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Emma Wilson

At the start of Providence , the camera moves slowly towards a stone sign or marker bearing the inscription ‘Providence’ in curving, antiquated letters. The sign is entwined with foliage. The film cuts to images of trees in near darkness, the camera moving through their shadow. The films opens with markers of obscurity, with a tracking camera taking us deep into foliage, undergrowth. This opening

in Alain Resnais
Special worship in the British world, 1783–1919

European settlers in Canada, Australia and South Africa said they were building ‘better Britains’ overseas. But devastating wars, rebellions, epidemics and natural disasters often threatened these new societies. It is striking that settlers in such environments turned to old traditions of collective prayer and worship to make sense of these calamities. At times of acute stress, colonial governments set aside whole days of fasting, humiliation and intercession so that entire populations could join together to implore God’s intervention, assistance or guidance. And at moments of relief and celebration, such as the coming of peace, or the birth of a royal, the whole empire might participate in synchronised acts of thanksgiving and praise to God. This book asks why acts of ‘special worship’ with origins in early modernity became numerous in the democratic, pluralistic and often secularised conditions found in the settler societies of the ‘British world’. Such intense and highly visible occasions had the potential to reach all members of a colonial society: community-wide occasions of prayer were hard to ignore, they required considerable organisation, and they stimulated debate and reflection on a range of political, social and religious issues. The book argues that religion, and more specifically traditional rituals and practices, had a vital role to play in the formation of regional identities and local particularisms in what remained, in many ways, a loosely networked and unconnected empire.

Martha McGill
Alasdair Raffe

For early modern Scots, the doctrine of providence – the claim that God actively governed his Creation – expressed basic truths about the universe. God was both creator and maintainer, legislator and executive. He defined the goal or end of human existence, while intervening in the daily lives of his creatures. He oversaw the affairs of princes and armies, and was also responsible for the most mundane of occurrences. As Scottish preachers reminded their congregations, Matthew’s gospel taught that even the most insignificant sparrow ‘shall not fall on the ground

in The supernatural in early modern Scotland
Oscar Webber

events, the intertwining of providence and disaster remained a central part of their public-facing responses well beyond the ‘enlightenment’ and into the nineteenth century. Over the course of the seventeenth century, as colonists moved past their experiments with cotton and tobacco and found success exploiting slave labour to grow sugar, the colonies became an increasingly important appendage of empire. As trade grew, so too did consumption of Caribbean products; Britons became gradually accustomed to sugar, coffee and cocoa. When it came to

in Negotiating relief and freedom
Lauren Cantos

Maternal breastfeeding was frequently characterised as a providential and a ‘natural’ practice in early modern sermons, domestic guidebooks, and other prescriptive literature. Providence during this period was understood as God’s knowledge about and involvement in both ordinary and extraordinary events. 1 The notion of breastfeeding as evidence of providence recurred as an explanation for the formation of breast milk as well as the ability to breastfeed. These writings essentially argued

in Religion and life cycles in early modern England
William White

-royalist debates energetically. The suspicion that lay royalists were prepared to trade away episcopacy or Church lands as the price of a peace settlement with parliament unnerved many resident in the city during the First Civil War. For these divines, the argument for pragmatic concessions to puritan reformation was premised on fundamental misconceptions about peace and its relationship to providence. While God ultimately favoured

in The Lord’s battle
The churches and emigration from nineteenth-century Ireland

The book knits together two of the most significant themes in the social and cultural history of modern Ireland - mass emigration and religious change - and aims to provide fresh insight into both. It addresses the churches' responses to emigration, both in theory and in practice. The book also assesses how emigration impacted on the churches both in relation to their status in Ireland, and in terms of their ability to spread their influence abroad. It first deals with the theoretical positions of the clergy of each denomination in relation to emigration and how they changed over the course of the nineteenth century, as the character of emigration itself altered. It then explores the extent of practical clerical involvement in the temporal aspects of emigration. This includes attempts to prevent or limit it, a variety of facilitation services informally offered by parish clergymen, church-backed moves to safeguard emigrant welfare, clerical advice-giving and clerically planned schemes of migration. Irish monks between the fifth and eighth centuries had spread Christianity all over Europe, and should act as an inspiration to the modern cleric. Tied in with this reading of the past, of course, was a very particular view of the present: the perception that emigration represented the enactment of a providential mission to spread the faith.

Supernatural beliefs have been vital to Scottish cultural development. In the early modern period, the Kirk played an all-important role in parish life, schooling the Scots on how to interpret the invisible world. Theologians and philosophers mused about the nature of God’s providence and the wiles of the Devil. Folk tradition peopled the landscape with fairies and nature spirits. The witch trials displayed the very real consequences of belief systems that would later be reframed as fantastical.

This book analyses the Scottish supernatural between about 1500 and 1800. Drawing together an international range of scholars with expertise in history, ethnology and literary studies, it explores the diverse ways in which Scots understood and experienced magical beings and extraordinary events. There are chapters on trance experiences, spirit-guides, angels, preaching on the supernatural, political prophecies, providence, astrology, Second Sight and the Enlightenment’s encounter with the paganism of classical antiquity. The book’s historical material is framed by two literary chapters: one on the ‘elrich’ supernatural in the poetry of the early sixteenth century, and one on the political supernatural in the poetry of the eighteenth century.

Overall, the book examines the cultural function of supernatural beliefs, and assesses how these beliefs evolved amid the upheaval of the Reformation, political and religious revolution, the emergence of the Enlightenment and the beginnings of romanticism.

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Ireland in the early English Atlantic world
David Brown

ship their produce at reasonable rates, were ousted. The earl of Warwick’s other Caribbean project was Providence Island, now part of Colombia in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and this was a very different colonial endeavour. The Providence Island colony existed from 1630 when it was established as a colonial Puritan haven until 19 May 1641 when the Spanish navy destroyed it. It was established under a royal charter by the Providence Island Company, whose members were mainly Puritan peers and their gentleman clients. These shareholders were the very people who made

in Empire and enterprise
Jerry Weinberger

immediate context. A few Price_06_Ch6 117 14/10/02, 9:41 am 118 Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis lines later, Bacon says that ‘by the contemplation of nature to induce and enforce acknowledgement of God, and to demonstrate his power, providence, and goodness, is an excellent argument, and hath been excellently handled by diverse.’10 One has to say that providence and goodness are no minor aspects of divine will – they are surely very important aspects of who God is and why he created the world and human beings. In the De augmentis, Bacon goes even further. There he says

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis