The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord


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The Decline of Christendom in Western Europe, Crockett A. A Secularising Geography?


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Leicester, Duncan F. Stirling, Erdozain D. Gibson W. The Church of England Unity and Accord. Gillbert A. Hole R. Pulpits, Politics and Public Order in England, Inglis K. Churches and Working Classes in Victorian England. Innes J. Journal of Religious History. Kent J. Kitson Clark G. The Making of Victorian England. Martin D. A General Theory of Secularisation.

The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord

Oxford: Basil Blackwell, McLeod H. Class and Religion in the Late Victorian City. Secularisation in Western Europe, The Religious Crisis of the s. Meacham S. Morris J. Nockles P.

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Obelkevich J. Religion and Rural Society: South Lindsey, Oxford: Clarendon Press, O'Gorman F. Saunders R. In reality the Hanoverian succession changed very little in the Church, which was as immersed in politics before as after. The roots of Latitudinarianism were laid well before this date. Toleration of Dissent had been granted by the royal prerogative before , and the Toleration Act was a result of the Glorious Revolution, not of the Hanoverian succession.

Moreover the philosopher John Locke had suggested that the Church was a voluntary society well before The strengths of the Church—its scholarship, its growing status as a profession, its pastoral work and the support it attracted from the people—were all features that remained and broadened after But Overton was not judging the history of the Church on rational grounds.

The question is, why did the Victorian analysis of the eighteenth-century Church hold sway for so long? The question is especially pertinent, given the availability of opposing views. The Victorian position was undoubtedly challenged, and fairly quickly. Both historians sought to judge the eighteenthcentury Church by its own standards and to avoid anachronistic judgements. They also presented little-known evidence of the conscientiousness of churchmen of the period and their efforts to discharge their duty; both books have been unjustifiably neglected.

Both books were overtly sympathetic to the eighteenth-century Church, and sought to explain and understand the difficulties under which it laboured. In his later biographical study of William Wake Sykes also portrayed the Church as an institution in which clergy and bishops successfully discharged their duties.

Even his pupil G. Similarly A. During the s and s R. Greaves, Norman Ravitch, G. Bennett, and others promoted a more positive view of the eighteenth-century Church.

They viewed religion in general and the Church in particular as instruments of opposition to progress and change. Paradoxically they also advanced a view of the Church as intellectually enfeebled and sleepy. The contradiction between an institution effective enough to oppress but weakened in ideas is one that was never resolved.

Like the Victorians, radical and Marxist historians had their own agenda. His stated aim in English Society — was to re-integrate religion into an historical vision which has been almost wholly positivist; to discard economic reductionism, to emphasise the importance of politics in social history, and to argue against the familiar picture of eighteenth century England as an era of bourgeois individualism by showing the presence of the ancien regime until —32, and the autonomous importance of religion and politics in its final demise.

Thompson, who had developed a view of English society in the eighteenth century which resonated with the reductionist view of the era. Indeed what Clark exposed was a rich irony: that the Victorian view and the Marxist view of the eighteenth century had been mutually sustaining. Both asserted that eighteenth-century institutions were corrupt, divided and in need of reform.

It was essentially a positivist view and one which drew on economic reductionism to suggest the primacy of material life. They suggested that Lockean ideas of utilitarianism started a process which culminated in the reform of parliament and society in the nineteenth century. To this Whiggish interpretation the socialist historians of the s added the view that forces of reaction and capitalism defended the ancien regime in England and resisted reform in Church and State in the eighteenth century.

Rationalism, linked with greed and class interest, had created an abhorrent regime. He excoriated earlier historians for allowing prejudices about the Church, aristocracy and monarchy to affect their views of the eighteenth century. It was a revolutionary and complex argument, and one which deserves some detailed examination. The three pillars of eighteenth-century society remained Church, King and nobles. The legitimacy and stability of the regime rested on ideas of social permanence with deep historical roots, hence the broad preoccupation with antiquity, including the attempt of Archbishop James Ussher of Armargh to date events back to the Bible.

It is with this powerful sense of stability and cohesion in the Church that this book is concerned. Clark argues that the quick rationalist victory of Locke over traditional ideologies of mysticism, deference and paternalism has been overstated; in reality the older values persisted into the eighteenth century. Moreover, Locke was less important than other historians have assumed and the Whigs were less bound to revolutionary and republican principles, a point with which Peter Nockles agrees.

But far from being the beneficiary of the revolutionary or even liberal principles of resistance and of a contract, the Church of England after was dominated by comparatively conservative ideas. Clark argues that most people in the country were in a dependent position, either as servants, women, employees or journeymen; and most people were also deeply imbued with faith: The salient fact for the social historian of eighteenth-century England is that Christian belief is initially almost universal, a belief calling attention to the history of a chosen nation conceived as a family or group of families with a Holy Family as its culmination; a faith whose established Church taught obedience, humility and reverence to superiors with unanimity and consistency down the decades….

It was a moral code linked to economic success—a notion to which even Thomas Malthus subscribed. Anglicanism erosion by Dissent was not an intellectual defeat, but one of the sheer number of dissenters.

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For Clark, Anglicanism was also inextricably linked with the State: the patrician class were Anglicans, Anglicanism defined the elite, and nonAnglicans were excluded from exercise of power in the State. Therefore the collapse of the ancien regime was sounded by the repeal of the Test and Corporations Acts in It was this measure that ended the Anglican hegemony and the idea of assimilation into an elite by conforming to its religious tenets.

The theory evolved into a view that the successions of William, Anne and George I were divinely ordained and the conquest by William and the dynastic failure of Anne were expressions of it. Paradoxically, the Jacobites also clung to the idea of the divine right of kings, and up to Non-jurors sought to promote a model of a Stuart monarchy which God would restore to absolute authority. The dynastic principle was underscored by the celebration of anniversaries of the martyrdom of Charles I, the Restoration of Charles II and the Glorious Revolution.

Such superstition was an integral element in what Clark saw as traditional religion: Too little weight is often given to the immense continuity, and vast inertia, of popular and rural sentiment, especially in the case of England. Thirdly there was a sentimental attachment of the King to the social structure, which seemed to sanctify both. Finally even radicals like Thomas Paine, author of The Rights of Man , built on the principle of the divine right by extending it to all men.

Whatever the nature of the religious ideas of civil authority after , the religio-monarchical consensus between Whig and Tory after prevented civil strife and supported the hegemony of the Church. The nature of the established Church was especially important to Clark: The nature of the Church establishment was therefore of considerable importance, and conventional caricature of it as somnolent, corrupt and unthinkingly subservient to the civil power is particularly distorting.

Under the first two Georges, just such an alliance was sustained between the Whig political establishment and the bishops. The Whig alliance with the Church under George I and II gave just such a purposeful identity to the altered circumstances of In the parishes this was translated into the alliance between the parson and the squire, and in the nation between bishops and ministers. It was a strategy that was successful. Bishops such as Wake, Gibson, Potter, Secker and Sherlock were able to assert High Church values and above all they ensured that the Test remained unchallenged. The Tory intellectual position strengthened after as they succeeded the Whigs as the party of the Church.

The Tories asserted that the establishment represented not simply mindless authoritarianism, but a position which had intellectually defeated radicalism. Tories like William Blackstone, the eighteenth-century jurist, sought to raise the monarchy above party strife and reinforce High Church ideas by defending the Test Act and denying Dissent a legitimate role in the State. His view was that Dissent was illegal, and that the Toleration Act of was merely a suspension of that illegality.

In opposition to these ideas, the Whigs found themselves increasingly sympathetic to Dissent. Predictably for a Church committed to the preservation of peace and stability, the clergy were in the forefront of defence of the State from these attacks. High Church Whig and Hutchinsonian clergy, such as Horne, Paley and Warburton, placed royal authority alongside Trinitarianism and the apostolic succession.

Inevitably the religious analysis of government was intensified by the French Revolution and Horne re-asserted the ancient doctrine of passive resistance. Without the king he claimed there would be no Church and therefore the French Revolution threatened religion as much as the political establishment. Similar doctrines were advanced by the moderate bishops Horsley, Hallifax and Pretyman; they asserted that the ordination of the King at the coronation and the oaths sworn to him demanded the allegiance of the people. Clark suggests that the success of this High Church defence of the State can be seen in the response of Methodism.

Methodists joined Anglicans in supporting the status quo and turned against the radical clamour.

The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord

The French Revolution also enabled Wesley to add an anti-popish flavour to his defence of the establishment. Whilst local Methodists embraced radicalism, the Methodist Conference remained strongly conservative until the s. This is not surprising, given the conservative antecedents of Methodism which included Non-jury Even Burke was won for the establishment by the French Revolution; by he advanced a defence of Anglicanism which treated the Church and State as a unity. For Burke, however, duties, including religious duties, were not voluntary. Anglican political ideology also dominated thinking at the turn of the century because of the radical reactions to it.

Radicals, such as Heywood, advanced a contractual view of royal authority. During the Napoleonic War they attacked aristocratic systems of government, but, following the royalist resurgence after the war, they turned their attentions to the Church. Just as the establishment could be defined in terms of the orthodox Anglican monarchical ideology, Clark argues that radical opposition was rooted in anti-Trinitarianism and religious heterodoxy.

The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord
The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord
The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord
The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord
The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord
The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord The Church of England 1688-1832: Unity and Accord

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