Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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CHAUNCY, Charles, educator, born in Yardleybury, Hertfordshire, England, in 1592; died 19 February, 1672. He came of an old English family, was at Westminster school at the time of the gunpowder-plot, and would have perished had it been successful. He was graduated at Cambridge in 1613, became a fellow of his College, and was professor of Hebrew, and afterward of (5reek, there. He left this place to become pastor at Marston-Laurence, Northamptonshire, but in 1627 became vicar of Ware, where his puritanical opinions soon made him obnoxious to his ecclesiastical superiors. In 1629 he was accused of asserting in a sermon that " idolatry was admitted into the church," and that "there was a great increase of atheism, popery, and Arminianism " there. He was required by Bishop Laud to make a submission in Latin ; but whether this order was obeyed or not is uncertain. He was again brought before the high commission court in 1635, charged with opposing the erection of an altar-rail as "a snare to men's consciences." For this he was sentenced to suspension and imprisonment until he should publicly acknowledge his offence, and made to pay the costs of the trial, which were heavy. His courage failing him, he made recantation in open court, a step that he never ceased to regret. He wrote a long "Retractation" in 1637, which was published in London in 1641. He was finally silenced in 1637 for refusing to read Laud's book of "Lawful Sunday Sports," and took refuge in New England, arriving at Plymouth in May, 1638. His peculiar views on baptism and the communion alone prevented his being called there as a pastor, and about 1641 he was settled as minister in Scituate, Massachusetts. Here he remained about twelve years, suffering from inadequate support, when, ecclesiastical affairs in England having undergone a change, he resolved to accept the invitation of his congregation at Ware to resume his pastorate there. He went to Boston to embark for England, but was offered the presidency of Harvard, made vacant by the death of the first president, Dr. Dunster, and accepted, 27 November, 1654. He held this office till his death, and many of his pupils became distinguished men. He was held in high estimation at Cambridge, and Cotton Mather says that when he had been a year or two in the town "the church kept a whole day of thanksgiving to God for the mercy which they had enjoyed in his being there." President Chauncy is supposed to be the ancestor of all in this country that bear his name (spelled either Chauncey or Chauncy). He was a man of great industry and learning, and possessed some skill as a physician. In one of his sermons he speaks of the wearing of long hair as "a heathenish practice," and as "one of the crying sins of the land." he had six sons, all graduates of Harvard. He published numerous sermons, including "Twenty-six Sermons on Justification " (1659), some Latin and Greek verses, and "Antisynodalia Americana," in opposition to the synod of 1662, which sanctioned the admission to the church of all baptized persons, even if they had not professed a "change of heart."--His grandson, Nathaniel, born in Hatfield, Massachusetts, 26 September, 1681 ; died 1 February, 1756, was graduated in 1702 at Yale, of which his uncle, Rev. Israel Chauncy, was one of the founders. He was the first graduate that had not previously taken a degree elsewhere, and the only one in that year. He held various pastorates, became a fellow of Yale, and published several sermons. President Chauncy's great-grandson, Charles, clergyman, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 1 January, 1705; died 10 February, 1787, was graduated at Harvard in 1721, and studied theology. He was ordained pastor of the first church in Boston, as the colleague of Mr. Fox-croft, and remained there till his death. In 1742 he received the degree of D. D. from Edinburgh university. Dr. Chauncy sternly opposed the religious excitement attending the preaching of Whitefield, and combated the proposed establishment of the episcopacy in the colonies. He was an earnest patriot during the revolution, a man of much learning and piety, and an active controversialist. He adopted a studied plainness in his sermons, being averse to all effort of the imagination, and is said to have expressed a wish that some one would translate "Paradise Lost" into prose, so that he could understand it. Among his numerous publications are "Discourse on Enthusiasm" (1742); "Thoughts on the State of Religion in New England" (1743); "Letters to the Rev. George Whitefield" (1744 and 1745); "Dudleian Lecture at Harvard College" (1762); "Thanksgiving Sermon on the Repeal of the Stamp-Act" and "Remarks on the Bishop of Llandaff's Sermon" (1767); "Complete View of Episcopacy" (1771); "The Mystery hid from Ages, or the Salvation of all Men" and " Benevolence of the Deity, Fairly and Impartially Considered" (1784); and" Five Dissertations on the Fall and its Consequences" (1785).
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