1902 Encyclopedia > Vincent Alsop

Vincent Alsop
English Nonconformist divine
(died 1703)




VINCENT ALSOP, a celebrated Nonconformist divine, was educated in St John's College, Cambridge. He received deacon's orders from a bishop, whereupon he settled as assistant-master in the free school of Oakham, Rutland. He was recovered from indifferent associates here by a very worthy minister, the Rev. Benjamin King. Subsequently he married Mr King's daughter, and "becoming a convert to his principles, received ordination in the Presbyterian way, not being satisfied with that which he had from the bishop." He was presented to the living of Wilby in Northamptonshire ; but was thence ejected by the Act of Uniformity in 1662. After his ejection he preached privately at Oakham and Wellingborough, sharing the common pains and penalties of Nonconformists—e.g., he was imprisoned six months for praying with a sick person. A book against Sherlock, called Antisozzo (after Socinus), written in the vein of Andrew Marvell's Rehearsal Transprosed, procured him much celebrity as a wit. Dr Eobert South, who cannot be supposed to have been favourably
disposed towards the Nonconformists, publicly pronounced that Alsop had the advantage of Sherlock in every way. Besides fame, Antisozzo procured for its author an invitation to succeed the venerable Mr Cawton in Westminster. He accepted the call, and drew great multitudes to his chapel. The other books he published showed a fecundity of wit, a playful strength of reasoning, and a provoking indomitableness of raillery. Even with Dr Goodman and Dr Stillingfleet for antagonists, he more than held his own. His Mischief of Impositions in answer to the latter's Mischief of Separation, and Melius Inquirendum in answer to the former's Compassionate Inquiry, remain historical landmarks in the history of Nonconformity. Later on, from the entanglements of a son in alleged treasonable
practices, he had to sue for and obtained pardon from King James II. This seems to have given a somewhat diplomatic character to his closing years, inasmuch as,
while remaining a Nonconformist, he had a good deal to do with proposed political-ecclesiastical compromises. He died May 8, 1703. (A. B. G.)








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