Henry Hammond and covenant theology.
There is no critical modern biography of Hammond, but John W. Packer's The Transformation of Anglicanism supplies as much of a narrative of his life as can perhaps be written along with a master list of his publications and a thoughtful survey of his views on the rational basis of Christianity and the interpretation of Scripture, religious and civil government, and liturgical practice. Regrettably, Packer all but excludes the Practical Catechism and does not come to grips with Hammond's teaching of the covenant of grace. The latter lapse is rectified by Neil Lettinga in an article of 1993, "Covenant Theology Turned Upside Down: Henry Hammond and Caroline Anglican Moralism: 1643-1660," which makes an effective case for Hammond as a covenant theologian. While I cannot buy fully into Lettinga's view that "Hammond's whole theology as well as A Practical Catechism was based upon the doctrine of Covenant," his sense of the upside-downness of Hammond's achievement strikes me as exactly right (in more ways than Lettinga was perhaps aware of), and I am grateful to him for calling to my attention the covenantal dimension of Hammond's thought. (5)
Historians differ about Hammond's location on the theological spectrum of his era. Robert S. Paul, following John Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy (1714), takes Hammond for a "Puritan Episcopalian" and probable Calvinist. Ian Green finds in Hammond's catechism numerous "shared norms and common emphases" with Calvin as well as compatibilities with the Reformed Orthodoxy of Westminster. He nonetheless names Hammond a "non-Calvinist" for opposing the doctrines of double predestination and of irresistible and indefectible grace. C. F. Allison sees Hammond departing from the "classical Anglicanism" of Hooker, Davenant, Andrewes, Hall, and Ussher, and tending toward Arminianism. Lettinga sets Hammond's covenant theology in the foreground of "Caroline Anglican moralism" and contrasts it with a range of contrary positions in the Westminster Confession. (6)
These jostling appraisals and assignments constitute an exegetical embarrassment. Hammond was, and was not, a kind of Calvinist; he was, and was not, an Arminian of sorts; his doctrine accorded, and did not accord, with Westminster's. Scholars also assume that, whatever Hammond was, he was always one and the same, consistent in his faith, having essentially and substantially the same religious persona in maturity as in youth. The present essay, revisiting Hammond's masterwork, A Practical Catechism, and reading it in relation to certain key sermons, suggests that his theological judgments were not static over time, that his piety did not fully comport with Anglican convention, and that his ecclesiastical credentials were not always conformable, let alone "Laudian." There is more to be said--because there is something a little peculiar--about the man who broke the Anglican mold by setting God's covenants at the head of his masterwork and who, in the high day of Laud's power, preached a sermon that the archbishop should have condemned as giving aid and comfort to the puritan enemy.
I wish to call attention to the presence in Hammond's early preaching of structures and strategies that are usually associated with puritan piety. Taking his estimation of the covenant of grace as point of entry, this article describes an understanding of divine-human relations that draws adaptively on puritan models of faith and practice. I do not wish to contend--far from it--that Hammond was ever a dyed-in-the-wool puritan sine nomine. Still, the evidence indicates that he was more of one, early on, than historians have noted or believed. It is even arguable that Hammond, when he put the Practical Catechism into final form and released it to the printer, was catching hold of Anglican orthodoxy and felt impelled to do so because he had a quasi-puritan past to repudiate and live down.
I. ANGLICAN COVENANT THOUGHT: A SKETCH
By the mid-1620s, when Hammond, coming of age, was engaged in theological and historical studies at Oxford, English clergymen in growing numbers were working hard to spread vital and informed religion through the land. Their production of catechisms provides a gauge of that effort. Ian Green's recent huge study tallies 221 catechisms published in England and in English for the period 1610 to 1649, almost a hundred more than for the preceding eighty years. (7) Another measure is the production of covenant-oriented and covenant-powered modes of divinity by pastor-teachers who used God's compacts with humankind to make the puritan case for reforming the English Church and saving English souls. Puritans led this undertaking but did not monopolize it. During the 1620s, and a little before, a few high-placed Churchmen applied the precepts of covenant to the duties of holiness and the disciplines of stewardship. So it was that when Henry Hammond began, probably in the 1630s, to construct a catechism for his private use, he had available for service two differentiated and competitive, if unequally developed, versions of covenant doctrine.
The puritan version is by far the more familiar in modern studies. It was geared to the urgencies of religious experience and the exigencies of religious change. Passionately evangelical, it focused in the purifying of churches and the converting of souls, beginning with the souls of young men who came of age in the 1620s under the persuasions of mentors such as William Pemble at Oxford, John Preston at Cambridge, and William Ames in exile at Leiden. The earnest presentation of grace-by-covenant could make or break churches, produce prodigies of piety, and launch aggressive, even imperial, ventures of theology.
The less well known emergent Anglican alternative had a mainly managerial motive and method. It was designed to promote stability and vitality within a well-run religious establishment. Proponents, almost uniformly Calvinist, focused on the confirmation and maintenance, rather than the conversion, of souls, for which they prescribed an ordered round of church-related sacramental observance. The best-known spokesmen of this form of what might be termed covenant Anglicanism were several bishops (mostly with outlying dioceses) and a distinguished dean who, without constituting a conscious and organized party, mobilized the covenant of grace for the uses of Churchmanship. In addition, a small but ambitious work of the 1620s by a minor priest set the federal principle at the crux of a new model of rational faith in the first English--indeed, the first Protestant--effort of its synthetic kind. These writings laid a foundation for Anglican appreciation of the covenant of grace that flowered in Hammond's time and work.
An outline of Anglican reflection on covenant can be traced from John Donne's sermons beginning in the late 1610s. The dean of St. Paul's was the first known English divine to declare that "all that hath passed between God and man hath passed ex pacto, by way of contract and covenant"; the second would be his successor at Lincoln's Inn, John Preston. Unlike Preston, however, Donne did not go on to offer a holistic theology of what he called the pactum salis; we must patch up his position from references to the covenant of grace scattered through several years of sermons. But although the account is fractured, its tenor is consistent: whenever Donne takes up the covenant he runs its power-train through the corporate church. God has made his covenant with his people to establish them as his church "ad consummationem, to the end of the world"; the contract of grace engages every member by baptism. Far more than a mere sign or seal "as Genevans held," the sacrament of initiation is God's instrument of reconciliation and man's answering pledge of fidelity. Taken in infancy by proxy, confirmed in youth, and freighted with the covenant's demands and privileges, the vow is the Christian's personal contract of grace. (8)
Within the same frame of reference, Arthur Lake, bishop of Bath and Wells, 1616-26, invoked God's generic covenant with biblical Israel as initiating "the contract that is made between him and his church." A moderate Calvinist with close ties to conforming puritans in his Somerset diocese, Lake was respected for his piety, austerity of life, episcopal diligence, and commitment to raising a learned ministry. He explained in sermons on Exodus 19 that members of the Church of England came into covenant with their God in baptism through an exchange of promises--on God's part, "to give us life"; on ours, "to do God's will," that is, to believe and obey. This simple formula catches the "substance of the covenant" that creates, sustains, and directs the religious community. (9)
Lake's doctrine pitches at every point upon divine supremacy and underscores the inequality of the parties. Believers already owe obedience to their Lord by reason of his Lordship, and they owe it absolutely: "we must surrender our wills wholly unto his pleasure." Making the covenant bond subsidiary to election, Lake warns against presuming that God will forgive the inevitable imperfections of our repentance and reformation "upon the ground of covenant, for when God doth it, he doth it upon another ground, upon the ground of predestination." God has added covenant to election in order to engage chosen souls in his service by their own volition and action, but the status of contractor does not entitle them to dicker over terms or bicker over results. The covenant is made by "mutual conditioning," to be sure, but the human parties are not free bargaining agents with power "to capitulate with God," nor are they able on their own to perform their side of the contract. They are required to believe and obey but can do so only by virtue of God's enabling grace. He "must give us supernatural force to perform this supernatural work." (10)
Here Lake takes from his auditors' lips the poignant question: "But if God give that which we must give to God, how is the work ours?" How are we actually, responsibly, and consequentially involved in the working out of our salvation? The need to ask springs from the depths of experiential divinity. Lake answers simply: "though God give the ability, yet he will have us make use of it." The gift of enablement does not mean that God does all, for it "doth not take away the liberty of our will." Rather, it "gives new qualities, working upon [the will] not only physically but morally also." Uniting divine empowerment with human effort, Lake desires to leave "our choice ... free, ... as beseemeth reasonable men," and to activate the will without forcing it. At the same time, he wishes to prick the "Arminian dream" that "our will doth determine" the efficacy of the gift of grace. (11)
Lake is concerned far more with principles than with process. He hints at a concept of divine-human collaboration in the work of grace but does not operationalize it. His suggestive remarks about God's giving "new qualities" and working on the will are undeveloped. So too is the thought that "God inquires after his former gifts in us" in order to gauge "our capacity for more." (12) Donne's italicizing of the charged and challenging if in God's "conditional contract with us, so that if we perform our part, he will perform his, and not otherwise," seems to glance the same way. (13) Henry Hammond would turn implication into conviction by constructing from covenantal materials and along Anglican lines a model of cooperative reciprocity. It was enough for his predecessors to settle their people upon the divine covenant so firmly that "will we, nill we, we are parties," and to open the door to further exploration of the covenant's bases and uses, as Lake did when he discovered its substance in the Church's founding and functioning texts--in "our Confession, the Articles, and Catechisms, and the books of our Devotion, our public Liturgy, and finally the Homilies." Lake wrote his own moralized bottom line when, in the manner of the Almighty conducting a parochial visitation, he closed the course of sermons with the admonition that "not one of the articles must pass us unregarded, because enquiry will be made after our conformity unto every one of them." (14)
When Lake and Donne magnified the first sacrament's redemptive power and moral prescript, they were betting, in effect, that if the baptismal covenant's spiritual energies could be contained within the sanctuary, they might safely be put to the ecclesial uses of morality and piety. Henry Leslie, bishop of Down and Connor, who served as Laud's enforcer in Ulster, took a similar line in A Warning to Israel (1625) and A Sermon Preached before His Majesty at Wokin (1627). So also did George Downame, bishop of Derry, in The Covenant of Grace (1631), a soterial primer with a covenantal frame that its author published in the face of Laud's efforts to suppress it. Covenantal idea and idiom are also found in the preaching of Lancelot Andrewes (successively Chichester, Ely, and Winchester), John Davenant (Salisbury), William Cowper (Galloway) with an evangelical touch, and, especially, James Ussher, archbishop of Armagh, whose A Body of Divinity, with prominent covenantal content, was going round in manuscript by the mid-1620s and came to print in 1645 as a prompt-card for Westminster. (15) Most of these mitred preceptors shared in the Jacobean Church's broad and basic Calvinist consensus.
Anglicans used the covenant bond to reinforce the regimens of dutiful Churchmanship. Donne exhorted each auditor at St. Paul's to "try whether I stand justified" by asking, "Do I remember what I contracted with Christ Jesus ... by baptism?" Cowper wanted to know "with what face canst thou stand up and seek that mercy which God hath promised, who never endeavorest to perform that duty which God hath required." Andrewes "marvel[ed] what we can allege to decline our duty, unless we mean it should be fast with God and loose with us; he bound to do all for us, and we free to do nothing for him." Lake observed that when "God puts on the person of a contractor, it is plain that we may not neglect ... the articles of his contract." (16)
The conditionality of the bond was critical to the success of the religious program. God's freely given grace depended for salvific effect on its reception and application. The more thoroughly Calvinistic the Anglican, the more likely to couple the demand for human exertion with the promise of divine assistance. Lake called for unalloyed fidelity to the contract of grace while explaining in the same breath that God, as supreme contractor, gave the ability to be faithful. Downame argued similarly for the perseverance of the saints. Donne guaranteed that the "God that proposes conditions ... enables us to perform those conditions," both "giv[ing] the power" and "bring[ing] forth the act." Leslie used the same terms in explaining to King Charles that "we are not mere patients in our conversion." (17) Cowper perceived in the conditional covenant the ground of religion itself, for only because its promises were both explicit and conditional could God's people truly know his kindness, and Donne saw God manifesting his godliness by performing what he had promised. (18)
These ministers were uniformly keen to affirm the harmony of God's ways. Lake was correcting a flagrantly puritan error of mindset and doctrine when he insisted that the law and the gospel should not "be taken opposite" but were "composite." Andrewes explained that the law was the gospel "hid" and the gospel was "revealed law." (19) Thomas Playfere spoke the common sense of Anglican tradition when he declared that "[t]here is gospel in the law, and there is law in the gospel." Each has promises, rules, and exactions. The law is a "threatening gospel"; the gospel is a "comfortable law": Christians need both. (20) Playfere, in 1604, was speaking at a time when the idea of contrasting and contending covenants--works against grace--was taking hold among puritans. Against that innovation Anglicans maintained the moral law's essential grace, turned a cool eye on the covenant of works, and kept the discourse of piety unburdened by the antitheses of works and grace that were becoming normative for what I have elsewhere termed the Perkinsian moment of federal theology. (21)
William Sparke's The Mystery of Godliness (1628) stands apart from the flow of Anglican Calvinist teaching on God's covenants in its announced intention to "present unto rational men a view of the reason that is in Christian religion ... in the whole contexture thereof." The author, then in his early forties, was rector at Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, a graduate of Magdalen College, Oxford (a couple of decades ahead of Hammond), and one of Buckingham's chaplains. Thomas, his father, had been noted for puritan scruples in the 1580s but came to full conformity at the Hampton Court Conference of 1603. The son aspired to offer to the contested Church of his own time the one grand truth that "would make us all of one mind." He aimed that truth at thinking men, interspersing his biblical marginalia with Latin and Greek excerpts from the church fathers. The resulting "little model" draws the "reason" of religion--combining the meanings of explanation, logic, and purpose--from God's love for his human creatures to whom he has given, by successive covenants, "all good things both of nature and grace." (22) Divine benevolence, thus bestowed by covenant, inspires this irenic tract that ranks, though hardly noticed at the time and neglected by scholars since, as early Stuart Anglicanism's nearest approach to a systematic exposition of the two-covenant or federal idea.
Sparke devoted the first of six chapters, in two books, to the covenant of nature and the second to the covenant of grace, followed by discourses on the testaments and on the theological graces of faith, hope, and love. Each covenant expresses divine reason and conveys divine affection; together, they advance the grand plan of providence. Seeing nature as "a fair copy of God's glory," Sparke gives nature's covenant a very positive reading: "our true happiness consists naturally in the fruition and admiration of God's glory according to the covenant of nature, do this and live." The moral law was given for that purpose; though broken by Adam, it remains the "perpetual rule of our duty." The chapter's latter half contrasts the dismal state of fallen human nature with its Edenic original but closes with assurances that God, rather than "be defeated of his glory," has turned the "general defection ... to the advantage of his elect" through the covenant of grace. (23)
The Mystery of Godliness derives the new covenant from the consent of the Trinity and centers it in Christ, its angel and mediator, whose work is assigned and accepted before Creation. The elect are "chosen in him before the foundation of the world." Election was "first ordina naturae in the Son of God, as being the mirror, and then predestination by him as the Mediator." There follow, in Sparke's credenda, Christ's incarnation and threefold office--prophet, priest, king, in ascending order--and his roles of grace as his chosen people's wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Treating salvation, Sparke maintains the rule of divine selectivity and suppresses the note of contractual conditionality. Assuming that his readers are recipients of the "grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began," he enjoins them to give God glory by praise, thanks, and diligence in their "holy calling." (24)
Sparke is sure that the covenant of grace stands firm because it is not like a human contract--"not a bargain made with God by our own selves"--but is Christ's gift by will and testament. Tracing it through the two testaments, he brings it home to the church, the "professed company of believers," of which he gives a loyal Anglican account while stressing the need for lively preachers who "can command their people to hear them [and] to enter covenant with God by their ministry." Book 1 ends on that note. Book 2 opens with the sacraments by which the "covenant passeth by mutual stipulation betwixt God and us" as the bond of the spirit and the ground and stay of morality. (25)
Though Sparke eschews partisan slogans and stances, knowledgeable readers would have detected the Arminian strands that run through his work. The Mystery of Godliness maintains predestination in the single form of election, minimizes the injury inflicted by the Fall, treats sinfulness as moral deprivation, and urges active commitment to the procuring and improving of grace. At the same time, Sparke tacitly repudiates the theology and piety of the Perkinsian moment. He does not set the covenants in adversarial relations as representing the principled opposition of law and gospel. He emphasizes the inherent graciousness of the Edenic compact. His sacrament-centered piety makes no room for spiritual torments and has no passion to spare for the evangelical preaching of conversion. Instead, he joins with Lake, Donne, and the rest in linking the salvific bond to font and altar, where by mystical acts it conveys or confirms the gift of grace. Pleading ecumenicity, Sparke's tract stands against extremity, division, and rancor in the Church, prays for vital religion as well as conformity of faith and form, and to those ends outlines a covenant divinity on which reasonable people may concur and a reasonable church repose.
II. HAMMOND AS PURITAN
Born in 1605, schooled in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew by his father, and trained at Eton and at Magdalen College, Oxford (B.A. 1622, M.A. and fellow 1625, B.D. 1634, Oxford D.D. 1639), Henry Hammond brought to the work of theology a thorough grounding in classic authors and church fathers. We know very little about his scholastic experience. His contemporary biographer, John Fell, records that at some point he decided to bone up on modern divinity, but the system he looked into so repelled him that he soon dropped it in favor of patristics. (26) We can only guess at his reaction to the fiery federal preaching of young William Pemble at Magdalen Hall, Oxford's puritan headquarters, in which it was axiomatic that whatever "makes void the covenant of grace is a false and heretical doctrine." (27) The record of Hammond's reading is a perfect blank, but it stands to reason that he knew Sparke's Mystery of Godliness. He would have appreciated Sparke's rational and irenic spirit; struck by the placement of the covenant of grace at the head and heart of divinity, he might have been tempted to improve on Sparke's effort. However that may be, one can hardly doubt Hammond's acquaintance with the covenantal pressure in the thought of Anglican clergymen whose sermons appeared in print during his formative years.
These points of ignorance and surmise illustrate the problem of investigating Hammond's intellectual development: we really know next to nothing about its early stages. There is no journal. None of his few surviving letters comes from the time when his catechism was still in the egg. Almost all his extant sermons appear to date from the 1640s and 1650s. There is, however, one sermon, probably from the late 1630s, that differs markedly from the rest and serves, as will soon be seen, as principal prompt and stay for the thesis, now to be argued, of Hammond's early puritanism.
Hammond's biographers have noted the court and Church connections of his family. His father was Prince Henry's physician; he was related on his mother's side to Alexander Nowell, dean of St. Paul's and author of a distinguished catechism. But the family tree also bore puritan limbs, and it may be that its trunk had more puritan wood and sap than the commentators have been willing to concede. Henry's brother Thomas was one of King Charles's judges (but he did not sign the death warrant). A brother-in-law, John Dingley, served on the board of sequestration of clergy for Surrey. A nephew, Robert Dingley, was a puritan minister on the Isle of Wight; another, Robert Hammond, was the king's jailer at Carisbrooke. The provider of this information, half a century ago, surmised that it must have been awkward for Hammond, when he became a royal chaplain, to have such "uncongenial relations" but silently dismissed them as incidental and irrelevant. (28)
What is more, Hammond owed advancement to two personages whose puritan leanings were no secret. He was introduced to the royal court by Accepted Frewen, president of Magdalen, who, when unable to keep a preaching appointment, got Hammond invited in his stead. Later on, Frewen yielded to "the assiduity of Laud" and became "a great loyalist," but he had been, says Walker, "at first inclinable to the Puritans and was the son of a Puritanical minister." (29) Hammond's sermon at court so impressed Robert Sidney, second earl of Leicester, that he offered the preacher the living at Penshurst, Kent, which was the Sidneys' seat. The earl was a religious moderate whose conduct while serving on the English embassy to France led Laud to represent him as a puritan and block his appointment as secretary of state. (30)
These items of data suggest the availability to Hammond, in his youth and at the start of his ministry, of something like a puritan alternative along with an inclination in that direction. That puritanism and prelacy could still cohabit in the 1630s is well known; Hammond's friend and later collaborator, James Ussher, is a notable case in point. (31) A young man could pitch his future on the possibility that Ussher's side might come out ahead of Laud's; if that was Hammond's hope, Laud's rise would soon set him straight. Already, in 1633, when Hammond went to Penshurst, the middle ground of faith and practice--the buffered area so laboriously maintained by bishops like Lake and deans like Donne--was shaking and shrinking.
At Penshurst, Hammond earned a name for promoting informed piety and right living. He was a person, says Fell, of sweet carriage and pacific temper. (32) His mien was pedagogical, his profile low, his bearing courteous. A diligent priest, he increased the number of Communion services, possibly following Calvin's lead. A caring teacher, he catechized adults as well as youth. A full-service minister, he looked out for the parish's poor and distressed. We do not know whether he adopted Laudian liturgical arrangements (Fell's silence on that point may suggest that he did not), but we do know that he gladly celebrated Christmas. On the whole, Hammond at Penshurst seems bred in an older school of pastor-prelates who stayed within ecclesial bounds, busied themselves in clerical offices, left politics alone till politics came to get them, and generally (though not always) kept their heads down. Working under the ward of a sympathetic lord, he could be a practical puritan--one of the centrist sort, the quietly conforming kind, whose loyalties would be tested and torn by the coming wars of religion. Perhaps that was how he looked to the MPs who called him to the Westminster Assembly of Divines in 1643. (33)
Politics, when it came for Hammond, came armed. Loyal to the crown, he got involved in a royalist rising at Tunbridge in July 1643 and not only forfeited his ticket to Westminster (which he was unlikely to have used in any case) but was turned out of his rectory. He took refuge in Oxford, there to serve as a royal chaplain and a canon of Christ Church. The late 1640s found him living under house arrest in Bedfordshire. He spent the 1650s in Worcestershire as chaplain to a gentry household. Those were the busy years of his great service to his Church. Death in 1660 took him on the very eve of the restoration of the order he had labored to substantiate and sustain.
III. SERMON XXIII
During the Kentish years, Hammond made a name as a preacher worth hearing. Sadly, not many of his sermons have survived: thirty-one were first printed four years after his death; no more have turned up since. Internal evidence suggests that about half of the survivors were given at Oxford in the 1640s; most of the rest can be assigned to the following decade. Three sermons have endured, however, from the Penshurst period. Two will be discussed below. The third, numbered XXIII by his nineteenth-century editor, is undoubtedly among the earliest but cannot be dated precisely: its message seems to place it in the later 1630s. The venue was almost assuredly London's open-air pulpit at St. Paul's Cross. (34) The sermon's special value lies in its rich mix of clues to its author's mindset during the run-up to the crisis of the 1640s.
The case for a London provenance rests on internal data. The text, Matthew 10:15--"It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city" (that is, any city that rebuffs the apostles' message)--suits an urban locale, where so many souls were undone. The opening salutations are directed to strangers--mere faces in the crowd to the preacher who "presume[s] that you are now come with solemn serious thoughts to be edified, not instructed, much less pleased or humored." The message assumes the flagrant impiety of the "multitude of ignorant infidels, pagans and heathens" whom "we cannot choose but meet with." High among the objects of censure are "presumptuous Christians," those stock figures of, especially, the puritan pulpit who compose a "world of believing infidels" and were surely more visible as well as more numerous in London than in little Penshurst. (35)
The subject is faith; the object of scorn, infidelity. The sermon's plan is covenantal; its temper, conversionist; its mode, Christological. Its energy springs from the fusion of these aspects. At the outset Hammond affirms that "the whole new covenant consists of these two words, Christ and faith." Christ is the covenant's substance; faith, "the receiving of Christ," is its sole condition--indeed, the "only condition annexed to all [God's] promises" (repentance and obedience being effects of faith) and "the only foundation on which our heaven is built." Sola fide, then: God "hath not promised" in the covenant of grace "to accept in mercy of anything else," and the covenant is itself both the gift and the instrument of acceptance. (36)
The sermon follows the familiar pattern of covenantally grounded admonition and covenantally applied exhortation. The preacher's premise and target is the "dismal, hideous, desperate estate of infidels"; his aim, to incite the wills of hearers to stir up their affections to "labor for faith" by "press[ing] down that floating knowledge which is in most of our brains into a solid weighty effectual faith." His spur is "sharp and terrible" words of guilt and retribution--'angry judge," "legal terror," "killing letter," "spirit of bondage"--that drive sinners "out of themselves" and compel them to "lay hold on Christ." The laying hold must conform to the requirement of the new or "second" covenant--faith acting through repentance and obedience--which is "the only foundation on which our heaven is built." (37)
The substance, shape, and much of the diction of this message reproduce the homiletic handbook of the Perkinsian moment. Each point stands as a marker of the strenuous preaching--the great invidious sorting out of English souls--that drove the fighting front of the puritan movement during its formative years, when a great deal of passion was being poured into the making and proving of recruits. Hammond's sermon is also typical of its militant kind in the assumptions it makes about its target audience, the infidel that lives in every man's heart and defies clerical control. Once or twice Hammond speaks of his auditors as Christians (either by default or in bad standing), but never does he remind them of broken baptismal vows nor does he open to them the panoply of the Church's spiritual powers and resources. A heavy judgment on the Church, now under Laudian control, sounds in this silence.
From Hammond's rhetoric of conversion one major Perkinsian element is missing. There is not a word of the first covenant, the Edenic foedus operum, or of its role in the working out of the divine economy. Hammond does not define and elevate the second covenant vis-a-vis the first as Perkinsian federalists systematically did, but makes it stand alone as the right "rule and method" of salvation. (38) This important exception apart, Sermon XXIII faithfully replicates in small the details of the then prevailing framework for the puritan reconnaissance of souls.
Affinities of theological statement and homiletic style carry over into the discipline of piety. Laboring for faith means for Hammond as much as for any Perkinsian puritan a ceaseless campaign against spiritual indeterminacy. Critical self-interrogation is demanded. Sins are to be ferreted out; graces must be analyzed and appraised. Hammond brings to the first task "the sweat, the lungs, the bowels" that Anglicans scorned as emotional overkill. He summons the Paul's Cross crowd (who in the sermon's latter part undergo the standard sermonic makeover from you to we, from outsiders to insiders, from hard-case infidels to prospective saints) to "shrift and winnow and even set our hearts upon the rack." It is the "solemnest work of our souls" to "prevent God's inquest with our own" by "cut[ting] ourselves up" (becoming as "naked and discernible," in Hammond's graphic image, "as the entrails of a creature cut down the back"). "Every cranny of our souls" must be diligently searched and cleansed. (39) While this scouring proceeds--it is a lifetime's job--aspirants to sanctity must also teach themselves to believe that they do in fact believe by gathering and sifting the inward evidences of given grace. For this second task Hammond advises use of the reflex act of faith--faith reflecting on and approving itself to itself--that was a staple of Perkinsian practitioners and their Prestonian successors in the 1620s.
Hammond's discussion of the reflex act tallies with that of Preston in The New Covenant, preached (arguably) in 1625 and 1626, posthumously published in 1629, and marking the beginning of the end, theologically speaking, of the Perkinsian moment. It cannot be shown that Hammond borrowed directly from Preston; he did not need to: the shared marks of evangelical puritanism were common enough. But the parallels, at least, are plain. Hammond warns, for example, against seeking information about one's estate and destiny in the arcana of the divine decrees. Souls must look out of themselves to Christ and his promises--so far Hammond agreed with Donne as well as with Preston--but he also demanded that they look deep and hard within. The "way to make our election sure," Hammond advises, "is to read it in ourselves radio reflexo" and "by knowing that we believe, to resolve that we are elected." (40) This was Preston's doctrine exactly, and its sources in English puritanism could be traced at least as far back as Perkins's adoption of Beza's practical syllogism.
By the time Hammond delivered Sermon XXIII, the empirical supplanting of predestination by covenant was gaining momentum. The divine decrees, however much they may have been a formal mark of English Calvinism, were never a staple of the pulpit or the pastoral closet. The royal ban of 1626 on the public venting of them had been received gratefully upon the whole in puritan quarters. When Preston, at Lincoln's Inn, seized the occasion to change the subject, he could do so without much altering course. Deftly shifting the foundations of federal grace from divine flat to divine all-sufficiency, he assigned the project of salvation to the covenant, while at the same time he dropped out of sight the decree of reprobation and its Perkinsian servant, the covenant of works, with its burdensome baggage. Thus the gagging of the puritan clergy not only did them no harm but proved a blessing in disguise. Theologically, too, it helped open the way for Christic and Trinitarian revision of the covenant system in the 1630s. (41)
Devout and prudent Anglican Calvinists, too, were ready to steer souls away from the secret decrees and toward Christ and the covenant's open promise. Donne explained, with panache, that "I enquire not what God did in his bed-chamber, in his cabinet counsel, in his eternal decree[.] I know that he hath Judicium electionis in Christ Jesus." Davenant told scared souls, cowering under doom by decree, to look to the covenant's open book and buck up, for "thou art not rejected from this covenant of grace nor excluded from the kingdom of glory until by voluntary final impenitency and infidelity thou excludest thyself." Davenant was replying to the English Arminian Samuel Hoard, but his assurances did not differ in point of practice from those that Hoard also drew from "God's universal covenant of peace with men upon the Mediator's blood." (42)
Hammond in Sermon XXIII joined in hailing the covenant's virtues of immediacy, availability, and transparency. He held grace by covenant to be as irrefragable as grace by flat. He had Christ's word on it: "the bargain was made, the covenant struck, and the immutability of the Persian laws are [sic] nothing to it." (43) And the covenant is incalculably more perspicuous and personal: Psalm 25:14 and Proverbs 3:32 proved to Hammond that "God's secret and his covenant, being taken for his decree, is said to be 'with them that fear him' and to be 'shewed to them,' that is, their very fearing of God is an evidence to them that they are his elect with whom he hath entered covenant." The covenant operates in plain sight by reliable rule: "thou mayest believe because he bids, ... and then thou mayest be sure thou wert predestinated to believe, and then all the decrees in the world cannot deny thee Christ if thou art thus resolved to have him." This affirmation rings true to Prestonian prescript. So, too, does the assurance, at the sermon's climax, that when Christ offers himself, "there is no more required of thee but only to take Him." Preston had said as much, many times over, in almost the same words, and Hammond joins in adding that if the taking is sincere, then Christ "will work all reformation in thee." (44) These declarations cap Hammond's Prestonian revision of Perkinsian premises. (45)
That Sermon XXIII properly belongs to Hammond's oeuvre seems never to have been doubted. It was accepted as his when published in 1664 and republished in 1850, and modern writers have chosen to ignore rather than challenge it. But the Hammond who speaks here is not the Hammond of scholarship: no Laudian preacher could or would have given Sermon XXIII. Laud's men did not meddle in such matters; the covenantal stuff would have stuck in their throats. Preachers of Lake's ilk or Donne's or Davenant's would also have been put off by the sermon's un-Churchman-like poise, although they might have given reserved approval to some aspects of its teaching. In substance, temper, and style Hammond's text belongs to the world that was, as it were, half outside the Church--the world, in a broad sense, that Perkins built and Preston remodeled. Sermon XXIII wrestles with that world's religious quests and quandaries. The sermon's point of view, its participation in the problematic of covenant piety, its doctrinal commitments have overall a puritan look and bespeak a puritan purpose.
At the same time, into a scheme so dominated and so contested, Sermon XXIII inserts an element that is perceptibly alien, even Arminian. Hammond tells the godly soul (as we have seen) that "all the decrees in the world cannot deny thee Christ, if thou art ... resolved to have Him." He warns the ungodly that "if thou will not believe, thou hast reprobated thyself." (46) The if in these passages is functional for Hammond insofar as it serves the ends of self-analysis, but it is not put forward hypothetically, as so often in Prestonian scripts. Though relatively weak in present context, the talismanic if in the fullness of its positive or negative powers summoned contingency to the defense of God's honor and shifted the soterial focus from divine authority to human agency and from divine initiative to human response. Mindful preachers did not speak casually of such critical matters in such critical times.
But it is idle to guess at Hammond's intentions or possible covert affiliations: was he hedging? signaling? perhaps seeking escape from the bite of irremediable incongruity, a way out of the tangles of thought and experience in which, at this still unaccomplished time of his life, with his world breaking up, he found himself? In later years, at any rate, when Hammond became fully committed to the thesis of the resistibility of grace, the elaborated and empowered if would carry him quite out of a frame of reference that can in any meaningful sense be termed Calvinistic or puritan.
IV. A PRACTICAL CATECHISM
Hammond when he preached Sermon XXIII would already have been preparing and testing his catechism, and we will not be surprised to discover parallels of form and flows of thought between the two texts. We also find evidence of altered intent and stance, for by the time the catechism attained a publishable state, the catechist had chosen sides in the struggle for the national realm and his own soul, lost his rural living, escaped to royalist Oxford, and made up his theological mind. He does not seem to have wished to go to print, but the provost of Queen's College forced the issue and paid half the costs. (47) A Practical Catechism came out anonymously in quarto in Oxford in 1644, and two years later under Hammond's name in revised and augmented form in London. The nineteenth-century edition, four-hundred pages long, reprints the 1646 version with slight amendments. In general, the finished text heightens Arminian elements, effaces Perkinsian marks, and alters or diminishes Prestonian themes.
Ian Green classifies A Practical Catechism as a "dialogue-catechism," a hybrid type designed for advanced catechumens. Despite its bulk, it gained wide use as, in Green's phrase, a "non-Calvinist alternative" to the official and still popular though aging catechism of Alexander Nowell and a recent one by John Ball. (48) Charles I endorsed it, and William Whiston years later recalled his father saying that "after the Restoration, almost all profession of seriousness in religion would have been laughed out of countenance ... had not two very excellent and serious books, written by royalists, put some stop to it: I mean [Richard Allestree's] The Whole Duty of Man and Dr. Hammond's Practical Catechism." (49) There were seven printings before 1650 and twenty-one by 1700.
Catechisms of that sort and stature did not hew all to one orthodox model. The age, moreover, was one when "a significant minority" of published catechists "were undertaking their own designs and even devising their own materials." (50) The four customary components--Apostles' Creed, Commandments, Sermon on the Mount, and sacraments--persisted, of course, but could be shuffled around or sometimes even in part omitted. Hammond himself took liberties that were free to the point of idiosyncracy, chiefly in leading off with a long discussion--one-quarter of the whole--of five subjects deemed by him to be "likely to have the most present influence on [a catechumen's] heart or contribute most to a Christian practice." (51) These supremely practical topics are, in order, God's two covenants; Christ's names and offices; the graces of faith, hope, and charity, with reflections on repentance and regeneration; sanctification and justification correctly sequenced; and the Sermon on the Mount. (52) The choice of the first four topics seems to spring in some degree from the concerns of Hammond's puritan past. The agenda seems also on its face to participate in some of the age's deep movements of theological change--most strikingly in the remodeling of the covenants and the elevating of Christ.
The origins and orientation of the catechism's Janus-faced overture mark it as a declaration of altered theological allegiance. It is probable that the leading items, though set first, were composed last; at least two address hot topics of the early 1640s. Quietly, without argument, these prolegomena show Hammond correcting, erasing, superseding, and resolving theological issues and tensions in favor, always, of Anglican tradition and Arminian revision. It is as though, point by necessary and strategic point, the loyal Anglican catechist was talking back to, and distancing himself from, the wayward puritan preacher of Sermon XXIII. (53)
There was no specifically catechistic reason why Hammond should have opened the catechism as he did or with this selection of subjects. Indeed, he had reasons enough to omit the rather argumentative preface entirely: the irregularity of the procedure, the brevity of treatment of some of the particulars, their disparate character and weight, the absence of effort to connect one to another, and the lack of clear connection of four of them to the catechism's main body. The topics are unevenly handled. Three, moreover, are very briefly treated--the covenants (nine pages), Christ's names and offices (eighteen), justification and sanctification (five): these might be sketches for sermons now lost. The theological graces, at nearly fifty pages by far the largest of the five, may have been adapted from the pulpit. Short or long, each of these sections takes a position and makes an argument. From the point of view of doctrinal definition, they hone the catechism's cutting edge and encapsulate its raison d'etre.
Hammond had framed this plan and sketched its design in early 1639 in a sermon, "The Pastor's Motto," to a gathering of Kentish clergy. It was, he told them, the worst of times: "the mouth of hell is open against us." Priests must now be at their priestly best--pure of life, strong in deed, firm and true in faith--and they must become evangelically active and efficient. Something of the former puritan rings out in Hammond's admonition to the assembled brethren:
All our pains and industry, diligence and sagacity, are little enough to bring men into the true way of heaven, so many by-ways on every side inviting and flattering us out of it, so much good company persuading, nay, so many false leaders directing us into error, that a minister had need fasten himself into the ground, like a Mercury's post in this division of ways, and never leave holloaing and calling and disabusing passengers with a "This is the way, walk in it."
This exhortation opens into a "method of seeking your people's souls." (54)
The method begins with the covenants, pitches on the covenant of grace as "codex" of the "law of faith" with intermingled commands and promises, and drives home its demand for sincere though inevitably imperfect obedience. The program ends with Christ's mandating in the Sermon on the Mount the duties that are the covenant's sum, stuff, and seal. It is clearer here than in the catechism that Hammond saw Christ's dicta as having a direct relation to the covenant: "if you will have it in the retail," his words "will give it you completely." (55) The catechism's three interior topics are not mentioned, but one may confidently infer that Hammond, when he subsequently inserted them, saw each one as confirming and enjoining the moral essentials of the covenant of Christ. That covenant can now be seen as setting the pitch for the catechism's pronaos and as offering the master key to the body of Hammond's practical divinity.
For the first and second covenants (so called from Hebrews 10:9) Hammond gives an Anglican and at times an Arminian turn to key points of doctrine. Treating the first, he mitigates Adam's fall and takes a relatively sanguine view of the situation of Adam's descendants. They are not totally disenabled, incapable of any good, dead in sin, as puritans from Perkins to Preston held. Though they lack their progenitor's "perfect light and perfect strength," they retain a little natural knowingness and some small ability as moral beings to "perform their duty to their Creator." (56) This inflecting of the Adamic dispensation suggests what uses the Church might have found for the covenant of works had its dons seen fit to engage with the doctrine and honor the gloss.
Hammond's exposition of the second covenant coincides in time of publication with treatises by Ball and Bulkeley, but where the puritan writers celebrate divine forgiveness (justification), Hammond gives priority to the "gracious precepts" that "approve themselves to our reasonable nature" and engage our obedience (sanctification). He puts an Arminian spin on the ordo salutis in affirming that God rewards acts of sincere obedience with reinforcements of invigorating grace. Accordingly, the words of power in the preamble's third part are "diligent performance," "endeavor," and "industry," these being the means and marks of God-assisted "living well." (57) This moralizing of the work of grace reintegrates the two covenants that puritans had forced apart. (58)
The theological point comes clear when, driving against the massed front of Calvinist conviction, Hammond thrusts sanctification ahead of, and makes it prerequisite to, justification. The former has two faces: it is God's prevenient and ongoing gift of holiness; it is man's dutiful use of the gift. The first subserves divine primacy; the second upholds the principle of conditionality. (59) The saving of a soul commences with God's "infusion of holiness" by an act of enabling grace that instills "new life" and inspires dependence and trust. The effect must then be demonstrated by the recipient's response "before God pardons or justifies any." (60) To make the theological point, Hammond appropriates from classical Reformed divinity a pair of master texts of the new covenant, Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 10:16, arguing that "the tenure of the covenant sets sanctification before justification, for, says the Apostle, He first said, 'I will put My law into their hearts, and put or write them in their thoughts or minds,' which is preparatory on God's part to their sanctification." God has not covenanted, Hammond concludes, to "pardon till we in heart reform and amend." Similarly, God will not continue to give assisting grace to any who fail to use it well. (61)
This reversal of Reformed orthodoxy leads to a packed and potent reformulation of the covenantal program of salvation:
1. God gives His Son to die for [a sinner] and satisfy for his sins, so that ... on condition of a new life he may be saved. Then 2. in that death of Christ He strikes with him a new covenant, a covenant of mercy and grace. Then 3. according to that covenant He sends His Spirit, and by the Word and that Spirit annexed to it He calls the sinner powerfully to repentance. If he answer to that call, and awake, and arise, and make his sincere faithful resolutions of new life, God then 4. justifies, accepts his person, and pardons his sins past, then 5. gives him more grace, assists him to do as before He enabled him to will, that is, to perform his good resolutions; then 6. upon continuance in that estate, in those performances, till the hour of death, He gives to him, as to a faithful servant, a crown of life. (62)
This scenario of grace is the theological core as well as the moral cap of the Practical Catechism. It reverses every point of the doctrine of Dort: depravity is less than total; salvation is conditional; the intent of redemption and the offer of atonement are unlimited; grace is effectively resistible; perseverance is uncertain. The precis of the ordo salutis is the crux of Hammond's proffer to his Church in time of great need. It ignores the decree of election (which has no place at all in the Practical Catechism), transfers the decree's work to the covenant, and shows just how the work gets done.
This lesson is thoroughly, though tacitly, Arminian. God's offer is not coercive; it expects and intends a positive response; the response initiates a sequence of correspondent, alternating actions, human and divine; this sequence, as far as it goes, constitutes the ordo salutis. Hammond's theory of regenerative reciprocity has the virtue of explaining negative outcomes--the sluggish resistance of some sinners--without traducing God's righteousness. It has the practical, professional advantage of being manageable in human terms--even the very human terms of spiritual self-interest. It employs the pivot of if--the contingency factor--to explain, in fine, that when God becomes "reconciled to the new convert upon his vow of new life, He gives him more grace, enables and assists him for that state of sanctification wherein, if he makes good use of that grace, he then continues to enjoy this favor and justification." (63) That is how the second covenant works. The interactive dynamic--the reciprocal exercise of the means of grace--holds the key to Hammond's practical piety.
Concluding the long pronaos with a short exegesis of the Sermon on the Mount as "an abstract of Christian philosophy [and] practice of virtue," (64) Hammond fills out the details of the covenanted life, defining the new law of love through the beatitudes and tying up the case for faithful obedience. Having now completed the work of salvific engagement by putting Christ in the covenant and the covenant in Christ, he moves on to the commandments, the creed, and the sacraments. From the standpoint of doctrinal development, the interesting part of his labor is finished, and we will go with him only one last step.
Contrary to Anglican catechistic convention, Hammond defers discussion of baptism till near the close. Placed there, the sacrament climaxes and seals the course of instruction. It also serves as the launch pad of Christian discipleship. We have seen that the covenantal quid pro quo of sanctification assumes a competent and responsible human actor and is conversionist in mode and tenor. The exposition of baptism goes the same way. The "grace of baptism is the strength of Christ" that enables the recipient to "live godly." Powered by God's preventing, exciting, and sanctifying graces, it runs on conditional promises and requires "due and diligent use of ... grace when it is given." The prior requirements, for adults and for infants by their sureties, are a will to repent and a belief in the sacrament's conveyance of ability and forgiveness; both these qualifications are given, conditionally, by God. As "the new birth unto righteousness," baptism provides "strength to walk righteously and ... obtain God's favor." It supports "confidence that if we be not wanting ... in our part of the covenant," grace will "be infallibly bestowed on us" and become active in us. (65) Hammond's thought thus locks with the elder pattern of Anglican covenant teaching in common concern to ensure a religious course of life under the Church's supervising eye and arm.
Bishop Lake would have concurred with the emphasis, if not perhaps the extremity, of Hammond's keynote declaration that "the heightening of Christian practice to the most elevated pitch" is "the one only design of all our Christianity." (66) For that heightening these Anglicans presented prompts and spurs in covenantal form. The preference for grace by covenant did not derive directly from speculation upon the person and providence of God but rather and primarily from an empirical reading of fallen human nature. The Anglican strain of covenant faith assumed that humanity is not wholly disabled spiritually or morally. The Edenic devastation is less than absolute; human nature is deprived rather than depraved; the creature (though deformed) can still desire goodness (though feebly) and is able (with help) to pursue it. Hammond recognizes some potentiality for holiness in man's residually reasonable nature; he desires to use instructed reason to reform the crooked and refractory will. Salvation thus becomes, as it were, a lifetime's tutorial in godliness under the Church's watch and ward.
Two sermons, undated but evidently delivered to Oxford students, put Hammond's program into homiletic action. Untitled Sermon XXI grasps a subject with strong puritan associations--preparation for salvation--and turns it to Anglican purposes after the manner of the Practical Catechism. Here Hammond outlines the division of labor by which God, rather than do everything himself, "prescribe[s] us means to do somewhat ourselves." He urges the young men to "improve, rack, and stretch [their] natural abilities to the highest." At the same time, he disapproves the puritanic zeal that exaggerates the "somewhat" to be done, presses toward an immediate and conclusive epiphany of grace, and overrides the graded incrementality and appraisability of long-stretched-out moral effort. (67)
The other sermon, numbered XIV and also untitled, logically follows Sermon XXI. It is Hammond's largest surviving statement on salvation through Christ by covenant. It reproves preachers whose falsifyings of the work of grace "trash and encumber the practice of piety in the heart." (68) It speaks to Christian souls "in fieri"--in process--"not in facto esse." It presents the biblical promises of Christic empowerment whereby, in Hammond's bold statement, "the dead soul revives into a kind of omnipotency," and links them to the dynamic of contingent reciprocity. (69) Excluding determination by decree--God's "absolute pleasure as a Lord"--Hammond elevates the "pact or covenant which limits and directs the award and process" and by its frank conditionality makes the transaction intelligible. What, he asks, is "the whole duty of a Christian but the adequate condition of the second covenant? upon performance of which salvation shall certainly be had." The answer: it is the "easy yoke" and "light burden" of Matthew 11:30--incomparably easier and lighter than the "rigor of legal performance" under the first covenant--and it consists in "embracing Christ in all His offices"--the Christ whom Zechariah prophesied as the priest-king who will build the temple and establish the "counsel of peace." (70)
Respect for transparency and feasibility, together with the motivational dynamic of the ordo salutis, links Sermons XIV and XXI to the Practical Catechism. At the same time, Hammond moves beyond the catechism in his magnifying of Christ as actor and enabler, whose energy powers the alternating current of additive holiness. That truth being settled and plain--Pelagius being discounted and dismissed--the preacher can exhort like David addressing the builders of the Temple (1 Chronicles 22:16): "Arise, therefore, and be doing, and the Lord be with thee." It takes two to raise the temple of the soul: "Thy strength consists all in the strength of Christ, but you will never walk ... till you be resolved that the good use--and so the strength of that strength to thee--is a work that remains for thee." (71) In another sermon, probably of the same time and place, Hammond urged his hearers to "be confident that God which hath honoured us with His commands will enable us to a performance of them, and having made his covenant with us, will fulfill in us the condition of it." (72) Resourceful as any puritan--indeed, as the puritan he had once been--Hammond preached in the same breath divine efficiency and human responsibility.
It is a pity that Henry Hammond never wrote--never had the leisure to write--the treatise on the covenant of grace that A Practical Catechism seems to predict. During the Interregnum he busied himself with useful position papers on a variety of subjects for his benighted church. The most theological of these is a polemical survey Of Fundamentals, identifying things essential for Christians, as rational creatures and voluntary agents, to believe or do. The covenant of grace is not among those things. Of Fundamentals continues Hammond's assault on fideism and the Calvinist decrees, assails spiritism, promotes universal redemption, and condemns puritan obsession with spiritual assurance. This agenda can be taken as expressing the official Anglican mind. Hammond's observations of the puritan present can also be read as repudiating his own puritan past. That he kept hold of the covenant of grace, and that he framed it after the manner of Arminius, we know because, a little before his death, he reaffirmed the "antecedency of this covenant in Christ to the decrees of election and reprobation" in the purposing mind of God. (73) But while he retained it, he did not advocate or even write about it.
Perhaps by then the idea had become too hot to handle; its implications and applications--especially on the radical wing of the puritan movement--had become too dangerous. Hammond did not have to be a Laudian, early or late, to fear the potential for wildness in close encounters with God upon the federal field of grace. Not too many years before, he had preached conversion with a puritan voice. Now, in Of Fundamentals, he pillories puritan "mistakes concerning repentance" and catalogues the vicious follies of conversionist preaching. (74) By the 1650s the covenant of grace had become so fully a watchword, even a battle cry, of the enemy that great labors would have been required simply to maintain whatever credit, apart from its sacramental service, it still commanded among Anglicans. Hammond in his prime had something like superhuman strength: John Fell reports that he worked a sixteen-hour day, often late into the night, breaking the toil by singing to his own accompaniment on harpsichord or theorbo. (75) But he also had quite enough church work already on his writing table, and besides, there were others able and willing to take up the task and carry it forward. For the theology there was the redoubtable and recondite Herbert Thorndike; for the practice, Hammond's Christ Church associate Richard Allestree. Two notable preachers, Jeremy Taylor and Adam Littlefield, also contributed to the Anglicanizing of covenant doctrine.
Thorndike's Of the Covenant of Grace serves as the over seven-hundred-page centerpiece of his magnum opus, An Epilogue to the Tragedy of the Church of England in 1659. A Cambridge man several years older than Hammond, Thorndike had at best a marginal relation to the Hammond circle, and it should not be assumed that he was picking up where Hammond had left off. An independent thinker, he brought to his work exceptional rigor and sagacity, a tough-minded command of scholastic divinity, and an Arminian conscience, along with an appalling addiction to leaden, vermiculate prose and a deficient sense of design. His twentieth-century biographer catches it about right: "He saw clearly enough, but he saw too many things at once." (76)
Making the same grand claim that marked previous ventures of the kind, Of the Covenant of Grace presents the covenant as representing "the whole tenor of the Bible" and possessing "the tender of Christianity." It lays an Anglican claim to defining the covenant's promises and managing its formidable powers. Thorndike meant to keep the covenant under close clerical control, chaining its wilder Augustinian motions, evacuating its antinomian charisma, and protecting its circuitry against the shocks of puritan conversionism. The argument is sacramentally oriented and contractually construed. It is orchestrated by an account of the work of grace that runs on an Arminian sense of progressive reciprocity, endows the human parties with full freedom of choice, and makes them responsible at every step for any gain or loss of status in the eyes of God, while at the same time insisting on God's concurrence in and governance of the process. Of the Covenant of Grace offers a working model of an Anglican ordo salutis, the first of its covenantal kind, takes an Arminian concern for God's justice, and deploys an Arminian conception of the scholastic scientia media to reconcile human agency and accountability with divine sovereignty. The teleology of the divine-human contract presides over the arrangement and action, even through long stretches when the features and operations of the covenant are obscured. (77)
The practical part of Hammond's work was taken up during his lifetime by his friend and protege Richard Allestree (b. 1619), who attended Christ Church while Hammond was there and succeeded him as a canon. Hammond's influence on Allestree's best-selling moral manual, The Whole Duty of Man (1657), is manifest. Like the Practical Catechism, the work was published anonymously; Hammond contributed a genial preface. Allestree saluted the catechism by beginning with the covenants and calling them "first" and "second." He improved on it by grounding the second covenant on the Protevangelium (at which Hammond had only hinted), and he amplified it by laying out the details of the program of grace under the heading of Christ's three offices (sequenced as by Hammond), doing what Hammond had left undone. (78) Like Hammond, too, after this brave beginning, Allestree did not pursue the subject farther: man's whole duty is covenantally authorized but not covenantally parsed. Though the second covenant presides over the work of salvation and, through Christ, orders its terms, it affords neither immediate direction nor explicit inspiration.
Elucidating God's "secret economy" in the 1650s, Jeremy Taylor brought the work of grace wholly within the double-covenant frame and crafted a model of piety that centered on the coactivity of regenerate human beings as "fellow-worker[s] with God." (79) To brace Anglican morale he also invoked God's covenant-grounded and-guaranteed lordship over human history. (80) Taylor's thought most obviously correlates with Hammond's in detaching the doctrine and experience of repentance--which evangelical Anglicans deemed essential to the realizing of baptismal vows and the performing of church commitments--from the doctrine and experience of conversion in its more exuberant or contorted forms.
Adam Littleton (b. 1627) would have heard Hammond preach at Oxford in the 1640s. He went on to become rector at Chelsea, a king's chaplain, Oxford D.D., prebendary of Westminster, and distinguished philologist. Taking up the covenant of grace in a Restoration sermon, he carried it farther than either Hammond or Thorndike had ventured to go. "Of the Divine Will for Men's Salvation" sets the pretemporal transaction between God and Christ at the head and front of evangelical divinity and gives it a clear, sure, lively elucidation. It shows how the Persons' accord established the plan of salvation and grounded Christ's offer of universal redemption. It derives from the accord both the decree of election and the Protevangelium. Littleton's impressive performance appears to stand alone in the printed record of Anglican preaching of the Restoration. (81)
If there is, or was, such a creature as "covenant Anglicanism"--that is, a theological formation with sufficient consistency, continuity, eminence, and distinctiveness to deserve the name--it flowed in the seventeenth century from Lake and Donne and their Calvinist contemporaries to Hammond and on to Allestree, Thorndike, Littleton, and Taylor. (82) Its development is to be traced in this succession, its composition sought in the several products of these men's heads, its spirit found in the motions of their hearts. It was defined, positively, by institutional claims and moral suasions; negatively, by repudiations of what I have called the Perkinsian bias of early Stuart puritanism. Over a long generation's time, through years of great stress, the moderate Calvinist orientation of covenantal expressions of Anglican thought and piety in the 1620s gave way to the partially Arminianized reconstitutions of the 1650s. Henry Hammond, preaching and catechizing at the pivot point of ideational change, enacted that same transition in his own life and faith.
(1.) Robert S. Bosher, The Making of the Reformation Settlement: The Influence of the Laudians, 1649-1662 (London: Dacre, 1651), 17; "[i]t is due in large measure to his efforts and his encouragement of others that the Interregnum became in fact a golden age of High Anglican theology and apologetic," ibid., 36. John W. Packer, The Transformation of Anglicanism, 1643-1660, with Special Reference to Henry Hammond (Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1969). See also Anne Whiteman, "The Restoration of the Church of England," in From Uniformity to Unity, 1662-1962, ed. Geoffrey F. Nuttall and Owen Chadwick (London: SPCK, 1962), 38.
(2.) Bosher, Reformation Settlement, 36; Packer, Transformation, 47.
(3.) Bosher, Reformation Settlement, xv, speaks of the term as a mere convenience. Packer, Transformation, vii, shares Bosher's reservations. Whiteman, "Restoration," 38-39, puts "Laudian" in quotation marks, remarking that "it is difficult to find an alternative term, and indeed it might now prove confusing to use one, since 'Laudian' has been so generally accepted." This offishness is understandable because the label, by obscuring change in the Church's sense of self, compromises the alleged Anglican "transformation" of the 1650s and threatens to render Hammond and his circle mere epigones of the late archbishop.
(4.) Whiteman, "Restoration," 37-38. Bosher, Restoration Settlement, 29, quoting Reliquiae Baxterianae (London: T. Parkhurst, 1696), 208.
(5.) Neil Lettinga, "Covenant Theology Turned Upside Down," Sixteenth-Century Journal 24 (1993): 653-69. Hammond also holds center stage in Lettinga's "Covenant Theology and the Transformation of Anglicanism" (Ph.D. diss., Johns Hopkins University, 1987), esp. 163-201, which, however, says nothing of the seventeenth-century predecessors whose path he extended and too little of his covenantal influence on his successors.
(6.) Paul, The Assembly of the Lord: Politics and Religion in the Westminster Assembly and the "Grand Debate" (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1985), 105, n. 11. Green, The Christian's ABC: Catechisms and Catechizing in England, c. 1530-1740 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 296, 311-12, 322, 336, 347, 378, 401, 503, 538; quotation on 348. Allison, The Rise of Moralism: The Proclamation of the Gospel from Hooker to Baxter (Wilton, Conn.: Morehouse Barlow, 1966), 96-102. Lettinga, "Covenant Theology and the Transformation of Anglicanism," esp. chap. 4, and "Covenant Theology Turned Upside Down," passim.
(7.) Green, Christian's ABC, 51.
(8.) Donne, The Sermons of John Donne, ed. Evelyn M. Simpson and George R. Potter (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1962), 10:164-65. See also 2:262; 5:102-3; 8:286; Henry Leslie, A Sermon Preached before His Majesty at Wokin (London: Humphrey Lownes for James Boler, 1627), 21; and John Davenant, One of the Sermons Preached at Westminster (London: G. Miller for Richard Badger, 1628), 45. E. Randolph Daniel, "Reconciliation, Covenant and Election: A Study in the Theology of John Donne," Anglican Theological Review 48 (1966): 14-30, puts covenant at the core of Donne's theology and is rebuked by Jeffrey Johnson, who prefers the Trinity, in The Theology of John Donne (Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 1999), 125. Trinity and covenant merge in Donne's teaching of the pactum salis or covenant of redemption.
(9.) Lake, Ten Sermons Delivered on the Nineteenth Chapter of Exodus, in Sermons with Some Religious and Divine Meditations (London: W. Stansby, 1629), 1st pag., 407.
(10.) Ibid., 422, 409, 408. Lake shows remarkable sensitivity to the psychological tensions involved in transacting with God: "to capitulate [that is, strike covenant] would imply a denial of our native obligation and that we would not obey were it not for the adoptive [that is, baptism]. Besides, we would seem to doubt whether God will be as good as his word, as God hath reason to doubt of us," ibid., 422.
(11.) Ibid., 408, 421.
(12.) Ibid., 421.
(13.) Donne, Sermons, 1:297 (see also 7:127-28).
(14.) Lake, Ten Sermons, 1st pag., 470, 418, 470.
(15.) The poetry of George Herbert ("Obedience," The Temple, 1633) and Henry Vaughan ("The Agreement," Silex Scintillans, 1650, pt. 2), glances at the covenant motif.
(16.) Donne, Sermons, 2:323-24; see also 3:178 and 4:85, 160. William Cowper, Heaven Opened, in Three Heavenly Treatises upon the Eight[h] Chapter to the Romans (London: Thomas Snodham, 1609), 141, 162. Lancelot Andrewes, A Sermon Preached before the King's Majesty at Whitehall on the V. of November, Anno Domini, MDCXVII, in XCVI Sermons (London: George Miller, 1629), 985. Lake, Ten Sermons, 1st pag., 406.
(17.) George Downame, The Covenant of Grace or an Exposition upon Luke (Dublin: n.p., 1631), passim. Donne, Sermons, 3:125 (see also 5:197). Leslie, Sermon ... at Wokin, 9 ("He doth not only give the power but also he brings forth the act"), 23.
(18.) Cowper, Heaven Opened, in Three Heavenly Treatises, 140; Donne, Sermons, 1:295-97.
(19.) Lake, Exposition of First Psalm, 2nd pag., 10. Andrewes, The Moral Law Expounded (London: Michael Sparue, 1642), 71.
(20.) Playfere, The Difference between the Law and the Gospel, in Nine Sermons (Cambridge: Cantrell Legge, 1612), 229.
(21.) Michael McGiffert, "The Perkinsian Moment of Federal Theology," Calvin Theological Journal 29 (April 1994): 117-48.
(22.) Sparke, The Mystery of Godliness: A General Discourse of the Reason That Is in Christian Religion (Oxford: J. Litchfield for William Webb, 1628), *5r, *6v; bk. 1, 5.
(23.) Ibid., 9, 6, 24, 26.
(24.) Ibid., 31, 46.
(25.) Ibid., 52, 71, 75; bk. 2, 4-5.
(26.) Fell, "The Life of ... Dr. Henry Hammond," in Hammond, The Miscellaneous Theological Works (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1847), 1:xix-xx.
(27.) Pemble, Vindiciae Fidei, or A Treatise of Justification by Faith (Oxford: John Litchfield and William Turner, 1625), 136; see also Vindiciae Gratiae. A Plea for Grace (Oxford: R. Young for I. Bartlet, 1627); Pemble died in 1623.
(28.) Margaret Toynbee, "The Two Sir John Dingleys," Notes and Queries (November 1953): 482.
(29.) Walker, Sufferings, pt. 2, 38. Frewen became bishop of Lichfield and archbishop of York.
(30.) Ian Atherton, "Robert Sidney (1595-1677)," Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 50, notes that Sidney denied the accusation and opines that his preferment of Hammond "does not suggest any radical religious leanings." Possibly so--unless the earl recognized in Hammond a "puritan" of his own stripe.
(31.) See, for example, Ussher's Eighteen Sermons Preached in Oxford, 1640 (London: J. Rothwell and W. Churchill, 1659), esp. 76 ff., where hyperconversionist preaching of the law is disapproved and the covenants of nature and grace are highlighted.
(32.) Fell, "Life of Hammond," in Hammond, Works, 1:xviii-xix.
(33.) Paul's Assembly of the Lord is silent about recruitment to the assembly. For a detailed account, see Larry Jackson Holley, "The Divines of the Westminster Assembly: A Study of Puritanism and Parliament" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1979), chap. 2.
(34.) Millar Maclure's useful but limited register of The Paul's Cross Sermons, 1534-1642 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1958), omits this one as well as another that Hammond certainly preached there, namely, "Sermon XII. The Poor Man's Tithing," Hammond, Works (Oxford: J. H. Parker, 1849), vol. 3, pt. 1, 239-69, probably because the caption in the 1664 edition of his sermons names Paul's church as the venue. For the correction, see ibid. (Oxford, 1850), pt. 2, x. Fell states that Hammond "frequently preached" at the Cross ("Life of Hammond," ibid., 1:xxvi) but gives no titles or dates.
(35.) Hammond, "Sermon XXIII," Works, vol. 3, pt. 2, 489-92. "Edified, not instructed" comes from Clement of Alexandria; Hammond also used it in A Practical Catechism, ibid., 1:2. He was fond of classical tags; the Oxford sermons have many such.
(36.) Hammond, "Sermon XXIII," Works, vol. 3, pt. 2, 489, 490, 495-96. Contrast this with Hammond's much later assault on the "fiduciary" who holds out the possibility of full and perfect assurance, makes faith the be-all and end-all of Christianity, excludes good works from the reckoning of grace, sets justification before sanctification, stands for atonement that is limited by decree, and is in these and other ways an antinomian in High Calvinist dress: Of Fundamentals, ibid. (Oxford, 1849), 2:129-33.
(37.) Ibid., 489, 492, 493, 496.
(38.) Ibid., 496.
(39.) Ibid., 498, 503. This cliched language bespeaks the psychopathologies of piety that Theodore Dwight Bozeman examines in The Precisianist Strain: Disciplinary Religion & Antinomian Backlash in Puritanism to 1638 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), esp. chap. 9.
(40.) Hammond, "Sermon XXIII," Works, vol. 3, pt. 2, 505.
(41.) I am referring to the mid-seventeenth-century emergence in English and Scottish Reformed thought of the covenant of redemption, which can be found in Donne and flashes out in Thomas Goodwin: see The Works of Thomas Goodwin (Eureka, Calif.: Tanski, 1996), vol. 5: Of Christ the Mediator, 1-437, and The One Sacrifice, 479-98. The doctrine came to Britain in competing forms from Olevian of Heidelberg and Arminius of Leiden.
(42.) Donne, Sermons, 2:323. Davenant, Animadversions ... upon a Treatise Intitled God's Love to Mankind (Cambridge: Roger Daniel, 1641), 468-69, 447-48, rebutting Samuel Hoard and Henry Mason's Arminian treatise, God's Love to Mankind. Manifested by Disproving His Absolute Decree for Their Damnation (n.p., 1633).
(43.) Hammond, "Sermon XXIII," Works, vol. 3, pt. 2, 505, referring to the covenant of redemption.
(44.) Ibid., 504-6.
(45.) For Hammond's mature doctrine of predestination, see Of Fundamentals, ibid., vol. 2, chaps. 15-16, and his "A Letter to Dr. Sanderson Concerning God's Grace and Decrees," in The Works of Robert Sanderson, D.D., ed. William Jacobson (Oxford: n.p., 1854), 5:290-35, esp. 320-21, where the divine action shifts from decree to covenant.
(46.) Hammond, "Sermon XXIII," Works, vol. 3, pt. 2, 504-5. Hammond also castigates any who, by resisting grace, "frustrate the sufferings of Christ," 497.
(47.) Packer, Transformation, 27, drawing on Fell, "Life of Hammond," in Hammond, Works, 1:xxxi.
(48.) Green, Christian's ABC, 55, 200.
(49.) Packer, Transformation, 27, drawing on Fell, "Life of Hammond," in Hammond, Works, 1:xxxi, and quoting Whiston, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Mr. William Whiston (London: for the author, 1749), 1:10.
(50.) Green, Christian's ABC, 280.
(51.) Hammond, A Practical Catechism, Works, 1:2.
(52.) It is conceivable that Hammond borrowed the first part of this plan--the two covenants, Christ's offices, the three graces--from Sparke's Mystery of Godliness.
(53.) The depleted state of Hammond's literary remains precludes tracking the movements of his mind during this critical passage, when he realized, as I suppose, that he could no longer be out of step with the Church. The only pertinent document, a Kentish visitation sermon of 1639 (which we will glance at presently), shows him already staking out a future in the Church.
(54.) Hammond, "Sermon XI. The Pastor's Motto," Works (Oxford, 1849), vol. 3, pt. 1, 226, 228.
(55.) Ibid., 229.
(56.) Hammond, Catechism, ibid., 1:3-4.
(57.) Ibid., 5-6, 8-9, 10-11.
(58.) See on this point Lettinga, "Covenant Theology Turned Upside Down," 659. See also Hammond's assertion in A Paraphrase and Annotations upon All the Books of the New Testament (London: J. Fletcher for Richard Royston, 1653), 1, that (contrary to puritans like Ames and Anglicans like Sparke) the covenant of grace in the New Testament, whether called berith or diatheke, is always bilateral and conditional "and never a testament."
(59.) Lettinga, "Covenant Theology Turned Upside Down," 663.
(60.) Hammond, Catechism, Works, 1:79.
(61.) Ibid., 81, 82. Hammond was contending here against the antinomian drift of the High Calvinist doctrine of justification from eternity by decree "before we convert to God and resolve new life," 81.
(62.) Ibid., 82-83.
(63.) Ibid., 79. The prescription also allows for the incidental and moderate use of evangelical threats and terrors, ibid., 37-39.
(64.) Hammond, Catechism, Works, 1:83.
(65.) Ibid., 351 ff. Lettinga points out ("Covenant Theology Turned Upside Down," 665) that Hammond's discussion of baptism in Of Fundamentals, a decade later, integrates it "more closely into his central concern with the Covenant of Grace." See Of Fundamentals, Works, 2:175 ft.
(66.) Hammond, Catechism, Works, 1:cxxix.
(67.) Hammond, "Sermon XXI," Works, vol., 3, pt. 2, 457, 464. This counsel is embedded in an attack upon puritan criticism of the "mere moral man," ibid., 460. Cf. Practical Catechism, ibid., 1:57 ff., on preparatives to repentance and regeneration. One may discern in Hammond's positioning of "rack" a rhetorical echo and perhaps a moral hinge.
(68.) Hammond, "Sermon XIV," ibid., vol. 3, pt. 1,299.
(69.) Ibid., 301,303. Key texts include Phil. 4:13: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"; John 1:12: "As many as received Him, to them gave he power"; Rev. 2:7: "To him that overcometh will I give."
(70.) Ibid., 304-8. "[W]hole duty of a Christian" undoubtedly nods to Hammond's friend Richard Allestree's The Whole Duty of Man.
(71.) Ibid., 315.
(72.) Hammond, "Sermon XXV," Works, vol. 3, pt. 2, 549.
(73.) Hammond, A Pacific Discourse of God's Grace and Decrees, in a Letter of Full Accordance Written to the Reverend and Most Learned Dr. Robert Sanderson (London: R. Davis, 1660), 21-22, citing Mark 16:15-16.
(74.) Hammond, Of Fundamentals, Works, 2:169-73.
(75.) Fell, "Life of Hammond," ibid., 1:xli, lxi-lxii.
(76.) T. A. Lacey, Herbert Thorndike (1598-1672) (London: SPCK, 1929), 29.
(77.) Thorndike's theological works were published in six volumes, 1844-56, with a life by the editor, Arthur W. Haddan. See also Ernest Charles Miller, Jr., "The Doctrine of the Church in the Thought of Herbert Thorndike (1598-1672)" (D.Phil. diss., Oxford University, 1990). W. B. Patterson's article in the ODNB passes too lightly over Thorndike's covenantal pitch and drive.
(78.) [Allestree], The Practice of Christian Graces, or The Whole Duty of Man (London: n.p., 1657), a6r-a7v, 65-66. The work, minus its main title, went on to nearly sixty editions by 1700.
(79.) Taylor, Unum Necessarium, or, The Doctrine and Practice of Repentance (1655), in The Whole Works of the Right Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D.D., ed. Charles Page Eden (London: Longman, 1850), 7:189; "The Invalidity of a Late or Death-Bed Repentance," ibid., 403; "Of Growth in Grace," ibid., 4:449-50.
(80.) Taylor, "The Faith and Patience of the Saints; or, The Righteous Cause Oppressed," ibid., 7:434.
(81.) Littleton, Twenty-One Sermons upon Common Subjects of Christian Doctrine (London: S. Roycroft, 1679), 13-20, bound with Sixty-One Sermons Preached Mostly upon Public Occasions (London: S. Roycroft, 1680).
(82.) Twenty years ago, Dewey D. Wallace, Jr., noted in Puritans and Predestination: Grace in English Protestant Theology, 1525-1695 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 197, that "[t]he use of the covenant by Anglican anti-Calvinists is a story yet to be told, and one that might well be long." I must leave that telling to others.
Michael McGiffert is a professor emeritus of History at the College of William and Mary and editor emeritus of the William and Mary Quarterly.
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