Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Boxmaker's Revenge: "Orthodoxy," "Heterodoxy" and the Politics of the Parish in Early Stuart London

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Boxmaker's Revenge: "Orthodoxy," "Heterodoxy" and the Politics of the Parish in Early Stuart London

Article excerpt

The Boxmaker's Revenge: "Orthodoxy," "Heterodoxy" and the Politics of the Parish in Early Stuart London. By Peter Lake. (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. 2001. Pp. x, 422. $65.00 cloth; $24.95 paperback.)

Peter Lake's latest excursion into the world of late Elizabethan/early Stuart Puritanism opens with high drama with a Paul's Cross sermon preached on February 11, 1627, by Stephen Denison, minister of the London parish of St Katherine Creechurch. Throughout the sermon John Etherington, a maker of water conduits and former boxmaker, was forced to stand in front of the pulpit as Denison denounced him as a heretic, a familist, and an anabaptist. Lake takes this scene as a starting point for an examination and explanation of the religious, social, and political contexts in which such a confrontation could occur, and, in the course of his analysis, he is able to provide glimpses of a previously hidden godly underground in London. This book confirms Lake's reputation as the historian best equipped to dissect, probe, and understand early Stuart Puritans and Puritanism.

Much of this territory is already familiar to us from Lake's previous published works and no more so than in the case of Stephen Denison, a model 'moderate' Puritan. Thus Denison possessed a heavily predestinarian view of the world, a strongly activist commitment to the community of true believers, a vision of the Christian community divided between the godly and the ungodly, a dogmatic insistence that preaching was the means of grace, and a belief in a strict Sabbath. Lake takes the opportunity to remind readers of his earlier attacks on the negative views of the godly entertained by some recent historians. Denison could adopt a form of pulpit rhetoric that was inclusive and potentially `popular' in style. Furthermore, those historians who have stressed the 'conservatism' and respectability of Puritan social attitudes are presented with a Denison who could make some very pointed criticisms of the rich and powerful and was to engage in open conflict with some of the parish elite who constituted the select vestry in St Katherine's. …

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