Robert South (1634-1716) was one of the great Anglican writers and preachers of his age. A contemporary of Dryden and Locke, he faced the profound political and philosophical changes taking place at the beginning of the Enlightenment in England. Gerard Reedy's book makes a strong case for the importance of his sermons, their complexity, beauty and wit, and their place in the history of post-Restoration English literature. Discussing sermons of South that deal with his theory of politics, language, the sacrament and mystery, Reedy reintroduces us to a lively and seminal master of prose, politics and theology in the late Stuart era.
Jansenism and England: Moral Rigorism across the Confessions examines the impact in mid- to later-seventeenth-century England of the major contemporary religious controversy in France, which revolved around the formal condemnation of a heresy popularly called Jansenism. The associated debates involved fundamental questions about the doctrine of grace and moral theology, about the life of the Church and the conduct of individual Christians. Thomas Palmer analyses the main themes of the controversy and an account of instances of English interest, arguing that English Protestant theologians who were in the process of working out their own views on basic theological questions recognised the relevance of the continental debates. The arguments evolved by the French writers also constitute a point of comparison for the developing views of English theologians. Where the Jansenists reasserted an Augustinian emphasis on the gratuity of salvation against Catholic theologians who over-valued the powers of human nature, the English writers examined here, arguing against Protestant theologians who denied nature any moral potency, emphasised man's contribution to his own salvation. Both arguments have been seen to contain a corrosive individualism, the former through its preoccupation with the luminous experience of grace, the latter through its tendency to elide grace and moral virtue. These assessments are challenged here. Nevertheless, these theologians did encourage greater individualism. Focusing on the affective experience of conversion, they developed forms of moral rigorism which represented, in both cases, an attempt to provide a reliable basis for Christian faith and practice in the fragmented intellectual context of post-reformation Europe.
There was certainly a collection of books at Lincoln Cathedral in the twelfth century, and its origins were perhaps earlier still; but little interest seems to have been taken in building up the library until the second half of the seventeenth century, with the appointment in 1660 of the bibliophile Michael Honywood, a Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, as Dean. The present Wren Library's collection of some 8,000 printed books is based largely on his private library, bequeathed to the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln on his death in 1681. Much of Honywood's library was put together during seventeen years of voluntary exile in the Low Countries from 1643. It is consequently rich in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century continental literature, including rare Italian plays, European pamphlets and broadsides interpreting the English political situation, a collection of Dutch ballads, and many religious books and tracts. The splendid English collection includes 1600 STC items, and 2,650 printed between 1641 and 1700, over 100 of which are not recorded in Wing. In addition there are some 100 incunables. This complete catalogue of books printed before 1801 is the first since 1859, and offers the detail and precision required by modern scholars, bibliographers and libraries. Titles are given at some length to indicate subject coverage, and format, pagination, and details of illustrations are recorded. The catalogue notes which books belonged to Honywood, whose importance as a collector is thus established. A set of concordances keyed to the main entries covers STC, Wing, Adams, and Goff.
The English and American deists rejected Christianity, which they believed portrayed God as cruel. In The Spirituality of the English and American Deists, Waligore shows how the deists were the first group of modern thinkers who were spiritual but not religious.