Samuel Clarke, D. D., an English clergyman, born at Norwich, Oct. 11, 1675, died May 17, 1729. He was educated at Cambridge, at a time when the philosophy of Descartes was still in vogue, and Clarke mastered it and also the new system of Newton. With a view of bringing the old system into disrepute, he translated and published before his 22d year Rohault on "Physics," with notes, in which Newton's more splendid ideas were inserted. His translation was used until the university had acquired confidence in Newton's system. He afterward turned his attention to divinity, and became chaplain to Dr. More, bishop of Norwich. In 1699 he published some theological treatises of a practical nature, and afterward paraphrases of the four Gospels, which have often been printed. In 1704 he was appointed to deliver the Boyle lecture at Oxford, and selected as his subject "The Being and Attributes of God;" and on being reappointed the next year he took " The Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion." These lectures were published and passed through several editions, giving rise to much controversy.
About 1706 he translated into English Newton's "Optics," and was rewarded by the great mathematician with a present of £500. Queen Anne made him one of her chaplains and rector of St. James's, "Westminster. At his taking the degree of D. D. he defended these two propositions: 1. No article of the Christian faith delivered in the Holy Scriptures is contrary to right reason; 2. Without liberty of human action there can be no religion. In 1712 he published his celebrated treatise "On the Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity." The book was censured by the lower house of convocation, and Clarke made some explanations, which seem to have given the bishops more satisfaction than the inferior clergy. In 1715 he began a friendly controversy on free will with Leibnitz, who died before it was concluded. ' The papers written on each side were printed in 1717, in English and French. On the death of Sir Isaac Newton the ministry offered him the place of master of the mint, but he declined the office as unsuitable to his ecclesiastical character. In 1712 he published Caesar's Commentaries with notes, and in 1729 12 books of the Iliad, with learned notes and a Latin translation.