No systematic and critical study of Donne's theology has so far been made except by Mrs. Simpson1 in an interesting essay on the general outline of his theological beliefs, and in spite of his great popularity in this country, his position in the history of the Anglican Church remains undefined.2 Though Henry Alford declared that after "obnoxious or trifling passages" have been struck out--he means the passages where Donne follows the Fathers--"there is left unimpaired a genuine body of orthodox divinty (in the best sense of the words) not to be found, perhaps, in any other English theologian,"3 and Dr. Jessopp had little doubt about Donne's orthodoxy as an Anglican divine once he had freed himself from "the thraldom of the Roman tyranny as formulated in the Tridentine decrees."4Donne is not recognized even to-day as one of the band of the seventeenth century divines, like Hooker and Bishop Andrewes, who tried to defend the Anglican Church and expounded its doctrines and ritual against the controversialists of other Churches.
Mr. T. S. Eliot has asserted that Donne had no settled belief in any philosophy. Speaking of his poetry, he declared:
" Donne was a learned student of philosophy. But his poetry is not that of a man who believes any philosophy. He enjoys his learning, and enjoys using a philosophical idea
Sidney Dark Essay on Donne in Five Deans ( 1928) is very unsympathetic and uncritical and does not describe his theological views as the Dean at all.