George Rust

(c. 1628—1670) Church of Ireland bishop of Dromore

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George Rust was born in Cambridge and died in December 1670 of a fever. He was a graduate of St Catharine's Hall, Cambridge (BA 1647) and in 1649 was elected Fellow of Christ's College. In 1660 he left for Ireland, where he was made Dean of Connor, and, after the death of Jeremy Taylor, Bishop of Dromore. A friend of Henry More, Rust shared the Cambridge Platonists' theological liberalism as well as their emphasis on the importance of reason in religious matters. He also shared More's aim of defending religion from atheism on the one hand and misplaced ‘enthusiasm’ on the other. Rust's few publications reflect these priorities: A Discourse of Truth (1677) and A Discourse of the Use of Reason in Matters of Religion (1683). The former was reprinted along with Joseph Glanvill's Lux orientalis by Henry More, who supplied annotations to both, publishing them with the title Two Choice and Useful Treatises (1682). The anonymously published Letter of Resolution Concerning Origen (1661) has been attributed to him, though neither he nor his close friends acknowledged it as his. If the attribution is correct, it would mean he was very close to More theologically, since the book defends the heterodox doctrine of the pre-existence of souls, a doctrine dear to More's heart. Rust's A Discourse is reminiscent of Cudworth's Eternal and Immutable Morality, in as much as Rust denies that goodness is founded in the will of God. Instead he argues that the divine will is regulated by the divine understanding. Were this not the case, there would be no stability of relations and ‘respects’ of things, and the result would be scepticism, immorality and a mockery of divine Providence. Rust's conception of ‘truth in the subject’, as a correspondence between ideas and their objects, echoes Lord Herbert of Cherbury. He held the Platonist view that the truth of things was derivative from the divine understanding. His conception of an ‘intellectual world’ of unchanging, eternal ideas, the principles of goodness, love, right and wrong is a summary analogue of Cudworth's epistemology.

From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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