Thomas Sherlock

Thomas Sherlock

Thomas Sherlock (1678 – 18 July 1761) was an English divine who served as a Church of England bishop for 33 years. He is also noted in church history as an important contributor to Christian apologetics.

Early life

He was the son of William Sherlock and was born in London. He was educated at Eton and at St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and in 1704 succeeded his father as master of the Temple, where he was very popular.


In 1714 he became master of his old college at Cambridge and vice-chancellor of the university, whose privileges he defended against Richard Bentley. In 1715, he was appointed dean of Chichester.

He took a prominent part in the Bangorian controversy against Benjamin Hoadly, whom he succeeded as bishop of Bangor in 1728; he was afterwards translated to Salisbury in 1734, and to London in 1748. Sherlock was a capable administrator, and cultivated friendly relations with dissenters. In parliament he was of good service to his old schoolfellow Robert Walpole.


He published against Anthony Collins's deistic "Grounds of the Christian Religion" a volume of sermons entitled "The Use and Interest of Prophecy in the Several Ages of the World" (1725); and in reply to Thomas Woolston's "Discourses on the Miracles" he wrote a volume entitled "The Tryal of the Witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus" (1729), which soon ran through fourteen editions. His "Pastoral Letter" (1750) on the late earthquakes had a circulation of many thousands, and four or five volumes of "Sermons" which he published in his later years (1754-1758) were also at one time highly esteemed.

A collected edition of his works, with a memoir, in 5 vols. 8vo, by JS Hughes, appeared in 1830.

Sherlock's "Tryal of the Witnesses" is generally understood by scholars such as Edward Carpenter, Colin Brown and William Lane Craig, to be a work that the Scottish philosopher David Hume probably had read and to which Hume offered a counter viewpoint in his empiricist arguments against the possibility of miracles.


Since the Deist controversy Sherlock's argument for the evidences of the resurrection of Jesus Christ has continued to interest later Christian apologists such as William Lane Craig and John Warwick Montgomery. His place in the history of apologetics has been classified by Ross Clifford as belonging to the legal or juridical school of Christian apologetics.

Later life

He died in 1761, and is buried in the churchyard of All Saints Church, Fulham, London.



External links

*gutenberg author| id=Thomas+Sherlock | name=Thomas Sherlock


* Colin Brown, "Miracles and the Critical Mind", (Exeter: Paternoster/Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1984). ISBN 0-8028-3590-2
* Edward Carpenter, "Thomas Sherlock 1678-1761", (London: SPCK, 1936).
* Ross Clifford, "John Warwick Montgomery's Legal Apologetic: An Apologetic for All Seasons", (Bonn: Verlag fur kultur und Wissenschaft, 2004). ISBN 3938116005
* William Lane Craig, "The Historical Argument for the Rsurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy", (Lewiston & Queenston: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985). ISBN 0-88946-811-7

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