A Treatise on Christian Moderation
by Joseph Hall
Edited By Andre Gazal
Publication Date: February 22nd, 2024
About this book
An Age of Division.
Political and religious convictions, strongly held, are tearing families, communities, and slowly the whole country apart. The men with the most extreme personalities seem to rise to the top, while those urging moderation are mocked and sidelined.
This may sound like the present day–but it refers to England in the run-up to the Civil War in 1642. As the nation rolled towards a conflict which would claim tens of thousands of lives, Bishop Joseph Hall (1574-1656) called on his countrymen to exercise an unglamorous yet vital Christian virtue: moderation. Hall, one of the English representatives at the Council of Dort, was branded “our English Seneca” for his intellectual abilities. These abilities are on full display in this work as he musters Scripture, philosophy, and history into a comprehensive commendation of the virtue of moderation.
In this new edition of A Treatise on Christian Moderation, with extensive footnotes and a scholarly introduction, readers can rediscover a forgotten treasure of Protestant wisdom. Hall’s call for personal and public moderation was tragically ignored in his time. In our own increasingly immoderate age, may this work finally find the hearing it deserves.
Paperback | 207 pp. | 6 x 9 | PubliSHed February 22, 2024 | ISBN 978-1-949716-24-5
If you are interested in a bulk order please contact [email protected].
From the Book
“I cannot but second and commend that great clerk of Paris who (as our witty countryman, Bromyard, reports), when King Louis of France required him to write down the best word he ever learned, called for a fair skin of parchment, and in the midst of it, wrote this one word, “MEASURE,” and sent it sealed up to the King. The King, opening the sheet, and finding no other inscription, thought himself mocked by his philosopher, and calling for him, expostulated the matter; but when it was showed him that all virtues, and all religious and worthy actions were regulated by this one word, and that without this virtue itself turned vicious, he rested well satisfied. And so he well might; for it was a word well worthy of one of the Seven Sages of Greece, from whom indeed it was borrowed, and only put into a new coat. For, while he said of old (for his motto), Nothing too much, he meant no other but to comprehend both extremes under the mention of one. Neither in his sense is it any paradox to say that too little is too much; for as too much bounty is prodigality, so too much sparing is niggardliness; so as in every defect there is an excess, and both are a transgression of measure. Neither could anything be spoken of more use or excellency. For what goodness can there be in the world without moderation, whether in the use of God’s creatures or in our own disposition and carriage? Without this, justice is no other than cruel rigor; mercy, unjust remissness; pleasure, brutish sensuality; love, frenzy; anger, fury; sorrow, desperate mopishness; joy, distempered wildness; knowledge, saucy curiosity; piety, superstition; care, wracking distraction; courage, mad rashness. Shortly, there can be nothing under heaven without it but mere vice and confusion. Like as in nature: if the elements should forget the temper of their due mixture, and encroach upon each other by excess, what could follow but universal ruin? Or what is it that shall put an end to this great frame of the world but the predominancy of that last devouring fire? It is therefore moderation by which this inferior world stands, since that wise and great God, who hath ordained the continuance of it, hath decreed so to contemper all the parts thereof that none of them should exceed the bounds of their own proportion and degree to prejudice the other. Yea, what is the heaven itself, but (as Gerson compares it well) as a great clock regularly moving in an equal sway of all the orbs without difference of poise, without variation of minutes, in a constant state of eviternal evenness, both of being and motion. Neither is it any other by which this little world of ours (whether of body or mind) is upheld in any safe, or tolerable estate; when humours pass their stint, the body sickens; when passions, the mind.
There is nothing therefore in the world more wholesome, or necessary for us to learn than this gracious lesson of moderation, without which, in very truth, a man is so far from being a Christian that he is not himself. This is the center, wherein all, both divine and moral philosophy, meet; the rule of life, the governess of manners, the silken string of all virtues, the very ecliptic line, under which reason and religion move without any deviation, and therefore, most worthy of our best thoughts, of our most careful observance.“
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction – Andre Gazal
To All Christian People
The First Book: Moderation in Practice
Part One: The Moderation of our Pleasures
I. The Use and Necessity of Moderation in General
II. Practical Moderation in Matters of the Palate
III. Some Extremities in Other Uses of the Body
IV. The Extreme in Cases of Lust
V. The Liberty that God Gives in the Use of His Creatures
VI. The Just Bounds of Moderation in the Liberal Use of God’s Creatures
VII. The Limitation of Our Liberty in Respect of the Pleasures Themselves
VIII. The Limitation and Moderation of the Pleasure of Conjugal Society
IX. The Limitation of All Our Pleasures in their Manner of Use
X. Motives to Moderation in the Use of All Our Pleasures
XI. Moderation of Our Desires in Matters of Wealth and Honor
Part Two: The Moderation of our Passions
XII. Moderation of Sorrow
XIII. Moderation of Spiritual Sorrow
XIV. Moderation of Fear
XV. Moderation of Anger
The Second Book: Moderation in Matters of Judgment
Part One: Immoderation, Lukewarmness, and Zeal
I. The Danger of Immoderation in Matters of Judgment
II. Lukewarmness To Be Avoided in Religion
III. Zeal in the Matters of God
Part Two: Rules for Moderation in Judgment
IV. (1) Distinguish Between Persons
V. (2) Distinguish Truths and Errors
VI. (3) Avoid Curiosity in the Disquisition of Truth
VII. (4) Rest in the Fundamental Truths Clearly Revealed in the Scriptures
VIII. (5.1) Be Remiss in Opinions Regarding Unimportant Matters
IX. (5.2) Be Remiss in Censure Regarding Unimportant Matters
X. (6) Do Not Trust the Word of an Adversary Regarding Their Opponent
XI. (7) Do Not Judge an Opponent’s Opinion by Inference
XII. (8) Keep Opinions Within Their Bounds
XIII. (9) Do Not Prejudice a Man’s Cause By His Actions
XIV. (10) Draw as Near as Possible to Christians with Lesser Differences
XV. (11) Refrain from Railing Terms and Spiteful Provocations
XVI. (12) Compose Our Affections Toward Unity and Peace
About the Author
Andre Gazal (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is Vice President of Academic Affairs at Montana Bible College and has also served at the assistant projector editor for the Reformation Commentary on Scripture. A specialist in the English Reformation, Andre is the author of Scripture and Royal Supremacy in Tudor England: The Use of Old Testament Historical Narrative (Edwin Mellen Press, 2013) and editor of Defending the Faith: John Jewel and the Elizabethan Church (PSU Press, 2018) as well as new editions of An Apology of the Church of England (Davenant Press, 2020) and Jurisdiction Regal, Episcopal, Papal (Davenant Press, 2021). Among much else, he has published numerous articles and essays on the theology of the English Reformers.
Praise for this work
“Joseph Hall is one of the most humane, appealing and–yes–moderate Protestant voices to emerge from the maelstrom of seventeenth-century England. I hope this careful new edition helps him to find the modern readers he deserves.
– alec ryrie
Professor of the History of Christianity, University of Durham
“Andre Gazal’s fine new edition of Joseph Hall’s (1574—1656) Treatise on Christian Moderation offers a timely contribution to English ecclesiastical historiography.
Hall, sometime Bishop of Exeter, was described by Thomas Fuller as the “English Seneca”, a neo-Stoical moralist who observed a contentious, divided, and bloodstained Christendom in the midst of the English Civil War and the Thirty-Years’ War who sought healing through an irenical, catholick message of moderation. Gazal’s lucid introduction provides a splendid and concise overview of English political and religious history of the early seventeenth century, and a discerning brief biography of this great English moralist. Gazal has based his new edition of the Treatise on the first edition of 1639 with spelling and syntax modernized.
This new edition has helpful explanatory footnotes, and translation of Latin texts. The edition is timely in the context of the current contentious division and prevailing intolerance of the so-called ‘culture wars’. Who knows? Perhaps a dose of neo-Stoicism may provide a salutary prescription for our own time.”
– TORRANCE KIRBY
Professor of Ecclesiastical History, McGill Unviersity
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