Mark Burden, University of Bristol
I. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS
Most of Whichcote’s extant works only survive in posthumously published editions which are the products of considerable early-modern editorial intervention. A large majority of these texts are in the form of sermons, referred to by some of his editors as ‘discourses’, the published versions of which were reconstructed from manuscript notes taken by Whichcote’s hearers. Although few of these sermons are dated, the dominant critical view is that most of them were delivered after the Restoration at the important Latitudinarian parish church of St Lawrence Jewry. The earliest printed collection of Whichcote sermon notes was published by an unknown editor in 1685 in a volume called [Theologoumena dogmata], which contains a somewhat garbled form of the arguments of five sermons followed by a series of 33 apothegms, possibly (but not certainly) related to the editor’s experiences as a student of Whichcote in Cambridge. In 1698 an influential group of twelve Whichcote sermons was published under the title Select Sermons, edited within an introduction by the third earl of Shaftesbury, perhaps with the help of William Stephens, rector of Sutton in Surrey. A second edition of the Select Sermons was published in 1721, retaining Shaftesbury’s 1698 preface. There was a further edition in Edinburgh in 1742, edited with a preface addressed to young ministers, preachers, and divinity students by the principal of Edinburgh University William Wishart. Wishart’s version was published again at Bath in 1773, when it was erroneously described as the ‘Third Edition’ (it was probably the fourth).
An almost entirely different set of Whichcote sermons was published between 1701 and 1703 under the title Several Discourses, edited by the archdeacon of Norwich John Jeffery. A fourth volume was added in 1707 without Jeffery’s acquiescence, edited by the philosopher Samuel Clarke. The first two volumes of Jeffery’s version both reached second editions, which appeared in 1702 and 1719 respectively. Somewhat later, a four-volume edition of Whichcote’s Works appeared, published by Chalmers (Aberdeen, 1751). This version amalgamated the texts found in the Select Sermons and the Several Discourses; where there were texts common to both the 1698/1721/1742 version and the 1701-7 version the two versions were overlaid to produce a composite text. Several decades earlier Jeffery had also extracted nearly 5,000 short passages from Whichcote’s unpublished (and subsequently lost) sermons, publishing 1,000 of them under the title Moral and Religious Aphorisms in 1703. The second edition (1753) of the Aphorisms contained a revised text by Jeffery’s grandson Samuel Salter, who sought to improve the text by re-examining Jeffery’s collections, making alterations to around 300 of the aphorisms found in the 1703 volume and adding a further 200 to take the total to 1,200. In the back of the 1753 volume, Salter also included an exchange of ten letters between Whichcote and his Calvinist tutor Benjamin Tuckney in 1651, which Salter had copyedited from a transcript made by Jeffery’s brother.
Aspects of the publication history of the most important of these editions of Whichcote’s writings – those produced in 1685, 1698, 1701-7, 1703, 1742, 1751, and 1753 – are discussed below. First, however, a brief overview of the sermons themselves will help to clarify some of Whichcote’s objectives as a preacher, and some of the priorities of his editors. The following table shows the biblical texts used as the basis for the sermons found in the 1685, 1698, 1701-7 and 1751 editions:
Whichcote Sermons – Biblical Texts
|Text||1698 numbering||1701-7 numbering||1751 numbering||1751 pagination|
|Psalm 5:4-5||4.17, 4.18, 4.19, 4.20, 4.21, 4.22, 4.23, 4.24, 4.25, 4.26||4.88, 4.89, 4.90, 4.91, 4.92, 4.93, 4.94, 4.95, 4.96, 4.97||4.324-438 (115)|
|Psalm 39:11||1.5, 1.6, 1.7||1.5, 1.6, 1.7|
|Jeremiah 9:23-4||4.14, 4.15, 4.16||4.85, 4.86, 4.87|
|Ezekiel 18:27||1.12, 1.13, 1.14, 1.15, 1.16||1.12, 1.13, 1.14, 1.15, 1.16||1.198-268 (70)|
|Luke 16:25||2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4||1.17, 1.18, 1.19, 1.20||1.268-332 (64)|
|John 7:46||1.1||3.12, 3.13||3.50, 3.51|
|Romans 1:16-29||1.2-6||3.14, 3.15, 3.16, 3.17, 3.18, 3.19, 3.20, 3.21, 3.22, 3.23, 3.24, 3.25, 3.26, 3.27, 3.28||3.52, 3.53, 3.54, 3.55, 3.56, 3.57, 3.58, 3.59, 3.60, 3.61, 3.62, 3.63, 3.64, 3.65, 3.66||3.61-367 (307)|
|2 Corinthians 5:20||3.8, 3.9||2.46, 2.47|
|Philippians 3:7-8, 3:12, 3:15-16, 3:20||2.16, 2.17, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 3.29, 3.30, 2.18, 2.19, 2.20||2.34, 2.35, 1.22, 1.23, 1.24, 2.25, 2.26, 2.36, 2.37, 2.38||1.347-96; 2.1-40; 2.127-203 (166)|
|Philippians 4:8||2.1||4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.5, 4.6, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9, 4.10, 4.11, 4.12, 4.13||3.67, 3.68, 3.69, 3.70, 4.71, 4.72, 4.73, 4.74, 4.75, 4.76, 4.77, 4.78, 4.79||3.386-436; 4.1-155 (206)|
|Colossians 3:17||3.5, 3.6, 3.7||2.43, 2.44, 2.45|
|2 Timothy 1:9-10||2.12, 2.13, 2.14, 2.15||2.30, 2.31, 2.32, 2.33||2.73-127 (54)|
|Titus 2:11-12||3.1, 3.2||2.39, 2.40|
|Hebrews 2:17||3.3, 3.4||2.41, 2.42|
|Hebrews 3:12, 3:13||1.9, 1.11||1.9, 1.11|
|1 Peter 3:4||2.5*||4.83|
Aside from a single funeral sermon on Genesis, the text of which had been selected by the deceased individual, none of these discourses are based on texts from the Pentateuch or the historical books of the Old Testament. Indeed, there is little emphasis in Whichcote’s sermons on historical questions, a point considerably at variance with his editor Jeffery’s own works, where history, both human and divine, looms large. Similarly, unlike Cudworth, More, Smith and Conway, Whichcote makes very few references to Cabbalistic thought. From the Old Testament, Whichcote appears to have had a particular interest in the Psalms: as well as an important series of sermons on Psalm 5:4-5, he produced materials relating to Psalm 18 (printed in 1698) and Psalms 33, 39, and 95 (printed in 1701). As well as his work on Ezekiel 18:27, which Jeffery presents as a series of 5 discourses (1701), we know from Salter’s 1753 preface that Whichcote left a group of 36 sermons on Jeremiah, from which Clarke selected 3 for publication (1707). However, whereas More and Cudworth both wrote extensively on chiliastic prophecies, none of Whichcote’s surviving sermons are based on texts drawn from Daniel or Revelation.
More than half of the extant sermons use New Testament texts, including 15 discourses on Romans 1:16-29 (1703) and 13 on Philippians 4:8 (1707). Both these sermon series are also represented in Shaftesbury’s 1698 volume, greatly reduced in length, with the Philippians set reduced to a single bumper sermon, and the Romans chapter 1 discourses appearing as 5 sermons, also considerably abridged. Whichcote’s discourses on Philippians chapter 3 represent particular interpretive and editorial problems: Jeffery presented them in three distinct groups, comprising sermons on 3:12 and 3:15 (1702, discourses 6-8) 3:7-8 and 3:20 (1702, discourses 16-20), and 3:15-16 (1703, discourses 29-30). Jeffery further confused the relation between these discourses by providing them with editorial names:
|Publication date||Discourse||Biblical Text||Editor’s Title|
|1702||6-7||Philippians 3:12||The Exercise and Progress of a Christian|
|1702||8||Philippians 3:15||The practice of those who are Improved|
|1702||16-17||Philippians 3:7-8||The Worth of Religion, and Suffering for it|
|1702||18-20||Philippians 3:20||The Citizenship of a Christian|
|1703||29||Philippians 3:15-16||That those who are truly Religious will be delivered from all dangerous Errors about Religion|
|1703||30||Philippians 3:15-16||That the Unity of the Church is carefully maintained by all those that are sincere Christians|
The title page to the third volume of the Several Discourses (1703) explains that discourses 29 and 30 ‘are a Continuation of Sermon VIII. Vol. II’, and this interpretation is borne out by the conceptual and verbal overlap between 1702.20 and 1703.29. It is currently only possible to speculate as to how this confusing partition of Whichcote’s argument occurred, although one possible reason is that Jeffery might have used two different sets of sermon notes when compiling discourses 1702.6-8 and discourses 1703.29-30. It must be admitted that there is no demonstrable connection between these five sermons and discourses 1702.16-20, but there is nevertheless a value in presenting them together as an example of Whichcote’s extended meditation on Philippians chapter 3, which might be taken to parallel his much more clearly defined argument on Philippians 4:8.
The four volumes of the Several Discourses (1701-7) edited by Jeffery and Clarke contain a total of 16 + 20 + 30 + 26 = 92 discourses, of which 48 belong to the four series on Psalm 5:4-5, Romans 1:16-29, Philippians 3:7-20 and Philippians 4:8. The principles by which Jeffery organised the first three volumes are unclear – they may have been determined partly by the contents of his source manuscripts – but it may be significant that volume 1 consists largely of sermons on Old Testament texts, while volume 2 begins with a set of 4 sermons on Luke and continues with discourses on New Testament verses from Philippians chapter 3 and 2 Timothy. Volume 3 is dominated by the sermon series on Romans chapter 1, introduced by a related pair of discourses on John 7:46 also found in the 1698 volume. Clarke’s 1707 volume consists solely of sermons on Philippians 4:8, Jeremiah 9:23-4 and Psalm 5:4-5; as well as reflecting Clarke’s more limited sources, this narrow range of biblical texts may be suggestive of his desire to present Whichcote as a philosophical thinker capable of extended argument.
Despite the widespread recognition that Whichcote’s sermons exist in multiple versions, there have been surprisingly few studies of the connections between these alternative texts. Although a systematic exploration of variants is beyond the scope of this Sourcebook, the following tables outline the structure of Whichcote’s four major sermon series from the 1701-7 collection, highlighting parallels with the variant texts in 1685 and 1698 where they exist. One of the difficulties in studying Whichcote is that he is known to have extemporised considerably while delivering sermons, meaning that the conscientious attempts made by his editors to clean up his style and argument may in certain instances have detracted in irrecoverable ways from the force and meaning of his locutions. However, it was also widely reported by Whichcote’s associates that he regularly used sermon ‘heads’, which functioned similarly to a modern speaker’s lecture notes or cue cards, and which often appear in the published versions as numbered lists of arguments and ideas. Comparing the variant versions has the added advantage of clarifying the structure and essence of Whichcote’s sermons, bringing us slightly closer to some of his intentions in writing them by deflecting attention away from some of his pre-planned and extemporaneous reasonings.
The numbering 1685.123 = 1685 edition, p. 123
The numbering 1.2.47 for the 1698 edition = part 1, sermon 2, p. 4
The numbering 3.14.204 for the 1701-7 edition = volume 3, discourse 14, p. 204
(1) Romans 1:16-29
[1.2.47, citing Romans 1:16] For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: For it is the Power of God to Salvation, to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
[1.2.48] Some find cause of shame in the gospel.
[1.2.49] Power is not limited to one perfection.
[1.2.49] Consider the author of the gospel; what it is in itself; of what benefit to us; power/wisdom, goodness.
[1.2.51] The gospel contains admirable speculation but is also a vital principle.
[1.2.52] The substance of the gospel is repentance from dead works and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
[1.2.54] The matter of the gospel is a bias upon our spirits.
[1.2.56] Application: we are to acquaint ourselves thoroughly with the tenor of the gospel; you should pursue the intent of the gospel in your own spirit and by free communication in converse with others.
[1.2.61] Considering there is so much reason for it on man’s part, it is not only just and fit itself, but also good for us to repent.
[1.2.64] Three aspects of the unreasonableness of sin.
[1.2.66] The remedy against sensuality and worldliness.
[1.2.69] It is the proper work of reason in man to find God out in his works, and to follow him in his ways.
[1.2.72] They who live the life of sense are apt to be beaten off from all regard to God, but they who are separated from body do easily receive the divine life.
[1.2.76] Conclusion: how inexcusable are they who have turned the doctrine of the gospel or the grace of God into lasciviousness.
[3.14.204, citing Romans 1:16] I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the Power of God to Salvation to every one that believeth, [to the Jew first, and also to the Greek].
[3.14.206] Some find matter of shame in the gospel.
[3.14.208] Power is not limited to one perfection.
[3.14.208] Consider the excellency of the gospel from the author; what it is in itself; how far forth it is beneficial to us; power, wisdom, goodness.
[3.14.211] The gospel contains admirable speculation but is also a vital principle.
[3.14.215] The substance of the gospel is repentance from dead works and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
[3.14.216] The matter of the gospel is a bias upon our spirits.
[3.14.221] Six glosses on the order and extent of this divine dispensation, especially in relation to the Jews.
[3.14.223] Two observations: there is every reason that we should acknowledge God eminently for his grace and goodness in our salvation; wheresoever the grace of God is afforded to any spiritual effect, there we ourselves are also to act.
[3.15.226] Application: we are to acquaint ourselves thoroughly with the tenor of the gospel; you should pursue the intent of the gospel in your own spirit and by free communication in converse with others.
[3.15.228] Consider there is so much reason for it on man’s part, that it is not only just and fit itself, but also good for us that we should repent.
[1.3.79, citing Romans 1:18] For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness, and Unrighteousness of Men, that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.
[1.3.79] The several degrees of holding truth in unrighteousness: where knowledge goes not forth into act; where there is no attaining true growth; when men elude their judgements by an evasion; when we do not follow truth fully; the high degree of sin.
[1.3.82] Two observations: men have wrong and injurious apprehensions of God; ungodly and unrighteous men are self-condemned.
[1.3.85] These persons have the guilt of evil practice upon their minds; they are reproved, challenged, and condemned by their own internal sense.
[1.3.87] A sinner wrongs his own principles in respect of God.
[1.3.89] Sinners wrong their own principles in respect of one another.
[1.3.91] As sinners, we wrong our own principles in respect of ourselves.
[1.3.94] Inferences: if the unrighteous and ungodly are self-condemned it cannot be imputed to God as severity to condemn them; we may work upon the light of reason and conscience; we may give an account of that which gives a check and stop to the motion of the divine spirit.
[1.3.97] Take notice of the boldness and presumption of those sinners who have this proclamation from heaven of the wrath of God.
[1.3.98, citing Romans 1:19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
[1.3.99] Reason is a check and control to the forward and presumptuous imposers and dogmatists; the great points of religion stand upon the grounds of reason; the dealings of God with his creatures are accountable by reason.
[1.3.101] The Apostle’s argument is that all those who in the language of scripture are sinners go against the principles of natural conscience.
[1.3.102] The natural knowledge of God is wrapped up in the inward of man’s mind and soul.
[1.3.104] ‘Tully’s Argument’
[1.3.107] It is more knowable that there is a God than anything else: in respect of the amplitude and fulness of being that is in him; in the ways of our knowing, through perfection and negation; in our relation to him; in our dependence upon him.
[1.3.112] Inferences: religion is no stranger to human nature; the natural knowledge of God is the product of reason, and reason is made acquainted with revelation; there is no invincible ignorance in any part of the world as to God’s right to worship and the difference between good and evil; reason does no disservice to Christian faith but fits men to receive it; since religion and conscience are committed to reason, reason may also be trusted with things of lesser moment.
[3.16.231, citing Romans 1:17-18] For therein is the Righteousness of God revealed from Faith to Faith; as it is written, the Just shall live by Faith. For the Wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all Ungodliness, and Unrighteousness of Men, that hold the Truth in Unrighteousness.
[3.16.231] Propositions: God has engaged himself that he will not go back; those men who believe and obey are just men, with true and real evangelical righteousness.
[3.16.233] Three oppositions: righteousness in contradistinction to the wrath of God; faith against the ungodly; things consequence upon wrath against things consequent upon goodness.
[3.16.234] Particulars in relation to the righteousness of God and the several degrees of faith.
[3.16.236] Men who have been inspired have thought it worthy to prove themselves by scripture; they have quoted scripture in a very great latitude.
[3.16.240] The wrath of God; revelation from Heaven; ungodliness and unrighteousness; truth of first inscription and after-revelation.
[3.16.245] Two duties: to awaken yourself to God’s knowledge; to comply and fulfil such knowledge.
[3.17.247] The several degrees of holding truth in unrighteousness: where knowledge goes not forth into act; where there is no attaining true growth; when men elude their judgements by an evasion; when we do not follow truth fully; the high degree of sin.
[3.17.251] Two observations: men have wrong and injurious apprehensions of God; ungodly and unrighteous men are self-condemned.
[3.18.258] Those who hold the truth in unrighteousness are sinners: the guilt of evil practice lies upon their minds; they are reproved, challenged, and condemned by their own internal sense.
[3.18.259] First instance of evil: impiety towards God.
[3.18.261] Second instance of evil: unrighteousness towards each other.
[3.18.261] Third instance of evil: sin against a man’s self, by contradicting the reason of the mind or subordinating it to bodily sense.
[3.18.264] Men are guilty if they do not receive truth in the love of it; are under the power of unmortified lust; design their own ends; are in love with this present world; are of dastardly and cowardly spirits.
[3.18.264] Persons excepted are those who sometimes do amiss; are under dark and confused apprehension; are under violent or long-lasting temptation.
[3.18.265] Inferences: men need not be as bad as they are; the cause of a creature’s misery is rational and accountable; there is something in every man upon which we may work; it is want of advertency and consideration that provide a check and stop to the motions of the divine spirit as the instruments of conversion.
[3.18.269] It is truly evangelical and apostolical to declare the wrath of God against those who continue in sin, and to hold forth the grace and goodness of God towards those who repent and believe.
[3.19.272, citing Romans 1:19-20] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath Revealed it to them. For the invisible things of him from the Creation of the World are clearly seen, being Understood by the things that are made, even his Eternal Power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.
[3.19.272] Reason is a check and control to the forward and presumptuous imposers and dogmatists; the great points of religion stand upon the grounds of reason; the dealings of God with his creatures are accountable by reason.
[3.19.274] The Apostle’s argument: that all that in the language of scripture are sinners go against the principle of natural conscience.
[3.19.275] The natural knowledge of God is wrapped up in the inwards of men’s minds and souls.
[3.19.278] There are effects in nature that man’s mind and understanding can never bring about: the variety of nature; the proportion of things; the order, course, and motion of the heavenly bodies; the place of fire, water, earth, and air; the change of the seasons; the provision in nature to maintain and water the Earth.
[3.19.281] The natural world clearly demonstrates the existence of a god, the world of inanimates, vegetables and insensibles; it is absurd to deny the government of God in the moral world.
[3.20.283] It is more knowable that there is a God than anything else: in respect of the amplitude and fulness of being that is in him; in the ways of our knowing, through perfection and negation; in our relation to him; in our dependence upon him.
[3.20.286] Inferences: religion is no stranger to human nature; the natural knowledge of God is the product of reason, and reason is made acquainted with revelation; there is no invincible ignorance in any part of the world as to God’s right to worship and the difference between good and evil; reason does no disservice to Christian faith but fits men to receive it; since religion and conscience are committed to reason, reason may also be trusted with things of lesser moment.
[3.20.289] There is no plea or apology for want of the sense of the Deity: no difficulty lies upon it; there are many invitations to it; in the Christian world there is God’s instrument the Bible to give assurance and satisfaction.
[3.20.295] Observations: God must have infinite patience to endure such degenerate monsters as men of stupid minds, havocked consciences, and profligate lives; the business of the Day of Judgment is very easy on God’s part, but very sad on degenerate men’s part; the work of reconciliation is very great.
[1.4.119, citing Romans 1:21-2] Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their Imaginations, and their foolish Heart was Darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became Fools.
[1.4.119] Five particulars of the failure to glorify God: living without God in the world; entertaining base thoughts and unworthy apprehensions of God; assuming to themselves power and authority to assign a mean of worship; degenerating in wickedness and naughtiness; being unthankful.
[1.4.130] The argument of conviction, that if men do not glorify God, they do it knowingly.
[1.4.131] Truth is a seminal principle with which the mind of man is impregnated; the imprisoning or controlling of truth is an act of injury and offence; truth is connatural to man’s soul; it is a most uneasy condition for any person to know and not to do.
[1.4.135] How it comes to pass that such a horrid and unnatural thing is found in the commonwealth of mankind when there is nothing of this deformity in all inferior natures: a great part of men live in a hurry and have not the leisure to consider; men are given up in the first place to save themselves from harm in this hurtful and dangerous world; men gratify their senses and steep themselves in worldly delights and pleasures; by long abuse of themselves men come into a wholly unnatural temper.
[1.4.142] Observations: we see the course of the world and foresee the state of men in the other world; as we have foresight of the future state of man, so we have an account of the torture, confusion, and distraction of some that are high sinners in this life; we are to have God excused, notwithstanding that his judgments seem sometimes severe and sharp.
[1.4.149] The text should be read in the ears of atheists.
[1.4.151] The dismal and sad consequents.
[1.4.151] It is strange that anything should be admitted for religion which for its shallowness, emptiness, and insignificancy, falls under reproof of reason.
[1.4.156] Men may work themselves out of nature’s sense by ill use, custom and practice.
[1.4.157] Those who profess themselves to be wise but become fools are out of the way of true reason and sober religion.
[1.4.159] There is no grosser folly in the world than (upon account of religion) to come under obligation to anything in point of judgment and conscience which is not materially true, as verified in reason or scripture.
[3.21.297, citing Romans 1:21] Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; [but became vain in their Imaginations, and their foolish Heart was Darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became Fools.]
[3.21.298] Five particulars of the failure to glorify God: living without God in the world; entertaining base thoughts and unworthy apprehensions of God; assuming to themselves power and authority to assign a mean of worship; degenerating in wickedness and naughtiness; being unthankful.
[3.21.306] The argument of conviction, that if men do not glorify God, they do it knowingly.
[3.21.306] Truth is a seminal principle with which the mind of man is impregnated; the imprisoning or controlling of truth is an act of injury and offence; truth is connatural to man’s soul; it is a most uneasy condition for any person to know and not to do.
[3.22.312] How it comes to pass that such a horrid and unnatural thing is found in the commonwealth of mankind when there is nothing of this deformity in all inferior natures: a great part of men live in a hurry and have not the leisure to consider; men are given up in the first place to save themselves from harm in this hurtful and dangerous world; men gratify their senses and steep themselves in worldly delights and pleasures; by long abuse of themselves men come into a wholly unnatural temper.
[3.22.315] Four inferences: hereby we see the course of the world and foresee the state of men in the other world; as we have foresight of the future state of man, so we have an account of the torture, confusion, and distraction of some that are high sinners in this life; we are to have God excused, notwithstanding that his judgments seem sometimes severe and sharp; knowledge should never be obstructed, but have a free passage.
[3.2.321] Exhortation: that every man would take cognisance of God in the world and glorify him as God.
[3.22.323] The text should be read in the ears of atheists.
[3.23.328] Man is a sufficient argument to prove that there is a God: I act therefore I am; I do therefore I have being; I did not make myself, therefore I was made by another.
[3.23.331] The dismal and sad consequences of affected atheism: men’s pretences to religion and conscience are subject to evaporate.
[3.23.331] To glorify God as God means to own him the general and universal cause and to acknowledge him the first and chief goodness; there is nothing more inconsistent with religion than for any man to have slight and foolish apprehensions of God in his mind.
[3.23.334] We should receive truth in the love of it, upon its own account, out of judgment and satisfaction of its convenience and fitness to bring human nature to perfection.
[3.23.335] It is one of the greatest prodigies in the world that men should admit that for religion which for its shallowness, emptiness, and insignificancy, falls under reproof of reason.
[3.23.336] The world has been scandalised by pretended matters of faith which are in a downright contradiction to reason.
[3.23.336] The man of reason and understanding is well satisfied in the great materials of religion: to live godlily, righteously, and soberly: there is a harmony and consistency between true reason and Christianity.
[3.24.340] Where there is not a fair usage of divine truth, whether connatural or revealed, nothing worthy of religion is likely to follow, but the consequence is dismal, the miscarriage shameful, vain imagination, darkness of mind, folly, and superstition.
[3.24.342] Men may work themselves out of nature’s sense by ill use, custom and practice.
[3.24.344] Men preach Christ and the Gospel when they contend for all effects of real goodness and decry every wickedness.
[3.24.346] Those who profess themselves to be wise but become fools are out of the way of true reason and sober religion, either absolutely (those who think themselves wise are least of all so) or in relation to the words preceding and following (the context of changing God’s glory into an image).
[3.24.349] There is no grosser folly in the world than (upon account of conscience, or in point of religion) to come under obligation to anything that is not materially true, as verified either in reason or scripture.
[3.25.353, citing Romans 1:28, 1:32] And even as they did not like to retain God in their Knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate Mind, &c. Who knowing the Judgment of God, (that they which commit such things are worthy of Death) not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
[3.25.353] Not retaining God in our knowledge suggests that it is not so much a difficulty in the knowledge of God, as in man’s unwillingness, averseness, and disaffection.
[3.25.356] Future subjective misery is not any foreign imposition by power, but an acquired constitution of man’s mind and spirit.
[3.25.356] This state does not include an unavoidable interruption from actual thoughts of God at times, or avocations of business in a way of ordinary employment, but it is a private defection: inward indisposition and aversion, long vacancy from acknowledgment of God, or no due subordination of temporals to spirituals.
[3.25.357] Though employed in worldly business, without actual thoughts of God for a while, we are not to charge ourselves with not retaining God in our minds, because we are encumbered with bodies, liable to be surprised with emergencies, and fall into variety of converse.
[3.25.359] If this indisposition be contracted by guilt, an undue act, or culpable neglect, take care that conscience is relieved and eased, and that the integrity of your disposition Godward be recovered by sincere repentance.
[3.25.360] The last character representing the degenerate state of miserable mortals concerns those who take pleasure in others who commit things worthy of death.
[3.25.361] ‘Knowing’ suggests men being liable to condemnation within themselves and from God.
[3.25.362] All God’s impositions by command or prohibition are the fruits of wisdom and understanding in conjunction with righteousness.
[3.25.364] Men may know and have an account of God’s judgment.
[3.25.364] There is a worthiness of death in doing the things which God condemns.
[3.25.365] Men make themselves obnoxious not only by what they do, but also what they take pleasure in.
[3.25.366] Two inferences: take care of your company; when you make your secret peace with God, call to mind what company you have been in and what has been done by your company and converse.
[1.5.163, citing parts of Romans 1:26, 1:27] For this Cause God gave them up to vile Affections, &c. Receiving in themselves that Recompence of their Error which was meet.
[1.5.163] An account of God’s behaviour towards mankind
[1.5.164] Neither the evil of sin nor the evil of punishment is from God
[1.5.167] Antecedent to the being of evil, God does what infinite wisdom and goodness directs to prevent it
[1.5.167] Subsequent to the being of evil, God in his infinite goodness brings good out of it.
[1.5.168] Let us be careful how we attribute evil to God.
[1.5.169] If we attribute evil to God, these mischiefs follow: we shall think of God contrary to what he is; we shall not think aright of evil; we shall excuse ourselves too much; we shall take little care to repent.
[1.5.172] The three greatest evils are guilt in the conscience; malignity and naughtiness in the mind; a sickly, diseased and distempered body.
[1.5.176] The body may be sick for pride, envy, and malice; intemperance and wantonness; idleness and sloth.
[1.5.180] Two grounds: man was made a law to himself; men leave or change the natural use.
[1.5.182] Four inferences: if man’s misery be within, then no imputation is to be laid upon God; if this were duly considered, men would not allow themselves to be lawless, arbitrary, licentious, and exorbitant; men would not be aggrieved at the shows and appearances of this vain world; this recommends to us principles of reason and religion.
[1.5.184] Four propositions
[1.5.189] Extra thoughts concerning the necessity of self-government
[3.26.368, citing parts of Romans 1:24, 1:26, 1:28] Wherefore God also gave them up to Uncleanness. For this cause God gave them up unto vile Affections. And even as they did not like to retain God in their Knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate Mind.
[3.26.369] An account of whether God has a hand in the sin of his creatures or in the sinners’ misery
[3.26.369] Neither the evil of sin nor the evil of punishment is from God
[3.26.371] Antecedent to the being of evil, God does what infinite wisdom and goodness directs to prevent it
[3.26.372] Subsequent to the being of evil, God in his infinite goodness brings good out of it.
[3.26.374] God fully answers the relation he stands in to whatsoever he has made, as a parent; he does whatsoever is due and requisite to make the principles of his creation effectual; God will do whatever becomes infinite goodness.
[3.26.376] The positive causes of evil: objects may incline; examples may entice; opportunities may invite; constitution may dispose; company may persuade; evil angels may seduce; men may abuse the liberty and power they hold under God; whenever evil takes effect, God did not think fit to hinder it.
[3.26.378] We should be very cautious how we attribute evil to God.
[3.26.379] If we attribute evil to God, four mischiefs follow: we shall think of God contrary to what he is; we shall not think aright of evil; we shall excuse ourselves too much; we shall take little care to repent or revoke.
[SEE DISCOURSE 28, p. 398]
[1.6.195. citing Romans 1:29] Being filled with all Unrighteousness, Fornication, Wickedness, Covetousness, Maliciousness; full of Envy, Murder, Debate, Deceit, Malignity; Whisperers, &c.
[1.6.196] Covetousness is a subtle and very mischievous evil
[1.6.200] Men under the power of covetousness will pretend to high nobleness and generosity and sometimes bid defiance to the world.
[1.6.203] He who finds himself in inclinations towards the world, desires to grow rich and raise himself, let him suspect himself.
[1.6.207] Five particulars: whosoever is a person of eager, inordinate, ungoverned appetites is covetous; he who has enough for necessary use and fears to spend is covetous; he who makes himself a drudge in the world and so extremely busy and over-employed that he is not at leisure to attend upon God is covetous; he who through his base love of money has not equal consideration in his dealing with others but insists upon his own advantage is covetous; he who overrules principles of reason and conscience and uses all means to become rich is prodigiously covetous.
[1.6.212] Exhortation: that we endeavour to refine, ennoble, and spiritualize our tempers.
[1.6.215] The misunderstanding of the distinction (not commonly taken notice of) between natural principles and moral duties is the occasion of many difficulties and confusions.
[1.6.217] Ill-will is characterised under no fewer than twelve titles.
[1.6.218] The scripture stresses this disposition because it is of principal use and subservience to God government in the world; it displays our resentment of God’s goodness to us in pardoning us in Jesus Christ; unless exercised in the practice of it here, we shall be in no way qualified to become citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem hereafter.
[1.6.219] The pleasures of eternity are mental, intellectual, and satisfactory, without molestation or contest.
[1.6.221] There is a great congruity between our wellbeing and the nature of things enjoined by religion.
[SEE SERMON 5, p. 172]
[3.27.382, citing Romans 1:29] Being filled with all Unrighteousness, Fornication, Wickedness, Covetousness, Maliciousness, full of Envy, Murder, Debate, Deceit, Malignity, Whisperers, &c. [3.27.382] Covetousness is a very cunning, subtle, and deadly dangerous evil; opposed to the poor in spirit: a disposition of mind which does not desire worldly pomp, or state, or greatness, or revenue.
[3.27.382] Men under the power of covetousness will upon discontent bid defiance to the world.
[3.27.388] Whoso finds in himself an inclination toward the world, a desire to grow rich and raise himself, let him suspect himself.
[3.27.389] Five particulars: whosoever is a person of eager, inordinate, ungoverned appetites is covetous; he who has enough for necessary use and fears to spend is covetous; he who makes himself a drudge in the world and so extremely busy and over-employed that he is not at leisure to attend upon God is covetous; he who through his base love of money has not equal consideration in his dealing with others but insists upon his own advantage is covetous; he who overrules principles of reason and conscience and uses all means to become rich is prodigiously covetous.
[3.27.394] Exhortation: that we endeavour to refine, enable and spiritualize our temper.
[3.27.394] Three considerations: the dignity, value and worth of our immortal souls; the undervaluation of all things in the world in competition; the reference of the affairs of time to eternity.
[3.27.395] There are no fewer than twelve names for the sin of degeneracy.
[3.27.396] The scripture stresses this disposition because it is of principal use and subservience to God government in the world; it displays our resentment of God’s goodness to us in pardoning us in Jesus Christ; unless exercised in the practice of it here, we shall be in no way qualified to become citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem hereafter.
[3.28.398, citing Romans 1:27] Receiving in themselves that Recompence of their Errour which was meet.
[3.28.400] The three greatest evils are guilt in the conscience; malignity and naughtiness in the mind; and a sickly, diseased and distempered body.
[3.28.401] The body may be sick for pride, envy, and malice; intemperance and wantonness; idleness and sloth.
[3.28.404] Two grounds: man was made a law to himself; men leave or change the natural use.
[3.28.407] Four inferences: if the creatures’ misery be within, then no imputation is to be laid upon God; if this were well considered, men would not allow themselves to be lawless, arbitrary, licentious, and exorbitant; men would not be aggrieved at the shows and appearances in this vain world; this recommends to us the principles of reason and religion, where all is sincere and solid and nothing is imaginary, conceited, or fantastical.
(2) Philippians 3:7-8, 3:12, 3:15-16, 3:20:
|[Philippians 3:7-8] But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but Dung, that I may win Christ.|
[1685.13] To show you the excellency of the knowledge of Christ by way of efficiency.
[1685.14] Four effects of the knowledge of Christ: it is sanative and restorative; corrective and regulative; virtual and operative; raising and advancing.
[2.16.335] The knowledge of Christ is excellent in three ways: its sufficiency/efficiency, because of the operation it has upon us; materially, in respect of itself; in intentions and issue (the formal and final cause in morals are always the same).
[2.16.341] Four aspects of the operation of the divine knowledge of God in Christ: it corrects and regulates; heals and restores; cherishes and revives; raises and advances.
[2.16.341] Divine knowledge corrects and regulates.
[2.16.341] Divine knowledge heals and restores us by its regenerating and sanctifying virtue; we should live soberly, righteously, and godlily; in the first instance is knowledge, and in the second is goodness; Christ’s doctrine, his example, the notions of his death, and the effects of his spirit, all engage us to a holy life.
[2.16.348] Divine knowledge cherishes and revives; we come to understand upon what terms God will pardon sin, and we come to see great reason why God should pardon sin in Christ.
[1685.16] The knowledge of Christ is excellent as to the matter of it, which is knowledge of the secrets of heaven.
[1685.18] The knowledge of Christ is excellent in its intention or execution.
[1685.20] Inference 1: Let this be a reproof to men of parts, education and understanding, that are ignorant in gospel mysteries.
[1685.22] Inference 2: You have an account of the meanness and baseness of many knowing men’s spirits.
[1685.24] Inference 3: Let this be the rule of proportion, by which men are regulated.
[1685.25] Inference 4: Let everyone look after the knowledge of Christ.
[1685.26] Christ is valued and accounted of when there is sense of interest in him.
[1685.26] Explained on our part.
[1685.28] Explained on Christ’s part.
[1685.28] Two inferences: if Christ be precious, then it is safe to compromise our judgments with those who have interest in him; if you would have settled and grounded judgment of Christ, make him yours by particular interest.
[1685.30] Observation 1: A Christian’s judgment and practice are proportionable.
[1685.34] Observation 2: He who has any of Christ would have more of him.
[Observation 3, not discussed in the text, is as follows: Emptiness of all worldly excellencies is the only way to get affection towards him]
[1685.38] Observation 4: A true Christian can part with all the world for Christ.
[1685.48] Observation 4 reasserted.
[2.17.352] The practise of the apostle in general (in pursuance of judgment) and in the case of sufferings:
[2.17.353] Religion supposes a well-grounded, settled and established judgment, which yields to truth and complies with it, without bias from any worldly interest; there were no danger of hell to any creature if there were no guilt in the person’s conscience.
[2.17.356] Religion tends not only to the illumination of mind and understanding, but to the refining of a man’s spirit and renovation of a man’s heart and life, and transformation of the whole man.
[2.17.358] The case of sufferings:
[2.17.358] It is indispensably necessary upon the account of religion, conscience, and our relation to Christ, that you mortify your lusts and renounce self-will.
[2.17.361] You must part with other things so far as they are prejudicial and inconsistent with religion.
[2.17.361] Anything that is truly ours must be parted with if anyone receive a special command.
[2.17.365] We lose all in a diminutive sense when we take less care to keep and retain, value and esteem: a man may be said to lose all for Christ when he esteems his estate less than his judgment and conscience.
[2.17.369] Losing all for Christ is worthy on our part: it makes some show of willingness to make some return and expresses that we have some sense of what Christ has done for us.
[2.17.371] Losing all for Christ is for our good: otherwise we should set our own things in the place of God.
|[Philippians 3:12] Not as though I had already attained, or were already perfect, but I follow after if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.|
[2.6.115] Where the apostle professes his faith, he also testifies his humility, care and diligence, and God’s grace.
[2.6.116] Faith in God, humility of spirit, and active care and diligence in the affairs of our salvation are things that are united in the common root of truth of goodness; they comply with each other in their nature and disposition; they mutually promote each other in their several operations.
[2.6.117] There is no better preparation for faith than humility.
[2.6.119] Those who are humble and modest are in a due disposition and fitness of mind for the belief in divine things; such persons have the advantage of God’s promise.
[2.6.119] Let not the unbelief of some make the faith of God of no effect; let everyone that professes his faith give proof of his humility.
[2.6.122] We ought to prefer the modest, gentle, calm spirit of quiet believers before the arrogant, censorious, self-assumer.
[2.6.126] The right believer is most modest and humble, less rigid and censorious, less captious and given to take exception, and so his converse and society is less offensive and burdensome.
[2.6.128] God will indulge us in our human infirmities and bear with us in our mistakes, but he is severe and impartial concerning our honest meaning and true intention.
[2.7.133] Discussion of care and diligence, as principles of action, causes of action, and the necessity of action.
[2.7.138] Two inferences: those who are careless and negligent about their souls are not in good earnest to save them; let not show and pretence, words and profession signify religion
[2.7.141] Avoid all known evil, do all known good, and submit the ordinary things of life to serve and advance our future estate.
[2.7.145] Discussion of the grace of God: its priority, freeness, and efficacy.
[2.7.157] The grace and favour of God expresses itself in a way of benevolence and compassion or in a way of love and complacency; his grace and favour towards us is for our encouragement and our performances.
[2.7.150] Those who vigorously and with all imaginable zeal call upon men to use, employ, and improve the principles of God’s creation are not to be blamed or looked upon as neglecting God’s grace; there should be no discouragement from thoughts of God’s evil purpose on anyone who is in a way of religion or dependence upon God.
[2.7.153] We are to call upon one another to act according to reason and to answer all principles of natural light and conscience in compliance with grace; we will by no means discourage anyone who is in a disposition God, for scripture warrants that God does not osake or refuse men, but is a real friend to souls.
|[Philippians 3:15-16] Let as many of us therefore as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. [ Nevertheless, whereto ye have already attained, let us walk by the same Rule, let us mind the same Things.]|
[1685.65] The text considered as the report of the language of his carriage; a word of encouragement; a forcible argumentation.
[1685.65] Three doctrines: he who is right in the main may err in some particulars; God will discover to him who is right in the main his particular errors; it is greatly to be desired that those who are substantially grounded may differ as little as may be.
[1685.66] Doctrine 1: Fundamentals are things of undoubted foundation natural light: for a creature to tender homage to the creator; to be subject to his law; to comply with his will; to entertain his commands.
[2.8.155] The apostle’s invocation of perfection as a supposition of charity; a word of encouragement; the force of his argument; spoken respectively; of the way or means; of the disposition and intention of the mind.
[2.8.161] Four propositions: there is that in religion which is necessary and determined, fixed and immutable, clear and perspicuous; there is also that which is not so clear, plain, and evident; God will bring him who is right in the main out of particular mistakes; they who agree in the main but differ in some particulars ought to hold together as if in all things agreed.
[2.8.163] If these things were well digested and considered, there would be a solid foundation laid for peace and unity in the church of God.
[2.8164] The great things of religion wherein there is universal harmony, consent, and agreement: Christ for justification; Christ to the effects and purposes of mortification, regeneration, and divine and spiritual life.
[2.8.167] The great things in religion are in the first place those that concern God, especially the necessary perfections of the divine nature (including holiness and truth), and our acknowledgment of and submission to divine revelations.
[2.8.170] There are great things in religion in respect of human nature, especially things founded in our relation to God (including reverence and faith), things grounded in our constitution (including modesty, sobriety, and the government of reason over sense), and things belonging to our respect towards each other (including just and equal dealings).
[2.8.177] Uses: that men may charge themselves not to fail in the necessaries of religion; that men, knowing the necessary things, nevertheless may live in love and heaty good will.
[2.8.179] The scripture gives assurance that God is reconcilable, will pardon sin, and receive a sinner to mercy upon his repentance, faith, and return to duty; this is a matter of the easiest belief because it is worthy of God, and presents terms highly desirable and grateful to us.
[2.8.182] There are principles which are fixed, immutable, and unchangeable, because clear either in reason, or revelation, or both; because they are suitable and connatural to the regenerate state, we cannot fail in them unless we desert our own nature.
[2.8.183] There are things of an inferior nature wherein people may think otherwise from one another and contrary to the truth.
[2.8.183] These differences may result from the creature’s fallibility, for example the shortness of our principles, the distance of objects, or the misapprehension of them to our senses.
[2.8.185] They may result from accidental prejudice against some truth, for example through education, converse, a common supposition, a great conceit and supposition, a melancholy temper, weakness of parts, or affectation of singularity.
[1685.66] People may err in many practices.
[1685.66] They may err from the naked fallibility of the creation; an acquired prejudice against some practical truth, through education, diffidence to their own judgments, or fond imagination and strong conceit.
[1685.68] Doctrine 2: God will deliver those who are right in substantials out of particular errors.
[1685.68] There is expectation of this in relation to God, so far forth as a person approaches to him.
[1685.69] There is expectation of this in respect of the subject entertaining truth.
[1685.70] There is expectation of this in respect of the nature of truth.
[3.29.420] The second proposition: There is that in religion which is not so clear, plain, and evident.
[3.29.420] The causes and occasions of error and mistake: the creature’s fallibility; accidental prejudices from education, converse, common sense, strong imagination, melancholic temper, weakness of parts, or affection, singularity and worldly interest; the darkness of things themselves, where there is less of reason to be said, and the rule of faith is short; non-improvement of intellectuals; want of necessary helps and supplies, such as friends, fitting acquaintance, freedom of converse, liberty of time, and opportunity.
[3.29.423] The preservatives and security against them: care of right information; a modest temper; a general intention to entertain and submit to all truth; dealing ingenuously with truth, and loving it for itself; seeing the fatal issue of wickedness or wantonness of opinion in the shame miscarriages of such as have given themselves up to dreams and fancies.
[3.29.425] Four uses: let us live in the sense of our fallibility; although error be nowhere countenanced, it is not everywhere severely to be challenged; even he who is in a good estate still has work to do, to free his understanding from ignorance and error, to advance knowledge to a just height, and to conform his life and practice to his rule and virtue; the sense of all this should make us modest and humble.
[3.29.427] The third proposition: God will bring the person who is right in the main out of a particular mistake.
[3.29.428] This is a thing likely and credible on God’s part, because of God’s relation to us; because God has so declared and promised it; because God begins with us, with intention to go on if we be not perverse and wilful.
[3.29.249] It is likely and credible on our part, because if we have already received truth, we have a double advantage for receiving more: the way to the understanding has been opened, and the mind has been brought into a disposition and preparation to receive it.
[3.29.430] It is likely and credible with respect to truth, because truth is connatural to our souls, and the several truths hang together and mutually depend upon each other.
[3.29.432] Four additions, to prevent any advantage to enthusiasm: we should keep within the compass of the case; put off pride; not interpret revelation as immediate inspiration; and distinguish between practice and speculation.
[3.29.435] Three inferences: a man’s great security is the purity of his mind, the sincerity of his intention, and the honesty of his heart, which provide mighty advantage to right understanding and orthodox judgment; in ways of uprightness and integrity, we may presume that God leads us into all truth that we are concerned to know; we should give patience to those who mean well, since there is ground of expectation that they will come out of their error.
[1685.73] Doctrine 3: They who are universally right should differ as little as may be in circumstantials.
[1685.74] 17 questions
[1685.80] Agreement among Christians is a just expression of God and a happy imitation of him.
[1685.80] It is the honour of religion.
[1685.81] It is for mutual edification.
[1685.81] It is our strength and substance in the midst of opposition.
[1685.81] It is the ease of good men to agree.
[1685.81] It is preventive of sundry mischiefs, otherwise unavoidable.
[1685.82] It overlooks the foul miscarriages and notorious aberrations of other good men.
[1685.82] Uses: maintain brother love, accord, and affection; dissemble matters of difference; debate the case for better satisfaction and do not widen the breach.
[3.30.438] The fourth proposition: They who agree in the main but differ in some things ought to hold together as if in all things agreed.
[3.30.438] This is a representation and true resemblance of the heavenly state.
[3.30.439] It is the cause of religion, and natural to the regenerate state.
[3.30.441] It is the conversation of Christians with each other for mutual gain and advantage.
[3.30.441] It prevents all mischiefs which infest human society.
[3.30.441] Objections answered: we do not think alike in religion, but neither do we in other matters; the errors of others are dangerous, but that is not your charge, but God’s; it appears to misplace the zeal for truth, but this has its principal operation on one’s self in pursuit of judgment.
[3.30.441] Eighteen suggestions for accord or mutual forbearance.
[3.30.450] Four cautions: great reverence is to given to superiors; no disturbance must arise to the church of God; common errors are safer than personal errors; it becomes the modesty of particular persons with singular sentiments to ask themselves how the Spirit of God went from the generality of worshippers to themselves alone.
[3.30.453] Four sorts of persons not considered in the search for accord, harmony, and charity: atheists, enthusiasts, self-flatterers, and hypocrites.
|[Philippians 3:20] For our Conversation is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.|
[2.18.374] Explication of the verse, with glosses from Grotius, Erasmus, Beza, and Cornelius à Lapide.
[2.18.379] Our conversation is in heaven when we make heaven our sampler and copy; by motion upwards we contemplate God and are transformed into the image of God and act to our perfection; but by motion downwards we lose ourselves and grovel in the mire.
[2.18.386] Our conversation is in heaven as we carry it in our thoughts.
[2.18.389] Our conversation is in heaven in regard of our actions.
[2.18.393] Our conversation is in heaven according to the measure and degree of our present state.
[2.18.395] Our conversation is in heaven in regard of the constitution of our souls and spirits.
[2.19.398] Six particulars of a heavenly conversation: a just disesteem of the world; a subduing and mortifying of fleshly and inordinate lusts and affections; patient enduring of evils; self-denial and renouncing will; sublime cogitations; purity of mind and sincere intention.
[2.19.399] The Platonists were very sensible of a decay into which human nature was lapsed and proposed for men’s recovery the study of the mathematics, and moral purgation.
[2.19.401] First particular: contempt of the world, especially its vain pomp and glories.
[2.19.403] Second particular: mortification of the flesh: the bodies that we have here belong to us in the state of humiliation, but the spiritual body that our souls shall be invested with in exaltation will be quite another thing; there are four degrees of life: vegetative, sensitive, rational, and divine.
[2.19.407] Third particular: patiently enduring the evils that befall us in this life.
[2.19.413] Fourth particular: resigning our wills to the will of God.
[2.19.419] Fifth particular: sublime cogitations and raised apprehensions of God.
[2.20.423] Sixth particular: purity of mind.
[2.20.431] The entrance into heaven is not at the hour of death, but the moment of conversion.
[2.20.436] God is no more the cause of men’s condemnation, than he is the cause of their wickedness of heart and life
[2.20.440] Religion is a thing of a great name and powerful effect.
[2.20.442] Let us be sure that we do not fall under a bad and contrary character.
(3) Philippians 4:8
|Finally, Brethren, Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, If there be any Vertue, if there be any Praise, think on these Things.||Finally, Brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are seemly, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any Virtue, if there be any Praise, think on these Things.|
[2.1.226] The first head: whatsoever things are true.
[2.1.226] The difference of truth in things and in our apprehensions.
[2.1.227] Truth upon a natural account and a moral account.
[2.1.228] Man’s obligation to truth is grounded upon the state and principles of his creation.
[2.1.228] Particular instances.
[2.1.232] Lamentation about the misery and deformity of the world.
[2.1.233] Truth always has God to maintain it; it has defence in itself; it has goodness to accompany it; it has liberty consequent upon it; it is connatural to our principles; it is the foundation of order; it is the ground of human converse; it is the bond of union.
[2.1.235] The second head: whatsoever things are honest/venerable.
[2.1.235] Two things are requisite: grave behaviour and composure of spirit.
[2.1.238] Several directions: lay aside all affectation or imitation; let there be no moroseness, rigidness, censoriousness, severity, cynicism, or stateliness, but all friendliness, familiarity, kindness, harmony, and compliance in converse; let everyone know his own place, state, and circumstances; men should not over-abound in speech; avoid all immortality and turpitude.
[2.1.246] Advantages which attend upon gravity and sobriety: they prepare the mind of learning and knowledge; they are the true companions of wisdom; they dispose the mind to all virtue; they procure veneration and esteem from others; they uphold men’s superiority, dignity, and authority; they raise men’s thoughts to the consideration of excellent things; they represent the divine majesty and presence.
[2.1.248] The third head: whatsoever things are just/equal. Distinction between justice and equity.
[2.1.248] The words in the Greek comprehend two things, that in our English language we call ‘just’, and ‘equal’.
[2.1.249] Justice is determined two ways: either by the proportion of things one to another, or by positive constitution of persons who have right and power.
[2.1.250] Justice or right is determined by the proportion of things one to another.
[2.1.250] Right is determined by positive constitution.
[2.1.251] That is determined to be equal, which gives allowance where the case requires, and where abatement is made upon
[2.1.251] If a man will observe the rule of equity, he must take the case into consideration, and cloth it with all circumstances that belong to it and give all allowance to the person concerned.
[2.1.252] Nothing is deeper imprinted in human nature than righteousness, fairness, benevolence.
[2.1.253] To conclude, equity and fairness have a foundation in human nature and reason.
[2.1.254] The fourth head: whatsoever things are pure.
[2.1.254] There are six things comprehended under the notion of purity: the simple downright lawfulness of things; innocence, integrity, and harmlessness; sincerity, true intention, honest-meaning and simplicity of heart; separation from iniquity; a thing set apart from common and ordinary use; chastity.
[2.1.255] The subjects of real holiness are God, angels, and the spirits of men; real
holiness is by an inward rectitude.
[2.1.257] Relative holiness depends wholly on the will and pleasure of the agent.
[2.1.261] Our holiness is our imitation and resemblance of God in ourselves, in relation to God, and in respect of our fellow creatures.
[2.1.270] The fifth head: whatsoever things are lovely or amiable.
[2.1.270] An action is lovely in respect to the matter of it, and when it is done in a good mind.
[2.1.273] Thirteen instances of loveliness.
[2.1.278] Fourteen cases of loveliness.
[2.1.283] The attainment of this noble perfection requires a serious consideration of what God has done for the universe; an avoidance of sensuality and covetousness; and not imputing evil to any without just grounds.
[2.1.287] The sixth head: whatsoever things are of good report.
[2.1.287] Matters of great weight and matters of slighter consideration.
[2.1.290] As far as conscience is concerned, we may have sufficient assurance of things from the reason of things themselves, or their reference to the end; from the clear report of the Bible; from the sense of human nature; from the joint report and agreement of all who have not neglected or abused their faculties.
[2.1.292] The seventh head: if there be any virtue.
[2.1.294] ‘Virtue’ might be considered in the peculiarity of several persons.
[2.1.294] Eight instances of virtue.
[2.1.296] The eighth head: if there be any praise.
[2.1.296] Parise follow virtue as a shadow or body; he who despises shame despises sin; praise encourages us to proficiency and virtue.
[2.1.298] Think these things reasonable.
[2.1.298] Our reason is not confounded by our religion; but awakened, excited, employed, directed, and improved.
[2.1.298] The first operation of religion is mental and intellectual.
[2.1.299] Man is not well settled or confirmed in his religion until his religion becomes the reason of his mind: it is lowness and imperfection in religion to drudge therein.
[2.1.299] All true reason is for religion.
[2.1.300] Religion relieves us from the greatest inward evils; it possesses us of the truest inward good.
[4.1.2] The text has eight heads: whatsoever is right, sincere and true; comely, grave and venerable; fair, just and equal; sacred, pure and holy; generous, noble and lovely; of credit, value or esteem; of singular use or particular virtue; or whatsoever may recommend a man’s person or gain him advantage.
[4.1.4] The first head: whatsoever things are true. Seven sections:
[4.1.4] The difference of truth in things and in our apprehensions.
[4.1.7] Truth upon a natural account and a moral account.
[4.1.8] Whence arises our obligation to truth.
[4.1.12] Rules to find out truth.
[4.1.14] Evidences and assurances of truth.
[4.1.15] Particular instances.
[4.1.22] Certain inferences.
[4.2.27] Lamentation about the misery and deformity of the world.
[4.2.29] Truth always has God to maintain it; it has defence in itself; it has goodness to accompany it; it has liberty consequent upon it; it is connatural to our principles; it is the foundation of order; it is the ground of human converse; it is the bond of union.
[4.2.32] Scripture proofs.
[4.2.41] Three arguments: the mischief of the contrary; truth is not only a man’s ornament, but his instrument; such is the excellency and necessity of truth and sincerity, that it is the thing that God will have.
[4.3.46] The second head: whatsoever things are honest/venerable.
[4.3.47] Two things are requisite: grave behaviour and composure of spirit.
[4.3.47] Scripture proofs.
[4.3.54] An account of Paul’s injunction to Timothy, ‘Let no Man despise thy Youth’: let a man so behave himself that his conversation be unblameable; some men are of grave behaviour, some men pull upon themselves contempt by lightness of carriage, and there is a middle sort of men who are better thought of unseen than when they approach; if men would maintain their credit and esteem they should consider carefully what they do, especially what they speak in company.
[4.3.59] There is a disparity in things: things that are despicable, and things that are honourable, and as it is in things, so it is in persons.
[4.3.61] Several rules: lay aside all affectation or imitation; let there be no moroseness, rigidness, censoriousness, severity, cynicism, or stateliness, but all friendliness, familiarity, kindness, harmony, and compliance in converse; let everyone know his own place, state, and circumstances; men should not over-abound in speech; avoid all immorality and turpitude.
[4.3.68] Rules and directions for a man’s self-government in company: be sparing and tender in comparisons of persons or things; press no argument beyond rational proposal; keep out of all heat and passion; let order be exactly kept in speaking; given everyone leave to speak; give liberty of answering; despise nobody’s sense; be content that other should differ from you in opinion.
[4.4.74] Inferences: let us walk honestly; it is not as easy as some persons imagine, to speak in company.
[4.4.82] Four ingredients requisite to the venerable man: an immoveable constancy; an invincible patience; an evenness and composure of mind and spirit; a gesture and carriage neither overeager nor forward.
[4.4.86] We fall short three ways: by dethroning or disturbing reason; by light carriage and behaviour; or by neglect in governing our spirits.
[4.4.91] Several advantages attending upon this gravity, sobriety, staidness, seriousness of mind, seemly carriage, and good behaviour: they prepare the mind for learning and knowledge; they are the true companions of wisdom; they dispose the mind to all virtue; they procure veneration and esteem from others; they uphold men’s superiority, dignity, and authority; they raise men’s thoughts to the consideration of excellent things; they discharge us of that levity, rudeness and irreverence which otherwise is apt to follow us in our approaches and addresses to God.
[4.5.96] The third head: whatsoever things are just/equal. Distinction between justice and equity.
[4.5.96] The word in the Greek comprehends two things, that which in our English language we call ‘just’, and that which we call ‘equal’.
[4.5.98] Scripture proofs.
[4.5.101] There are two things to be shown: the rule and measure of ‘just’ and ‘equal’, and the difference between them.
[4.5.102] ‘Just’ is said to be two ways: that which may be done, and that which must and ought to be done.
[4.5.105] That which we call the rule or law of justice requires that to be done which justly ought to be done, but it does not require everything to be done which justly may be done.
[4.5.107] Justice is determined two ways; either by the proportion of things one to another, or by positive constitution of persons who have right and power.
[4.5.107] Justice or right is determined by the proportion of things one to another.
[4.5.108] Right is determined by positive constitution.
[4.5.110] Instances of things that are in themselves resolved and determined by their relation to each other: the obligation of an intelligent and voluntary agent to find the difference between good and evil; the obligation to reverence God; the obligation to be thankful to God; the justice of a child honouring a parent, and the servant to do his master’s work; the pre-eminence of the soul over the body; the injunction to deal with all men as we would be dealt with ourselves.
[4.5.112] Cases of right determined by positive constitution: property and authority.
[4.5.114] That is determined to be equal, that gives allowance where the case requires, and where abatement is made upon reasonable consideration.
[4.5.117] If a man will observe the rule of equity, he must take the case into consideration, and cloth it with all circumstances that belong to it and give all allowance to the person concerned.
[4.5.117] Scripture proofs.
[4.5.119] Examples from the ancients.
[4.5.120] Two things greatly abate the consideration of equity: wilfulness and folly, and falsehood and dishonesty.
[4.6.125] Particulars of justice and equity:
[4.6.125] Let a man be very shy and wary where he has an interest.
[4.6.126] Allow not yourself to be arbitrary in any causes depending between yourself and another.
[4.6.129] Let no man adventure to be a judge where he is a party concerned.
[4.6.129] Show a readiness to refer matters of injury and difference to arbitration.
[4.6.130] Nothing should rest in secret and undeclared trust.
[4.6.132] Make reparation freely in case of any wrong.
[4.6.132] Let a man value his credit by his faith in keeping is word.
[4.6.133] Men should be plain dealers and openhearted.
[4.6.134] Make the same allowance to the infirmities, failings, and mistakes of others, that you do to your own.
[4.6.134] In acknowledgement of what Christ has done for you, be gracious and merciful beyond what absolute reason or strict right will require.
[4.6.135] Arguments to recommend justice, righteousness, fair dealing, good usage, and equal consideration:
[4.6.135] They are things wherein we imitate and resemble God.
[4.6.‘147’, i.e. 137] They uphold the whole world.
[4.6.138] They are everybody’s foundation, tenure, security, and safety.
[4.6.138] They are according to our principles.
[4.6.139] They are the right of every case.
[4.6.139] They are the rule and law of all action.
[4.6.140] They are the things that everybody looks for and expects in his own case.
[4.6.140] They will be justified when they come to examination.
[4.6.141] They are the only things that will hold out in the long run.
[4.6.141] They excuse magistrates from all imputation of rigour and severity in punishment.
[4.6.141] They remove all suspicion of arbitrariness.
[4.6.142] They are grounds of peace and satisfaction to all doers.
[4.7.143] Contrary arguments against unrighteousness and unjust dealing: unrighteousness is the iniquity that usually meets with present punishment and a more sudden control from God than any other sin; in respect of a man’s self, a man should be righteous; unrighteousness brings a man into real danger; in wrong doing it is a hard thing to put a stop or assign a measure; there is nothing deeper imprinted in human nature than righteousness and fairness and this ingenuity of carriage.
[4.7.153] Nothing is deeper imprinted in human nature than righteousness and fairness and ingenuity of carriage.
[4.7.154] To conclude, equity and fairness have a foundation in human nature and reason.
[4.7.158] Commutative and distributive justice.
[4.7.162] The notion of justice and righteousness when attributed and ascribed to God.
[4.8.166] The fourth head: whatsoever things are pure.
[4.8.166] There are six things comprehended under the notion of purity or holiness: the simple downright lawfulness of things; innocence, uprightness and integrity; sincerity, true intention, honest-meaning and simplicity of heart; separation from iniquity; a thing set apart from common and ordinary use; chastity.
[4.8.168] Six charges on account of purity or holiness.
[4.8.169] Six things we are called off from doing.
[4.8.‘173’, i.e. 170] The subjects of real holiness are God, angels, and the spirits of men; real holiness is our inward rectitude; it denotes the state of innocence or justification, and a habit of goodness and virtue.
[4.8.178] Relative holiness depends wholly on the will and pleasure of the agent, either by God’s institution and assuming, or by man’s designation or voluntary dedication.
[4.8.183] Seven sins opposed to holiness. [4.8.185] Four heads of improvement.
[4.8.189] Four arguments of recommendation and enforcement.
[4.8.191] Ten considerations to recommend holiness.
[4.9.195] The fifth head: whatsoever things are lovely or amiable.
[4.9.195] An action is lovely in respect to the matter of it, and when it is done in a good mind.
[4.9.197] Seventeen instances of loveliness.
[4.9.204] Fourteen cases of loveliness.
[4.9.209] The attainment of this noble perfection requires a serious consideration of what God has done for the universe; an avoidance of sensuality and covetousness; and not imputing evil to any without just grounds.
[4.9.212] Four arguments of recommendation: it declares divinity and speaks God in the world; it credits the gospel; it ennobles the spirits of men; it prepares for glory.
[4.9.214] Three inferences: it has an honourable reflection upon God; we should let Christianity have its due value and esteem; it challenges the corrupt guise of the world.
[4.10.217] The sixth head: whatsoever things are of good report.
[4.10.217] Matters of great weight and matters of slighter consideration.
[4.10.220] On great matters: nine matters relating to God: God as maker; governor, benefactor; a perfect being; the first and chief goodness; most infallible; most faithful; the centre of immortal spirits; the utmost end.
[4.10.221] Four instances terminating in ourselves: we are intelligent agents; immortal souls and mortal bodies; finite and fallible spirits; made not only for time.
[4.10.222] Four instances relating to our fellow creatures: none should be wasteful or luxurious; none should be vexatious, boisterous and troublesome; none should be rapacious or covetous; all should be innocent, harmless, courteous, civil and kind, benevolent and gracious.
[4.10.225] On lesser matters: nobody sins who keeps within the compass of things materially lawful; notwithstanding, we are for our own security and the safety of others to use caution, moderation and prudence in the use of our liberty.
[4.11.229] The seventh head: if there be any virtue.
[4.11.229] Five things: it is but an ‘if’; he intimates he might forget; he would have a Christian furnished; he extends the notion as far as reason will carry it; he has his eye on something particularly.
[4.11.230] The word ‘virtue’ has a strict use, a common use, and a philosophical sense.
[4.11.233] ‘Virtue’ is explicable in the skill of arts and sciences, tongues and languages, or trades and professions.
[4.11.234] Distinction between the five intellectual virtues and eleven moral virtues; both sets of virtues itemised.
[4.11.236] ‘Virtue’ might be considered in the peculiarity of several persons.
[4.11.237] Eight instances of virtue in scripture.
[4.12.244] The eighth head: if there be any praise. This head is added because we should do what is truly praiseworthy.
[4.12.245] Praise naturally and regularly follows upon true virtue; he who is praised for something worthy and useful may make great advantage of it; whosoever despises shame despises sin; praise encourages us to proficiency and virtue.
[4.12.249] The affectation of popularity is different: it is moveable; the vulgar do not distinguish; the foundation is mere fancy and imagination.
[4.13.250] Think on these things.
[4.13.253] Reason is not confounded by any of the materials of religion; but awakened, excited, employed, directed, and improved by it.
[4.13.256] The first operation in religion is mental and intellectual.
[4.13.259] Man is not settled or confirmed in his religion until it is the self-same with the reason of his mind: it is lowness and imperfection in religion to drudge in it; the seat of religion is the inward man; in the state of religion, spirituals and naturals join and mingle in their subjects; religion does us great service and pleasure both for mind and body.
[4.13.265] A double exhortation: if you love yourselves, acquaint yourselves with religion; if you would be religious, be intelligent and rational in your religion.
[4.13.266] All true reason is for religion.
[4.13.270] Religion relieves us from the greatest evils; it possesses us of the truest inward good; it restores us to the object of our happiness and to our ultimate end.
(4) Psalm 5:4-5 (sole version: 1707)
|Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in Wickedness, neither shall Evil dwell with thee. The Foolish shall not stand in thy sight, thou hatest all Workers of Iniquity.|
[4.17.341] Wickedness is the reason why man is fallen under God’s displeasure; it is an open affront and downright contradiction to him, a varying from that which is the quality and perfection of the divine nature; it is that which has wrought all the mischief and disorder that has ever been in Gd’s creation; it is that which has sunk and debased the nature of man and made it unlike the divine nature; it is what makes a man an absolute enemy to God.
[4.17.343] Whosoever is in love with evil, cannot be in love with the ways of goodness and righteousness, for they are things contrary in themselves.
[4.17.343] Scripture proofs from Job, Jeremiah, the Psalms, Proverbs, Matthew, Romans, Thessalonians, Colossians, Peter, and Revelation.
[4.17.348] Nevertheless, to be wicked, a sinner, an evil-doer, or a worker of iniquity are things of deep denomination in scripture, and do not take in those who from weakness, imperfection and indisposition, or from mistakes, misapprehensions, or errors in judgment, are overtaken with sin.
[4.17.348] Scripture proofs.
[4.18.351] To make a person wicked in the sense of scripture, there must be one of these, or suchlike things:
[4.18.351] Gross carelessness and neglect of God and religion.
[4.18.351] Voluntary consent to known iniquity.
[4.18.352] Known hypocrisy.
[4.18.353] Great apostacy, in points of doctrine or practice.
[4.18.356] True liberty is obligation to truth.
[4.18.359] Take heed of gross carelessness and neglect of God and of religion; carefully withhold your assent from known iniquity; take heed of hypocrisy; take heed of backsliding.
[4.19.361] Wicked workers of iniquity cannot have anything to do with God.
[4.19.363] Three sorts of persons: the insolent, the spiteful, and the crafty.
[4.19.366] There is nothing of ugliness or deformity in nature comparable with the hideousness and abominable nature of sin; the actions of man, if they be actions of virtue, are valuable above all the world; but in the judgment of good and evil we are very apt to deceive ourselves; therefore, let us measure good and evil by the principles of reason and declarations from God, not by our own affections and partial respects.
[4.20.368] It is indispensably necessary, upon account of religion and conscience, to do these four things:
[4.20.369] To reverence and acknowledge the Deity.
[4.20.374] To live in love and good will towards one another.
[4.20.376] To deal justly, equally, and fairly.
[4.20.378] To use moderation and government of ourselves.
[4.21.379] Matters of offence to God are ranked in four orders, the first three of which are:
[4.21.380] Things contrary to the due respect and regard to be had to God.
[4.21.387] Things contrary to general love and goodwill.
[4.21.388] Things contrary to justice, fairness, righteousness, and equal dealing.
things contrary to the sobriety, chastity, temperance, and due moderation of ourselves
[4.22.391] We may be guilty of sins of unrighteousness three ways: by severe and harsh censure; by perfidiousness and false testimony; by cruel usage.
[4.22.393] Man, if he has not abused his nature, is a mild, meek, gentle, calm, loving creature; man has lived to little purpose in the world unless he can verify of himself omnia in me sunt subjecta rationi; man as God has made him is invested with intellectual nature and principles of reason; man as Christ’s purchase is much more obliged to all good nature.
[4.2.397] We may maintain unity in point of faith, notwithstanding difference of sentiments and opinions.
[4.2.400] Twelve considerations why, notwithstanding different apprehensions in some things, yet peace and right understanding ought to be continued between Christians.
[4.2.407] Whosoever fails in the easy duties of good carriage and behaviour, will certainly not perform the more costly duties, of exactly paying every man what he owes.
[4.2.409] Four types of person who violate the law and rule of conversation: those who are not peaceable; those who are captious; those who are not willing to give as well as to receive; those who say indecent and inconvenient things in company.
[4.23.412] Three sorts of persons are unfit for converse: the arrogant and self-willed; imposers and dictators; the contentious and quarrelsome.
[4.23.414] Whosoever does anything without reason, either acts like a child, or like a fool.
[4.23.416] It is a great failure in point of righteousness between man and man to do another harm because of any difference in apprehensions, for he that does so, debars the freedom of his own judgment.
[4.23.419] Reason, as it is the perfection of our souls, so it is the rule and law to all men’s minds: it will make us more moderate in our opinions when we disagree.
[4.23.420] Difference among men will happen, through their weakness, inadvertency, passion; the unhappy men who occasion them are the causes of their own and other men’s harm; but peacemakers and reconcilers are God’s instruments for good in the world.
[4.24.422] A person is naturally qualified for fairness in conversation by the reason of his mind, and the gift of speech
[4.24.425] Eleven rules of converse: do not prefer interest in particular before interest in common; do not lie; speak well of a man until he is found in a crime; don’t attaint an innocent person’s reputation; do not promise what you do not mean to perform; do not take advantage of ignorance or inexperience; make no rash constructions of words or actions; do not do that in company which may give anyone cause of offence; let everyone be heard; let no man’s sense be rejected with scorn; meet friends, and part friends.
[4.25.432] The fourth order of offence to God: things contrary to sobriety, chastity, and temperance.
[4.25.433] The end is to regulate the mean: we are to eat, drink, sleep so that we may live, not live to eat, drink, and sleep; those who transpose the mean and end sin against the reason of their own mind, and offer violence to their own nature.
[4.25.439] Mind and understanding in man has God’s superscription upon it; it is a shameful sight to see a man disguised out of the use of reason and disabled to govern himself by his own fault; sudden evils attend this sin, dethroning reason as to the interior man and woe and sorrow as to the exterior; both the religion of God’s creation and the gospel religion require sobriety.
[4.26.442] God loves righteousness but hates wickedness.
[4.26.444] Repentance alters the very temper of the sinner, and is a motive with God, affecting him, and procuring atonement in respect of God.
[4.26.446] An account of the things that belong to the misgovernment of the mind, in relation to sentiments, motions of the will, and the affections or passions.
[4.26.451] The law of reason is inherent to human nature; the principles of reason and the light of Revelation agree.
II. PUBLICATION HISTORY
[Theologoumena dogmata]: Or, Some Select Notions (1685)
The first published text seeking to present Whichcote’s theological and ethical ideas was the [Theologoumena dogmata]: Or, Some Select Notions of that earned and Reverend Divine of the Church of England, Benj. Whitchcot, D. D. Lately Deceased (1685), compiled by an unknown editor and printed to be sold by Israel Harrison at Lincoln’s Inn Gate. The limited evidence currently assembled in relation to Harrison’s shop suggests that he sold several other sermons and religious discourses; possibly the location of the shop suggests a market for Whichcote’s writings among lawyers and law students as well as divines, although the significance of this should not be overstated. According to the title page, the [Theophoroumena dogmata] had been ‘Faithfully Collected from [Whichcote] by a Pupil and particular Friend of his’ and were now published ‘Pro bono Publico per & pro Philanthropo’. The text was dedicated to James Hayes, knight (1637-94), a privy councillor for Ireland, as a ‘Specimen hoc amicitiæ’ of the editor; Hayes had also been MP for Marlborough (1659), secretary to Prince Rupert, and the first deputy-governor of the Hudson’s bay company. The title page seems to imply that the contents of the volume originated in notes taken by the anonymous ‘friend’ and editor from Whichcote’s sermons and possibly from other sources. The ‘Preface to the Readers’ states that the editor had been permitted by Whichcote ‘to Exer[p]t what I thought fit of those Instructions and Notions which I received from him, Viva voce’ and to publish them after Whichcote’s death, although this attempted self-justification may be an exaggeration. The editor claims that he has deferred publication for two years, hoping that some ‘more learned and proper Heads and Hands’ would produce something of the ‘like nature’ so that ‘all his Emphatical Operations should not dye with him’. When such a publication had not appeared, he had considered it his ‘Duty, to Exhibit to the World, a small Specimen of this nature’ in the hope that it would prove a ‘Prodromus or Harbinger’ to others to produce a ‘nobler’ edition of Whichcote’s writings in the future.
The 1685 volume consists of notes from 5 sermons on John 8:32, Philippians 3:7, James 2:18, Philippians 3:15, and 1 Corinthians 7:35, and a series of 33 ‘Apostolical Apothegms’ (aphorisms). The text has often been treated with suspicion by Whichcote scholars, following comments by Shaftesbury in 1698 that ‘of late, some things have been set out in our Author’s Name, which his best Friends disown to be his’. Whichcote’s 1753 editor, Samuel Salter, remarked laconically that the 1685 volume appeared to contain ‘some particulars’ which suggested they derived from Whichcote’s ‘earlier thoughts’, but ‘a great many’ interventions from the editor, Whichcote’s pupil, ‘from whence any one may see, He [the pupil] had left College a considerable time’. However, it is not entirely clear that Shaftesbury is referring to the 1685 volume; another possible candidate is the Compendium of Devotion (1697), which (except for a single sermon, pp. 99-106) is almost certainly not by Whichcote. In any case, Shaftesbury had his own reasons for casting doubt on the authenticity of earlier publications: as well as wishing to present his own text as an authoritative version, he would have noted the scrappiness, disorganisation, and intellectual confusion of the 1685 version. It also seems unlikely that Shaftesbury had more than a limited selection of manuscripts at his disposal, whether written by Whichcote or by his hearers: he may not have had any evidence of his own relating to the sources of the 1685 text.
Nevertheless, there are reasons for believing that the 1685 text does reflect Whichcote’s thought at some level. Two of the sermons (on Philippians 3:7 and 3:15) parallel discourses on the same biblical texts in the second and third volumes of Jeffery’s later edition of Whichcote’s Several Discourses, and many of the arguments used are extremely similar (see the table below). In general, the 1685 version is much more compact than the 1702-3 edition, and in many places seems to contain little more than the bare bones of the argument, probably corresponding roughly to Whichcote’s own sermon ‘heads’. The fact that many of the 1702-3 ‘heads’ of arguments (including doctrines and applications) are missing from the 1685 edition does not necessarily mean that the 1685 versions were preached earlier in Whichcote’s career, as some critics – following Salter – have believed. Rather, it seems more likely that the notes upon which 1685 is based were deficient: perhaps the note-taker had not been able to write them in time during Whichcote’s sermons, or perhaps he had misunderstood the structure of what he had heard: a discernible mangling of some of the key concepts of the discourses certainly suggest that the note-taker/editor struggled to reconstruct the sermons effectively for publication. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the underlying concepts in the 1685 and 1702-3 versions of the sermons on Philippians are the same.
Even less is known about the sources of the 33 ‘Apostolical Apothegms’ found in the back of the 1685 volume. Many of the principles found in the ‘Apothegms’ may also be encountered in the 1698 and 1702-7 editions of Whichcote’s writings. These ideas include the exemplarity of Christ; the value of conscience for the avoiding of sin; turning away from wickedness through a sense of the impurity and vileness of sin; the importance of repentance, reconciliation and resolution of doing right; the natural deformity of vice and beauty of virtue; God as the chief good; the foundation of privilege and power in right; truth being primarily in things and secondarily in our understandings; right religion as a permanent good disposition of mind; judging a good Christian by the general bent of his inclinations, imaginations, choices, intent, and endeavours, not by his imperfections, ignorance, mistakes, and natural defects; sin as the reversible act of a fallible but pardonable creature; the conditionality of God’s promises; the importance of regulating desires and passions to the rules of right reason. Possibly the editor drew some of them from other sermon notes in his possession: apothegm 28, for example, which contrasts ‘Mistakes and imperfections’ with ‘Fundamental ignorance … gross neglect … voluntary consent to obliquity … [and] Palpable Defection and Apostacy’ is reminiscent of discourse 18 from the fourth volume of the Several Discourses (1707). Nevertheless, the tone of the apothegms is frequently more academic, and the style is sometimes more polished than the five sets of sermon notes in the first part of the volume. Perhaps it was these features which led Salter to hypothesise that some parts of the 1685 volume emerged out of Whichcote’s time at Emmanuel College, however heavily they had been rewritten by the anonymous editor. However, aside from a few Greek and Latin quotations there is little to suggest an exclusively university audience for the apothegms. The most that can currently be said is that they seem to represent a digest of some of Whichcote’s key theological claims, although our uncertainty about their origins means that they should be used with extreme care.
Select Sermons, ed. Shaftesbury (1698)
The first major collection of Whichcote’s sermons was published in 1698, with an anonymous preface written by Anthony Ashley-Cooper, the third earl of Shaftesbury, author of a series of important philosophical writings later republished as his Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, 3 vols. (1711). By 1698, none of these works had been printed, although he had started work on his Inquiry concerning Virtue (1699). It is not clear whether Shaftesbury had met Whichcote or heard him preach, since the older man had died in 1683 when Shaftesbury was only 12; nevertheless, Shaftesbury’s upbringing in Whig circles and his education by Locke undoubtedly led to contact with and appreciation for Latitudinarian figures. According to Samuel Salter (writing in 1753), the 1698 Whichcote edition was co-edited by Shaftesbury and William Stephens, rector of Sutton in Surrey. Stephens was an inveterate Whig pamphleteer whose writings included An Account of the Growth of Deism in England (1696) and A Letter to his most Excellent Majesty King William III (1699). His precise role in the editorial process is yet to be investigated. The 1698 Select Sermons were printed for the Whig booksellers Awnsham and John Churchill. As well as distributing Williamite proclamations from 1688 onwards, the Churchills had been responsible for the publication of Francis Carswell’s England’s Restoration parallel’d in Judah’s (1689), Daniel Whitby’s A Treatise of Traditions (1689) and A Discourse, confirming the Truth and Certainty of the Christian Faith (1691), John Locke’s A Letter concerning Toleration (1689), Second Letter (1690), Third Letter (1692), Two Treatises of Government (1690), Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest (1692), The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), and Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1695); their Latitudinarian publications included editions of John Wilkins’s A Discourse concerning the Gift of Prayer (1690) and Ecclesiastes (1693), John Worthington’s The Doctrines of the Resurrection (1690), Robert Leighton’s Sermons (1692), and (from 1701) various writings by the low-churchman and future bishop of Lincoln and London William Gibson; their scientific and philosophical output included Robert Boyle’s The General History of the Air (1692) and Jean le Clerc’s Logica (1692).
Shaftesbury’s witty preface to the 1698 edition combines a gentle mockery of the ineffectualness of bad preaching with an ardent justification of the necessity of establishing a new ethics on the founding principle of ‘good-nature’. He begins by answering the objection that sermons might be thought the ‘least wanted’ among the many genres of writing which could be made public, not least because they were likely to remain plentiful for the foreseeable future:
[T]o that rich and inexhaustible Store, with which the Learned and Orthodox Divines of England have already furnished us, there is daily fresh addition, from worthy and able hands … [encouraged by] the just esteem which the Publick never fails to shew, for such pious Discourses: Upon which account, we find that many of these are every day made Publick; and, as it were, forced into the World; notwithstanding the great Modesty of their Authors[.]
Why, then, would anyone ‘search after, and publish the Sermons of a Man long since dead, who (himself) never meant to Publish any’?
Shaftesbury begins his answer by considering a paradox: the fact that we see no apparent change for the better in the lives of Christians does not mean that all preaching is ineffectual; to concede to such a dismal proposition would be equivalent to suggesting that because Christians are often said to be inferior in probity and good living to civilised pagans and Muslims, the Christian religion is of no effect at all upon the lives of those who profess it. Instead, he suggests, we should look upon Christianity as ‘the greatest Blessing imaginable; not only for its spiritual Advantages, which are Unspeakable; but for its Temporal Benefits, and Securities’, namely, its precepts in relation to the duties of morality and justice. Moving from Christianity in general to preaching in particular, Shaftesbury considers how ‘excellent an Order and Establishment it is’ in the Christian world, to use their holy men as preachers to set forth the ‘Glorious Truths of Revelation’; we should conclude that if such authority as this did not exist, the consequence would be the extinction of both Christianity and morality in the world.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding the undoubted good effects of preaching, Shaftesbury wonders whether there is not still ‘some Defect in this great Affair’, lying in the ‘Depravity, Perverseness, or Stupidity of Mankind’ as the hearers and readers of Christian doctrines. In particular, he notes that in some countries, preaching has not been devoted solely to spiritual matters but has been utilised in defence of ‘the Policies of the World, and the Affairs of Government’. In such circumstances, he argues, preaching will be ‘so much the less apt to make any happy Revolution in Manners, as it has … been serviceable to Revolutions in State’. This unhappy union of the arts of government and the mysteries of religion, he suggests, has hardly been of much advantage to either, since it has never been the case that divinity has been bettered by policy, or policy mended by divinity.
Shaftesbury lays the blame for the ‘Unprosperous Alliance, and Building [of] a Political Christianity’ firmly at the door of Hobbes, a man who had been of ‘very ill Service in the Moral World’, regardless of his dubious achievements in the art of civil government. Hobbes’s great error in ethics, for Shaftesbury, was that he ‘forgot to mention Kindness, Friendship, Sociableness, Love of Company and Converse, Natural Affection, or anything of this kind’ in his account of the passions or affections by which men live together in peace; instead, he ‘substituted only one Master-Passion, Fear, which has, in effect devour’d all the rest, and left room only for that infinite Passion towards Power’, leaving mankind with less good nature than the worst of the beasts. In Shaftesbury’s opinion, Hobbes’s immoral and atheistic principles had achieved nothing but a deleterious effect on moral discourse: had they not been diffused with such ease, he opines, we might have heard ‘less of Terror and Punishment; and more, of Moral Rectitude and Good-nature’; on the contrary, it would have been the business of those who had managed the cause of religion to have contended for the principle of good-nature as an attribute ascribed to natural temper and accounted natural affection, ‘as having Ground and Foundation in Meer NATURE’. Following Hobbes’s theories, some people had assumed that revelation owed its establishment to the depression and lowering of the principles man’s nature, the weakness of these was made the strength of religion, ‘[a]s if Good-nature, and Religion, were Enemies’. Yet even the heathens had never thought this to be true, since their notion of piety included ‘Natural and Good Affection’, and stood not only for the ‘Adoration, and Worship of God’, but also for the ‘Natural Affections of Parents to their Children’, of ‘Men to their Native Country’, and of ‘all Men in their several Relations’.
Shaftesbury found it greatly to the reproach of some sects of Christians that their religion appeared to be opposite to good-nature, and founded in moroseness, selfishness, and ill-will; by contrast, he thought it worthy and noble of the Church of England that this was ‘not Her Spirit’, and that she showed herself ‘by Characters and Features just contrary to these’. Indeed, the belief that there were no natural principles in man inclining him to society, and that nothing moved a person towards what was moral just and honest, had always been contended for by atheists: having refused to believe that any ingenuous action could be performed merely through good affection and a rectitude of temper, they failed to apprehend any goodness of that sort in a Higher Nature. However, it was far stranger that men who pretended to a notion of a Supreme Power acting with the greatest goodness, love, and good-will, should think it unsuitable for a rational creature to act after this example, by finding pleasure in works of goodness and bounty. It was even more unaccountable that men who professed a religion of love, heart-work, and charity, should degrade the principle of good-nature and refer everything to the notion of reward as the only motive to action.
Shaftesbury offered his own reason why this deplorable misfortune had arisen within Christianity. Some people, he suggested, who had meant ‘sincerely well’ to religion and virtue, had nevertheless been afraid that an over-advancement of the principle of good-nature would take away the apparent need for sacred revelation. In other words, they found themselves forced to wound virtue rather than suffer the faith of revelation to admit of a rival, fearing that Christianity would be made less necessary to mankind if men could find any happiness in virtue. Thus, one group of men feared the consequences of the acknowledgment of moral and social principles in humankind for the proof of a deity, and another group feared that such principles would be prejudicial to revelation; both groups had thereby made war on virtue itself, having exploded the principles of good-nature, kindness, and love. Since the decrying of human nature, good and happiness in virtue had led to the ill treatment of true religion (which Shaftesbury here equated with love), there was ‘so much the more Need of some great and known Man to oppose this Current’. That man, in Shaftesbury’s view, was Whichcote.
What Shaftesbury found in Whichcote was an anthropological optimism: he located in Whichcote’s sermons an articulation of the view that there was a ‘secret Sympathy’ in human nature with virtue and honesty. God had contrived in his infinite wisdom that virtue and vice were the foundations of peace and happiness, as well as sorrow and misery. Certainly, if an intellectual being were to sink into sensuality, or defile and pollute itself, then there was an inherent punishment attending to such a state, but that was because the sinner was punishing himself, and not because God was in a positive sense inflicting punishment. Furthermore, Shaftesbury observed that Whichcote’s focus was more commonly on the rewards of virtue than the self-punishments of vice: he was, in Shaftesbury’s resonant phrase, ‘the Preacher of Good-nature’:
This is what he insists on every-where; and, to make this evident, is, in a Manner, the Scope of all his Discourses. And, in conclusion of all this; ’tis hop’d that what has been here suggested, may be sufficient to justifie the Printing of these Sermons.
In other words, Shaftesbury’s aim in printing the sermons was to make public the works of the ‘Preacher of Good-nature’, a man whose life was ‘an Example of that happy Temper, and God-like Disposition, which he labour’d to inspire’, an individual whose ‘Character and Behaviour drew to him the Respect of all Parties’ even amid the chaos of the wars of religion, and a preacher capable of sustaining the interest of an audience of ‘the best Rank, and greatest Note’, including ‘the most eminent Divines themselves’.
As for the sermons themselves, Shaftesbury admitted that he had made his selection out of the available materials, and that there were none extant from the author’s own hand. Whichcote, he claimed had ‘used no other than very short Notes, not very legible’, although these had been provided to the publisher (it is not clear exactly to whom Shaftesbury is referring here: himself, the printer, or the bookseller), and had been of ‘great Use’ in preparing the edition. These notes, which do not survive, are likely to have been of the form of sermon heads: the early-modern equivalent of cue cards, outlining the structure of the sermon, but requiring considerable extemporisation during its delivery. Once consequence of such a method was that the sermon would be substantially different each time it was delivered, a circumstance whose significance cannot be overstated in any consideration of the multiple texts of Whichcote’s sermons. These multiple texts have their basis in notes taken by hearers of the sermon: in Shaftesbury’s phrase, these records were ‘such as were written after him at Church’. Shaftesbury’s comment naturally raises the question as to where the 1698 sermons were delivered. It should certainly not be assumed that these were university sermons; it is far more likely that they were delivered during the latter period of his life while he was minister at St Lawrence Jewry. It remains conceivable that parts of the sermons on Romans (particularly, perhaps, those dealing with the role of reason in religion) were modelled on the early sermon series which sparked the Whichcote-Tuckney correspondence in 1651; nevertheless, there is no evidence to support the view that the surviving sermons relate to the young Whichcote’s career as a university or college preacher, and the absence of intertextual references in most of the sermons counts against the notion that they developed directly out of his work as a tutor. Instead, it seems safest to work on the assumption that the 1698 sermons, along with most of the 1702-7 discourses, are based upon sermon notes taken by Whichcote’s St Lawrence Jewry auditors.
Several Discourses, ed. Jeffery, 3 vols. (1701-3) and Clarke, 4th volume (1707)
The four volumes of Whichcote’s Several Discourses (1701-7) were all printed for the bookseller James Knapton of St. Paul’s Churchyard. The title pages to all four volumes describe Whichcote as ‘Minister of S. Lawrence Jewry, London’, although some of the sermons contained within the volume were delivered in other parishes; none of the volumes mention Whichcote’s Cambridge connections. Unlike the Churchills, the Knapton family were best known for their publication of English literary works, including plays and poetry by Aphra Behn, William Congreve, John Dennis, John Dryden, Mary Manley, Thomas Otway, Thomas Rymer, Charles Sedley, Elkanah Settle, Nahum Tate, and (especially) Thomas Shadwell. By 1701 the firm had produced several works of philosophy, including editions of Francis Bacon’s Essays (1691), Jean-Adrien Helvétius’ A New Method of Curing all Sorts of Fevers (1694), Pierre-Daniel Huet’s A Treatise of the Situation of Paradise (1694), Thomas Sydenham’s Practice of Physick (1695), Edmund Wingate’s Arithmetick (1696), Jacques Rohault’s Physica (1697), and Nicolas Malebranche’s A Treatise of Morality (1699). Nevertheless, the publication of a 3-volume edition (with a fourth volume added in 1707) of the works of a relatively unknown seventeenth-century divine was a new direction for James Knapton; in future years the proportion of religious works appearing with a Knapton imprint was to grow, but they do not include any other examples of multi-volume collected works. Knapton was not an obvious choice for the publication of the Several Discourses (possibly he was not Jeffery’s first choice), although there was the advantage that his firm had no overt political agenda: he published works by Whigs and Tories and by high and low churchmen. Presumably Jeffery was reasonably satisfied with Knapton’s offices, since Jeffery’s own Select Discourses appeared with Knapton’s imprint in 1710.
The title pages to volumes 1-3 stated that the printed discourses had been ‘Examined and Corrected by [Whichcote’s] own Notes’, and had been ‘Published by JOHN JEFFERY, D. D. Archdeacon of Norwich’. Volume 2 included an advertisement requesting that any persons who held manuscript notes of Whichcote’s sermons, particularly those ‘written with his own hand’, should ‘deliver them to the Doctor’s Executor’, also named Benjamin Whichcote, so that ‘use may be made of some of them in preparing other Discourses’ for publication. Whether this appeal proved successful as a means of locating other copies of Whichcote’s sermons is unknown: the advertisement promised that all such help received would be ‘gratefully acknowledged’, but there were no such acknowledgements in the third volume of the Several Discourses (1703). Volume 4 came without any form of editorial statement or preface, and the title-page omitted the name the editor, who was identified as the theologian and philosopher Samuel Clarke (1675-1729) by Jeffery’s grandson Samuel Salter in 1753.
In his 1753 edition of the Aphorisms Salter states that Jeffery had acquired ‘a great number of sermons; said to have been transcribed from [Whichcote]’s mouth, while preaching’ by various persons, including ‘one --- SMITH; who was wont to say, “He lived upon Dr. WHICHCOTE:”’. This man is usually identified as Whichcote’s pupil, the philosopher John Smith (d. 1652), an attribution which has led to the dubious assumption that many of the 1701-7 sermons were delivered early in Whichcote’s career at Cambridge; recently, doubt has been cast on this identification by Marilyn Lewis, and the current critical tendency is to assume (cautiously) that most of the texts in all four volumes reflect Whichcote’s post-Restoration career in London. In any case, the Smith transcripts probably only appear in the fourth volume of the Select Discourses (1707), edited by Clarke, which chiefly consists of discourses on Philippians 4:8, Jeremiah 9:23-4, and Psalm 5:4-5. According to Salter, Jeffery himself ‘did not think himself authorized to print’ Smith’s notes under Whichcote’s name, despite being ‘well assured of their being genuine and in the main accurate’. Although Jeffery was ‘rather displeased’ when Clarke published them, Salter later concluded that Jeffery had been ‘too scrupulous’ in withholding these sermons from the 1701-3 volumes. By 1753 Salter had acquired ‘two [manuscript] collections’ containing materials similar (but not identical) to the Smith volume: the first contained 24 sermons on the Philippians passages, ‘of which, Dr. CLARKE selected the first 13’ from Smith’s copy; the second included 36 sermons on the texts from Jeremiah, of which Clarke had selected three. Modern scholarship has viewed Whichcote’s sermons on Philippians 4:8 (a greatly reduced version of which also appears in the 1698 volume) as one of the clearest and most influential expositions of his ethical and practical thought. However, despite agreeing with Salter that Whichcote is the author of the discourses in the 1707 volume, very little attention has been paid to Salter’s observation that many of Whichcote’s discourses remained unpublished: based on Salter’s testimony, it appears that Whichcote’s writings on Philippians were even more extensive than those found in the published sources, and that Jeremiah was a much more important figure to Whichcote than the extant materials would indicate.
In a brief prefatory epistle to the first volume of the Several Discourses (1701), Jeffery dedicates the text to Paul Whichcote, knight and baronet, being ‘the Chief of that Family, from which the Doctor receiv’d Honour, by his Extraction; and to which he did Honour, by his Worth’. Jeffery has little of substance to say in his preface about the sermons, except for describing Whichcote as a thinker with ‘the Advantage of just Freedom, a strong Judgment, and an unfeigned Piety’: his great achievement, Jeffery states, was that he established such a notion of scriptural Christianity ‘according to the Moral Perfections of God’ as ‘cannot possible be false’, and laid his foundation of religion ‘so deep in the Nature, Reason, and Necessity of Things’, that it ‘cannot possibly be subverted’. In these comments, Jeffery gently highlights Whichcote’s attention to scripture (especially the New Testament), his focus on God’s goodness rather than his will or power, and his sensitivity to natural religion.
Jeffery’s comments on his editorial method are similarly brief: he states that his care has been that of ‘doing Service to the Interest of Religion, and the Souls of Men’, but also ‘to do Right to the Doctor’s Memory’; he expresses his hope that the pains he has taken ‘in comparing Copies, and correcting what I have published, by his own Notes’, will secure him (Jeffery) against the ‘Suspicion of Neglect’. Like Shaftesbury, it appears that Jeffery had some copies of Whichcote’s own preparatory notes, but that his edition is also based on the records of Whichcote’s hearers; he does not provide any suggestion of the source of his notes, or their relation to those acquired by Shaftesbury. He has, he informs us, ‘a ‘Veneration for the Author’, and claims that he is known to the family; he believes that the ‘Nature of the Discourses’ will recommend them to everyone who is a ‘competent Judge’, and points to the esteem Whichcote was held in by Tillotson. However, Jeffery’s approach, unlike Shaftesbury’s, appears to have been to let his readers interpret the discourses themselves, rather than providing an intellectual framework for them. The downside of this approach is that it has made it harder for readers (whether in the eighteenth century or more recently) to reconstruct Jeffery’s own editorial interventions as he sought to transform the notes which he required into a publishable state.
Jeffery’s typically self-effacing preface disguises the depth of veneration which he felt towards Whichcote, and the considerable influence that the Several Discourses exerted over his own thought and writings. Jeffery’s own Select Discourses (1710) begin with a highly Whichcote-like focus on God’s goodness and humanity’s ability to repent; many of Jeffery’s other works from 1702 onwards, usefully compiled together with some earlier pieces by his grandson Samuel Salter as A Complete Collection of the Sermons and Tracts, written by John Jeffery, D.D., 2 vols. (1751), adopt a similar emphasis. In his prefatory ‘Memoirs of the Life of the Author’, Salter explained that Jeffery had supplied the pulpit at Lincoln’s Inn during the period when Tillotson had been preacher there; Salter surmised that it was probably Tillotson who introduced Jeffery to Whichcote, and who encouraged Whichcote’s executors to deliver his papers into Jeffery’s hands. Furthermore, Salter asserts that Jeffery ‘did, in a great measure, form his notions of religion’ from ‘this great and good man DR. WHICHCOTE’. According to Salter, Jeffery ‘ever acknowledged with pleasure how much he owed to the Doctor, and what a high esteem he had for him’. Salter, whose edition of Whichcote’s correspondence with Tuckney was printed in 1753, is an unreliable witness on account of his own enthusiasm for Whichcote. However, in a set of ‘Private Minutes’ published for the first time in the 1751 Complete Collection, Jeffery makes his own views clear:
IF I can keep upon my mind at such a season, those apprehensions of GOD and religion, which I have last learned from DR. WHICHCOTE; I shall die with decent assurance: and I should reckon it a gracious event of Providence, if some wise man did discourse those notions, or some one read them to me, suitably, the last I could attend to what was spoken.
The issue of the extent of Jeffery’s indebtedness to Whichcote requires considerable further research. What can be said, however, is that there are striking similarities of emphasis in the works of the two preachers. Jeffery’s early discourse titled ‘Religion the Perfection of Man’, for example, opens with the claim that religion is ‘the image of God, and the perfection of man’; it proceeds by considering mankind’s ‘rational nature’ as a way of recommending the ‘practice of religion’. In a ‘Sermon preached at the Cathedral Church of Norwich’, Jeffery argues in Hellenic fashion that ‘Religion is the foundation of happiness, and happiness is the perfection of religion’, such that the ‘righteousness of the righteous is approved by all true wisdom’. His wide reading in classical philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius, Lucretius, Arnobius, Seneca, Philo, and Pliny, is in evidence in two sermons delivered at Norwich Cathedral. In the first of these, a sermon to the weavers’ guild in 1693: here, Jeffery argues that if the ‘magnificence of life’ had been ‘inconsistent with virtue and religion’, God would not have provided us with so many riches to enjoy, and claims that trades provide men with ‘temporal welfare’ while promoting their ‘spiritual welfare’. In the second, preached to the ‘Mayor’s Guild’, he draws on Plutarch, Aristotle, Cicero and Homer to emphasise that magistrates must ‘do right, because they govern for God’, and that all public persons should ‘maintain in their hearts a great veneration of the divine justice’. Another early example of Jeffery’s sermons at Norwich Cathedral opens with the claim that God is the ‘supreme, absolute, and universal governor of the world’ by ‘the immediate influences of his wisdom, goodness, and power’, effected most perfectly where ‘rational natures’ are the subjects. Jeffery’s ‘Commemoration Sermon’ for the Great Hospital Church of St. Helen (1706) makes the point that ‘not only justice, but charity, is comprehended in the notion of righteousness’, such that riches may be an instrument of righteousness to both the bodies and souls of men. In a brief account of ‘The SUM and SUBSTANCE of CHRISTIANITY’, Jeffrey asserted that ‘True religion is obedience to the laws of God’, which had been made known by ‘natural reason’ and ‘supernatural revelation’; in a complementary account of ‘The Religion of the Bible’ he explained that natural religion included the ‘moral law, the rule of righteousness and religion’, which was ‘the law of our nature’, being ‘a transcript of the moral perfections of God, of his holiness righteousness and goodness’; a further ‘Summary of Christian Religion’ emphasises that ‘The doctrine concerning God, is the doctrine concerning the perfections of his nature, and concerning the exercise of his authority’. Jeffery’s sermon on the anniversary of Charles I’s execution makes the point that a person departing from sobriety loses self-government and the use of his reason, and that when he becomes ‘so dispossessed of himself’, he ‘can neither do right to God nor man’; it is necessary, he continues, that ‘sense and passion’ remain ‘subordinate’ to ‘reason and conscience’. In a group of 14 prayers (two each for every day of the week) Jeffrey expounds the principles that ‘Repentance is the beginning of reformation’, ‘The renovation of the sinner is necessary for remission of sin’, and ‘The perfecting of holiness is in time’. Jeffery’s ‘Sermon at the Funeral of Mr. Richard Warren’ explains further that there is a ‘subjective happiness’ in the virtuous person which is ‘antecedent and necessary to the objective happiness’ of enjoying God. While none of these points can be taken as incontrovertible evidence of the influence of Whichcote upon Jeffery, they do suggest a marked similarity of outlook and emphasis between the two preachers.
Moral and Religious Aphorisms, ed. Jeffery (Norwich, 1703)
In 1703, a 150-page volume of Moral and Religious Aphorisms was printed by a relatively young provincial press, without any indication of the author or editor of the text. The attribution of the aphorisms to Whichcote was made by Samuel Salter in his 1753 second edition, where he also identified the editor as John Jeffery. Salter had recently been responsible for editing Jeffery’s Sermons and Tracts (published in 2 vols., 1751) and had initially intended to include the aphorisms in that volume, until he had been informed by some of his acquaintances that they had not been written by Jeffery himself. Having compared the 1703 edition carefully to Jeffery’s own notes, Salter concluded that Jeffery had collected nearly five thousand aphorisms out of Whichcote’s writings into several volumes, using a wide range of sources, ‘whether already published, or destined to publication, or not; whether digested, or loose and imperfect’. In short, Jeffery had transcribed the aphorisms ‘from different papers of his original, into different parts of his own collection’, and had later selected a thousand of them, printing them ‘while his head and heart were strongly impressed with the just and noble sentiments of his honored Friend, or Master rather’. Such devotion to his source material, in Salter’s opinion, had meant that Jeffery had ‘not always examine[d] very sollicitously’ what he had written, because ‘he wrote for himself only at first’. One of the consequences of this lack of editorial judgment was that ‘some 20 or 30’ aphorisms had appeared more than once in the 1703 volume, ‘sometimes in the very same words; often, in such as are very little different’. More seriously for Whichcote scholars, Jeffery’s method, and the subsequent disappearance of his manuscript sources, leaves the precise nature and origin of the aphorisms open to doubt: it seems most likely that Jeffery modelled most of them loosely on passages in manuscript copies of Whichcote’s sermons, using a method analogous to commonplacing, and that Whichcote himself was not responsible for the reduction of his thought to aphoristic expression.
The 1703 edition of the Aphorisms was printed by Francis Burges, a significant figure in the Norwich book trade, who had reintroduced printing to the city with a since-lost text titled Some Observations on the Use and Original of the Noble Art of Printing (1701). Burges is most famous for producing the ‘Norwich Post’ (1701-13; continued after his death in 1707 by his widow Elizabeth), and for various pamphlets relating to Norfolk local politics. However, he also printed Jeffery’s Felo de se (1702), A Discourse concerning the Necessary Connexion between Religious Worship and Religious Obedience (1704), The Glory of the Lord Jesus Christ (1704), A Sermon preach’d in the Parish-Church of St. Peter of Mancroft (1705), A Commemoration Sermon (1706), and Forms of Prayer (1706). Burges’s connections to the low churchmen William Gibson and Humphrey Prideaux suggest that he – like Whichcote, Shaftesbury, and Jeffery – probably held strong Whig sympathies.
Jeffery’s anonymous epistle to the reader reveals little about the origins of the aphorisms but does explain why he has published them. Jeffery states that he is ‘far from being an Enemy to Systems’, having rather an ‘inveterate prejudice in favour of them’; however, since ‘no man can Live (however he may Talk) Systematically’, there is a limit to such systems’ practical function. Citing the writings of Marcus and Antonius and the proverbs of Solomon, Jeffery asserts that the doctrines of morality and religion may be delivered with ‘special advantage’ in the form of aphorisms. An aphoristic ethics provides a useful ‘Instrument of Edification’: it reflects the fact that the temper and principles which govern most people are usually based on ‘some Few Truths’, and it suits the time-bereft reader, enabling those with a ‘spare Hour’ to make ‘a Pleasing, and a Useful Entertainment of his Thoughts’. Commenting on the contents of the aphorisms, Jeffery notes that ‘GOD and Religion must be endeared to the Reason’ of the religious person, and that religion must not be ‘obtruded as an Imposition of Power’, but as humanity’s ‘Chiefest Good’ which the mind ought to be ‘Reconciled to, Satisfied with, and Happy by’. Although religion is contrary to the degeneracy of sinful persons, it is to be recommended to them for their restauration, beginning in repentance.
Select Sermons, ed. Shaftesbury, with an introduction by William Wishart (Edinburgh, 1742)
It was Wishart and his editor who brought it to the attention of readers that Shaftesbury had been responsible for the 1698 edition and its preface. According to Wishart (who had encountered the story indirectly from some ‘very good Hands’), Shaftesbury had ‘very providentially met with the Manuscript’ of the sermons and had been ‘much taken’ with its contents. Of the 1698 preface, Wishart commented that Shaftesbury’s authorship would appear ‘abundantly credible’ from its sentiments and style. In preparing his own edition of 1742, Wishart claimed to have exert ‘particular care’ that it would be published with ‘the greatest Exactness and Correctness’. As well as adopting Shaftesbury’s interpolations (which remained in italics), Wishart made ‘two or three verbal Amendments’ to correct ‘Slips of the Pen’ and corrected the ‘Typographical Errors’ of the 1698 edition; as a space-saving device, presumably to comply with the printer’s demand, he moved the scriptural references into the main body of the text, thereby obviating the need for margins and saving paper. He also appended to the text an ‘excellent Prayer’, full of ‘the noblest Sentiments’ and the ‘most sublime Spirit of Devotion’; he had probably encountered the prayer in the first volume of the Several Discourses (1701), which is not mentioned elsewhere in the 1742 edition.
Wishart was principal of Edinburgh University and his preface to the 1742 edition was addressed ‘To young MINISTERS, and Preachers of the Gospel; and Students of DIVINITY’. He claims to have been induced to republish the sermons by two considerations: their excellency (of which he had always had a ‘very great Opinion’) and their scarcity. Although the judgment of those who had read Whichcote’s book had been positive, Wishart had found that it was hardly known, ‘even among those who are best acquainted with good Books’. Wishart had dedicated the book to young ministers and students in the hope that they would ‘accept of my Brotherly Assistance’, unlike his ‘Seniors in the Ministry’, who ‘do not want my Advice and Assistance’ (this may be the considerable plots against his career which Wishart had encountered at Edinburgh); he considered it his duty and entitlement to give his advice to students, and he felt himself under ‘special Obligations of Gratitude’ to those preachers who had offered him their assistance, and who had been the occasion of him ‘hearing many excellent Sermons’ with the ‘double Satisfaction’ arising from a sense of his own and others’ ‘Entertainment and Edification’. For such preachers, Whichcote’s sermons represented ‘a Mine, out of which you may dig’ and a Model, by which you may improve.’
Wishart described Whichcote’s sermons as ‘a Piece of rich Ore’ containing the ‘best Materials’ for future sermons, combined with such ‘a Defect of Refinement and Polishing’ that there remained room other preachers to ‘rub them up’. They contained a rich collection of the ‘noblest Sentiments, upon the Evidences of vital and practical Religion’, together with the strongest considerations to recommend religion to the heart of man and apply it to life. Whichcote, he suggested, had only handled ‘Speculative Doctrines’ with respect to their ‘Practical Tendency’, including their influence on ‘Heart and Life’. Whichcote’s religion, he believed, had very solid foundations: the difference between virtue and vice was ‘fixt and certain’, ‘immutable and unalterable’; real virtue had a ‘happiness inherent’ and a ‘Satisfaction naturally flowing from it’; vice had ‘the worst of Miseries’ naturally attending it; heaven and hell were not ‘mere Creatures of arbitrary Will’; and even God could not dispense with the ‘fundamental Laws of the moral World’. He had established the evidences of natural religion with great clarity, showing its agreeableness to the principles of God’s creation in us, and that it was a thing that man was ‘made to know’; he had shown the suitability of the principles of revealed religion to man’s lapsed condition, and their fitness to restore human nature to its integrity, perfection and happiness. In the practical parts of his discourses he had provided ‘excellent Directions’ for attaining true piety and virtue, exploring the most important duties of common life, and applying heavenly truth to the purification and improvement of a man’s heart. Whichcote, in Wishart’s phrase, set forth religion as a ‘Liberal Service animated by Love’, recommending the internal, divine life, in harmony with God’s nature and will.
Although he does not use the word, Wishart presents Whichcote as a preacher of affectionate religion: his sentiments were ‘noble and sublime’ and is expression ‘strong and nervous’; this view of Whichcote is also matched by Wishart’s own sign-off at the end of the preface as the ‘affectionate Brother’ of his colleagues in the ministry. There were certainly parts of Whichcote’s book, as with all ‘human Composures’, that Wishart did not seek to defend. Nevertheless, he suggested that Whichcote’s ‘excellent Sentiments’ were delivered with such a ‘Negligence, oftimes, as to Style or Method’ because his attention had been ‘entirely taken up and carried off by things of far greater Importance’. This negligence revealed Whichcote’s discourses to be the productions of ‘a Man of the best Sense, and the most excellent Heart, uttering himself with an unaffected Freedom’. Their unpolished state, Wishart noted, paradoxically gave them an extra advantage for students, who would be under less temptation to plagiarise them, as they might have done with the famously finished performances of Tillotson; instead, Wishart recommended that his students might ‘make it an Exercise to take some Pieces of these Sermons … and translate them, as it were, into another sort of English; and throw them into another, or more distinct Method.’
Wishart argues that Whichcote can be a ‘Model’ by which students and young preachers can ‘improve’, but not through ‘servile Imitation’, as this could lead to the absurdity of an ‘affected Negligence’, and an ‘affected Stiffness’. Negligence as to the ‘Matter’ of a discourse, the sense of the reasoning, the strength of the argument, or the persuasive force, were ‘unquestionably a culpable and criminal Negligence’ when the salvation of souls from vice and their improvement in virtue and happiness were at stake. However, what students could learn from Whichcote was a ‘good Stock of valuable Knowledge’, especially in practical religion, while studying to have their hearts ‘deeply tinctur’d and strongly warm’d with Divine Love and universal Benevolence’. It was certainly necessary for young preachers to have composed discourse on the most important points of religion, with all the ‘Accuracy of Thought, Style and Method’ of which they were capable. However, if more experienced preachers with a good understanding of their subject were sometimes to ‘give a Loose’ to their Thoughts’ without confining themselves to a ‘studied Set of Words, or a precise Method’, such a ‘free and natural Application’ towards their audience would have a ‘better Effect’, both for ‘instructing and moving’ most of them, than an overreliance on ‘Regularity’ of style and method.
Not only did Wishart find Whichcote’s sermons to be of benefit to young ministers; he also recommended them to the ‘careful Perusal’ of ‘private Christians. Perhaps they were not suitable for absolute ‘Novices in Christianity’, without ‘tolerable Knowledge of the first Elements of Religion’, because the sentiments and reasonings contained in them were ‘too strong Meat for such Babes’. Specifically, Wishart viewed the text as worthy of perusal after Scougal’s Life of God in the Soul of Man. More generally, if anyone who had attained a serious sense of religion were desirous to make further advantages and ‘to go on to Perfection’, they might undergo great improvements of both the head and the heart by a close and frequent perusal of them. Once again, Wishart invoked a distinction between the speculative and practical elements to the sermons. The speculative part was calculated to remedy ‘the Want of a just Knowledge and clear Understanding of the first and fundamental Grounds and Evidences of Religion and Christianity’. The practical part drove home to ‘Mens Business and Bosoms’, entering into the circumstances and duties of ordinary life such a manner that they would be of use to ‘every attentive and serious Reader’.
The Works of the Learned Benjamin Whichcote, D. D., 4 vols. (Aberdeen, 1751)
This edition, which amalgamates the texts found in earlier editions, is prefaced by an ‘Account of the Life’ of the author. The ‘Account’ draws heavily on John Tillotson’s funeral sermon for Whichcote and includes a copy of Whichcote’s Latin verses upon the death of Oliver Cromwell, first printed in the memorial volume Musarum Cantabrigiensum (Cambridge, 1658). The ‘Account’ also draws attention to the previous editions of 1698, 1742, and ‘1702’; this last date suggests that the editor may have used the second edition of the first volume of Jeffery’s edition, probably alongside the first edition (1702) of volume 2 (the second edition of 1719 was very rare) and the first and only edition of volumes 3 (1703) and 4 (1707). The 1751 version of the Shaftesbury edition is perhaps closer to the 1742 rather than the 1698 edition, since it adopts Wishart’s convention of including textual references inline rather than in the margin. It was printed by James Chalmers and sold at Alexander Thomson’s bookshop in Broadgate, Aberdeen. Chalmers’s earlier imprints included editions of the Westminster Assembly Shorter Catechism, educational texts relating to King’s College, several sermons by the Aberdeen minister John Bisset, and the Private Reflexions of Henry Scougal.
Moral and Religious Aphorisms. Collected from the Manuscript Papers of the Reverend and Learned Doctor Whichcote; and published in MDCCIII by Dr. Jeffery. Now re-published, with very Large Additions, from the Transcripts of the Latter, by Samuel Salter, D. D. Prebendary of Norwich, and Curate of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk. To which are added, Eight Letters: which passed between Dr. Whichcote, Provost of King’s College; and Dr. Tuckney, Master of Emmanuel College, in Cambridge: on several very interesting Subjects. Now first published (London, 1753)
This text is the second edition of the Aphorisms, including numerous alterations and supplements; the appendix provides the first edition of the correspondence between Whichcote and Anthony Tuckney, and the only printed edition to appear in the eighteenth century. The editor, Samuel Salter, was Jeffery’s grandson; Salter had married Elizabeth Secker in 1744; the 1753 text of the Aphorisms was dedicated to her relative, Thomas Secker, archbishop of Canterbury, in ‘grateful acknowledgement of many favours’. The text was printed for J. Payne, whose recent imprints also included Jeffery’s posthumous Sermons and Tracts, 2 vols. (1751, 2nd edition 1753), also edited by Salter. The 1753 edition of the Aphorisms included Jeffery’s preface to the 1703 first edition, followed by a much longer preface by Salter himself and a series of previously published testimonies of Whichcote by Tillotson, Shaftesbury, Jeffery, Burnet, and Locke.
Since the 1703 edition had not mentioned either Whichcote or Jeffery by name, one of the main functions of Salter’s 1753 preface was to provide an ‘account of what is now offered … under the name of Dr. WHICHCOTE; seventy years after the death of that excellent person’. In this preface, Salter explains that he had originally intended to publish the Aphorisms as the work of Jeffery, to be included in Jeffery’s Sermons and Tracts; however, he had been informed by Jeffery’s relatives that the Aphorisms had not been composed by him, but ‘excerpted and transcribed from Dr. WHICHCOTE’s papers’. Salter had then decided to publish the Aphorisms separately, once Jeffery’s Sermons and Tracts had appeared, and after a ‘careful revisal’ using Jeffery’s transcripts. During the revisions, Salter was advised by ‘better judges’ than himself not to increase the number of aphorisms substantially, but to make alterations to those in the earlier edition. In the new collection, Salter explained, the ‘best of the former’ aphorisms had been preserved, and ‘scarce any expunged’ except when ‘an other was found … somewhat more emphatically elegantly or fully expressed’. By this means, Salter and his advisors had ‘actually inserted 500 new Aphorisms’ while only increasing the total number by 200. The ‘short notes and illustrations’ which were occasionally added to the text as footnotes were taken from a volume belonging to a member of Jeffery’s family, and had (according to Salter) been ‘dictated by the Dr. [Jeffery] himself’.
In his account of the previous editions of Whichcote’s sermons, Salter had acknowledged that many of the manuscript texts remained unpublished due to a scrupulousness on the part of Jeffery (1701-3) and a selectiveness on the part of Samuel Clarke (1704). He returned to this theme in relation to the aphorisms, asserting that Jeffery had compiled nearly five thousand aphorisms, and that he (Salter) would have been able to follow the 1753 volume with ‘two or three others; of equal bulk, and not inferior beauty’. However, Salter took a more modest view than Jeffery of the utility of the collection: he did not expect the public to call upon him to print any more, and thought he had ‘now done enough in this way; to satisfy the most zelous admirer of Aphorisms, and of this Author’. In any case, as he perused Jeffery’s notes, Salter came to observe a certain repetitiveness in Whichcote’s ideas. Whichcote, he explained, held ‘many favorite notions’, being ‘firmly perswaded of their truth and of their importance’, and he was ‘fond of inculcating these, on every occasion, in every possible point of view’. Jeffery’s ‘eager thirst’ for Whichcote had resulted in a certain inattentiveness to these repetitions of thought and expression in the 1703 edition. Salter’s work as editor was hampered by his inability to trace Jeffery’s source texts: he had received ‘great civilities’ from members of Whichcote’s family, but they had not been able to suggest where the manuscripts were now to be found. Nevertheless, Salter felt that because he was more detached from is subject matter than Jeffery, he was able to examine the aphorisms impartially to ensure that similarities of expression as well as strict repetition could be reduced in the 1753 volume.
In the 1753 edition, the aphorisms are followed by the first printed edition of an important set of letters between Whichcote and his former tutor Anthony Tuckney, dated 1651. Salter wrote a second preface for this part of the work, in which he provided biographical sketches of Whichcote and his three university mentors, all of whom were Calvinists, but mentioned respectfully in his opening letter: Tuckney himself, Thomas Hill, and John Arrowsmith. Recent claims that this group of Whichcote’s letters provide one of the first statements of Cambridge Platonism are exaggerated: while it is true that they discuss the role of reason in religion, this was a far from unusual topic in the mid seventeenth century, and Whichcote makes very little reference to Platonist or Neoplatonist authors, texts, or ideas. The correspondence was triggered by a sermon in which Whichcote outlined the following claims:
I. I perswade myself: that all truly good men among us, do substantially agree; in all things saving.
II. That some things, wherein we differ, are not certainly determined in Scripture …
III. The proposal for peace – That all be looked-upon as fallible, which is ultra et citra scripturam …
IV. The proposal for progress and growth in knowledge – That an ingenuous-spirited Christian, after application to God, and diligent use of meanes to finde-out truth; might fairely propose, without offense taken, what upon search he findes cause to beleeve; and whereon he will venture his own soule.
These doctrines contain ideas that Whichcote returned to throughout his preaching career; they are paralleled in both the 1685 and 1702 editions of his sermons on Philippians chapter 3:
|1685, pp. 65-6||1702, pp. 161-2|
|1. There is that in Religion, which is Necessary and determined, fixt and immutable, clear and perspicuous|
|Doct. 1. It may be supposed, that he who is right for the main, may err in some particulars||2. There is also that in Religion which is not so clear, plain, and evident; about which, it may happen that they may be otherwise minded|
|Doct. 2. There is good ground of expectation, that to such as are right in the main, God will discover to them particular Errors||3. There is Reason to think, that God will bring out of particular mistakes, him that is right in the main|
|Doct. 3. It’s greatly to be desired, that those who are substantially grounded may differ as little as may be||4. They which agree in the main but differ in some particulars; ought necessarily to hold together as if they were in all things agreed|
In the letter which opens the correspondence, Tuckney describes the second doctrine of the 1651 sermon as ‘unsafe and unsound’; the third doctrine he thought was even ‘more dangerous’, and that ‘Christ by his bloud never intended to purchase such a peace; in which the most Orthodox … with Papists, Arians, Socinians, and all the worst of Hæretiques, must be all put into a bag together’; in any case, it was undermined by the fourth doctrine, which in Tuckney’s opinion ‘will take-away as much peace; as the [third doctrine] promised to give us’. Tuckney also objected to Whichcote’s notion that reconciliation ‘doth not operate on God, but on Us’, since it suggested that ‘reconciliation is from … Us; and from [God]’s free grace’. Whichcote did not recognise Tuckney’s characterisation of his positions on reason and reconciliation, and discussions on these topics form a considerable proportion of the ensuing letters.
The correspondence has the following structure:
Tuckney --> Whichcote, 8 September 1651
Whichcote --> Tuckney, [September 1651]
Tuckney --> Whichcote, 15 September 1651
Whichcote --> Tuckney [September or October 1651]
Tuckney --> Whichcote, 8 October 1651
Whichcote --> Tuckney, [October 1651]
Tuckney --> Whichcote, 31 October 1651
Whichcote --> Tuckney, 3 November 1651
As well as the printed edition of 1753, it exists in at least two early copies in the British Library, neither of which have been studied in detail. In Salter’s preface, he explained that his edition was based on a copy of the letters made by Jeffery’s brother, which Jeffery had attempted to correct in his own hand. Salter hypothesised that Jeffery had acquired Whichcote’s own transcripts along with his other manuscripts, but he had no evidence that these transcripts still existed. As in his version of the aphorisms, Salter was aware that the lost early copies created problems of verification, and warned his readers that there might be errors in his printed edition: he had been ‘very inquisitive’ about the location of Whichcote’s transcripts, ‘hoping, by means of them, however hastily or ill written, to satisfy my-self in the true reading of divers passages; which I cannot now be positive of’. These problems were compounded by two further issues: Whichcote had a habit of writing and transcribing at ‘great haste’ and wrote in a ‘bad hand’. Furthermore, Whichcote’s ‘enthusiasm’ and ‘warmth’ of temper, Salter asserted, sometimes led to him being ‘under the power’ of his favourite arguments, causing him to ‘utterly neglect his style’, meaning that he did not always ‘write exactly’; he also suspected that Jeffery’s copyist had made mistakes, meaning that Jeffery did not ‘always read exactly’ what Whichcote had intended. In such a situation, Salter had only one choice: to follow ‘almost to a degree of affectation’, the spelling in Jeffery’s copy. On the other hand, the exigencies of printing in octavo meant that the marginal textual references in the copytext had been placed into the main body of text and enclosed within brackets and this meant that a certain amount of editing had been necessary to make them ‘precise and distinct; and free from all possible ambiguity’.
Cite as: Publication History of Benjamin Whichcote’s Works, https://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk/view/texts/normalised/about-the-cambridge-platonists/publication-history/whichcote-benjamin, accessed 2023-12-01.