‘Keeping the Peace’

Katrin Ettenhuber

in Donne's Augustine

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199609109
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729553 | DOI:
‘Keeping the Peace’

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This chapter charts Donne's return to the Augustinian rhetoric of charity towards the end of his preaching career, in a Whitsunday sermon of 1629, delivered at St Paul's on Genesis 1.2. Donne mounted the pulpit during a time of acute political and religious crisis, shortly after the dissolution of parliament and the controversial peace with France. In the political debates which followed these events, the language of doctrinal peace, charity, and moderation played a crucial part. Donne's sermon anatomizes this new register of charity and seeks to infuse it with fresh currency. He tests the polemical rhetoric of moderation associated with Bishop Laud's policies in the late 1620s, and ultimately attempts to rehabilitate the language of charity. In doing so, Donne draws on rules of interpretation articulated in the final books of Augustine's Confessions; he emphasizes God's eternal love, which ultimately transcends the tactical deployments of charity in contemporary political discourse.

Keywords: Confessions; Enarrations on the Psalms; Literal Interpretation of Genesis; Arminianism; Laudianism; charity; free speech; St Paul's cathedral

Chapter.  10627 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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