08 March 2005

bramhall on disagreement

John Bramhall (1594-1663) was a Anglican Calvinist bishop of decidedly High Church persuasion and ended up in exile in Belgium for much of the middle of the 17th century, given that his sort of theology and practice was out of favor in the age of the Long Parliament and Cromwell.

His ecclesiastical vocation, especially in the 1630s, was marked by controversy and often a certain degree of intransigence on his own part. While I'm sure I would have had some rather sharp disagreements with Bramhall on a number of matters, it seems that his own perspective began to soften some during his exile in the 1640s.

Bramhall wrote one morning, regretting a somewhat heated dispute the previous night:

This morning, lying musing in my bed, it produced some trouble in me, to consider how passionately we are all wedded to our own parties, and how apt we are all to censure the opinion of others, before we understand them; while our want of charity is a greater error in ourselves, and more displeasing to Almighty God, than any of those supposed assertions which we condemn in others; especially when they come to be rightly understood. (from The Works of John Bramhall, volume 1, Parker 1842:171)

Interesting words from a prelate who had once been William Laud's power broker and point man in the Church of Ireland, even to the degree of sometimes undermining Archbishop James Ussher.