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Epistemic Perspectives on Enthusiasm in Late Seventeenth-Century England

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 May 2022

Alessia Pannese*
University of Oxford;


This study examines the late seventeenth-century reception of enthusiasm in England in the context of the contemporary epistemological debate. Challenging characterizations of responses to enthusiasm as partitioned along the rationalist-empiricist divide, I show how parallel critiques of enthusiasm by natural philosophers and theologians suggest shared epistemic commitments across methodological and disciplinary boundaries, reflecting evolving concerns in the broader epistemological debate, rather than fixed, domain- or ideology-specific positions. By challenging a crude rationalist-empiricist division, this study aligns itself with previous literature, while also departing from it, in that it locates in the critique of enthusiasm a previously under-examined facet of that debate. By showing that both natural philosophers and theologians rejected enthusiasm for its irrationality, this work also sharpens the current understanding of the epistemic significance of enthusiasm, in that it identifies the crux of the critique of enthusiasm in its lack of reason, and not of an empirical foundation.

© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the President and Fellows of Harvard College

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This work has benefited from fellowships at the Paris Institute for Advanced Studies (Paris, France), at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg (Delmenhorst, Germany), and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and stems from ideas originally developed in response to a graduate course at the University of Oxford. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewers who critiqued earlier versions of this essay.


1 On the genesis and vicissitudes of the term “enthusiasm” prior to and after its introduction in England, see Peter Spoo, “Enthusiasm,” in Europäische Schlüsselwörter (3 vols; Munich: Huber, 1964) 2:50–67. For a linguistic history of the word “enthusiasm” and its shifting connotations throughout time and in different contexts, see Susie I. Tucker, Enthusiasm: A Study of Semantic Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972). For an intellectual history of the notion of “enthusiasm” from a multidisciplinary perspective (e.g., religious, political, philosophical, and psychological), see Michael Heyd, “Be Sober and Reasonable”: The Critique of Enthusiasm in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries (Leiden: Brill, 1995); and idem, Enthusiasm and Enlightenment in Europe, 1650–1850 (ed. Lawrence Klein and Anthony J. La Vopa; San Marino, CA: Huntington Library Press, 1998). For a rhetorical analysis of the “manic style” in enthusiastic writing of the 17th and 18th cents., see Clement Hawes, Mania and Literary Style: The Rhetoric of Enthusiasm from the Ranters to Christopher Smart (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

2 Michael Heyd, “The Reaction to Enthusiasm in the Seventeenth Century: Towards an Integrative Approach,” Journal of Modern History 53 (1981) 258–80, at 259.

3 Analyzing the numerous religious groups and denominations whose activity intensified or emerged during the revival is beyond the scope of this study. A non-exhaustive list includes Puritanism, Pietism, Presbyterianism, and Methodism, as well as Philadelphians, Quakers, Shakers (see Clarke Garrett, Spirit Possession and Popular Religion: From the Camisards to the Shakers [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987]); Camisards (see Lionel Laborie, “Who Were the Camisards?,” French Studies Bulletin 32 [2011) 54–57]; and other minor groups (e.g., on followers of John Mason, see Philip C. Almond, “John Mason and His Religion: An Enthusiastic Millenarian in Late Seventeenth-Century England,” The Seventeenth Century 24 [2009] 156–76; and on followers of Jacob Boehme, see An Introduction to Jacob Boehme: Four Centuries of Thought and Reception [ed. Ariel Hessayon and Sara Apetrei; Oxford: Routledge, 2013]). The variety of religious movements is also accompanied by the complexity of denotations of the word “evangelicalism,” whose meaning changed over history and across different geographical contexts—e.g., note the contrast between “evangelicalism” as understood by the Protestant theologians of the Reformation in Continental Europe, and by 18th-cent. preachers in New England (for a survey of these semantic complexities, see Mark A. Noll, The Rise of Evangelicalism: The Age of Edwards, Whitefield and the Wesleys [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003]).

4 See Anthony Egan, The Franciscan convert; or, A recantation-sermon of Anthony Egan … preached in London on April 6, 1673: to which is annexed, A narrative of the strange behaviour and speeches of the papists in Ireland since His Majesties declaration of indulgence: and the commendatory letter in Latine, given to the author by his superiour before his conversion (London: Robert Clavel, 1673); and Richard Davis, A sermon preached at the funeral of Mr. John Bigg: to which is added another sermon upon the same subject: also a narrative of Mr. Bigg’s conversion, &c. (London: Robert Ponder, 1691).

5 For an early comprehensive study of enthusiasm, including its classical and biblical origins, and of the early modern reaction against it in the English context, see Methodist historian Umphrey Lee’s The Historical Backgrounds of Early Methodist Enthusiasm (New York: Columbia University Press, 1931). For a landmark survey of enthusiasm in European context, see Catholic historian Ronald A. Knox’s Enthusiasm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1950). Knox defines enthusiasm as “ultra-supernaturalism” (at 11, 584). Other seminal work on enthusiasm includes, in addition to Heyd’s previously cited works, Michael Heyd, “Descartes—An Enthusiast malgré lui?,” in Sceptics, Millenarians, and Jews (ed. David S. Katz and Jonathan I. Israel; Leiden: Brill, 1990) 35–58. More recent scholarship includes Jon Mee, Romanticism, Enthusiasm, and Regulation: Poetics and the Policing of Culture in the Romantic Period (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); Lionel Laborie, Enlightening Enthusiasm: Prophecy and Religious Experience in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015); Henk van den Belt, “Dangerous Enthusiasm: An Aspect of the Clash between Cartesianism and Orthodoxy at Utrecht University,” in Contesting Religious Identities: Transformations, Disseminations and Mediations (ed. Bob E. J. H. Becking, Anne-Marie J. A. C. M. Korte, and Lucien van Liere; Leiden: Brill, 2017) 118–35.

6 Alessia Pannese, “Body of Evidence: The Case of Early Modern Enthusiasm,” Ikon 12 (2019) 153–59.

7 See, for example, René Descartes, Discours de la Méthode … (Leiden: Maire, 1637); idem, Les Méditations métaphysiques … (Paris: Camusat, 1647).

8 See, e.g., the two opposing statements that it is impossible to feel a passion without that passion being truly as one feels it—“Les passions … sont si proches et si intérieures à notre âme qu’il est impossible qu’elle les sente sans qu’elles soient véritablement telles qu’elle les sent” (René Descartes, Les Passions de l’âme [Paris: Le Gras, 1649], Art. 26, at 39)—and that those who are the most agitated by their passions are not the ones who know them best—“Ceux qui sont les plus agités par leurs passions ne sont pas ceux qui les connaissent le mieux” (ibid., Art. 28, at 41). The inconsistency fades, however, if one considers the distinction between sensing (“sentir,” as in Art. 26) and knowing (“connaître,” as in Art. 28). I thank Peter Wyss for this observation.

9 Despite his determination to avoid skepticism, Descartes also subscribed to epistemic individualism and was seen by his adversaries as a “sceptique malgré lui” (Heyd, “Descartes,” 35).

10 “I think, we may as rationally hope to see with other Mens Eyes, as to know by other Mens Understandings” (John Locke, An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding [London: Basset, 1689; 4th ed., London: Awnsham & Churchil, 1700], I.iv.23, at 38).

11 Brian Cummings, The Literary Culture of the Reformation: Grammar and Grace (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

12 Grayson M. Ditchfield, The Evangelical Revival (London: Routledge, 1998).

13 Doreen Rosman, The Evolution of the English Churches 1500–2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003) 150.

14 Phillip Cary, Inner Grace: Augustine in the Traditions of Plato and Paul (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).

15 For a religious and psychological survey of these phenomena in the context of the evangelical revival, see Ann Taves, Fits, Trances and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).

16 On aspects of this intersection, see Sarah Eron, Inspiration in the Age of Enlightenment (Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press, 2014).

17 See Lucien Febvre, Le Problème de l’incroyance au XVI siècle (Paris: Albin Michel, 1942; rev. ed., 1947); and Alan Charles Kors, Atheism in France, 1650–1729, Volume 1: The Orthodox Sources of Disbelief (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1990).

18 I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for suggesting this point.

19 Heyd, “Reaction to Enthusiasm,” 279.

20 On this point, see Theodore K. Rabb, The Struggle for Stability in Early Modern Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975).

21 George Williamson, “The Restoration Revolt against Enthusiasm,” Studies in Philology 30 (1933) 571–603, at 572.

22 On the Learned Ministry controversy, see Charles Webster, The Great Instauration: Science, Medicine and Reform, 1626–1660 (London: Duckworth, 1975), esp. 184–85.

23 John Milton, Considerations on Touching the Likeliest Means to Remove Hirelings out of the Church (London, 1659). See also the discussion in Barbara Kiefer Lewalski, “Milton on Learning and the Learned-Ministry Controversy,” Huntington Library Quarterly 24 (1961) 267–81.

24 See, e.g., Robert Merton, Science, Technology, and Society in Seventeenth-Century England (1938; reprint: New York: Fertig, 1970); and Peter Harrison, The Fall of Man and the Foundations of Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for directing me to this point and these sources.

25 Heyd, “Reaction to Enthusiasm,” 273.

26 Ibid., 264.

27 Tucker, Enthusiasm.

28 Heyd, “Reaction to Enthusiasm,” 259.

29 See, e.g., Anthony Kenny, A New History of Western Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

30 Stuart Clark, Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).

31 Locke, Essay, IV.xix.1–15, 422–28.

32 Ibid., IV.xix.3, 423.

33 Ibid., IV.xix.7, 424.

34 Ibid., IV.xix.8, 424.

35 Ibid., IV.xix.11, 426.

36 Ibid., IV.xix.8, 424.

37 Ibid., IV.xix.1, 422–23.

38 Ibid.

39 Ibid., IV.xix.11, 426.

40 Ibid., IV.xix.14, 427.

41 Ibid., IV.xix.1, 422–23. Italics appear in the quoted texts unless otherwise noted.

42 R[obert] B[oyle], The Christian Virtuoso: Shewing, That by being addicted to Experimental Philosophy, a Man is rather Assisted, than Indisposed, to be a Good Christian ([London]: John Taylor, 1690), preface, unpaginated [i].

43 Ibid., [ii].

44 This is explained in the “Epistle to the Reader,” where Locke announces the addition of “two chapters wholly new; the one, of the association of ideas; the other, of enthusiasm” (Locke, Essay, unpaginated preface).

45 Gerald R. Cragg, From Puritanism to the Age of Reason: A Study of Changes in Religious Thought within the Church of England, 1660 to 1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1950) 230.

46 Ibid., 134.

47 For a general introduction on the Cambridge Platonists, see Sarah Hutton, “The Cambridge Platonists,” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Edward N. Zalta; 2013),

48 Sarah Hutton, “Introduction to the Renaissance and Seventeenth Century,” in Platonism and the English Imagination (ed. Anna Baldwin and Sarah Hutton; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994) 67–75, at 73.

49 Charles Taliaferro, Evidence and Faith: Philosophy and Religion since the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 29.

50 Sarah Hutton, “Lord Herbert of Cherbury and the Cambridge Platonists,” in Routledge History of Philosophy, vol. 5, British Philosophy and the Age of Enlightenment (ed. Stuart Brown; London: Routledge, 1996) 20–42, at 23. However, as has been noted, the Cambridge Platonists “never elevated reason above faith,” maintaining that it is “illuminated by faith” (24).

51 Part of Smith’s posthumously published discourses: John Smith, Select Discourses (1659; 4th ed., corrected and rev. by Henry Griffin Williams; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1859).

52 Ibid., 193.

53 Henry More, An Antidote against Atheism, or, An Appeal to the Naturall Faculties of the Minde of Man, whether there be not a God (London: Morden, 1652; 2nd ed. 1655), preface, unpaginated.

54 More, Antidote, unpaginated.

55 Theophilus Evans, The History of Modern Enthusiasm (London: the author, 1752; 2nd ed., 1757), xii.

56 Ibid., i.

57 Ibid., ii.

58 Ibid.

59 Ibid.

60 Ibid., i.

61 Anthony Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, A Letter Concerning Enthusiasm … (London: J. Morphew, 1708; 2nd ed., corrected, 1714) 71.

62 B[oyle], Christian Virtuoso, 11.

63 John C. Higgins-Biddle, introduction to The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke (ed. John C. Higgins-Biddle; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

64 Locke, Essay, IV.x.1, 372–73.

65 Ibid., IV.x.6, 374. See also Cragg, From Puritanism to the Age of Reason.

66 Locke, Essay, IV.x.13, 376–77.

67 Ibid., IV.x.1, 372–73.

68 Ibid., IV.xvi.14, 377.

69 The complexity of the debate surrounding theologically inflected epistemology in post-Reformation thought is spelled out in several texts, among them: Isabel Rivers, Reason, Grace, and Sentiment: A Study of the Language of Religion and Ethics in England 1660–1780 (2 vols; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991, 2000; paperback [vols. 1–2], 2005), which, starting from Shaftesbury’s and Locke’s positions, discusses how natural religion tends to turn into (nonreligious) materialism; Justin A. I. Champion, The Pillars of Priestcraft Shaken: The Church of England and Its Enemies, 1660–1730 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992), which examines Freethinkers, and the clash over the nature of true religion; Robert Boyle Reconsidered (ed. Michael Hunter; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), a collection of essays on Boyle’s work as a chemist in the context of the English Civil War; Brian W. Young, Religion and Enlightenment in Eighteenth-Century England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), which examines the clerical culture in relation to the Enlightenment; and Sarah Mortimer, Reason and Religion in the English Revolution: The Challenge of Socinianism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), which focuses on the religious and political implications of the Socinian theology of human freedom.

70 J[ohn] A[lexander] Stewart, “Cambridge Platonists,” in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (12 vols.; ed. James Hastings; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1908–1926) 3:167–73, at 169.

71 Ibid.

72 B[oyle], Christian Virtuoso, 4–5.

73 See human knowledge as “agglomeration of particularities” in Matthew Milner, The Senses and the English Reformation (Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2011) 168.

74 Timothy Reiss, Knowledge, Discovery, and Imagination in Early Modern Europe: The Rise of Aesthetic Rationalism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).

75 Evans, History, i.

76 Ibid.

77 On this point, see also Charles Webster, “Henry More and Descartes: Some New Sources,” British Journal for the History of Science 4 (1969) 359–77.

78 Webster, “Henry More and Descartes,” 361.

79 Hutton, “Lord Herbert of Cherbury,” 23.

80 Ibid., 33.

81 Ibid.

82 More, Antidote, 189.

83 Ibid., preface, unpaginated.

84 “I think it is the most sober and faithful advice that can be offered to the Christian World, that they would encourage the reading of Des Cartes in all publick Schools or Universities. That the Students of Philosophy may be throughly exercised in the just extent of the mechanical powers of Matter Which will be the best assistance to Religion that Reason and the knowledge of Nature can afford” (Henry More, The Immortality of the Soul, So farre forth as it is demonstrable from the Knowledge of Nature and the Light of Reason [London: William Morden, 1659], preface, unpaginated).

85 Henry More to Robert Boyle, 4 December [1665], in The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle (6 vols; ed. Thomas Birch; London: W. Johnston, and T. Evans, 1744; new ed., 1772) 6:513–15, at 514.

86 Lettres de Mr Descartes (Paris: Charles Angot, 1657), at 308–404.

87 Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, 512–15.

88 “[W]hatever I have writ in that book, touching Des Cartes, I confess, I have not the least dislike of it. I have, from my very first letters to Des Cartes, till this last book of mine, always expressed my opinion, that this mechanical way would not hold in all phænomena, as I always verily thought: but this would not save us from being accounted amongst the wits ; and a perfect Cartesian ; and, indeed, no less than an infidel and atheist. And I was informed out of Holland that a considerable company of men appeared there, mere scoffers at religion, and atheistical, that professed themselves Cartesians: and that his philosophy may naturally have such an influence as this, I can neither deny, nor could conceal in my preface to this book; for it had been to the prejudice of religion, and to my great reproach, for me … and for Christianity itself, to be found of so little judgment, as not to discern, how prejudicial Des Cartes’s mechanical pretensions are to the belief of a God. Certainly, all those of the atheistical party … must take me to be one of the chief of them, I not declaring against that philosophy, which is the pillar of many of those men’s infidelity, and of their atheism” (Henry More to Robert Boyle, 4 December [1665], in Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, 514).

89 Baruch Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (1670; English trans. [Robert Willis]; London: Trübner, 1862) 21.

90 Ibid., 20–21.

91 Ibid., 21.

92 Henry More to Robert Boyle, 4 December [1665], in Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle, 514.

93 I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for drawing my attention to this point.

94 See, e.g., Ad V.C. Epistola altera, quae brevem Tractatus Theologico Politiciconfutation (against Spinoza).

95 Sarah Hutton, “Lord Herbert of Cherbury,” 23.

96 Spinoza, Tractatus, 20.

97 Evans, History, xiv–xv.

98 Quoting Francis Bacon, “one of the first and greatest Experimental Philosophers of our Age,” Boyle points out that “God never wrought a Miracle to convince Atheists,” as there was already enough evidence for God in the visible world (B[oyle], Christian Virtuoso, 8).

99 Ibid., 15–16.

100 Ibid., 26–27.

101 Ibid., 48.

102 Ibid., 103.

103 Ibid., 108.

104 Ibid., 102.

105 Ibid., 44.

106 “I am content, that merely Natural Philosophy should often Employ my Thoughts, and my Pen; but I cannot consent it should Engross them, and hinder me from being Conversant with Theological Subjects” (B[oyle], Christian Virtuoso, [ix]).

107 Ibid., 2.

108 Ibid., 3.

109 Ibid., [i].

110 “[W]hatsoever accidents or qualities our senses make us think there be in the world, they are not there, but are seemings and apparitions only” (Thomas Hobbes, The Elements of Law [1640], in The Elements of Law: Natural and Politic, by Thomas Hobbes [ed. Ferdinand Tönnies; Oxford: Thornton, 1888] I.ii.10, at 7).

111 “Experience concludeth nothing universally” (ibid., I.iv.10, 16).

112 B[oyle], Christian Virtuoso, [vii].

113 “Truth about Religion it self, does not require Credulity, but only Docility” (ibid., 109).

114 Ibid., 29.

115 Ibid., 14.

116 Ibid., [vi].

117 Ibid., [iv].

118 Ibid., 110.

119 Ibid., 103.

120 Ibid., 55.

121 Ibid., 56.

122 Ibid., [vi].

123 Ibid., [iv].

124 Ibid., [v].

125 Locke, Essay, IV.xvi.14, 403–4.

126 B[oyle], Christian Virtuoso, 75.

127 I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for this point.

128 Thomas Adams, “The Sinners Passing-Bell, or Phisicke from Heaven,” in The Devills Banket (London, 1614), University of Michigan Library digitized version,;view=fulltext.

129 Ibid., 322.

130 Ibid., [n.p.].

131 Ibid.

132 Ibid., 269.

133 Ibid., 221.

134 Ibid., 222.

135 Ibid., 223.

136 Ibid., 312.

137 Ibid., [268].

138 Heyd, “Reaction to Enthusiasm,” 278.

139 Adams, “Sinners Passing-Bell,” 312.

140 Ibid., 327.

141 Ibid., 330.

142 J[ames] B. M[ullinger], “William Dell,” Dictionary of National Biography 14:323–25, at 324.

143 William Dell, The Stumbling-stone, sermon preached at St. Mary’s, Cambridge, 20 April 1653 (London, 1653), British Library Thomason Tracts, E. 692. (1.), University of Michigan Library digitized version,

144 Heyd, “Descartes,” 36.

145 Joseph Sedgwick, An Essay to the discovery of the Spirit of Enthusiasme and pretended Inspiration, that disturbs and strikes at the Universities, sermon preached at St. Marie’s, Cambridge, 1 May 1653; British Library, Thomason Tracts, E. 699. (2.); quoted in Robert Crocker, “Mysticism and Enthusiasm in Henry More,” in Henry More (1614–1687) Tercentenary Studies (ed. Sarah Hutton, with a biography and bibliography by Robert Crocker; Dordrecht: Kluwer, 1990) 137–56, at 151.

146 Eric C. Walker, William Dell: Master Puritan (Cambridge: Heffer, 1970) 146.

147 Spinoza, Tractatus, 53.

148 Ibid., 52.

149 Ibid., 52–53.

150 Ibid.

151 Smith, Select Discourses, 202.

152 Evans, History, xiv–xv.

153 Locke, Essay, IV.xix.15, 427–28 (emphasis mine).

154 Ibid.

155 That is, “those who they had a power given them to justify the truth of their commission from heaven, and by visible signs to assert the divine authority of a message they were sent with” (ibid.).

156 For example, Locke discusses the Deluge and says that although it is “conveyed to us by writings which had their original from revelation … nobody … will say he has as certain and clear a knowledge of the flood as Noah, that saw it” (ibid., IV.xviii.4, 418–19).

157 Milner, Senses, 163.

158 Frederick Dreyer, “Faith and Experience in the Thought of John Wesley,” AHR 88 (1983) 12–30, at 12.

159 Heyd, “Descartes.”

160 Ibid., 36.

161 B[oyle], Christian Virtuoso, 10.

162 Ibid., 43.

163 Ibid.

164 Stewart, “Cambridge Platonists,” 168–69.

165 Ibid., 169.

166 Danton B. Sailor, “Moses and Atomism,” JHI 25 (1964) 3–16.

167 I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for this observation.

168 Hutton, “Lord Herbert of Cherbury,” 23.

169 For example, after an early commitment to Descartes, More shifted away from the mechanistic outlook, which had grown incompatible with his rational theology on account of its potential conduciveness to atheism (Webster, “Henry More and Descartes,” 377).

170 J. H. Muirhead, “The Cambridge Platonists,” part 1, Mind n.s. 36 (1927) 158–78, at 162.

171 Stewart, “Cambridge Platonists,” 169.

172 Hutton, “Lord Herbert of Cherbury,” 25.

173 More, The Immortality of the Soul. Explicit critique of Hobbes is found in bk. 1, chs. 9 and 12; and bk. 2, chs. 1–3.

174 Ibid.

175 Kristine Wirts, “The Devil Does His Mischief: An Interesting Glimpse into the Huguenot World of Demonology during the Scientific Age,” Proceedings of the Western Society for French History 39 (2011) 35–43, at 35.

176 See John Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures [published anonymously in 1695] (The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke; ed. John C. Higgins-Biddle; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

177 Kenneth Hylson-Smith, The Churches in England from Elizabeth I to Elizabeth II, Volume 2: 1689–1833 (London: SCM Press, 1997). It has been argued (Dreyer, “Faith and Experience”) that “there can be no doubt” (21) that Wesley knew and approved of Locke’s philosophy, which Wesley had first encountered as an undergraduate, then taught to his own students, and later disseminated through the publication of excerpts of Locke’s work (in particular the Essay concerning Human Understanding) in The Arminian Magazine.

178 See also Clifford J. Hindley, “The Philosophy of Enthusiasm,” The London Quarterly and Holborn Review 182 (1957) 99–109 and 199–210; and Dreyer, “Faith and Experience.”

179 John Wesley, “Journal (1735–1790),” in The Journal of John Wesley (ed. P. L. Parker; Chicago: Moody, 1951) ch. 2 (entry for 24 May 1738).

180 Boyle commissioned French divine Pierre du Moulin to translate into English François Perreaud’s L’Antidemon de Mascon (Geneva, 1656), an account of a demon that had hounded a Huguenot family in Burgundy in 1612. The resulting translation was published in Oxford in 1658 and went through several editions during the 17th and 18th cents., to eventually reach widespread popularity among 19th-cent. enthusiasts. I discovered this text thanks to an anonymous reviewer’s comment.

181 Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle.

182 See Henry More’s letter to Robert Boyle dated 4 December [1665], in Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle; and Ralph Cudworth’s letters to Robert Boyle dated 26 May 1664 and 16 October 1684, both held at the British Library, catalogued in R[obert] E.W. Maddison, “A Tentative Index of the Correspondence of the Honourable Robert Boyle, F.R.S.,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 13 (1958) 128–201.

183 Jean-Pierre Vittu, “Henry Oldenburg ‘Grand Intermédiaire,’ ” in Les grands intermédiaires culturels de la République des Lettres … (ed. C. Berkvens-Stevelinck, H. Bots, and J. Häseler; Paris: Honoré Champion, 2005) 183–209; Iordan Avramov, “An Apprenticeship in Scientific Communication: The Early Correspondence of Henry Oldenburg (1656–63),” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 53 (1999) 187–201.

184 Lorraine Daston, “The Ideal and Reality of the Republic of Letters in the Enlightenment,” Science in Context 4 (1991) 367–86.

185 On the Hartlib Circle in the context of the interrelation between theological and natural philosophical debates, see John T. Young, Faith, Medical Alchemy and Natural Philosophy: Johann Moriaen, Reformed Intelligencer, and the Hartlib Circle (Aldershot, Hampshire, UK: Ashgate, 1998).

186 Filip Buyse, “Boyle, Spinoza and the Hartlib Circle: The Correspondence Which Never Took Place,” Society and Politics 7 (2013) 34–53.

187 On the complexity and interrelation of theological and natural philosophical implications in Boyle’s thought, see Michael Hunter, Boyle: Between God and Science (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009).

188 Later published as Robert Boyle, Certain Physiological Essays … (London, 1661).

189 Buyse, “Boyle, Spinoza and the Hartlib Circle.”

190 More, Immortality of the Soul, 20.

191 Cragg, From Puritanism to the Age of Reason, 43.

192 See Ian Hacking, The Emergence of Probability (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975); and Barbara J. Shapiro, Probability and Certainty in Seventeenth-Century England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983).

193 Steven Shapin, “Pump and Circumstance: Robert Boyle’s Literary Technology,” Social Studies of Science 14 (1984) 481–520, at 482.

194 On this point, see also Heyd’s observations on enthusiasm as a threat to social and political order, and resistance to enthusiasm as part of European élite’s “increasing reluctance to resort to supernatural explanations of daily occurrences and historical events” (Heyd, “Reaction to Enthusiasm,” 259).

195 See, e.g., Williamson, “Restoration Revolt.”

196 J. G. A. Pocock, “Enthusiasm: The Antiself of Enlightenment,” Huntington Library Quarterly 60 (1997) 7–28.

197 Christopher Hill, “ ‘Reason’ and ‘Reasonableness’ in Seventeenth-Century England,” British Journal of Sociology 20 (1969) 235–52, at 246.

198 Cragg, From Puritanism to the Age of Reason.

199 Hill, “ ‘Reason’ and ‘Reasonableness,’ ” 246.

200 Knox, Enthusiasm, 1.

201 For discussions of aspects of this history, see Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985). I am grateful to an anonymous reviewer for directing me to this point.

202 See, e.g., Kenny, A New History of Western Philosophy, 59.

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Epistemic Perspectives on Enthusiasm in Late Seventeenth-Century England
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