ADAMS Thomas

ADAMS, Thomas The Souldiers honour. Wherein by diuers inferences and gradations it is euinced, that the profession is iust, necessarie, and honourable:

London, Printed by Adam Islip and Edward Blount, 1617


FIRST EDITION 4to. [xii], 33, [1]: A-E⁴, F⁴(-F4). Without initial blank. Roman letter, some Italic. Title and text within box rule, floriated woodcut initials, typographical headpieces. Light age yellowing, small tear with early restoration to upper outer corner of first four leaves just touching outer rules, light waterstain to lower outer corners. A good clean copy in modern three quarter calf over marbled boards.

Rare first edition of this sermon preached before the Artillery Company by the puritan preacher Thomas Adams; of great interest in the of a link between puritan theology and the eventual formation of a puritan army under Cromwell. “Thomas Adams was a powerful preacher, much-quoted writer, and influential divine. Prominent leaders in church and state, such as John Donne and the earl of Pembroke, were among his friends… Nonetheless, Adams embraced Puritan theology, polemics, and lifestyle” Joel R. Beeke. “Like Puritans he craved careful observation of the Sabbath and was deeply hostile to Rome, the Jesuits, and the papacy, as well as to idleness, over-indulgence in worldly pleasures, and conspicuous consumption in all its forms” DNB.

“Let us take as a representative early specimen a sermon by Thomas Adams entitled “The Soldier’s Honour”, preached before the Artillery Company and published (“on their second request,” according to Adams) in 1617. The sermon is dedicated to “the captains and truly generous gentleman, citizens of London, of the society of arms, practising in the Artillery Garden.” Notice here the unembarrassed apposition of the terms “gentlemen” and “citizens”. Adams, like other “artillery preachers”, is it pains to assert the legitimacy of just warfare, and thereby the honourability of a military calling. This encomium of righteous warfare then serves to justify the rhetorical “ennobling” of the preacher’s audience, allowing him to address men who were for the most part mere citizens as “truly generous gentlemen”. The laus belli of these artillery preachers stressed the essentially conflictual nature of reality. The universe itself was the theatre of a cosmic battle between the divine and the demonic, between the legions of Christ and Antichrist, a battle that would end with Time itself. “We are all soldiers,” Thomas Adams told the London company in 1617, “as we are Christians: some more specially as they are men.” In the rhetoric of godly warfare, the metaphorical belligerency of all Christians served to validate the literal calling of the terrestrial warrior, assuming, of course, that his cause was just and his character upright. .. Thus the Artillery Company and its fellows came to embody an ideology, elaborated by these puritan preachers, of “godly gentility” achieved through military service in defence of the true faith, and of the nation conceived as the privileged bastion of the gospel. .. Adams rejects the connection of honor with mere wealth, even landed wealth. “Honor should go by the banner, and not by the barn” .. reputation should be valued by valor, not by the acre.” He rails against the effete “carpet knights,” who spend their time “dancing levoltos to the lute in a lady’s chamber” instead of “marching to the sound of a drum.” As a remedy he suggests that ladies, reversing the strategy of Lysistrata, should “forebear their wonted favours” from these “fantastical amorists,” until they rediscover “some difference between effeminateness and nobleness,” and return to the manly business of killing.” Anthony Grafton. ‘The Transmission of Culture in Early Modern Europe.’


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