Samuel Clarke (1675-1729)
Samuel Clarke (October 11, 1675 – May 17, 1729) was an English philosopher.
The son of Edward Clarke, an alderman who represented the city of Norwich in parliament, was educated at the free school of Norwich and at Caius College, Cambridge. The philosophy of René Descartes was the reigning system at the university; Clarke, however, mastered the new system of Isaac Newton, and contributed greatly to its extension by publishing a Latin version of the Traité de physique of Jacques Rohault (1617(?)-1672) with valuable notes, which he finished before he was twenty-two. The system of Rohault was founded entirely upon Cartesian principles, and was previously known only through the medium of a crude Latin version. Clarke's translation (1697) continued to be used as a text-book in the university till supplanted by the treatises of Newton, which it had been designed to introduce. Four editions were issued, the last and best being that of 1718. It was translated into English in 1723 by his younger brother Dr John Clarke, dean of Sarum.
Clarke afterwards devoted himself to the study of Scripture in the original, and of the primitive Christian writers. Having taken holy orders, he became chaplain to John Moore, bishop of Norwich, who became his friend and patron. In 1699 he published two treatises: Three Practical Essays on Baptism, Confirmation and Repentance and Some Reflections on that part of a book called Amyntor, or a Defence of Milton's Life, which relates to the Writings of the Primitive Fathers, and the Canon of the New Testament. In 1701 he published A Paraphrase upon the Gospel of St Matthew, which was followed, in 1702, by the Paraphrases upon the Gospels of St Mark and St Luke, and soon afterwards by a third volume upon St John. They were subsequently printed together in two volumes and have since passed through several editions. He intended to treat in the same manner the remaining books of the New Testament, but his design was unfulfilled.
In 1706 he wrote a refutation of Dr Henry Dodwell's views on the immortality of the soul, and this drew him into controversy with Anthony Collins. He also translated Newton's Optics, for which the author presented him with £500. In the same year through the influence of Bishop Moore, he obtained the rectory of St Benet's, Paul's Wharf, London. Soon afterwards Queen Anne appointed him one of her chaplains in ordinary, and in 1709 presented him to the rectory of St James's, Westminster. He then took the degree of doctor in divinity, defending as his thesis the two propositions: Nullum fidei Christianae dogma, in Sacris Scripturis traditum, est rectae rationi dissentaneum, and Sine actionum humanarum libertate nulla potest esse religio. During the same year, at the request of the author, he revised William Whiston's English translation of the Apostolical Constitutions.
In 1719 he was presented by Nicholas 1st Baron Lechmere, to the mastership of Wigston's hospital in Leicester. In 1724 he published seventeen sermons, eleven of which had not before been printed. In 1727, on the death of Sir Isaac Newton, he was offered by the court the place of master of the mint, worth on an average from £1200 to £1500 a year. This secular preferment, however, he absolutely refused. In 1728 was published "A Letter from Dr Clarke to Benjamin Hoadly, F.R.S., occasioned by the controversy relating to the Proportion of Velocity and Force in Bodies in Motion," printed in the Philosophical Transactions. In 1729 he published the first twelve books of Homer's Iliad. This edition, dedicated to William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, was highly praised by Bishop Hoadly. On Sunday, the 11th of May 1729, when going out to preach before the judges at Serjeants' Inn, he was seized with a sudden illness, which caused his death on the Saturday following.