JAMES USSHER AND A REFORMED EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Sermons and Treatises on Ecclesiology

James Ussher (1581-1656), Archbishop of Armagh, is popularly known as a proponent of young earth creationism due to the insertion of dates from his biblical chronology into many editions of the King James Version of the Bible. Despite this popular portrayal, historians have recognized Ussher's importance in the ecclesiological and theological debates of the seventeenth century and his stature as one of the great scholarly intellects of early modern Europe. This volume, complete with a helpful introduction by a leading scholar in the field, seeks to introduce four of Ussher’s sermons and two treatises on church government to a modern audience.

The writings of Ussher presented here contain some material printed for the first time as well as a selection of Ussher's better known treatises, such as The Original of Bishops and Metropolitans (1644) and The Reduction of Episcopacy (1657). Together these sermons and treatises address the theme of the Church—its nature, its unity, its purity, its government, and how it must deal with difference. Combining these items together with helpful editorial notes, this volume promises to stimulate theological reflection on a theme highly relevant for the church today, especially for those within the Reformed and Anglican traditions.
Paperback. xxxxvi + 178 pp. $24.95

THE EDITORS

Editor: Richard Snoddy is an Associate Research Fellow at London School of Theology and currently a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen’s University, Belfast. He is the author of The Soteriology of James Ussher (Oxford University Press, 2014), co-editor of Learning from the Past: Essays on Reception, Catholicity, and Dialogue in Honour of Anthony N. S. Lane (Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015), and is editor of Evangelical Quarterly.

General Editor: Eric Parker (Ph.D, McGill University) is the General Editor of the Library of Early English Protestantism. Eric has published academic articles in historical theology treating figures such as Martin Luther, Martin Bucer and the Cambridge Platonists, and he is currently co-editing a volume on Nicholas of Cusa and early modern reform forthcoming with Brill. He lives in the deep South with his wife and two children, where he is seeking ordination in the Reformed Episcopal Church.

ABOUT LEEP

The Library of Early English Protestantism (LEEP) is a multi-year project that aims to make available in scholarly but accessible editions seminal writings from key but neglected 16th and 17th-century Church of England theologians. This project intends to bring old resources to a new audience, specifically for those Reformed and Anglican readers seeking to deepen and broaden their understanding of their theological tradition. The purpose of LEEP is to make the rediscovery of these sources as easy as possible by providing affordable, comprehensively-edited, modernized-spelling editions for contemporary seminarians, clergy, students, and theologically-concerned laypeople.

PRAISE FOR THIS WORK

“James Ussher was probably the most learned man of his day and an outstanding example of the Reformed Catholicism that the churches of England and Ireland were committed to. He was irenic in controversy, looking for godly balance rather than political compromise, and he was deeply respected by all sides at a time when tolerance of other opinions was in short supply. In today's ecumenical climate his voice needs to be heard again. Circumstances have changed but Ussher's principles are as valid and as promising today as they were in his own time.”

—GERALD BRAY

RESEARCH PROFESSOR OF DIVINITY, BEESON DIVINITY SCHOOL

“Richard Snoddy, author of a distinguished, recently published monograph The Soteriology of James Ussher: The Act and Object of Saving Faith (Oxford, 2015), has produced a splendid new edition of original texts, sermons and tractates on church government by this great 17th-century Irish scholar and bishop. Ussher is especially notable for his key role in drafting the Reformed Articles of Religion of the Church of Ireland (1615), a confessional formulary which constitutes a doctrinal bridge of sorts from the Thirty-Nine Articles (1571) to the Westminster Confession (1647). In Ussher’s concerted endeavour to reconcile adherents of Reformed divinity to the institution of episcopal government, these writings perform a function for ecclesiology analogous to the Irish Articles in matters of doctrine. This scholarly edition should be of considerable interest and edification to all who are students of the Reformed Episcopal tradition.”

—W.J. TORRANCE KIRBY

PROFESSOR OF ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, MCGILL UNIVERSITY

"Richard Snoddy has done the church a great service by bringing back into accessible print these sermons and treatises of the great Archbishop James Ussher. They will both edify and provoke readers to rethink and reapply Reformed Anglican ecclesiology for our own days.”

—REV. DR. LEE GATISS

DIRECTOR, CHURCH SOCIETY

"The publication of this volume represents the first fruits of a noble and ambitious project - the Library of Early English Protestantism. This selection of Archbishop James Ussher's key writings on the Church and ministry will help to make this brilliant seventeenth-century divine - an irenic and constructive thinker - better known to all who have an interest in the legacy of early Anglican theology and a concern for the well-being and flourishing of Anglicanism today. We still have much to learn from Ussher."

—PROFESSOR PAUL AVIS

UNIVERSITIES OF DURHAM AND EXETER, UK; EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF ECCLESIOLOGY

Contents

Acknowledgements ii
Abbreviations iii
Conventions v
General Introduction vi
1 A Sermon at Temple Church (1620) 1
2 A Sermon at St. Margaret’s Church (1621) 22
3 A Brief Declaration of the Universality of the Church (1624) 62
4 A Sermon Before King Charles at Greenwich (1626) 97
5 The Original of Bishops and Metropolitans (1644) 118
6 The Reduction of Episcopacy (1657) 148
Bibliography 155

MORE FROM THE DAVENANT PRESS

The Davenant Institute endeavors to restore wisdom for the contemporary church. We seek to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build friendships and facilitate collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness.

Below are some of the works we've published towards that end.