Project Canterbury

Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology

The Works of the Right Reverend Father in God, John Cosin, Lord Bishop of Durham. Now First Collected.
Volume the Fourth: Miscellaneous Works
Oxford: John Henry Parker.

pp 469-471: Account of Conference between Spalato and Overall

Transcribed by the Revd. Donne E. Puckle, SSC


Excerpt. ex Schedis MSS. D. THOMAE SMITHI.


IN the convocation, 1661, Bishop Cosin presented to the President a book of articles of enquiry to be used in the visitation of every Bishop. This first referred to a Committee.

In the same session the President and Bishop consulted about a public form of consecrating churches and chapels, and which was committed to the sole care of Bishop Cosin.

He had a great part in the conference between the Bishops and Episcopal divines, and the Presbyterian ministers at the Savoy.

E. Schedis MSS. COSINI.

Born in Norwich, 30 Nov. 1595: eldest son of his parents.

At his being thirteen years of age, his father died, and left him several houses, which he gave up to his mother, reserving only £20 yearly for his maintenance at Cambridge.

At fourteen years of age sent to Cambridge, 1610, and admitted scholar in Gonvil and Caius College, 25 March 1610. Eighteen years old, in the year 1614, Bachelor of Arts.

About two years after, (1616,) invited by Bishop Andrewes, (then of Ely,) and Bishop Overall, (Bishop of Lichfield), to come to London, to take care of their libraries. By the persuasion of his tutor he chose to live with Bishop Overall, then Bishop of Lichfield, who gave him not only the keeping of his library, but made him his secretary, and committed to him the care of his episcopal seal.

The divines sent to the synod of Dort, nominated and selected by George Abbot, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Dudley Carleton, then Secretary of State, both zealous followers and maintainers of the doctrine of Calvin in the points of predestination and reprobation.

Four scholarships in Caius College appropriated to the city of Norwich, into one of which he was chosen.

By keeping Bishop Overall's library, he began to learn, "quanta pars eruditionis erat bonos nosse auctores:" (which was the saying of Joseph Scaliger:) in the knowledge of which he would instruct him.

A. Spalato came into England in 1616, being desirous to live under the protection of King James, having before been recommended by Padre Paolo. By King James's bounty and care he was safely conveyed through Germany into England, and lodged in Lambeth Palace: Abbot thinking fit to retire to Croydon, till either Bishop Andrewes or Bishop Overall had conferred with him.

The king sent Bishop Overall to him, who took in his company his secretary, and commanded him to be near him the same morning Spalato arrived, to hear what passed between them.

After dinner, some other being present, the discourse began about the state of the Church of England; of which Overall having given a large account, Spalato received great satisfaction, and made his protestation, that he came into England then to live with us in the union and profession of that Catholic religion, which was so much obstructed in his own country, that he could not with safety and peace of conscience live there any longer. Then he added what satisfaction he had received from the monitory preface of King James to all the Estates and Churches of Christendom; wherein the true ancient Faith and Religion of the Catholic Church is set forth, and no heterodoxies or novelties maintained; to the defence of which Faith, and service of which Church, as he had already a long time applied his studies, and wrote ten books De Republica Ecclesiastica, so, by the favour of God, and King James, he was now come into England to review and publish them, together with the History of the Council of Trent, which he had brought with him from Padre Paolo of Venice, who delivered it into his hands; by whom he was chiefly persuaded and encouraged to have recourse to the King and the Church of England, being the best founded for the profession of true Catholic doctrine, and the freest from error and novelties of any Church in all places besides.

Then they descended to the particular points of doctrine, and abusive practices, &c.; in all which the Archbishop agreed with the Bishop, and said, that they were all, either the fond opinions and bold practices of private men, or the ungrounded conceits and conclusions of the schoolmen, or the papal decrees of Innocent III., Eugenius IV., and other Popes who succeeded them, but no determinations or decrees of the Catholic Church.

He wrote a compendious history of his own life in English, to which he put this Latin title: Vitae meae ab initio, i.e. ab anno 1595, usque ad praesentem annum 1665, brevis enarratio; of which I have seen a small fragment: the rest lost. The English title in another paper is this: "A brief and true enarration of the whole course of my life, set forth in the annals thereof from the year 1595 to this [present year 16—."

He wrote also Selecta Bibliotheca Historicorum, tam Ecclesiasticorum, quam Secularium, now in the hands of Mr. H———.

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