This book looks at the role of preaching culture in eighteenth-century England. Beyond the confines of churches, preaching was heard at political anniversaries and elections, thanksgiving and fast days, and society and charity meetings, all of which were major occasions on the English political and social calendars. Dozens of sermons were published each year, and the popularity of sermons, both from the pulpit and in print, make them crucial for understanding the role of religion in eighteenth-century society. To provide a broad perspective on preaching culture, this book focuses on print and manuscript evidence for preaching in London. London had a unique combination of preaching venues and audiences, including St. Paul's cathedral, parliament, the royal court, the corporation of London, London-based societies, and numerous parish churches and Dissenting meetinghouses. The capital had the greatest range of preaching anywhere in England. However, many of the developments in London reflected trends in preaching culture across the country.
This was a period when English society experienced significant social, religious and political changes, and preachers' roles evolved in response to these changes. Early in the century, preachers were heavily engaged in partisan politics. However, as these party heats waned, they increasingly became involved with societies and charities that were part of the blossoming English urban culture. The book also explores the impact of sermons on society by looking at contemporary perceptions of preaching, trends in the publication of sermons, the process of the publication and the distribution of sermons, and the reception of sermons. It demonstrates how preachers of various denominations adapted to an increasingly literate and print-centred culture and the continuing vitality of oral preaching culture. The book will be of interest not only to scholars of religion and sermon literature, but also to those interested in eighteenth-century politics, urban society, oral and print cultures, and publishing. JENNIFER FAROOQ is an independent scholar.
Preaching in Eighteenth-Century London by Jennifer Farooq was published by Boydell & Brewer Ltd in November 2013. The ISBN for Preaching in Eighteenth-Century London is 9781843838715.