Joseph Alleine


Alleine, Joseph

(1634-1668)
Puritan preacher and writer, Alleine is representative of the many who came up through the state church system in England and later defected from it. His experience also points up the fact that generally during early modern times in Western Christendom state churches were maintained, and dissenters from them were not dealt with kindly.
Alleine was born in Deviges, Wiltshire. His “being born again” occurred in 1645 when his eldest brother, Edward, a minister, died at the age of twenty-seven. He begged his father to be educated to succeed his brother in the ministry, and in 1649 entered Lincoln College, Oxford. Two years later he gained a scholarship at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and graduated in 1653. At the university he came under the influence of John Owen and other outstanding Puritans. Resisting numerous opportunities to serve in state offices, he accepted the invitation to be assistant to George Newton, the outstanding minister of St. Mary Magdalene in Taunton, in 1654.
In 1662 both the senior and junior ministers at Taunton along with two thousand others were ejected from the established church under the Clarendon Code, which sought to remove from the ministry and government all who did not subscribe to the liturgy and doctrines of the Church of England. Alleine and John Wesley, grandfather of John and Charles, carried on an itinerant evangelistic ministry. For this he was fined and cast into prison (May 26, 1663) and treated with great indignity. After a year in jail he was released and more zealously propagated the gospel. When he was imprisoned again for sixty days in 1665, his confinement aggravated a developing disorder and he died November 16, 1668.
Alleine is said to rank with Richard Baxter as the most affectionately cherished of all Puritans. He is best known for his Alarm to the Unconverted, which sold 20,000 copies on its appearance in 1672; three years later it sold 50,000 when it was republished as Sure Guide to Heaven. Often reprinted, it influenced George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon. Also a thoughtful scientific experimentalist and observer, Alleine wrote Theologia Philosophica (now lost) and other works.
H. F. Vos

This Biographical Sketch comes from…

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)
Author: Elwell, Walter A.
Publisher: Baker Book House | Publication Date: 1997, c1984.

Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Biographical Entries)
– Walter A. Elwell, editor. The biographical articles from this classic
reference work are included in electronic form. They include
individuals from all eras of history and from many countries. Entries
are arranged alphabetically, from Peter Abelard to Ulrich Zwingli. Many
entries include bibliographical references and focus on the
individual’s theological dimension. More than two hundred contributors
represent a variety of diverse evangelical persuasions and national
backgrounds.
(ISBN 0-8010-0241-9)

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