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Martineau, James


English Unitarian divine; b. Norwich, April 21, 1805; d. London, Jan. 11, 1900. Martineau, the brother of Harriet Martineau the writer, was of Huguenot descent. In 1822 he was converted from Presbyterianism to Unitarianism and entered Manchester College in York. After serving as minister in Dublin and Liverpool, he became in 1840 professor of philosophy and of political economy at Manchester New College. He became principal in 1869, by which time the college had moved to London. During these years he continued his pastoral activities. At the Little Portland Street chapel in London, his preaching aroused wide interest. Martineau was a prolific writer. Among his better-known books are Rationale of Christian Enquiry (1836), Ideal Substitutes for God (1879), Types of Ethical Theology (2 v. 1885), A Study of Religion (1888), and The Seat of Authority in Religion (1890). His philosophy was rationalistically theistic, but he excluded divine foreknowledge of contingencies in order to preserve human free will. Along with his natural religion, he combined a mystic spirituality that resulted from his poetic temperament rather than from his philosophy. His political views were unusual among Nonconformists because he opposed free education, favored the South in the American Civil War, and supported the continued establishment of the Church of England, hoping that it would evolve into a truly national Church.

Bibliography: j. drummond and c. b. upton, The Life and Letters of James Martineau, 2 v. (London 1902). a. h. craufurd, Recollections of James Martineau (Edinburgh 1903). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 865866.

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