Cambridge Companion Countdown

September 20, 2008

(I have an affinity for alliteration, don’t I). claim they will have the Cambridge Companion to Puritanism in stock in 10 days time. This will be essential reading for all students of the period. I have pasted the contents list below. Juicy.

Introduction John Coffey and Paul C. H. Lim

 Part I. English Puritanism

 1. Antipuritanism – Patrick Collinson

 2. The growth of English Puritanism – John Craig

 3. Early Stuart Puritanism – Tom Webster

 4. The Puritan revolution – John Morrill

 5. Later Stuart Puritanism – John Spurr

 Part II. Beyond England

 6. Puritanism and the Continental Reformed Churches – Anthony Milton

 7. The Puritan experiment in New England, 1630–1660 – Francis J. Bremer

 8. New England, 1660–1730 – David D. Hall

 9. Puritanism in Ireland and Wales – Crawford Gribben

 10. The problem of Scotland’s Puritans – Margo Todd

 Part III. Major Themes

 11. Practical divinity and spirituality – Charles Hambrick-Stowe

 12. Puritan polemical divinity and doctrinal controversy – Dewey D. Wallace, Jr.

 13. Puritans and the Church of England: historiography and ecclesiology – Paul C. H. Lim

 14. Radical Puritanism, c. 1558–1660 – David R. Como

 15. Puritan millenarianism in old and New England – Jeffrey K. Jue

 16. The Godly and popular culture – Alexandra Walsham

 17. Puritanism and gender – Ann Hughes

 18. Puritanism and literature N. H. Keeble

 Part IV. Puritanism and Posterity

 19. Puritan legacies – John Coffey

 20. The historiography of Puritanism – Peter Lake

Calvinism under a Cloud?

September 18, 2008

I have spent a cheery day reading John Stachniewski’s The Persecutory Imagination: English Puritanism and the Literature of Religious Despair. This paints Calvin’s theology in dark colours, arguing that his doctrines of election, reprobation, and temporary faith did untold damage to the psyches those that sat under the preaching of Reformed ministers in seventeenth-century England. The puritan self in particular was driven inward in search of signs and marks. This introspection would all too often lead to religious despair and contemporaries recognized that suicide had become a problem in society.

Interesting read. My instinct would be to suspect that those who left spiritual journals, a major source for such a study, would be the sort who would be more inclined to introspection in the first place. Stachniewski anticipates this objection and claims he will build a case to the contrary, so I will have to keep reading. This book is very negative about Reformed theology and describes the typical puritan pastoral approach as ‘morally disgusting’. Anyone else read it? I imagine Chris Ross has. Care to comment?

In the meantime, here is a darkly comic moment as Henry Jessey recalls a meeting between two young women:

‘Mris Sarah saw one walk about and about in a sad habit, and went to her, and asked how shee did, shee answered; In as sad a condition as ever was any. Mris Sarah, None is in a Condition like to mine. So they sate together; and after that, they went together, and spake further of their sad conditions: each counting their own state the worse’.

I call this a case of ‘My cat’s twice as black’. Stachniewski describes it as an ‘edifying contest in ultimate one-downmanship’.

Anglican Air

September 17, 2008

An excellent graphic from the Cranmer blog:

Puritan Pith (2)

September 16, 2008

A little gem on the fruit of assurance from Thomas Brooks. Assurance makes the believer ‘more motion than notion, more work than word, more life than lip, more hand than tongue’. Sweet.

News of Nuptials

September 15, 2008


Well, I’m back. The last couple of months have been very busy, but now back in Oxford, head down, getting on with it. Mrs. S. and I were married at the end of July. A miserable summer, even by British standards, threw up a dry and sunny day when required. The picture above is from the ceremony at St. Ebbe’s, with Vaughan Roberts officiating. It was a great day and it was so good to have many of our friends with us.

There is much blogging to do…