‘The Soul–Sleeping System’; Politics and Heresy in Eighteenth–Century England
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 February 2009
Historians of eighteenth–century England have begun to reassess its relationship with the preceding century, creating in the process the now conventional periodisation of a ‘long eighteenth century’ from c. 1660 to 1832. Historical revisionism, however, needs constantly to be revised, and there remains the danger of creating too sharp a separation between this period and that which preceded it. This article aims to introduce just such a complicating factor by linking the turbulent theologies of the 1640s and 1650s with a particular strand of eighteenth century religious thought. This might be described as the legacy of ultra-Protestantism, the insistence on the priority of private judgement and the supremacy of Scripture which were allied with a suspicion of clericalism. Its survival among an articulate and academically well-placed group of eighteenth-century Anglican divines demonstrates that the attempt by the Restoration Church of England to distance itself from ultra-Protestantism was not uniformly successful; the problem of ‘heresy’ continued into a period of Anglican history more usually associated with comfortable doctrinal latitude.
- The Journal of Ecclesiastical History , Volume 45 , Issue 1 , January 1994 , pp. 64 - 81
- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1994
I should like to thank the British Academy for its generous award of a postdoctoral fellowship. I am grateful to Mishtooni Bose, Scott Mandlebrote, Geoffrey Rowell, John Walsh and the referees for the JOURNAL for their comments and criticism.
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