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Title: Reformed sacramental piety in England 1590-1630
Author: Jones, Chris
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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England in the late-Elizabethan and early-Stuart period saw a surge of pastoral writings intended to provide lay-readers with information and advice about sacraments. Using sixty-four such texts from the period 1590-1630, this thesis analyses the conceptions of sacraments offered by cleric-authors to their audience. As a group these works had two structural features in common. First they were concerned to outline the ‘qualities’ of a ‘worthy’ receiver of the Lord’s Supper, foremost amongst which were knowledge, faith, newness of life and repentance. Second they tended to divide the concept of worthiness into three temporal chunks comprising the times before, during, and after the Supper. Using these rubrics as guidelines the thesis compares and contrasts the content of the corpus. In opposition to stereotypes of puritans neglecting sacraments, it is found that sacraments were presented by Reformed English clerics as highly efficacious entities, which truly communicated something to the believer. The importance of faith to the Reformed conception of sacraments is affirmed, with the caveat that the dominance of this concept did not prohibit clerics from extolling the sensuous or ceremonial aspects of sacraments. It is further contended that sacraments continued to be seen as spurs to moral amelioration, occasions for charity, and a demonstration of community – and that receiving sacraments did not become a wholly individualised enterprise. Building on this analysis the thesis offers three broader conclusions. Firstly it is shown that sacraments played a key part in the quest to gain assurance of salvation. Secondly it can be seen that in England there was a way of extolling sacraments and their use which is not usually thought about – a species of ‘sacramental piety’ which used mainstream Reformed ideas about sacrament to urge believers to comfort and increased Godliness. Thirdly it is contended that key Reformed theological distinctions were often submerged by the contingencies of pastoral writing.
Supervisor: Heal, Felicity Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Early Modern Britain and Europe ; Intellectual History ; sacraments