Bonhoeffer uses a similar phrase 'worldly Christianity'. It's J Gresham Machen that I want to line up most closely with. See his Christianity and culture here. Having done commentaries on Proverbs (Heavenly Wisdom) and Song of Songs (Heavenly Love), a matching title for Ecclesiastes would be Heavenly Worldliness. For my stance on worldliness, see 3 posts here.

Bio 09c Nehemiah Wallington


Based on the ODNB article on Wallington by P S Seaver, who also has a book on Wallington. See here.

Wallington, Nehemiah (1598–1658), turner and diarist, born May 12 1598 in the parish of St Leonard Eastcheap, London, tenth of 12 children, fourth son of John Wallington, citizen and turner (1552/3–1638) and Elizabeth (1562/3–1603), daughter of Anthony Hall, citizen and skinner and Jane. Following Elizabeth's death John Wallington married Joan Hinde, a widow with two children. Following her death (1605) he married his third wife, Alice Harrison (d 1634), also a widow with two children and mother of Patience, Nehemiah's half-sister.

Wallington was never apprenticed but set up shop as a turner after admission to the Turners' Company, by patrimony (May 18, 1620). Within a year he had married Grace Rampaigne; sister of Livewell Rampaigne, minister of Burton then Broxholme, whose letters of comfort Nehemiah preserved and whose widow, Sarah, and her two children lived with the Wallingtons from 1635 until her death (1654) and of Zachariah Rampaigne, planter in Ireland killed during the rising of 1641, whose son Charles was taken in by the Wallingtons and served as Nehemiah's apprentice until his freedom, 1655.

Wallington's freedom as a turner and his marriage followed two years of mental breakdown, during which, doubting of his salvation, he had made a number of suicide attempts, complicated by his desire to protect his father and the puritan community from the disgrace of such an ungodly act, and had first begun to write. His work, initially a record of his sins and God's mercies, was abandoned in 1620 when he began ‘A record of God's mercies, or, A thankful remembrance’, part diary, part commonplace book, which he continued intermittently well into the 1630s. A combination of work and family responsibilities apparently prevented any further breakdown. Wallington was sustained by the friendship and counsel of Henry Roborough, young curate and lecturer at St Leonard Eastcheap, by the steady common sense and strength of Grace, and perhaps by the discipline of writing. He also received a loan from the Turners' Company. However, the death of his first child, Elizabeth, 1625, led to a fresh crisis, during which Wallington confessed that he forgot all his ‘purposes, promises and covenants’ with God and was inconsolable until reminded by Grace that their daughter had gone ‘home to her husband Christ Jesus’ (‘A record of God's mercies’, Guildhall Library, MS 204, p 409). Their son John died six months after Elizabeth, their second son, Nehemiah, 1627, and their last, Samuel, born 1630, died October 1632. Only their daughter Sarah, born 1627, survived to adulthood to marry (July 20 1647), a young godly turner, John Houghton.

Unlike his father and elder brother John, both liverymen, serving their turn as masters, Wallington never left the yeomanry of the Turners' Company. Though he apparently worked steadily at his craft he had no head for business, as he confessed more than once, and struggled all his life to find a balance between the demands of his calling as a turner and the more compelling demands of his calling as a Christian. He regularly rose in the small hours to write before private prayer in his closet and prayers with his household. He admitted to spending too much on books, particularly on news-sheets during the 1640s, and had a library of more than 200 works, beginning with William Gouge's Of Domestical Duties, which he purchased soon after marrying. By 1654, when he compiled a catalogue of his writings, he listed 50 notebooks, ranging from his diary to memorials of God's judgements against sabbath breakers, commonplaces from scripture, and various puritan guides to the godly life, sermon notes, a volume of collected letters, a number of volumes detailing the mercies he had received, and a number of volumes of political news collected during the 1640s. Aside from a book called The Mighty Works of the Lord, which is a Prop to Faith, which he gave to his wife, and a book on patience, left to his half-sister Patience, he bequeathed all his notebooks to son-in-law, John Houghton. He had little else to leave and apparently made no will.

Wallington was in many respects the quintessential puritan, introspective, bookish, sermon-going, scrupulous in business relations, constantly struggling for even-tempered acceptance of life and of himself, which he believed should accompany assurance of election. He followed the fortunes of protestantism during the Thirty Years' War and those of parliament during the civil war. He served conscientiously as a lay elder in the fourth London classis from 1646 until his last years but his Presbyterianism was based on a desire for parish discipline, and his only quarrel with the protectorate was its failure to bring the godly reformation he had long prayed for. As he wrote, 1655, it was the toleration of ‘many strange, false forms of worship’, of ‘Sabbath profanation’, of ‘our cruel oppression of the poor’, and of ‘our impudent pride’ that he found profoundly disillusioning and that made him fear in his last years a dreadful punishment of his ‘rebellious City’ (‘A memorial of God's judgments upon sabbath breakers, drunkards and other vile livers’, BL, Sloane MS 1457, fols. 99r–101v). Wallington died in Eastcheap, August 1658.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn't that a copyright violation of the ODNB?

Charles Matthews

Gary Brady said...

Apparently not, given that I have acknowledged my source, although they have been in touch. They are not keen on people doing it too often and recommend adding a link rather than lumping things over. Obviously I am charging them nothing for the free publicity (!). This whole area is difficult but it seems that most people are willing to let common sense rule.