The Political Work of a Spiritual Text: Sarah Wight, Henry Jessey, and The exceeding Riches of Grace
This chapter investigates the political implications of women's involvement in sectarian writing in the later years of the 1640s. The material discussed — printed writings — carries the discussion of women's relationship to politics into the explicitly public terrain of religious and political controversy. The chapter investigates women's relationship to spiritual and political discourses in the context of the disputes among the army, Independents, Presbyterians, and Levellers in the late 1640s. The exceeding Riches of Grace makes public Sarah Wight's experience. Events caught up the members of the gathered churches of London, Bristol, and Wales and their associates in the army, but also drew in men and women of a very different religious and political complexion from the text's ‘relator’, Henry Jessey. The exceeding Riches of Grace unfolds the question of the nature of testimony, the meaning of grace for the Christian, and the nature of spiritual versus political claims and hierarchies.
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