Alleine belonged to a family that had originally settled in Suffolk. As early as 1430 some of the descendants of Alan, Lord of Buckenhall settled in the neighbourhood of Calne and Devizes. These were the immediate ancestors of "worthy Mr Tobie Alleine of Devizes", father of Joseph, who was the fourth of a large family, born at Devizes early in 1634. 1645 is marked in the title-page of a quaint old tractate, by an eye-witness, as the year of his setting forth in the Christian race. His elder brother Edward, who was a clergyman, died in that year; and Joseph entreated his father that he might be educated to succeed his brother in the ministry.
In April 1649 he entered Lincoln College, Oxford, and on 3 November 1651, he became scholar of Corpus Christi College. On 6 July 1653, he took the degree of Bachelor of Divinity, and became a tutor and chaplain of Corpus Christi, preferring this to a fellowship. In 1654 he had offers of high preferment in the state, which he declined; but in 1655 George Newton of St Mary Magdalene, Taunton sought him for assistant and Alleine accepted the invitation. Almost coincident with his ordination as associate pastor came his marriage with Theodosia Alleine, daughter of Richard Alleine. Friendships among "gentle and simple" of the former, with Lady Farewell, granddaughter of the protector Somerset bear witness to the attraction of Alleine's private life.[clarification needed]
He found time to continue his studies, one part of which was his Theologia Philosophica (a lost manuscript), a learned attempt to harmonize revelation and nature, which was admired by Richard Baxter. He associated on equal terms with founders of the Royal Society. These scientific studies were, however, kept in subordination to his religious work.
After the Uniformity Act 1662 Alleine was among the ejected ministers. With John Westley, also ejected, he then travelled about preaching . For this he was put into prison, indicted at sessions, bullied and fined. His Letters from Prison were an earlier Cardiphonia than John Newton's. He was released on 26 May 1664; and in spite of the Five Mile Act, he resumed his preaching. He found himself again in prison..
Worn out by the continued persecution, he died in November 1668; and the mourners, remembering their beloved minister's words while yet with them, "If I should die fifty miles away, let me be buried at Taunton," found a grave for him in St Mary's chancel. No Puritan nonconformist name is so affectionately cherished as is that of Joseph Alleine. His chief literary work was An Alarm to the Unconverted (1672), otherwise known as The Sure Guide to Heaven, which had an enormous circulation. His Remains appeared in 1674.
Joseph Alleine's Alarme went through numerous editions and abridgements across the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; versions appeared in Welsh and German, and were published in Scotland and North America. It was also an important text to John Wesley, abridged and printed by him, and sold through Methodist catalogues and booksellers. Some of the most important editions are listed below, together with Alleine's other published works (mostly posthumous).
- A Call to Archippus, [London: s.n.], 1664
- An Alarme to Unconverted Sinners, London, 1672
- Divers Practical Cases of conscience, Satisfactorily Resolved, London, 1672
- A Most Familiar Explanation of the Assemblies Shorter Catechism, London, 1672
- Mr. Joseph Alleines Directions, for Covenanting vvith God, London, 1674
- Remaines, London, 1674
- The True Way to Happiness, London, 1675
- A Sure Guide to Heaven: or An Earnest Invitation to Sinners to Turn to God, London, 1688
- Hyfforddwr Cyfarwydd I'r Nefoedd, London, 1693
- Christian Letters Full of Spiritual Instructions, London, [1700?]
- Mr. Joseph Alleine's Rules for Self-Examination, Boston, [174-?]
- The Saint's Pocket-Book, Glasgow, 1742
- The Works of the Truly Pious and Learned Mr Joseph Allan, Edinburgh, 1752
- Useful Questions, Whereby a Person may Examine himself Every Day, Philadelphia, 1753
- The Shorter Catechism Agreed Upon by the Reverend Assembly of Divines at Westminster. To Which is Added, Some Serious Questions very Proper for True Christians to Ask Themselves Every Day, by the Late Reverend Mr.Joseph Allaine. Also a Cradle Hymn, by the Reverend Dr. Isaac Watts, New-London, 1754
- The Voice of God in His Promises, London, 1766
- The Believer's Triumph in God's Promises, London, 1767
- A Remedy of God's Own Providing for a Sinner's Guilty Conscience, [London?, 1770?]
- An Admonition to Unconverted Sinners, (London, 1771)
- Earail Shurachdach Do Pheacaich Neo-Iompaichte, Dunedin, 1781
- An Abridgement of Alleine's Alarm to Unconverted Sinners, London, 1783
- Joseph Alleins Grundlegung zum thatigen Christenthum, Lancaster, 1797
- An Earnest Invitation to the Reader to Turn to God, Grantham, 1799
Books still in print by Joseph Alleine include:
- A Sure Guide To Heaven, ISBN 0-85151-081-7, ISBN 978-0-85151-081-1
- An Alarm to the Unconverted, ISBN 1-878442-21-X, ISBN 978-1-878442-21-5
|Wikisource has the text of the 1885–1900 Dictionary of National Biography's article about Joseph Alleine.|
- Richard Alleine
- Baxter (ed.), Life;
- Stanford, Charles; Joseph Alleine: his Companions and Times, (1861);
- Palmer None. Mem. iii. 208,
- Wood Athenae, iii. 819;
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