Dearly beloved: love, rhetoric and the seventeenth-century English sermon
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AbstractEarly seventeenth-century English sermons often address their audiences directly as “beloved”. This form of address aims to create a Christian community of love; but, as classical rhetorical theory holds, the preacher’s ability to move his audience depends on his ability to be moved himself. At the same time, “beloved” is clearly a conventional term, one used by preachers such as Joseph Hall, John Donne, Richard Sibbes and John Preston, as well as mandated by the Book of Common Prayer. As this article argues, when the preacher uses the address “beloved” towards his congregation, he is speaking through the words and the passions of God. Through its analysis of “beloved” as a conventional form of sermonic address, this article develops a reading of love as an institutional feeling. Read this way, “beloved” comes into focus as a performative term, one that makes manifest the preacher’s doubled passions—his own, and God’s.