Joseph White

Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford In the Year 1784, at the Lecture

Founded by the Rev. John Bampton, M.A. late Canon of Salisbury.


The Second Edition.


To Which Is Now Added,

A Sermon Preached before the University of Oxford, July 4, 1784,


On the Duty of attempting the Propagation of the Gospel

among our Mahometan and Gentoo Subjects in India


By Joseph White, B.D.

Fellow of Wadham College,

Archbishop Laud's Professor of Arabic, and

One of His Majesty's Preachers at Whitehall



Printed for G. G. J. and J. Robinson, Paternoster-Row,



The Rev. John Bampton, 1690-1751, was a B.A. and M.A. graduate of Trinity College, University of Oxford.  Bampton served as prebendary (i.e., canon) at Salisbury Cathedral, 1718-1751, and through his will (p. 1; p. 2), he established the Bampton Lectureship, one of the most eminent lectureships on Protestant Christian theology.  The Bampton Lectureship consists of eight lecture-sermons.  The University of Oxford describes the Bampton Lectureship as follows:

The University [Oxford] in 1779 accepted a benefaction to establish the Bampton Lecturership, 

the holder of which is required to give eight divinity lecture sermons in Hilary and Trinity Full 

Terms annually (or, since 1910, biennially) in the Church of St Mary's. Although this is not 

specified in the original bequest, the lectures have traditionally been given on Sundays, and 

it is laid down in the present statute that they should be. . . . It is also now expedient to abolish 

the Sarum Lectures, which are considered to have become unnecessary in so far as since 1990 

the Bampton Lecturership has been open to both men and women, and to suitable persons 

unconnected with churches within the Anglican Communion (Oxford University Gazette

20 March 1997, University Agenda).


Since 1952, the Bampton Lectureship fund also supported the Sarum Lectureship in theology at the University of Oxford.  In 1997, the Sarum Lectureship was abolished so that the Bampton Lectureship, and theology at Oxford in general, could receive greater acclaim and exposure.


Joseph White, 1745-1814, a commoner in 1765 when he entered Wadham College, University of Oxford, earned the B.A., M.A., B.D., and D.D. degrees from Wadham College, University of Oxford.  He also took prizes in Hebrew and other subjects, and became an orthodox Anglican minister and scholar. He held the position of Laudian Chair of Arabic after completing his studies in Syriac, Arabic, and Persian, and later in 1804 became the eminent Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford and Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.  White published widely in the areas of textual studies of Near Eastern languages and Greek, including the following:

He also proposed a new edition of the Septuagint based on the Hexaplar-Syriac manuscript discovered in Milan.


In 1784, White delivered the prestigious Bampton Lectureship on a comparison of "Mahometism and Christianity."  In light of his background in Near Eastern languages, he was well prepared for the lectures.  The ten lecture-sermons that he delivered and published  included:


SERMON  I.  Matt.  xi. 19.

Wisdom is justified of her Children.

SERMON  II.  Acts v. 38, 39. If this Counsel, or this Work, be of Men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.
SERMON  III. Acts v. 38, 39. If this Counsel, or this Work, be of Men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it.
SERMON  IV. John vii. 12.

Some said, He is a good Man: other said, Nay, but he deceiveth the People.

SERMON  V. II Cor,. iv. 10. That the Life also of Jesus might be made manifest.
SERMON  VI. I Kings xiii. 18. He said--I am a Prophet also--and an Angel spake to me by the Word of the Lord.  But he lied--
SERMON  VII. John x. 25. Jesus answered--The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me.
SERMON  VIII. Luke xix. 22. Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee.
SERMON  IX. Matt. vii. 16. Ye shall know them by their fruits.
SERMON  X. Mark xvi. 15. Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.


Of particular interest to William Carey enthusiasts, the last lecture-sermon touches directly upon the issue of whether European Christians (i.e. Anglicans) should attempt to convert the natives of India to Christianity.  The sermon's inclusion of the Markan version of Jesus' post-resurrection command to preach to the world predates--by eight years--Carey's 1792  pamphlet An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, in which Carey used the same scriptural text for his argument.



Full-Text Image of the Rev. Joseph White, M.A.

The Bampton Lectureship, 1784


Title Page        Dedication Page        Bampton Will, p. 1        Bampton Will, p. 2


"Sermon X.--Mark xvi. 15.

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."


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White dedicated his lecture-sermons to John Moore.  Dr. Moore (1730-1805) served as Archbishop of Canterbury, 1783-1805, after having ministered in churches at Durham, Christ Church, Oxford, and Bangor.  White dedicated the volume to Moore, since Moore was the reason for White's pursuit of oriental studies at Oxford.  In addition, Moore was a supporter of the Christian missionary enterprise, possibly another reason for White's dedication of the volume to him.






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Created:    March 18, 2002        Updated:    March 26, 2003