This chapter is about anti-Methodism and focuses especially on Warburton’s Doctrine of Grace (1763). Firstly, it reveals how Warburton’s engagement with George Whitefield’s Journals; with John Byrom’s work on enthusiasm; and with Daniel Neal’s History of the Puritans shaped and sharpened his thinking about Methodism. Secondly, it anatomizes the argument of a long anti-Methodist manuscript — The True Methodist — that Warburton wrote during the mid 1750s, yet never published. Finally, it shows how Warburton reworked the True Methodist’s anti-Methodist arguments in his Doctrine of Grace. Running through all of Warburton’s thinking on Methodism, from Methodism’s emergence in the late 1730s until the end of his life, was a fear of enthusiasm. Precisely what constituted enthusiasm was up for debate during the eighteenth century. Yet while enthusiasm was a labile term during the eighteenth century, it was almost always associated with the disordered religious and political life of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England. This chapter shows how and why contemporaries made that association.
This chapter anatomizes the dispute between Zachary Grey and Dissenting historians like Daniel Neal who together mined the recent English past for ammunition in eighteenth-century religious and political fights. It locates these historical debates within efforts during the 1730s to repeal the Test and Corporation Acts. It then charts the development of Grey’s take on sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English history. It shows that while the seventeenth-century wars of religion were over, their causes and lessons remained contested. Precisely because the causes and lessons of those wars were not settled, polemical divinity retained practical political value. The chapter also uses Zachary Grey’s anti-Dissenting historical scholarship further to consider the economic realities of polemical divinity. While religious works continued to dominate booksellers’ catalogues, they had to be pitched and packaged in ways that were marketable. Grey’s anti-Neal tracts were hardly profitable. The chapter concludes by examining a work of English historical scholarship that was financially successful: Zachary Grey’s scholarly edition of Samuel Butler’s Hudibras.
Conyers Middleton’s History of the Life of Marcus Tullius Cicero (1741) proved not to be a vehicle for personal and professional redemption. Its content rankled the orthodox, and the book failed to remove the heterodox stain to his reputation. While he profited financially from the publication, his ecclesiastical career remained stalled, his resentment metastasized and he returned again to overt polemical divinity. This chapter explores how orthodox coercion and punishment could intensify and deepen a polemical divine’s heterodoxy. It explains what about an ostensibly theologically neutral work bothered the orthodox. It explains why Middleton returned to overt polemical divinity during the mid 1740s, uninhibited by hopes of ecclesiastical promotion. Finally, it shows how his treatment of miracles focused on epistemological and hermeneutical problems that had long consumed him and whose origins he explicitly traced to England’s Reformation.
This chapter concerns the sources of the triune Christian God’s revealed truth about himself and his creation. In particular, it anatomizes the debates over deism between Waterland and Matthew Tindal, The Tindal-Waterland debate was not simply about how God could be known but about God’s relation to and scope of action within his creation. In Waterland’s defence of the Bible’s truth, he argued for a radically transcendent God, one who could do whatever he wanted; whenever and wherever he wanted; and for reasons that might be wholly inscrutable to human beings. To Tindal, this was an irrational — and, hence, an immoral — argument. This chapter explains why Tindal and Waterland argued as they did. Locating their dispute within eighteenth-century debates over deism, this chapter also shows how Waterland worked out his thinking about Tindal’s Christianity as Old as the Creation (1730) in the margins of his own copy of the work. His initial objections focused on the threat Tindal’s work posed to the nation’s morality. In Scripture Vindicated, though, Waterland confronted what he took to be the underlying hermeneutical challenges posed by Tindal’s work.
Part II of this book (chapters 6-9) concern Conyers Middleton. This introductory chapter to Part II sets the scene for this story by considering feud between Middleton and Richard Bentley and its implications for Middleton’s later career. It illustrates two salient points. Firstly, it shows how seemingly scholarly debates — Middleton’s dispute with Bentley over Bentley’s proposed edition of the New Testament in Greek and Latin — were sometimes really just proxy wars in more parochial political squabbles. Secondly, it shows how polemical divines used the law to coerce and punish their polemical rivals.
Section IV of this book deals with William Warburton. This introductory chapter to Section IV charts Warburton’s idiosyncratic path to polemical divinity and the principles which guided his work. It traces his path from the law to the church. It also considers his first substantive publication, A Critical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Causes of Prodigies (1727). That work posited a method to distinguish truth from lies and first broached many of the subjects with which he would deal during his long polemical career.
This chapter anatomizes Warburton’s theory of church-state relations. It details the competing theories of church-state relations against which he situated his Alliance between Church and State (1736). It turns next to consider the marginal notes to his copy of Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion, a work which exposed the breakdown of the religious and political order in mid-seventeenth-century England. The chapter concludes with a consideration of Warburton’s Alliance, highlighting the ways that he thought his conception of church and state might prevent a reversion to the previous century’s religio-political breakdown.
This chapter sketches the lineaments of the orthodox soteriological position of the eighteenth-century Church of England. It draws its evidence from Zachary Grey’s unpublished manuscript sermons, delivered to his parishioners across the middle third of the century. Through them runs a coherent soteriological argument, one with a stable conception of God; of how God operated in the world; and of how and why humans (God’s rational creatures) are damned or saved after death. Through Grey’s sermons also runs a coherent argument about how sin and salvation related to natural and human history. God’s active providential management of his creation was purposeful and responsive: he punished and warned because people sinned. Restraining sin offered a way to secure civil peace. This chapter explains why the eighteenth-century orthodox thought as much.
This chapter concerns God’s nature. It focuses especially on the Christological debates between Daniel Waterland and his era’s most influential Christologically heterodox polemical divine, Samuel Clarke. Firstly, it examines how Newtonianism or Lockeanism could produce different conceptions of God. Secondly, it anatomizes the competing historical narratives which demonstrated how and why the ancient, primitively pure of Christian thinking about God got perverted. Finally, it explains why charges of imposture were so prevalent in eighteenth-century English polemical divinity.
Part III of this book deals with Zachary Grey. This introductory chapter to Part III anatomizes eighteenth-century orthodox anti-popery. It begins by showing how Zachary Grey’s own family history emblematized the complicated legacy of England’s Reformation. It turns next to consider his undergraduate reading notebooks, which foreshadow his mature thought regarding the English church and state. It concludes with a close examination of his unpublished work on Islam and the Portuguese Inquisition, which reveal clearly the lineaments of his anti-popish thought.