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James Blair


BLAIR, JAMES, an eminent divine, was reared for the Episcopal church of Scotland, at the time when it was struggling with the popular dislike in the reign of Charles II. Discouraged by the equivocal situation of that establishment in Scotland, he voluntarily abandoned his preferments, and removed to England, where he was patronized by Compton, Bishop of London. By this prelate he was prevailed upon to go as a missionary to Virginia, in 1685, and, having given the greatest satisfaction by his zeal in the propagation of religion, he was, in 1689, preferred to the office of commissary to the bishop, which was the highest ecclesiastical dignity in that province. His exertions were by no means confined to his ordinary duties. Observing the disadvantage under which the province laboured through the want of seminaries for the education of a native clergy, he set about, and finally was able to accomplish the honourable work of founding the college of Williamsburgh, which was afterwards, by his personal intervention, endowed by king William III., with a patent, under the title of the William and Mary College. He died in 1743, after having been president of this institution for about fifty, and a minister of the gospel for above sixty years. He had also enjoyed the office of president of the council of Virginia. In the year before his death, he had published at London, his great work, entitled, "Our Saviourís Divine Sermon on the Mount Explained, and the practice of it Recommended, in divers sermons and discourses," 4 vols. 8 vo., which is styled by Dr Waterland, the editor of a second edition, a "valuable treasure of sound divinity and practical Christianity."

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