THE THREE constituents of an adequate religion distinguished by Von Hügel in his Mystical Element of Religion are now a commonplace of the philosophy of religion. They are, in his words, the experimental-mystical, the rational-critical and the historical-institutional. Of these three elements, John Smith had very little understanding or appreciation of the historical- institutional. It was a defect he shared with the other representatives--some his personal friends--of what is known as Cambridge Platonism and more generally with Puritans of the left wing. In consequence his insights of religious truth had little influence beyond an immediate circle of disciples. For they were not integrated into an organic and traditional body of religious doctrine and worship and thereby safeguarded and handed down intact. On the other hand he presents an admirable fusion of the other two elements, the experimental and the rational. For this and for the attractive and holy personality revealed by his works, and for the eloquent prose in which his deepest thought and loftiest aspiration found embodiment, he deserves to be far better known and far better appreciated than he is.

August 7th, 1952, was the tercentenary of his death. This study is offered as a tribute to his memory on an occasion which, one fears, may not have been celebrated as it deserves.

Smith's life was uneventful. Born in 1618 at Achurch near Oundle he went up to Cambridge in 1636 and spent the remainder of his life at the University. He was entered as a pensioner of Emmanuel College, a Puritan foundation and a stronghold of Puritanism. But already a wider and less dogmatic theology had found entrance into the college. For the father of Cambridge Platonism, Benjamin Whichcote, was Smith's tutor at Emmanuel. Smith took his B.A. degree in 1640, his M.A. four years later. The same year he was transferred to Queen's College by the Parliamentary commissioners engaged in purging the University of Royalists and convinced Anglicans. He was a lecturer at


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Poets and Mystics


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 320

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?