Joseph Alleine

1634-1668. Nonconformist* divine. Born at Devizes in Wiltshire, he was converted during a spiritual crisis provoked by the death of his eldest brother. He began studies at Lincoln College, Oxford, in 1649, then received a scholarship to Corpus Christi College, where he became tutor and chaplain. Oxford was ruled at the time by John Owen and other Puritans. Alleine preached in the villages around Oxford and at the prison. In 1655 he received Presbyterian ordination and became assistant to George Newton, minister of St. Mary Magdalene, Taunton, where he visited and catechized assiduously. In 1662 he was ejected and subsequently suffered under the Clarendon Code.* In 1663 he was imprisoned at Ilchester for singing psalms in his own house and preaching to his family. He evangelized with John Wesley, grandfather of John and Charles. Alleine was one of the best-known Nonconformist preachers. A lost work, Theologica Philosophica, was esteemed, according to Richard Baxter, for its harmonizing of revelation and natural theology. But Alleine is best remembered for his Alarm to the Unconverted which was published in 1672 after his death and sold 20,000 copies. Republished in 1675 as the Sure Guide to Heaven, it sold a further 50,000. Later debtors to this work included George Whitefield and Charles Spurgeon. He wrote other books, including an explanation of the Westminster Catechism.