surry, from the date of a letter from him, Oct. 4, 1738, to Rev. William Warburton, upon the publication of his Divine Legation of Moses.' In the same year he was ordained a priest by Dr. Hoadly, bishop of Winchester. His title for orders was probably a nomination to the church of Banstead, which he served some years, together with that of Horton, near Epsom, being curate to Mr. Edwards, who had both these livings. At Banstead he became acquainted with Sir Daniel Lambert, lord mayor of London in 1741, who had a country-house in this parish, and appointed Mr. Romaine to be chaplain during his mayoralty.
The first sermon which he printed had been preached before the university at Oxford, March 4, 1739. It was entitled, “The Divine Legation of Moses demonstrated, from his having made express mention of, and insisted so much on, the doctrine of a future state; whereby Mr. Warburton's attempt to prove the Divine Legation of Moses, from the omission of a future state, is proved to be absurd, and destructive of all revelation. This was followed by a second sermon, preached also before the university, entitled, 'Future rewards and punishments proved to be the sanctions of the Mosaic dispensation. These sermons and the letter above mentioned to Mr. Warburton involved him in a personal dispute* with that gentleman; Mr. Romaine in his letter attempted to be witty and sarcastic; Warburton used the same weapons, and could handle them better. The controversy, however, did not last long. Mr. Romaine appeared to more advantage in 1742, in another sermon before the university, entitled, ' Jepthah's Vow fulfilled, and his daughter not sacrificed.'. The ingenuity with wbich he proved this opinion obtained him much credit, and was by many looked upon as a new discovery; which it certainly was not, as the same point was contended for in a
* See an account of it in 'The Works of the Learned,' for August 1739,
sermon printed in the works of Dr. Thornas Taylor, of Aldermanbury, an eminent Puritan divine, who died in 1632. Besides other sermons before the university, he preached one in 1757, entitled, “The Lord our Righteousness;' in consequence of which he was refused any future admission into the university pulpit. He interpreted the articles of the church in the strict Calvanistic sense, which at this time gave great offence.
Mr. Romaine had been engaged in superintending for the press a new edition of Calasio's 'Hebrew Concordance and Lexicon,' in four volumes folio ; a work which employed him seven years, and in 1747 he published the first volume. The original of this work was the concordance of Rabbi Nathan, a Jew, entitled “ Meir Nethib,' published at Venice in 1523, fol. with great faults and defects. A second edition was published at Basil by Froben, much more correct, in 1581, fol. The third edition is this of Ca. lasio, which he swelled into four large volumes, by adding, 1. A Latin translation of Rab. Nathan's explanation of the several roots, with the author's own enlargements. 2. The Rabbinical, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic words, derived from, or agreeing with, the Hebrew root in signification. 3. A literal version of the Hebrew text. 4. The variations of the Vulgate and Septuagint. 5. The proper names of men, rivers, mountains.
Mr. Romaine's work is a very splendid and useful book, improved from that of Calasio ; but in point of usefulness thought greatly inferior to Dr. Taylor's Hebrew Concordance. The Hon. and Rev. Mr. Cadogan, in the life of Mr. Romaine, censures him for having omitted his author's account of the word which is usually rendered God, and having substituted his own in the body of the work; a liberty which no editor is entitled to take, although he may be justified in adding, by way of note, to what his author has advanced.
The theological sentiments of Mr. Romaine were not so common in his early days as they are now, and therefore rendered him more conspicuous. As a clergyman of the church of England he adhered to the most rigid interpretation of the thirty-nine articles. The grand point which he laboured in the pulpit, and in all his writings, was the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ. He was also a zealous disciple of the celebrated Hutchinson, at a time when he had not many followers in this kingdom. From some dissatisfaction, however, or want of success in his ministry, he appears to have formed an intention of leaving England, and settling in the country of his ancestors. He was prevented from executing this design, by what he piously deemed a providential interposition. He had actually made the necessary preparations, and was going to the water-side, in order to secure his passage, when he was met by a gentleman, a total stranger to him, who asked him if his name was not Romaine. He answered that it was. The gentleman had formerly been acquainted with his father, and, observing a strong resemblance to him in his son, was induced to make the inquiry. After some introductory conversation, he told him, that the lectureship of the united parishes of St. George's Botolph-lane and St. Botolph's Billingsgate was then vacant; and that, having some interest in those parishes, he would exert it in his behalf, if he would become a candidate for the lectureship. Mr. Romaine consented, provided he should not be obliged to canvass in person; a custom which he always thought inconsistent with the character of a clergyman, and against which he openly protested many years afterwards, when he was candidate for the living of Blackfriars. He was chosen lecturer of St. Botolph's in 1748, and the year following lecturer of St.
Dunstan's in the West. In the person of his predecessor in the latter (Dr. Terrick,) two lectureships were united : the one founded by Dr. White, for the uso of the benchers of the Temple ; the other a common