John Smith: Bibliography

(Written by Derek Michaud, 19 July 2013)

The scholarship on Smith is not large and most often appears in studies of the Cambridge Platonists as a group or some concept or other common to them. In general these texts are synonymous with the broader literature on the Cambridge Platonists and/or a more commonly studied individual member of the group (Cudworth and More especially). The secondary sources dedicated to Smith are few in number. Several entries include brief annotation inside brackets. The numbers at the end of the entries are to the pages discussing Smith.


Primary Sources:

Editions of the Select Discourses (excluding extracts, abridgements, etc.):

Smith, John. Select Discourses. London: F. Flesher, for W. Morden Bookseller in Cambridg, 1660. Includes “To the Reader,” by John Worthington and “A Sermon Preached at the Author’s Funeral, With a Brief Account of his Life and Death,” by Simon Patrick. Reprinted with Introduction by C. A. Patrides. Delmar, NY: Scholar’s Facsimiles and Reprints, 1979.

Smith, John. Select Discourses. 2nd corrected. Cambridge: Printed by John Hayes for W. Morden Bookseller, 1673.

Smith, John. Select Discourses. 3rd ed. carefully corrected. London: Rivingtons and Cochran, 1821.

Smith, John. Select Discourses. 4th ed. corrected and revised, by Henry Griffin Williams. Cambridge: University Press, 1859.



Cambridge University Library MS Dd.ix.44: ‘A Common Place Book.’ Described in A Catalogue of the Manuscripts Preserved in the Library of the University of Cambridge. Edited for the Syndics of the University Press. University Press, 1856. Vol. I p.403; item 531. Contains historical, geographical and cosmographical notes on many topics as well as some notes on figures of philosophical and theological significance.

Cambridge University Library Baker MS Mm.1.37, 215: ‘Will of John Smith, M.A. fell. Qu., dat. 3 Aug. prob. 12 Aug. 1652.’

Emmanuel College Library: Manuscript reporting Smith’s enrollment as a sizar there, and a manuscript list of the books donated to Queens’ upon Smith’s death.



British Library Add. MS 32498: ‘Correspondence of John Worthington’. Concerning the editing of the Select Discourses. Contains: “Transcript of letters of Samuel Hartlib to John Worthington, D.D., Master of Jesus College, Cambridge; 20 Nov. 1655-14 Feb. 1661. With the printed letters of Dr. Worthington to Hartlib, 29 Nov. 1660-14 Feb. 1661, from Worthington’s Miscellanies, 1704; and annotations by James Crossley.  See The Diary and Correspondence of Dr. John Worthington, edited by James Crossley for the Chetham Society, 1847, 1855, for which work this MS. was used. [Worthington, John. The Diary and Correspondence of Dr. John Worthington. 3 vols. James Crossley & Richard Christie eds. Manchester, 1847-1855, 1886.] Belonged to Dr. Michael Lort and George Charmers. Paper; ff. 107. XVIIIth cent. Folio. Add MS: 18th century.” (British Library Catalogue,, accessed 5 July 2013.)


Secondary Sources:

Arnold, Matthew. “Introduction.” In The Natural Truth of Christianity—Selections from the Select Discourses of John Smith. Edited by W.M. Metcalfe. London: Alexander Gardiner, 1882.

Bendall, A. Sarah, Christopher N. L. Brooke, and Patrick Collinson. A History of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.  Boydell & Brewer, 1999.

Campagnac, E. T. The Cambridge Platonists. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1901.

Cassirer, Ernst. The Platonic Renaissance in England. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1953.

Crag, G. R. “The Eclipse of Calvinism.” In From Puritanism to the Age of Reason. CUP Archive, 2003. 13-113.

Cragg, Gerald R. The Cambridge Platonists. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968.

Cubie, David L. “’Entire’ sanctification, the platonic doctrine of the soul, and First Thessalonians 5:23.” Wesleyan Theological Journal, 45 no 2 (2010). 136-60.

Dalrymple, David [Lord Hailes]. “Memoir of the Author.” In Select Discourses. 3rd ed. 1821. 7-10.

De Boer, John J. The Theory of Knowledge of the Cambridge Platonists. Madras: Methodist Publishing House, 1931.

De Pauley, W. C. The Candle of the Lord: Studies in the Cambridge Platonists. Essay Index Reprint Series. Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1970. 67-89.

English, John C. “John Wesley’s Indebtedness to John Norris.” Church History 60, no. 1 (1991): 55-69.

English, John C. “The Cambridge Platonists in Wesley’s ‘Christian Library’.” Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society 36 (1968): 161-8.

Feingold, Mordechai. “Isaac Barrow: Divine, Scholar, Mathematician.” In Feingold, Mordechai, ed. Before Newton: The Life and Times of Isaac Barrow. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 1-104. [On Smith’s role as a teacher of mathematics at Cambridge.]

Gascoigne, John. “Isaac Barrow’s Academic Milieu: Interregnum and Restoration Cambridge.” In Feingold, Mordechai, ed. Before Newton: The Life and Times of Isaac Barrow. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990. 250-290. [On Smith’s role as a teacher of mathematics at Cambridge.]

George, Edward Augustus. “John Smith.” In Seventeenth Century Men of Latitude: Forerunners of the New Theology. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1908. 89-106. [Available on Google Books.]

Gill, Michael B. “From Cambridge Platonism to Scottish Sentimentalism.” Journal of Scottish Philosophy, 8(1) Spring 2010. 13-31. [Available at]

Groschel, Benedict. I Am With You Always: A Study of the History and Meaning of Personal Devotion to Jesus Christ for Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians. Ignatius Press, 2010. 220-2. [Appraisal of Smith’s spirituality.]

Hadot, Pierre. “La survie du Commentaire de Simplicius sur le Manuel d’Epictete du XVe au XVIIe siecles: Perotti, Politien, Steuchus, John Smith, Cudworth.” In Hadot, Ilsetraut, ed. Simplicius, sa vie, son oeuvre, sa survie. W. de Gruyter, 1987. 326-68.

Heyd, Michael. Be Sober and Reasonable: The Critique of Enthusiasm in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries. Brill, 1995. [Touches on Smith’s work on prophecy.]

Hough, W. E. “The Religious Philosophy of John Smith.” The Baptist Quarterly 3 (1927): 357-61.

Howe, Daniel Walker. “The Cambridge Platonists of Old England and the Cambridge Platonists of New England.” Church History 57, no. 4 (1988): 470-85.

Hutton, Sarah, “The Cambridge Platonists and Averroes.” In Akasoy, Anna Ayşe and Guido Giglioni, eds. Renaissance Averroism and Its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe. 197-212. Springer, 2013. 202-4.

Hutton, Sarah. “The Prophetic Imagination: a Comparative Study of Spinoza and the Cambridge Platonist, John Smith’.” Proceedings of the 350th Anniversary Commemoration of the Birth of Spinoza. 1985. [I have only seen this citation, but not the work itself.]

Hutton, Sarah. “Smith, John (1618-1652).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004; Online ed. 2005.

Jones, Rufus. “John Smith, Platonist: ‘An Interpreter of the Spirit’.” In Spiritual Reformers in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. Chapter 16. London: Macmillan, 1914. 305-19.

Jones, Tod E. The Cambridge Platonists: A Brief Introduction with Eight Letters of Dr. Antony Tuckney and Dr. Benjamin Whichcote. University Press of America 2004. 17, 20-33.

Lagree, Jacqueline. “John Smith et le Portique.” In Rogers, G. A. J., Jean-Michel Vienne, and Yves Charles Zarka, eds. The Cambridge Platonists in Philosophical Context: Politics, Metaphysics, and Religion. Dordrecht; Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997. 79-92.

Leites, Edmund. “On the origins of Some Modern Ideas of Conscience: The Cambridge Platonists.” Andover Newton Quarterly, 20 no 4 (1980). 181-190.

Matar, Nabil I. “Mysticism and sectarianism in mid-17th century England.” Studia Mystica, 11 no 1 (1988). 55-65.

Matulová, Gabriela. “Cambridgeský platonismus v kontextu 17. Století [Cambridge Platonism in the context of the 17th century; Czech].” Thesis, Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic, 2009.

McClymond, M. J. “Spiritual Sensation in Jonathan Edwards,” The Journal of Religion, 77 no. 2 (1997): 195-216. [Connects Smith to Edwards on spiritual sensation.]

McIntosh, Mark Allen. “Newman and Christian Platonism in Britain.” Journal of Religion, 91 no 3 (2011). 344-64. [On Cudworth mostly but an important connection to Newman.]

Mealey, Mark T. “John Wesley.” In Gavrilyuk, Paul L. and Sarah Coakley, eds. The Spiritual Senses: Perceiving God in Western Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 241-256. [On Smith’s influence on John Wesley on spiritual sensation.]

Michaud, Derek. “The Patristic Roots of John Smith’s ‘True Way or Method of Attaining to Divine Knowledge’.” In Cattoi, Thomas and June McDaniel, eds. Perceiving the Divine through the Human Body: Mystical Sensuality. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 141-158. [Revised version of paper read at the Mysticism & Greek Orthodox Studies Groups of the American Academy of Religion annual meeting, November 3, 2008.]

Micheletti, Mario. “’Some interpreter within’: l’ermeneutica religiosa di John Smith, platonico di Cambridge.” Metodo della filosofia della religione 2, p 29-68. Padua: Editrice La Garangola, 1975.

Micheletti, Mario. “Giustizia divina e apocatastasi in John Smith, platonico di Cambridge.” In Baldi, Maria Luisa, ed. ‘Mind Senior to the World’ Stoicismo e origenismo nellafilosofia platonica del seicento inglese. Milan, 1996. 89-112.

Micheletti, Mario. “L’ateismo come alienazione nel pensiero di Benjamin Whichcote e John Smith. Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica, 67 (July-September 1975). 432-441.

Micheletti, Mario. I Platonici di Cambridge. Il pensiero etico e religioso. Brescia, Italy: Morcelliana, 2011.

Micheletti, Mario. Il pensiero religioso di John Smith, platonico di Cambridge. Padua: La Garangola, 1976.

Mijuskovic, Ben Lazare. The Achilles of Rationalist Arguments: The Simplicity, Unity, and Identity of Thought and Soul from the Cambridge Platonists to Kant: A Study in the History of an Argument. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974.

Patrick, Simon. “A Sermon Preached at the Funeral of Mr. John Smith, late Fellow of Queens College in Cambridge, who departed this Life Aug. 7. 1652. And Lyes Interred in the Chappel of the Same College. With a Short Account of his Life and Death, By Simon Patrick, then Fellow of Queens College.” In Select Discourses, 1660. 481-526. [Also, reprinted with each edition of the Select Discourses and often with abridgments as well.]

Patrick, Simon. “The Autobiography of Symon Patrick.” In The Works of Symon Patrick: Including His Autobiography, Volume 9. Alexander Taylor, ed. Oxford University Press, 1858. [Reminiscences of Smith pp. 418-23.]

Patrides, C. A. The Cambridge Platonists. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970.

Pawson, Geoffrey Philip Henry. The Cambridge Platonists and Their Place in Religious Thought. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1930; New York: B. Franklin Reprints, 1974. [Chapter III “John Smith” pp.33-45.]

Powicke, Frederick James. The Cambridge Platonists: A Study. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1971.

Rivers, Isabel. “The Religion of Reason: The Latitude Men.” In Reason, Grace, and Sentiment: A Study of the Language of Religion and Ethics in England 1660-1780. Volume I: Whichcote to Wesley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. 25-88.

Roberts, James Deotis, Sr. From Puritanism to Platonism in Seventeenth Century England. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1968. 112-5, 201-24, 247-52.

Ryan, John. “John Smith: Platonist and Mystic.” New Scholasticism 20 (1946): 1-25.

Salter, Samuel. “Preface to this New Edition.” In Whichcote, B. Moral and Religious Aphorisms. Republished by Samuel Salter. London, 1753. [Especially xviii.]

Saveson, John E. “Catalogue of the Library of John Smith, the Cambridge Platonist.” Appendix in “Some Aspects of the Thought and Style of John Smith the Cambridge Platonist.” Ph.D. thesis, Fitzwilliam House, Cambridge University, 1955.

Saveson, John E. “Descartes’ Influence on John Smith, Cambridge Platonist.” Journal of the History of Ideas 20 (1959): 258-62.

Saveson, John E. “Differing Reactions to Descartes among the Cambridge Platonists.” Journal of the History of Ideas 31 (1960): 560-7.

Saveson, John E. “Some Aspects of the Thought and Style of John Smith the Cambridge Platonist.” Ph.D. thesis, Fitzwilliam House, Cambridge University, 1955.

Saveson, John E. “The Library of John Smith, the Cambridge Platonist.” Notes and Queries 203 (1958): 215-16.

Schachter, Jean-Pierre. “Locke and the Achilles Argument.” In Lennon, Thomas Michael and Robert J. Stainton, eds. The Achilles of Rationalist Psychology. Springer, 2008. 115-132.

Schneewind, Jerome B. The Invention of Autonomy: A History of Modern Moral Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, 1997 [1998]. 199–202.

Scott, R. J. “Visions, Dreams, and the Discernment of Prophetic Passions: Sense and Reason in the Writings of the Cambridge Platonists and John Beale, 1640-1660.” In Copeland, Clare, Johannes Machielsen, and Andrew Colin Gow, eds. Angels of Light?: Sanctity and the Discernment of Spirits in the Early Modern Period. Studies in Medieval and Reformation Traditions. Brill Academic Publishers, 2012. 209-234.

Scupholme, A. C. “John Smith, a Cambridge Platonist.” Theology 42 (1941): 26-34.

Scupholme, A. C. “John Smith–The Cambridge Platonist.” Cambridge Review 57 (1936): 208-10.

Stanciu, Diana. “Augustine’s legacy in the Dutch Remonstrants and the Cambridge Platonists.” In Patristic Tradition and Intellectual Paradigms in the 17th century. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010. 161-80.

Taliaferro, Charles and Alison J. Teply. “Introduction to the Cambridge Platonists.” In Taliaferro, Charles and Alison J. Teply, eds. Preface by Jaroslav Jan Pelikan. Cambridge Platonist Spirituality. Classics of Western Spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2004. 5-54; especially 29-32.

Taliaferro, Charles. “The Trinity and Natural Reason: Lessons from Cambridge Platonism.” In Trinity. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003. 167-178.

Thornton, Martin. “The Caroline divines and the Cambridge Platonists.” In The Study of Spirituality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. 431-7.

Tilmouth, Christopher. “Generosity and the Utility of the Passions: Cartesian Ethics in Restoration England.” Seventeenth Century. Vol. 22 Issue 1, 2007. 144-67.

Tulloch, John. Rational Theology and Christian Philosophy in England in the Seventeenth Century. Volume II: The Cambridge Platonists. 2nd ed. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1874. 117-92; 456-488.

Twigg, John. A History of Queens’ College, Cambridge, 1448–1986. The Boydell Press, 1987. [Chapter 4, “The early 17th century (1603-60); Chapter 8, “Studies and degrees; the college library and theatre.”]

Wainwright, William J. “Jonathan Edwards and his Puritan Predecessors.” In Gavrilyuk, Paul L. and Sarah Coakley, eds. The Spiritual Senses: Perceiving God in Western Christianity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 224-240. [On Smith’s influence on Edwards on spiritual sensation.]

Walton, Brad. Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections, and the Puritan Analysis of True Piety, Spiritual Sensation and Heart Religion. Edwin Mellen Press, 2002. 121-2, and passim.

Watkin, Edward Ingram. Poets and Mystics. Books for Libraries Press, 1953. 238ff.

Watts, Emily Stipes. “Jonathan Edwards and the Cambridge Platonists.” Ph.D. Thesis. Urbana, IL: Uniersity of Illinois, 1963. [Chapters 2-4 on Cudworth. Chapter 5, pp.136-62, on Smith.]

Williams, Henry Griffin. “Memoir of the Author [John Smith].” In Select Discourses. Cambridge University Press, 1859. v-xii.

Williams, Jay G. “John Smith (1618-1652).” British Philosophers, 1500-1799.  Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 252. Farmington Hills: Gale Group. 2002.

Withrow, Brandon G. “Scripture and Spirituality in Early-Modern Biblical Interpretation.” Becoming Divine: Jonathan Edwards’s Incarnational Spirituality within the Christian Tradition. Wipf & Stock, 2011. 45-74.

One thought on “John Smith: Bibliography”

  1. Additional work on Smith:

    Marcella Serafini, Dall’uomo a Dio. Il “desiderio naturale di Dio” nel platonismo cristiano di John Smith, Franco Cesati Editore, Firenze 2005, 252 pp. (Saggi di filosofia 2).

    Marcella Serafini, Desiderio naturale di Dio e vera religione nel pensiero di J.Smith, platonico di Cambridge, in “Filosofia oggi”, XXVII (2004), pp. 363-399.

    Marcella Serafini, Metafisica e filosofia della religione nel pensiero di John Smith, platonico di Cambridge, in AA.VV., “Metafisica e Filosofia della Religione”, a cura di A. Babolin, Città di Castello 2004, pp. 273-309.

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