An answer to a great nomber of blasphemous cauillations written by an Anabaptist, and aduersarie to Gods eternal predestination.

[Geneva], Printed by Iohn Crespin, M.D.LX. [1560].


FIRST EDITION. 8vo. pp. 455, [i]. A-2E8, 2F4. Roman and Italic letter. Small anchor device on title, small floriated woodcut initials, extra illustrated with an engraved portrait of John Knox, based on Hondius, as frontispiece, later manuscript note about the second London edition in lower margin of t-p, engraved armorial bookplate of George Chalmers on pastedown. Light age yellowing, small tear to margin of C6 just touching side note on verso, t-p dusty, preface slightly age browned, cut a little close in upper margin fractionally trimming running title on a few leaves. A good copy in diced russia circa 1800, covers bordered with a triple gilt rule, rebacked in calf stained red, edges and inner dentelles gilt, morocco title label gilt, all edges yellow

Very rare first edition of the celebrated Scottish Protestant and founder of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, John Knox’s, attack on Anabaptism and his concurrent defence of predestination, a fundamental precept of his religious outlook. “Anabaptism arrived in England – largely as an influx of persecuted refugees from the Netherlands – during the 1530s when Henry the VIII’s break from Catholicism created an environment in which religious nonconformity could flourish. The Dutch-Flemish brand of Anabaptism found fertile soil England, where Lollardy had long been active. And indeed, the two movements were o en confused with each other. .. Moreover, .. virtually all English dissenters who embraced anti-predestinarian ideas or similar beliefs were linked with Anabaptism. .. Knox responded to these arguments with a twofold approach. On one hand, he launched a frontal attack on any radical opinion that could loosely be called Anabaptist. On the other, he counted the Anabaptists specific arguments against predestination with his own ideas on the subject. .. Though ‘An Answer’ is a lengthy treatise, it is far from being a systematic one. Instead of developing an orderly argument, Knox assailed the Anabaptist’s book, chapter by chapter. The result was repetition, and repetition that was not always consistent with itself. In his haphazard approach to predestination, Knox clearly leaves the impression that he was not truly at home in the subject. ‘An Answer’ fumed against most aspects of the radical Reformation, from Thomas Müntzer to the controversy surrounding the execution of Michael Servetus. Nearly every libertine or non-conformist idea or group became fair game – including the opponents of dogma, the supporters of religious toleration, free-willers who oppose predestination, Müntzer and the peasant’s uprising, and the rationalists who rejected the Trinity. Knox linked all of these radical elements to past Heresies –the Donatists, Cathars, Pelagians, and Manichaeans – and considered them to be all part of the same camp. In an invective typical of the age, he denounced the Anabaptists as “venomous liars, persons defamed, and blasphemers of God” and frequently labelled them as “libertines” and “blasphemers”. More specifically, Knox linked Anabaptists with other advocates of free will both past and present. Since for example Castellio had attacked Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, Knox repeatedly referred to Castellio as the Anabaptist master, captain champion, and great angel. Knox also connected the Anabaptists with other advocates of free will – the Pelagians and contemporary Catholics such as Albert Pighi and Jacob Sadoleto. .. In ‘An answer’ Knox did more than hurl insults at the Anabaptist and lash out against the Radical Reformation. He countered the Anabaptists arguments theologically, giving particular attention to the doctrine of predestination. From the very beginning of his lengthly reflections on the topic, Knox insisted that he was in full agreement with the judgement of John Calvin. For Knox, the doctrine of predestination was not just a theoretical matter but had a great practical importance, revealing a mainspring of his thinking and action.” Richard G. Kyle ‘John Knox: An Introduction to His Life and Works.’

An important and rare work.

ESTC S108122. STC 15060. Lowndes IV 1081


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