Chapter

The Schooling of Desire

Belden C. Lane

in Ravished by Beauty

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199755080
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894956 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199755080.003.0008
 The Schooling of Desire

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Keeping desire within its proper bounds was not an easy task for English and American Puritans in the seventeenth century. Unmanaged longing could lead to antinomianism, a disregard for the structures of grace, and to idolatry, the substitution of one's spouse or nature itself for the adoration of God alone. In sermons and commentaries on the Song of Songs, Puritan desire for God as Lover became extraordinarily explicit at times. As a way of keeping this in check, the Puritans perceived “afflictions” in the natural world and in the spiritual life as a necessary means of purging the soul of inordinate attachments. God chastises the ones that God loves, for the sake of a still deeper love.

Keywords: Puritans; seventeenth century; English; American; Song of Songs; desire; affliction; sexuality; bridegroom; Cavalier poets

Chapter.  10002 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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