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Gale, Theophilus

GALE, THEOPHILUS (1628-1678), English nonconformist divine, was born in 1628 at Kingsteignton, in Devonshire, where his father was vicar. In 1647 he was entered at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he took his B.A. degree in 1649, and M.A. in 1652. In 1650 he was made fellow and tutor of his college. He remained some years at Oxford, discharging actively the duties of tutor, and was in 1657 appointed as preacher in Winchester cathedral. In 1662 he refused to submit to the Act of Uniformity, and was ejected. He became tutor to the sons of Lord Wharton, whom he accompanied to the Protestant college of Caen, in Normandy, returning to England in 1665. The latter portion of his life he passed in London as assistant to John Rowe, an Independent minister who had charge of an important church in Holborn; Gale succeeded Rowe in 1677, and died in the following year. His principal work, The Court of the Gentiles, which appeared in parts in 1669, 1671 and 1676, is a strange storehouse of miscellaneous philosophical learning. It resembles the Intellectual System of Ralph Cudworth, though much inferior to that work both in general construction and in fundamental idea. Gale's endeavour (based on a hint of Grotius in De veritate, i. 16) is to prove that the whole philosophy of the Gentiles is a distorted or mangled reproduction of Biblical truths. Just as Cudworth referred the Democritean doctrine of atoms to Moses as the original author, so Gale tries to show that the various systems of Greek thought may be traced back to Biblical sources. Like so many of the learned works of the 17th century, the Court of the Gentiles is chaotic and unsystematic, while its erudition is rendered almost valueless by the complete absence of any critical discrimination.

His other writings are: A True Idea of Jansenism (1669); Theophil, or a Discourse of the Saint's Amitie with God in Christ (1671); Anatomie of Infidelitie (1672); Idea theologiae (1673); Philosophia generalis (1676).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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