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Beyond MelancholySadness and Selfhood in Renaissance England$
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Erin Sullivan

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739654

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739654.001.0001

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Godly Sorrow

Godly Sorrow

Feeling Faith and the Broken-down Heart

Chapter:
(p.126) 4 Godly Sorrow
Source:
Beyond Melancholy
Author(s):

Erin Sullivan

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198739654.003.0005

This chapter focuses on how Reformed Protestantism’s emphasis on predestination and salvation by faith alone enhanced the value of godly sorrow by positioning it as a sign of election to heaven. Looking at the role of sadness in a selection of life-writings, the chapter considers how authors took what could have easily been diagnosed as grief or melancholy and situated it instead within the framework of sorrow for sin. Such an approach reflected the importance of continued repentance in contemporary sermons as well as on the passionate suffering of Christ himself in devotional poetry, such as John Ford’s ‘Christes Bloodie Sweat’ and George Herbert’s ‘The Sacrifice’. Such writings, it argues, elevated the experience of sadness from a morally dubious, pathological bodily state to a form of religious ecstasy and even joy. The chapter concludes with an examination of the value of spiritual heartbreak in a selection of poems by John Donne and Herbert.

Keywords:   godly sorrow, Reformed Protestantism, history of religion, Passion of Christ, John Ford, George Herbert, John Donne

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