JOSEPH HALL was born at Ashby-del-la-Zouch in this County [Leicestershire], where his Father under the Earl of Huntingdon, was Governour or Bayly of the Town. So soon almost as Emmanuel Colledge was admitted into Cambridge, he was admitted into that Colledge, within a few years after the foundation thereof. He passed all his degrees with great applause; First noted in the University, for his ingenious maintaining, (be it Truth, or Paradox) that Mundus senescit, The World groweth old. Yet, in some sort, his position confuteth his position, the wit and quickness whereof did argue an increase, rather than a decay of parts in this latter age.
He was first beneficed by Sir Robert Drury at Hallsted in Suffolk, and thence removed by Edward Lord Denny, (afterward Earl of Norwich) to Waltham Abbey in Essex. Here I must pay the Tribute of my Gratitude to his memory, as building upon his foundation, beholding my self, as his great Grandchild in that place, three degrees from him in succession: but oh, how many from him in ability! His little Catechism hath done great good in that populous parish, and I could wish that Ordinance more generally used all over England.
Being Doctor of Divinity, he was sent over by K. James to the Synod of Dort, whence his only indisposition of body forced him to return before the rest of his Colleagues. He was preferred first, Dean of Worcester, then Bishop of Exeter, then Bishop of Norwich, then Bishop of no place, surviving to see his sacred function buryed before his eyes. He may be said to have dyed with his pen in his hand, whose Writing and Living expired together. He was commonly called our English Seneca, for the purenesse, plainnesse, and fulnesse of his style. Not unhappy at Controversies, more happy at Comments, very good in his Characters, better in his Sermons, best of all in his Meditations. Nor will it be amiss to transcribe the following passage out of his Will.
"In the name of God, Amen. I Joseph Hall, D.D., not worthy to be called Bishop of Norwich, &c. First, I bequeath my soul, &c. my body I leave to be interred, without any funeral pomp, at the Discretion of my Executors, with this only monition, that I do not hold Gods House a meet Repository for the dead bodies of the greatest Saints."
He dyed September the 8. Anno Dom. 1656. and was buryed at Hyhem near Norwich.