Bampton Lectures

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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [1]

a course of eight sermons preached annually at the University of Oxford, under the will of the Rev. John Bampton, canon of Salisbury, who died in 1751. According to the directions in his will, they are to be preached upon any of the following subjects: To confirm and establish the Christian faith, and to confute all heretics and schismatics; upon the divine authority of the holy Scriptures; upon the authority of the writings of the primitive fathers as to the faith and practice of the primitive Church; upon the divinity of our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ; upon the divinity of the Holy Ghost; upon the articles of the Christian faith, as comprehended in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds. For the support of this lecture he bequeathed his lands and estates. The lecturer must have taken the degree of master of arts in Oxford or Cambridge, and must never preach the sermons twice. When the lectures were commenced in 1780, the income of the estate was £ 120 per annum. A list of the Bampton Lectures, as far as published in 1854, is given by Darling, Cyclopoedia Bibliographica, 1:166. More than seventy volumes (8vo) of the Bampton lectures are now before the public, and one is added annually. The most remarkable are the following: Those delivered in 1784, on Christianity and Mohammedanism, by Dr. White, who was accused of having obtained assistance in their composition from Dr. Parr and Dr. Badcock; those by Dr. Tatham in 1790, on the Logic of Theology; those of Dr. Nott in 1802, on Religious Enthusiasm this series was directed against Wesley and Whitefield; those of Dr. Mant in 1812; those of Reginald Heber in 1815; Whately in 1822; Milman in 1827; Burton in 1829, on the Heresies of the Apostolic Age; Soames in 1830, on the Doctrines of the Anglo-Saxon Church.

But of the whole series, none have caused greater controversy than those by Dr. Hampden in 1832, on The Scholastic Philosophy considered in its Relation to Christian Theology. They were attacked on all sides, but especially by the leaders of the Oxford Tract Association. When Hampden was appointed Regius Professor of Divinity in 1836, a petition against his appointment was sent up to the throne, and upon this being rejected, a censure was passed upon him in convocation by a large majority, declaring his teaching to be unsound, and releasing undergraduates from attendance at his lectures. In spite of this clerical persecution, he was raised to the see of Hereford in 1847. A recent course of Bampton Lectures, delivered by Mansel in 1858, on The Limits of Religious Thought, has caused a less bitter, but scarcely less interesting controversy. The main position which he takes up is, "That the human mind inevitably, and by virtue of its essential constitution, finds itself involved in self-contradictions whenever it ventures on certain courses of speculation," i.e. on speculations concerning the infinite nature of God. He maintains that all attempts to construct an objective or metaphysical theology must necessarily fail, and that the attainment of a philosophy of the infinite is utterly impossible, under the existing laws of human thought- the practical aim of the whole course being to show the "right use of reason in religious questions." Mr. Mansel has been accused by his critics of condemning all dogmatic theology (e.g. all creeds and articles), and of making revelation itself impossible. The Bampton Lectures for 1859 were delivered by Geo. Rawlinson, the subject being The Historical Evidences of the Truth of the Scripture Records, stated anew, with Special Reference to the Doubts and Discoveries of Modern Times. The volume for 1862 was Farrar's Critical History of Free Thought (N. Y. 1863, 12mo). Chambers, Encyclopaedia, s.v.; Methodist Quarterly, 1863, p. 687.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [2]

Annual lectures on Christian subjects, eight in number, for the endowment of which John Bampton, canon of Salisbury, left property which yields a revenue worth £200 a year.