Liturgy in the Age of Reason: Worship and Sacraments in England and Scotland, 1662-C. 1800

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Liturgy in the Age of Reason: Worship and Sacraments in England and Scotland, 1662-c. 1800. By Bryan D. Spinks. (Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing. 2008. Pp. x, 284. $99-95. ISBN 978-0-754-66089-7.)

This is the third volume of a series of studies concerning sacramental theology by Bryan Spinks. The first one, Two Faces of Elizabethan Anglican Theology (Lanham, MD, 1999), focused on the teaching of William Perkins and Richard Hooker. A second volume-Sacraments, Ceremonies, and the Stuart Divines (Burlington, VT, 2002)-involved a much larger group of writers and covered Scotland as well as England .The present book takes up where its predecessor ended, in 1662, and carries the investigation forward to the end of the eighteenth century. In his initial study Spinks drew attention to some surprising similarities between Perkins and Hooker, especially their shared Reformed or Calvinist assumption that the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist only benefited the unconditionally elect. This insight serves to emphasize just how important was the anti-Calvinist or Arminian breakthrough when it came in the 1620s with Richard Montagu, who locked horns with his Calvinist opponents on the subject of baptismal regeneration. During the Laudian ascendancy of the 163Os a similar Arminian understanding of the Eucharist as available to all was developed by writers such as Edmund Reeve and Robert Shelford, although it is a cause for regret that these were not among those authors whom Spinks chose to discuss. But he correctly emphasizes the role played thereafter by the Westminster Confessions and Catechisms, produced under the aegis of the Long Parliament. Indeed, one can go further than the author and suggest that after 1662 attitudes toward the Westminster standards served to differentiate the sacramental teaching of the established church on the one hand from that of English Dissenters and Scottish Presbyterians on the other until well into the eighteenth century. The exemplar chosen by Spinks of what appears by 1700 to have become the normative position of the Church of England is Gabriel Towerson. According to Towerson, baptism washes away original sin in all receivers without distinction, while the Eucharist is the means to repair subsequent falls from grace by baptized adults- arising from their concupiscence. …


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