|Appears in Collections:||History and Politics Book Chapters and Sections|
|Title:||The spiritual home of W. E. Gladstone: Anne Gladstone's Bible|
|Author(s):||Bebbington, David William|
|Citation:||Bebbington DW (2014) The spiritual home of W. E. Gladstone: Anne Gladstone's Bible. In: Doran J, Methuen C, Walsham A (ed.). Religion and the Household. Studies in Church History, 50, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, pp. 343-353.|
|Series/Report no.:||Studies in Church History, 50|
|Abstract:||First paragraph: ‘Popery is the religion of Cathedrals’, wrote J. W. Cunningham, the evangelical vicar of Harrow in his novel The Velvet Cushion (1815), ‘ – Protestantism of houses’.1 It is a commonplace in the secondary literature that the household was the citadel of the evangelical version of Protestantism in nineteenth-century England. ‘Evangelicalism’, according to a representative comment by Ian Bradley, ‘was above all else the religion of the home.’2 The head of the household conducting family prayers was the embodiment of the evangelical spirit. It is not the purpose of this essay to question that received image, but it does suggest that a clearer picture of the religious atmosphere of the evangelical home can be obtained from sources other than the manuals published for the paterfamilias to read to the assembled household. The books of family prayers tell us what was prescribed; but alternative sources show us what was practised. Spiritual journals, reflective meditations and candid correspondence can often be more revealing. Nowhere, however, is the kernel of household piety more evident than in the Bibles that some zealous believers annotated for their own benefit. The study of the Bible, as Edward Bickersteth, a leading evangelical divine, put it in his book A Scripture Help (1816), was ‘a great and important duty’.3 When members of evangelical families retired to the privacy of their own rooms, they might spend time in devotional reading of the Scriptures and leave a record of their reflections in the margins. Such Bibles, one of which is to be examined here, are treasuries of authentic domestic spirituality. They show something of the heartbeat of evangelical religion.|
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