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Providence in Early Modern England$
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Alexandra Walsham

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780198208877

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198208877.001.0001

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‘Visible Sermons’: 1 Divine Providence and Public Calamities

‘Visible Sermons’: 1 Divine Providence and Public Calamities

(p.116) 3 ‘Visible Sermons’:1 Divine Providence and Public Calamities
Providence in Early Modern England

Alexandra Walsham

Oxford University Press

This chapter analyses contemporary responses to moments of acute corporate emergency and crisis, as refracted through the pulpit and press and as reflected in official policy and the conduct of the populace. In the face of the hostile forces periodically unleashed by a harsh environment, it was not just the rhetoric of Protestant ministers and metropolitan scribblers which merged and converged. The viewpoints and theories of Protestants, clergies, and Protesatant ministers regarding divine providence in these calamities are exemplified here. The views of clerical Protestantism and the religion of the ‘common sort of Christians’, and between pre- and post-Reformation piety have also been compared. Ideology of divine omnipotence was considered to be a source of cultural and communal solidarity and a medium of ecclesiastical and political discord and dissent. Communities united against adversity and pulled together to stamp out vice and appease God's wrath. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the areas of friction and confrontation between clerical Protestantism and the religion of the ‘common sort of Christians’, and between pre- and post-Reformation piety, and also exemplifies providentialism being a conceptual framework flexible enough to absorb and accommodate discordant tendencies and the bifurcating strand.

Keywords:   Protesatant ministers, clerical Protestantism, providentialism, public calamities, God's judgement, Reformation piety

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