Joseph Alleine

 ALLEINE, JOSEPH (1634-1668), English Nonconformist divine, belonged to a family originally settled in Suffolk.  As early as 1430 some of them—sprung of Alan, lord of Buckenhall --settled in the neighbourhood of Calne and Devizes, whence descended the immediate ancestors of “worthy Mr Tobie Alleine of Devizes,” father of Joseph, who, the fourth of a large family, was born at Devizes early in 1634. 1645 is marked in the title-page of a quaint old tractate, by an eyewitness, as the year of his setting forth in the Christian race.  His elder brother Edward had been a clergyman, but in this year died; and Joseph entreated his father that he might be educated to succeed his brother in the ministry.  In April 1649 he entered Lincoln College, Oxford, and on the 3rd of November 1651 he became scholar of Corpus Christi College.  On the 6th of July 1653 he took the degree of B.D., and became a tutor and chaplain of Corpus Christi, preferring this to a fellowship.  In 1654 he had offers of high preferment in the state, which he declined; but in 1655 George Newton, of the great church of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton, sought him for assistant and Alleine accepted the invitation. 

Almost coincident with his ordination as associate pastor came his marriage with Theodosia Alleine, daughter of Richard Alleine.  Friendships among “gentle and simple”—of the former, with Lady Farewell, grand-daughter of the protector Somerset—bear witness to the attraction of Alleine’s private life.  His public life was a model of pastoral devotion.  This is all the more remarkable as he found time to continue his studies, one monument of which was his Theologia Philosophica (a lost MS.), a learned attempt to harmonize revelation and nature, which drew forth the wonder of Baxter.  Alleine was no mere scholar or divine, but a man who associated on equal terms with the founders of the Royal Society.  These scientific studies were, however, kept in subordination to his proper work.  The extent of his influence was, in so young a man, unique, resting on the earnestness and force of his nature.  The year 1662 found senior and junior pastors like-minded, and both were among the two thousand ejected ministers. 

Alleine, with John Wesley (grandfather of the celebrated John Wesley), also ejected, then travelled about, preaching wherever opportunity was found.  For this he was cast into prison, indicted at sessions, bullied and fined.  His Letters from Prison were an earlier Cardiphonia than John Newton’s.  He was released on the 26th of May 1664; and in spite of the Conventicle, or Five Mile Act, he resumed his preaching.  He found himself again in prison, and again and again a sufferer.  His remaining years were full of troubles and persecutions nobly borne, till at last, worn out by them, he died on the 17th of November 1668; and the mourners, remembering their beloved minister’s words while yet with them, “If I should die fifty miles away, let me be buried at Taunton,” found a grave for him in St Mary’s chancel.  No Puritan nonconformist name is so affectionately cherished as is that of Joseph Alleine.  His chief literary work was An Alarm to the Unconverted (1672), otherwise known as The Sure Guide to Heaven, which had an enormous circulation.  His Remains appeared in 1674.

See Life, edited by Baxter; Joseph Alleine: his Companions and Times, by Charles Stanford (1861); Wood’s Athenae, iii. 819; Palmer’s Nonc.  Mem. iii. 208.


Source: 1911 encyclopedia.





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