||This eminent Presbyterian, who at length, "mitre and crosier dancing in his eyes," overcame his scruples against diocesan episcopacy,
is thus described by Sir Thomas Browne: "My honoured friend,
Bishop Edward Reynolds, was a person much of the temper of his predecessor, Dr. Joseph Hall, of singular affability, meekness, and humility;
of great learning, a frequent preacher, and constant resident." Repertorium, (1723,) p. 20.
Wood admits Dr. Reynolds to have been "a person of excellent parts
and endowments, of a very good wit, fancy, and judgment, a great divine, and much esteemed by all parties for his preaching and florid style,"
though "of an hoarse voice." Yet, with his usually "great plainness of
speech," the Oxford biographer thus exposes the versatility of this timely
"In 1642, he sided with the Presbyterian party, and became one of
the Assembly of Divines, a Covenanter, and a preacher before the Long
Parliament. In 1646, he was appointed one of the six ministers to settle
in Oxford, to preach the scholars into obedience to the said Parliament;
afterwards, one of the visitors to break open, turn out, and take possession, as Dean of Christ Church, in the place of Dr. Samuel Fell, ejected,
and Vice-Chancellor of the University. Being forced to leave his
Deanery, in 1650, because he refused to take the independent engagement, [see vol. ii. p. 279, note
*,] he retired to his former cure of Braynton in Northamptonshire. Afterwards, he lived mostly in London;
preached there, and flattered Oliver and his gang; and after his death
he did the like to Richard, and was the orator or mouth of the London
ministers, to welcome that mushroom Prince to his throne, 11th October,
1658. Also, when hopes depended on Monk's proceedings from Scotland, he struck in with him, and who more ready than Dr. Reynolds
and other Presbyterians,—[see vol. ii. p. 320,373, notes
*,] when he and
they saw how tilings would terminate, and could not be otherwise
holpen,—to bring in the King after his long exile, by using his interest in
the city of London, where he was the pride and glory of the Presbyterian party.
"Soon after the Restauration, upon the feeling of his pulse, the King
bestowed upon him the bishoprick of Norwich; which see he willingly
taking without a nolo, was, after he had taken the covenant, and had
often preached against Episcopacy and the ceremonies of the Church of
England, consecrated thereunto, on the 6th of January, anno 1660–1.
By virtue of which bishoprick he became an Abbot, (a strange preferment, methinks, for a Presbyterian,) of St. Bennet in the Holme, which
he kept (with great regret-to his quondam brethren, whom he then left
to shift for themselves,) to his dying day," in 1676.
Wood adds, though I trust the imputation is unjust, "It was verily
thought by his contemporaries, that he would have never been given to
change, had it not been to please a covetous and politic consort, who put
him upon those things he did." Athen. Oxon. (1692), ii. 420, 421.
The King is described by Wood as advancing Dr. Reynolds to the
mitre "upon the feeling of his pulse." In another place, this indefatigable detailer of anecdotes has shown the "Supreme Head over all
causes ecclesiastical," either jesting with his high prerogative, of awful
responsibility, or applying it to political purposes, with equal facility.
"1677. Nov. 26. Divers would be asking the King who should be
Archbishop; who, to put off and stop their mouths, he would tell them,
Tom Baillies. He is a drunken lecherous justice of peace for Westminster.
"Dec. 29. Congés d'elire [see vol. ii. p. 465, note
†,] went to Canterbury to elect Dr. Sandcroft Archbishop of Canterbury, set up by the
Duke of York against London, [Dr. Compton,] and York put on by the
papists. York doth not care for London, because he showed himself an
enemy to the papists at the Council Board." See "The Life of Mr. Anthony a Wood," (1772,) p. 271.