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On Becoming Anglican: Emerging Anglican Thought in the Works of Thomas Traherne

  • Denise Inge

Abstract

The writings of Thomas Traherne (1637–74) are explored as a source of and model for the idea of Anglicanism. In his concern for a middle way between Roman Catholicism and reformed Protestantism (including interest in Calvin as well as the Fathers), his concern for a national Church, and in emphasizing the importance of a common liturgy, Traherne anticipates what has characterized the later global Anglican Communion and important aspects of what has been seen as characteristic Anglican theology.

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1.

Denise Inge (d. 2014) was an Honorary Senior Fellow in Early Modern Studies at the University of Worcester and renowned scholar of Thomas Traherne who left this article substantially complete. It has been prepared for publication with the assistance of her husband, Bishop John Inge.

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2. See J. Smith, ‘Thomas Traherne’, Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 55, p. 205; D. Inge, Thomas Traherne: Poetry and Prose (London: SPCK, 2002); D. Inge, Happiness and Holiness: Thomas Traherne and his Writings (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2008); and Inge, D., Wanting Like a God: Desire and Freedom in the Works of Thomas Traherne (London: SCM Press, 2009).

3. See Smith, ‘Thomas Traherne’, p. 205.

4. Lewis, T.T. (ed.), Letters of the Lady Brilliana Harley (London: Camden Society, 1854), pp. 111, 119, 132133.

5. Register entry for ordination, 20 October 1660, Oxon. RO, Oxford diocesan papers, d. 106.

6. See ‘A Sober View of Dr Twisse’, particularly sect. VI and VII, in J. Ross (ed.), The Works of Thomas Traherne I (Woodbridge: Boydell and Brewer, 2005), pp. 77–86.

7. See ‘Rogation’, ‘Poem for Pentecost’, ‘Prayer for All Saints Day’, ‘A Prayer of Thanks for Mary’, in Inge (ed.), Happiness and Holiness,pp. 297–303.

8. ‘To the Reader’, introduction to A Serious and Pathetical Contemplation of the Mercies of GOD in Several Most Devout and Sublime Thanksgivings for the Same, first published by Hicks, 1699, in J. Ross (ed.), The Works of Thomas Traherne IV (Cambridge: Brewer, 2009), p. 318.

9. See Eales, J., Puritans and Roundheads: The Harleys of Brampton Bryan and the Outbreak of the English Civil War (Glasgow: Hardinge Simpole, 2002), pp. 182, 192193; and the anonymous A True and Full Relation of the Officers’ and Armies’ Forcible Seizing of Divers Eminent Members of the Commons House, December 6 and 7 1648 (London, 1648), Thomason Tracts E476 (14) 3–11.

10. ‘A LETTER Written by a LADY to a Romish PRIEST upon her Return from the Church of Rome to the Church of England’, in J. Smith (ed.), The Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works Series II, Part 4 Volume 7: Susanna Hopton I (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010), p. 124.

11. Hereford County RO, registrar's files, 1673/488 and 1667/349.

12. J. Smith, ‘The Ceremonial Law’, PN Review 25.2 (1998), pp. 22–28.

13. See, for instance, the introduction to Christian Ethicks in which Traherne promises to ‘lead his reader into the way of Blessedness’, or the title page of Commentaries of Heaven written for the ‘Satisfaction of Atheists and the Consolation of Christians’.

14. ‘To the Reader’, p. 319.

15. ‘Select Meditations’, I.82, in J. Ross (ed.), The Works of Thomas Traherne V (Cambridge: Brewer, 2013), p. 255.

16. ‘Select Meditations’, I.85; The Works of Thomas Traherne V, p. 258.

17. ‘Select Meditations’, III.25; The Works of Thomas Traherne V, pp. 310–11.

18. ‘Article’ in J. Ross (ed.), The Works of Thomas Traherne III (Cambridge: Brewer, 2007), p. 233.

19. Roman Forgeries, or, A true account of false records: discovering the impostures and counterfeit antiquities of the Church of Rome, by a faithful son of the Church of England (London: Printed by S. & B. Griffin for Jonathan Edwin, 1673), p. 28.

20. Roman Forgeries, p. 108.

21. Nabil Matar, ‘A Note on Thomas Traherne and the Quakers’, Notes & Queries 28.1 (1981), pp. 46–47.

22. D. Inge, ‘Thomas Traherne and the Socinian Heresy in Commentaries of Heaven’, Notes & Queries 54.4 (2007), pp. 412–16.

23. Wells, S., What Anglicans Believe (Norwich: Canterbury Press, 2011).

24. What Anglicans Believe, p. xvi.

25. J. Ross (ed.), The Works of Thomas Traherne I, p. 78. It should be noted that Traherne has, in the past, been dismissed by some as a ‘poet of felicity’ who had a very thin conception of sin. This is a thesis which certainly could be argued persuasively from some of his writings – notably the Centuries. However, the large corpus of work discovered in 1999 makes clear that this is a very inadequate reading of Traherne. See ‘Sin and Salvation’, in D. Inge, Happiness and Holiness, pp. 144–52.

26. Cocksworth, C., Holding Together (London: Canterbury Press, 2008), p. 228 and pp. 240–41.

27. Wells, What Anglicans Believe, p. 46.

28. A. Ridler identifies this as coming from Bodleian MS. Lat. Misc. F. 45 in her introduction to Traherne: Poems, Centuries and Three Thanksgivings (London: Oxford University Press, 1966), p. xv. This is a notebook that belonged to Traherne's brother Philip but contained material in Traherne's hand with some poems signed, as was this one, in an uncharacteristic ‘T.T.’

29. On Traherne and sin see n. 24 above and P. Grant, The Transformation of Sin: Studies in Donne, Herbert, Vaughan and Traherne (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1974); on Traherne, Irenaeus and heresy, see the introduction to Roman Forgeries.

30. Rowell, G., Stevenson, K.Williams, R. (eds.), Love's Redeeming Work: The Anglican Quest for Holiness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. xxv.

31. Lines 272-74, 284-89 from the poem at the end of ‘The Kingdom of God’; ch. XXII of Ross (ed.), Works of Thomas Traherne I, p. 375.

32. ‘The Person’, in D. Inge, Happiness and Holiness, p. 88.

33. ‘The Celestial Stranger’, in Inge (ed.), Thomas Traherne: Poetry and Prose, pp. 112–14.

34. Centuries of Meditations, IV 8; Ross (ed.), Works of Thomas Traherne V, p. 144.

35. Sykes, S., The Identity of Anglicanism (New York: Seabury, 1978), p. 90, quoted in Wells, What Anglicans Believe, p. 61.

36. Cocksworth, Holding Together, p. 45.

37. ‘Article’ in Ross (ed.), The Works of Thomas Traherne III, p. 233. Brackets mine.

38. ‘Article’ in Ross (ed.), The Works of Thomas Traherne III, p. 233.

39. Anthony A. Wood, in ‘Burton, Hezekiah’, Dictionary of National Biography (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885–1900).

40. Title page of Roman Forgeries.

41. Ramsey, M., From Gore to Temple (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1960), pp. 169170.

42. Rowell et al., Love's Redeeming Work, p. xxxi.

43. Rowell et al., Love's Redeeming Work, p. xxxi.

44. Ross, The Works of Thomas Traherne I, p. 78.

45. Ramsey, M., The Gospel and the Catholic Church (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1935), pp. 219220.

46. D. Ford in Inge, Wanting Like a God, p. xii.

1. Denise Inge (d. 2014) was an Honorary Senior Fellow in Early Modern Studies at the University of Worcester and renowned scholar of Thomas Traherne who left this article substantially complete. It has been prepared for publication with the assistance of her husband, Bishop John Inge.

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Journal of Anglican Studies
  • ISSN: 1740-3553
  • EISSN: 1745-5278
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