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William Perkins and the Making of a Protestant England$
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W. B. Patterson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199681525

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199681525.001.0001

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Biblical Preaching and English Prose

Biblical Preaching and English Prose

(p.114) 5 Biblical Preaching and English Prose
William Perkins and the Making of a Protestant England

W. B. Patterson

Oxford University Press

Perkins’s Prophetica (1592), translated from Latin into English as The Arte of Prophecying (1607), was the first major work by an English author on preaching. Perkins was himself a powerful preacher and his sermons illustrate his teachings. He stressed the need for preachers to use all scholarly means, including the biblical languages, in their interpretation of scriptural passages, and to follow a plan of study of the scriptures in preparation for their sermons. They should avoid demonstrations of their own learning, remembering the classical adage that it is the nature of art to conceal art. Perkins saw it as essential that preachers know the wide range of spiritual states represented among members of their parish congregations and exclude no one in their efforts to teach and inspire parishioners. He urged preachers to proclaim the faith simply, accurately, and with conviction. This chapter makes a major claim for Perkins’s emphases in preaching, namely, that his teaching and preaching helped to shape the development of modern English prose.

Keywords:   Prophesying, Biblical preaching, rhetoric, simplicity and accuracy, Modern English prose

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