Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture

Research Article

The Demise of English Presbyterianism: 1660–1760

James C. Spaldinga1

a1 State University of Iowa

In The History and Character of Calvinism, John T. McNeill dismisses the story of English Presbyterianism in the eighteenth century with the following statement: Here we may return for a brief reference to Calvinism in England, where the Presbyterian … nonconformity carried its banners but weakly in the eighteenth century… After the death of Matthew Henry (1714) … Presbyterian leadership was undistinguished. A tincture of rationalism and Socinianism entered the nonconformist academies, and many of the Presbyterian ministers rejected the Westminster standards and doctrines … Those who remained orthodox were in general dull and ineffective ministers. The result was a decline in numbers and significance. This decayed Presbyterianism was restored, or more accurately replaced by the activity of Scots in England, including both those of the Kirk and those of the secessions1.

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