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Voice of the wise of old !
And teach proud Science where to vail her brow.
Voice of the meekest man !
Thy words to her be conquering, soothing charms.
Voice of the fearless saint !
Tell them, the hour is come, and they must take their parts.
John Keble, Miscellaneous Poems
(of Richard Hooker).
In the roll of the many distinguished sons who own the Anglican Church as their spiritual mother, and who are her special glory, the name of Richard Hooker holds a place of singular honour. In the line of English theologians, who mingled in the strife and confusion of the sixteenth century, there are not a few names of splendid lustre, the salt of the earth in their day and generation ; but a living writer of eminence has recorded his verdict_“I doubt whether we can owe to any among them much more than to those two who stand close together near the beginning of the series, Hooker and Andrewes.” i
1 Dr. Paget, Bishop of Oxford, The Spirit of Discipline, Lond. 1891. 2nd ed., p. 322.
John Keble, who made a careful and prolonged study of Hooker's character and works, does not hesitate to affirm that “the name of Richard Hooker is probably more universally known and venerated throughout the Church of England, than that of any one besides among her worthies ;” and to speak of him as “one so wise, holy, and venerable.” 1 This estimate is confirmed by Dr. Paget, who says, “ The rare power of Richard Hooker's mind and the enduring value of his work have caused his name to be, perhaps, more widely known than that of any other English theologian.” As we are told by Isaac Walton in his exquisitely written biography of Hooker, King James I., a ripe scholar and a well-read theologian, “did never mention Mr. Hooker, but with the epithet of learned, or judicious, or reverend, or venerable." 3 And Walton adds, “Nor did his son, our late King Charles the First, ever mention him but with the same reverence, enjoining his son,4 our now gracious
1 Of Divine Service, the Sacraments, etc., by Richard Hooker, being selections from the Fifth Book of the Ecclesiastical Polity, Oxford 1845. 2nd ed., Preface, p. iii. On Eucharistical Adoration, Oxford 1867. 3rd ed., p. 124.
2 Paget, Introduction to the Fifth Book of Hooker's Treatise of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, Oxford 1899, p. 1.
3 Walton's Life of Mr. Richard Hooker, in Hooker's Works, 7th ed., Oxford 1888. Vol. I. p. 72.
4 Rather his daughter, the Lady Elizabeth. See Ibid. p. 73, footnote 1.
King (Charles II.), to be studious in Mr. Hooker's books."1 The royal verdict has been confirmed by posterity, and it is not likely to be reversed.
Though chiefly famous as an ecclesiastical writer, possessing a grandeur and a stateliness of style which has raised him to the highest rank amongst writers of English prose, and one who has left an indelible impress upon Anglican theology, there are to be recognized in Hooker's character and life the marks of the saint. His chief personal characteristic, according to his friends, was his genuine humility, or, to use Thomas Fuller's phrase, “his dove-like simplicity.' Isaac Walton describes him when living at Bishopsborne as “an obscure, harmless man ; of a mean stature, and stooping, and yet more lowly in the thoughts of his soul :” and again, he speaks of Hooker's remarkable “meekness, his godly simplicity, and his Christian moderation.”2 Dr. Spencer,
, Hooker's dear friend,' in his preface to the first five Books of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, refers to “the lowly mind of this true humble man, great in all wise men's eyes, except his own, ... whose eyes in the humility of his heart were always cast down to the 1 Walton's Life, in Hooker's Works, Vol. I. pp. 72, 73
2 Ibid. pp. 77, 86.