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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: January ::
Family Shakespeare Redux
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0265  Friday, 30 January 2004

From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Thursday, 29 Jan 2004 20:12:10 -0000
Subject: Family Shakespeare Redux
Comment:        SHK 15.0248 Family Shakespeare Redux

"I was recently told, by a clergyman in my parish, that the latest
movement is towards "home-churching".  I should think that this
dramatizes the distinction between the extreme wing of right-wing
fundamentalism and the mainstream churches."

"When they and their Bibles were alone together, what strange
phantasticall opinion soever at any time entred into their heads, their
use was to thinke the Spirit taught it them", complained Richard Hooker:
Of The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, BkI, Preface.

Lancelot Andrewes noted that the "mark of false prophets" is their
"having a pleasant dream of their own righteousness, [whereby] they make
God's people forget His Name [Jer 23: 16, 27]": Sermon V, 23 Nov 1600,
The Works of Lancelot Andrewes, ed. J. P. Wilson and J. Bliss (11 Vols.
Oxford 1854), Vol. V, p.124. Richard Montagu criticized double-effect
predestination as an hubristic assumption about "Secrets reserved to God
alone"; predestination was "A Question of obscurity, which better might
have beene over-passed in silence, fitting rather Schooles, then popular
eares": A Gagg for the new Gospell?...... pp.177-183; also pp.107, 110.

John Donne, preaching on "Resistibility, and Irresistibility of grace",
remarked that "our Fathers... knew Gods law, and his Chancery: But for
Gods prerogative, what he could do of his absolute power, they knew Gods
pleasure, Nolumus disputari: It should scarce be disputed of in Schools,
much less serv'd in every popular pulpit to curious and itching ears;
least of all made table-talke, and household discourse": Sermon 6, 20
Feb 1618, Sermons I, p.255. His reference to "household discourse"
plainly associates "new terms in Divinity" with Puritan conventicles,
and like Montagu he contrasted this with the professionalized
Universities. Donne warned his congregation to "make not Scriptures of
your owne", and "subject to your private interpretation". They were not
to be discussed "with uncircumcised lips, as Moses speaks", nor, in what
must be a reference to the schismatical conventicles, "with an
extemporall and irreverent, or over-homely and vulgar language": Sermon
3, Easter Monday 1622, Sermons IV, p.128; Sermon 4, Sermons X, p.109;
Sermon 4, Nov or Dec 1627, Sermons VIII, p.122; Sermon 5, 25 Dec 1627,
Sermons VIII, p.147. "He is a perverse servant... that pretendeth to
rest so wholly in the Word of God, the Scriptures, as that he seeks no
interpretation, no exposition, no preaching; All is in the Scriptures,
but all the Scriptures are not alwaies evident to all understandings...
The Ministers of Christ, The Stewards of the Mysteries of God, And so
let men account of us, says the Apostle. Invention, and Disposition, and
Art, and Eloquence, and Expression, and Elocution, and reading, and
writing, and printing, are secondary things; men may account us, and
make account of us, as of Orators in the pulpit, and of Authors, in the
shop; but if they account of us as of Ministers and Stewards, they give
us our due; that's our name to you": Donne, Sermon 4, 25 Apr 1624,
Sermons VI, pp.102-103.

On the other side of the debate, Alexander Leighton complained, "if Gods
people in their families upon the Lords day fall to chew the cud, by the
repetition o a SerMonday, helping some neighbours that have not such
meanes; they are without regard of the day, Gods ordinance or God
himselfe, halled or hurried before a Prelate". What is more, those
"charged with Conventicles" were not "such people as are meant in the
statute", which was supposed to control the activities of "the dangerous
conventions and riotous assemblyes of plotting Papists": An Appeal to
the Parliament..., pp.35, 110. In an anonymous satire, the proctor,
"Busie Body", complains that he has "drawne no Articles against one that
repeated Sermons with his family this twleve-moneth", that is, since the
beginning of the Long Parliament: The Spirituall Courts epitomized, in a
Dialogue betwixt two proctors, Busie Body, and Scrape-all, and their
discourse of the wan of their former imployment (London 1641), p.1

m

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