Whigs in Heaven: Elizabeth Rowe's Friendship in Death
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This essay provides an analysis of Elizabeth Singer Rowe's Friendship in Death (1728), proposing that her fictional letters from the dead offer a new, distinctively Whig vision of heaven. Dominant Anglican theology, following Saint Augustine, held that heaven, in its spiritual perfection, is unimaginable for those on earth. Rowe, an Independent whose circle included Isaac Watts, argues just the opposite. Drawing on Milton, Addison, and Watts, Rowe makes a case for a heaven that is a meaningful sequel to this life, describing a place that is fully available to human sense and imagination and where the souls of the dead continue to work toward personal perfection and enjoy the pleasures of a celestial society.
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