The strife and dissension surrounding the seventeenth-century English Civil War left many clergy and theologians tracing their way back to the roots of their faith. Many prioritized debating theological minutiae over caring for parishioners’ spiritual health; others sought to refocus on practical care William Beveridge, bishop of St. Asaph, was one such frustrated churchman, looking for stability and truth in a world of tumult. His desire to see the Church of England restored to the early church’s spirit and structure is evident in many of his works. The Library of Anglo-Catholic Theology’s 12-volume Theological Works of William Beveridge includes his monumental description and defense of the early church’s form and function: Codex Canonum Ecclesiae Primitivae, The Church Catechism Explained, his brief volume on prayer and communion, as well as his sermons on the true nature of the Church.
Beveridge, who became known as “the great reviver and restorer of primitive piety,” kept himself distant from the fine theological conflicts of his day, and instead focused on the practical care of his parish—being “too entirely in earnest in teaching positive truth . . . to spend his time and waste his energies in the bare contradiction of error. He [wrote] with the plain, unaffected simplicity . . . of a man full of the importance of his subject, who felt the entire reality of every word he uttered, and was living under the habitual influence of the truths he taught.”
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William Beveridge (1637–1708) was an English cleric and bishop of St. Asaph from 1704 until his death. He was known as “the great reviver and restorer or primitive piety.” His zeal for the spirit and substance of the early church is reflected in many of his sermons and other writings. He was educated at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and was rector of Ealing from 1661 to 1672, then of St. Peter’s, Cornhill, from 1672 until his promotion to bishop in 1704.