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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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The Quest for Social Justice

The Quest for Social Justice

(p.135) 6 The Quest for Social Justice
William Perkins and the Making of a Protestant England

W. B. Patterson

Oxford University Press

Perkins was acutely aware of the pressing social and economic problems of his day, including poverty, homelessness, unemployment, begging, and crime, and he showed how biblical teachings could provide a way to alleviate or even to eliminate them. He spoke out against practices by those in privileged positions that created or exacerbated such problems and he praised the Elizabethan Poor Laws for their attempts to relieve suffering and reclaim broken lives. In his books on vocation, the Christian household, and conscience, he emphasized the importance of family, church, and commonwealth in combating distress and in maintaining healthy and caring communities. This chapter takes sharp issue with Christopher Hill’s view of Perkins as helping to prepare the way for modern acquisitive capitalism, arguing that his emphasis on the parish as the vehicle for dealing with local problems helped to give it a new and constructive role in early modern English society.

Keywords:   social justice, economic crises, Elizabethan Poor Laws, vocation, conscience, Christopher Hill, community, parish

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