From Puritanism to the Age of Reason: A Study of Changes in Religious Thought within the Church of England, 1660 to 1700

From Puritanism to the Age of Reason: A Study of Changes in Religious Thought within the Church of England, 1660 to 1700

From Puritanism to the Age of Reason: A Study of Changes in Religious Thought within the Church of England, 1660 to 1700

From Puritanism to the Age of Reason: A Study of Changes in Religious Thought within the Church of England, 1660 to 1700

Excerpt

Religious developments in the later seventeenth century form, by common consent, a neglected phase of English history. Most of the general works on the subject are old, and very few of them can now claim to be satisfactory. Nowhere has the neglect been so conspicuous as in the field of religious thought. The present work owed its origin to a conviction that the importance of this period far exceeded the attention it has received.

In its original form, this essay was submitted for the Archbishop Cranmer Prize, and its scope has been largely determined by that fact. The regulations stipulate that dissertations must be concerned with changes in the life and thought of the Church of England. I have deliberately restricted myself to changes in thought, since only a limitation of this kind could keep the study within manageable bounds. I have said nothing about the organized life of the Church, or about its government or liturgy. I have even avoided any mention of changes in the favoured style of preaching, though this was closely related to the thought of the Restoration period. I have not attempted to assess the influence that the Church exerted, though it is nearly a century since Macaulay pointed out that the pulpit was one of the most formative of all the forces moulding public opinion. I have not been concerned with the history of religious thought in general, but only with those aspects of it in which changes can clearly be discerned. Consequently, the relatively static forms of Anglican theology have been deliberately ignored.

My obligations are too many to be mentioned in detail. I am indebted to the adjudicators of the Archbishop Cranmer . . .

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