John Stoughton.

Religion in England from 1800 to 1850 : a history, with a postscript on subsequent events (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryJohn StoughtonReligion in England from 1800 to 1850 : a history, with a postscript on subsequent events (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 27)
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From 1800 to 1850.


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MAR 12 1932^







1800 to i85o.

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Vol. I.

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Butler &* Tanner,

The Sehvood Printing Works,

Frome, and London.


HAVING ventured during the last twenty years
to publish volumes on the " History of Reli-
gion in England," from the opening of the Long
Parliament to the close of the last century, I now
attempt an addition to my task, by presenting to
the public a record of events bearing on the same
subject, down to the year 1850. To this I append
a brief postscript touching what has occurred since.

Having, during a long life, been thrown into asso-
ciation with many persons who had much to do with
the religious transactions of their day, and having
enjoyed more or less friendship with distinguished
persons amongst Episcopalians and Nonconformists,
— whose memories I cherish with reverence and affec-
tion, — I have drawn upon my own personal recollec-
tions for several of the facts and illustrations included
within the present work.

It has been my aim throughout to maintain the
method and spirit of former historical volumes, and
so to promote, by the blessing of God, the interests
of Christian truth and catholic charity.

Athenaeum Club,

Pall Mall, Aug., 1884.


Introduction . . . . . . . page xi



The Irish Union, i.— Previous Rebellion, 4. — Terms of
Union, 5. — Irish Prelates, 6. — Threatened Invasion, 9. — Pa-
triotic Sermons, 11. — Queen Anne's Bounty and Church Build-
ing, 13. — Licenses to Preach, and Lord Sidmouth's Bill, 14.—
Relief from Oaths required by Toleration Laws, 23. — Colonial
Laws and East India Charter, 24. — Wilberforce, H. Thornton,
and W. Smith, 29. — Spiritual Peers, 33.



Persecution of French Protestants, 39. — Jubilee of George
III., 41.— Death of Princess Charlotte, 42. — Death of Duke of
Kent, 43. — Accession of George IV., and Trial of Queen Caro-
line, 44. — Bishops : Ryder, Marsh, 47 j Kaye, 48 ; Coplestone,
49 ; Blomfield, the Sumners, 50. — Repeal of Test and Corpo-
ration Acts, 51. — Catholic Emancipation, 57.



Dr. T. F. Middleton and Reginald Heber, 71.— Edward
Stanley, 73.— A. W. Hare, 76.— W. F. Hook, 79.— Parr, 82.—
Valpy and Arnold, 84. — Bampton Lecturers, 88. — Other Literary
Clergymen, 96. — Preaching in the English Church, 101. —
Christian Knowledge and Propagation Societies, 106. — Bishop-
ric of Calcutta, 109.




The Evangelicals, 112. — Newton and Cecil, 114.— Thomas
Scott, 117. — Robinson, 119. — Richmond and Simeon, 121.—
S. Chase, 124.— D. Wilson, 125.— E. Bickersteth, 126.— Faber
and Elliott, 129.— Study of Prophecy, 130.— Clapham Sect,
131. — Claudius Buchanan, 138. — Society for Missions to Africa
and the East, 140. — Barley Wood and Hannah More, 147.


EPISCOPAL CHURCH '. [continued).

Westminster Abbey, 150. — St. Paul's, 153. — St. George's
Chapel, Windsor, 154. — Old Parish Churches, 155. — New Ec-
clesiastical Buildings, 157. — Clerical Characteristics, 160.



Oxford University, 161. — Intellectual Unsettlement, 169. —
John Keble, 170. — R. H. Froude, 171. — J. H. Newman, 172.
— H. J. Rose, 176.— Cambridge University, 178.



Religious Tract Society, 181.— British and Foreign Bible
Society, 187. — Controversies, 195. — Sunday-school Union, 197.
— Christian Evidence Society, 203.



Arianism, 205. — Price and Rees, 207.— Lindsay, Evans, and
Worthington, 209. — Socinianism, 210. — Dr. Priestley, 211. —
Unitarianism, Lindsey and Belsham, 213. — Unitarian Societies
216. — Controversy, 221. — R. Aspland, 223. — English Presby-
terianism in the Provinces, 225. — Scotch Presbyterianism in
England, 229.




The beginning of the Century, 233. — The Claytons, 237. —
Dr. Collyer, 239.— Dr. Pye-Smith, 239. — Mr. Walford, 240. —
Colleges in London and the Neighbourhood, 241. — Norwich,
242. — Leeds, and Colleges in Yorkshire, 243. —Independent
Ministers in other parts of the Country, 247. — Divine Worship,
249. — Home Life, 251. — Foreign Missions, 253. — Morrison, 254.
— John Williams, 255. — Congregational Literature, 259.



Andrew Fuller and John Martin, 262. — Robert Hall and
Joseph Kinghorn, 265. — The Serampore Mission, 269. — Carey,
270. — Marshman and Ward, 273. — Death of Fuller, 277. — John
Foster and John Sheppard, 278.— Baptist Societies, 280. — Dr.
Rippon and Psalmody, 282.— General Baptists, 285. — Sande-
manian Baptists, 288. — Seventh Day Baptists, 289.



Spa Fields, Tottenham Court, and Tabernacle, 293.— Surrey
Chapel and Rowland Hill, 294. — Orange Street, 296.— Union
Chapel, Islington, 297.— Hackney Academy, 298.— William
Huntingdon, 300.



Deed of Declaration, 305.— Plan of Pacification, 306.— Re-
vivals, 307.— Missions, 311. — Richard Watson and Jabez
Bunting, 314.— Methodist Missionary Society, and— Persecu-
tion in West Indies, 318. — Controversies, 319.— Methodist
Magazine, 322.— Joseph Benson, 323.— Adam Clarke, 324.—
Richard Watson, 326.— Henry Moore, 328. — Samuel Bradburn,
Robert Newton, 329.





Formation of the New Connexion, 333.— Principles, 335.—
Bible Christians, 340.— Primitives : Founders Bourne and
Clowes, 341.— Camp Meeting, 342.— Rules, 346.— Energy and
Persecution, 347. — Methodist Chapels, 350.


Quakers' Meeting, 353. — Consciousness of Decline, 355. —
The Hicksite Heresy, 356.— Stephen Grellet, 358.— William
Forster, 359.— Elizabeth Fry, 362.— Joseph Lancaster, 363. —
John Dalton, 365.— William Allen, 366.— Quaker Home Life,

Institutes, 369. — The Latrobes, 371. — Missions, 371.



Edward Irving's Popularity, 374. — His Eloquence, 376. —
Hatton Garden, 377.— His Missionary Sermon, 378. — Scotch
Church, Regent's Square, 379.— The Manifestations, 380.—
— Irving's Doctrinal Peculiarities, 383. — Decline of His Popu-
larity, 384.— Congregation in Newman Street, 385. — Constitu-
tion and Ceremonies of the Apostolic Church, 386. — Henry
Drummond, 389.


The first half of the present century has been unpre-
cedented in the history of the world. The variety
and complexity of events baffle those who undertake
to write the annals of the period. Political, literary,
and scientific interests — to say nothing of art in its
manifold departments — intersect one another in lines
so subtle as to puzzle the most quick-sighted ob-
server. Acquisitions of various kinds have been
applied to material uses; and only those who are
old enough to remember our first steamboats, the
kindling of gas-lights, the origin of railways, and
the earlier modern employment of electricity, can
understand the "leaps and bounds" made in the
march of English civilization. To ' chronicle these
marvels, tracing them to their' source, and marking
their gradual development, is a task of great diffi-
culty, the more so because materials within our reach
are so abundant.

Difficulties also encumber the path of the ecclesi-
astical student. "He cannot see the wood for the
trees." What changes have taken place in the
Church Establishment and in the organizations of


Dissent ! Dignitaries on the one hand, Noncon-
formists on the other, are different people from what
they were in 1801. Unanticipated forms of Anglo-
Catholicism and rationalistic inquiry have appeared.
Streams, not to say oceans, of religious books have
been poured from the press. Piles of volumes are accu-
mulated on Evidences, particularly as they regard the
mutual relations of theology and science, and very
much has been accomplished in Biblical Criticism.
What a spur has been given to ecclesiastical inquiries
of all kinds ; what an amount of Missionary work
has been done ; and what efforts have been made for
the education of the people !

In dealing with this enormous amount of material,
in the first instance facts have to be settled ; to begin
with philosophy is a mistake. Not till after labori-
ously digging into the rough ground can any sound
and graceful edifice be constructed ; and when a wide
collection of facts has been completed, there come
toilsome inquiries into causes, consequences, and
interrelations. Secrets of human consciousness, mo-
tives underlying conduct, the constitution of men's
minds, and their individual peculiarities have to be
sought after. Theological creeds in their origin and
growth, in their resemblances and antagonisms, de-
mand careful analysis and comparison. Modes of
worship in their inward principles, as well as in their
outward forms, must be measured and examined.
Intellectual and moral causes are obvious factors ;
and after all, historical philosophy is miserably defec-


tive which does not recognise the Divine as well as
the' human in the story of the Church of Jesus Christ.
If there be a Providence over the world, surely it
should be taken into account when we are looking at
spiritual affairs. If the holy Catholic Church be
built on the foundation of prophets and apostles,
Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone, that incom-
parable fact must never be lost sight of.

Preliminary investigation requires more than the
work of a mere annalist. Thoughtfulness must at
once take in immediate causes and consequences,
the difference between outward incidents and inner
principles, and the advancement of germs into
growths. And from beginning to end impartial
judgment is indispensable. I do not mean by this,
impartiality in looking at truth and falsehood, or-
thodoxy and error, good and evil. Certainly not. A
Christian must take most earnestly the side of what
he sees and feels to be right, he cannot be cold and
indifferent as to what God has revealed, his warmest
affections must be stirred by what makes for man's
salvation ; but in judging of individuals, it is a duty
from first to last to hold the balance even, with a
steady hand.

Students who would do justice on all sides must
remember that there is such a thing as denomina-
tional bias, which is likely to influence the statement
of opinions, and that such bias may inflect the
direction in which the bowl is thrown. Remember-
ing it, they will watch over their own preferences, and


guard against being influenced by personal prejudice.
Fair and honest conclusions are quite possible when
a man makes them his aim and endeavour ; and it
can practically be disproved that none but Church-
men can judge of Churchmen, and that none but
Dissenters can judge of Dissenters.

Government by party seems a political necessity
in the present condition of England ; in like manner
the maintenance of what are called " religious in-
terests" appears to be dependent on the existence
of sectional societies, each working out its own
principles. As in the former, so in the latter case,
prejudices created by party spirit become a serious
bane, preventing a right solution of fundamental
questions, and disturbing a righteous estimate of
personal character. We are in much danger of not
looking at objects in clear sunlight, of not seeing them
as they really are : but of letting what is near and
what we are fond of, hide parts of the distant land-
scape. We allow shifting shadows and flickering cross-
lights to confuse our vision of what actually comes
within the range of sight. We are unconsciously
influenced by a regard for the reputation of our
own Church, and so our opinions of many things are
biased without our being aware of it. I wish to
remember all this throughout these volumes ; and
before entering upon details, it may be well broadly
to indicate the ecclesiastical systems at work when
the present century opened.

The Episcopal Church claimed descent from the


Ante-Nicene communion, and appealed to the early
Fathers and Councils as helps and guides to the
interpretation of Holy Writ ; not after the Roman
Catholic method, but in imitation of Reformers who,
whilst entertaining a reverence for patristic literature,
professed to make the Scriptures the basis of their
beliefs. The Church rejoiced in its Thirty-nine
Articles, its collection of Homilies, and the Book of
Common Prayer as the safeguard of orthodoxy and
the wellspring of devotional feeling, but it was too
much forgotten that in no ancient confessions, in no
venerable documents can the life and power of a
community be found ; the life must be realized in
spiritual consciousness, the power must be manifested
in Christian activity. The Church had able advo-
cates, learned critics and commentators, and syste-
matic divines of depth and compass, down to the
close of the eighteenth century. Identified with the
universities, and possessing abundant sources of
knowledge, it was guarded and fortified by an Act
of Uniformity, which established Episcopalianism as
a national institute, though a scanty toleration was
conceded to those who had conscientious scruples
preventing their adhesion.

Nominally it was one, — a society inclosed within
bonds of ecclesiastical order, the members declaring
their assent and consent to its articles, worship, and
discipline, and closely interlaced by internal ties, —
whilst the whole country, with its diocesan and
parochial divisions, was placed under its care for


the Christian instruction and improvement of the
people ; but on close inspection it was seen to com-
bine a variety of opinions, feelings, and practices.
Not only were there differences of judgment, there
were alienations of heart. The classifications of senti-
ment belonging to a later period, which I shall have
to describe, did not then exist ; but there were
schools of thought already arising, and definite
varieties were at the end of the last century brought
into antagonism, such as did not exist at the

I do not concur in all the sweeping charges
brought against the Church as time left it on the
threshold of a new century, but there are certain
points in respect to which a clear case may be made
out. Ambition, craving after preferment ; avarice,
grasping at income ; nepotism, providing for clerical
relations on the part of those who had the command
of patronage : these were evils common at the period,
as the biographies of Churchmen represent, and as
some of the most zealous supporters of the estab-
lishment at the present moment will allow.

Neglect of duty by the higher and lower dignitaries,
and by incumbents and curates also, was a fact not
to be denied. A bad reputation hung about the
Church's neck, and it took a good while to slip it off.
Indifference to clerical duty, spiritual inactivity, and
the neglect of souls, entailed two consequences. First,
the Church lost ground. It is a striking and con-
clusive fact that, whereas at the Revolution Church-


men were numbered as twenty-two, to one who had
left the Church : the proportion eighty years ago is
said to have been only eight to one. Secondly, the
moral and religious condition of the country was
deplorable. There is no need of adducing statistics
of crime, descriptions of immorality, and evidences of
irreligion, — abundantly furnished in support of a
statement which can be made only with the greatest
pain. Nor can it be said that the Establishment alone
was responsible ; there was much neglect on the part
of the old Dissent, as I have shown elsewhere. 1

I turn now to look at Nonconformity. It had be-
gun to alter before the time when my narrative com-
mences. It had changed considerably from what it
was at the Revolution. Links indeed remained con-
necting it with Commonwealth times ; traditions had
not died out of Puritan adventures under Cromwell.
There were people in 1800 old enough to have heard
from their great-grandmothers, as they sat, listening
under a patriarchal pear tree "to feeble voices, soon
to be for ever silenced, how in the civil wars they had
concealed brothers and sisters in a ditch from the
rude assaults of Rupert's cavalry. 2 Better still, there
remained some who had been told by their ancestors
what sort of men Baxter and Howe were, and who
knew many who had been familiar with Watts and

1 Religion in England, vol. vi.

2 Men Worth Remembering, p. 76 : Afidrew Fuller, by his


Doddridge. But circumstances had changed ; noble
and other aristocratic families, who were pillars of
Dissent in 1700, had died out or had left the faith
of their fathers. It is remarkable how titles dis-
appear in Nonconformist histories as the years gather.
Dissenters fell in rank as they rose in numbers ;
large landowners, wealthy merchants, were more
common among them at the beginning than at the
end of the eighteenth century.

The Presbyterians were first in point of worldly
circumstances. Rich families of that class, only fewer
in number, remained in Lancashire, also in the west,
and eastern counties. Stories are told of carriages
waiting in long lines on a Sunday morning at the
doors of chapels in the neighbourhood of London.
Members of congregations, in many parts, were dis-
tinguished by literary culture, scientific attainments,
and artistic taste. Somewhat of ancient strictness
might be found here and there ; but conformity with
the world was on the increase, and habits of amuse-
ment were allowed such as would have shocked the
prejudices of an earlier age. Liberal political opin-
ions were entertained ; Toryism was stoutly opposed.
The French Revolution had its advocates and its
excusers. Liberty of conscience inspired enthusiasm ;
submission to human authority in matters of religion
could not be tolerated : hence deviation from ortho-
doxy advanced in most quarters. A hundred years
made a great difference ; at the end, Presbyterian
beliefs had grown so lax that they would not have


been recognised by the grandfathers who held them.
How mode.rn Unitarianism grew just about the time
when this history commences will be seen in a
following chapter.

Independents came next to Presbyterians in social
position. They were very conservative, and had
little sympathy with Presbyterians in their ideas of
intellectual progress and free thought. They generally
clung, with strong tenacity, to the evangelical beliefs
and puritan traditions of other days. They, however,
no less than Presbyterians, asserted the rights of
conscience, and were jealous lest the management
of internal Church affairs should suffer from foreign

Baptists confined the ordinance from which they
took their name to adult believers, and administered
it by immersion, naturally insisting upon it as of
great importance ; for it was the basis of their denomi-
nation, the chief thing distinguishing it from some
other bodies. They were as independent in their form
of government as were those called after that name.
Modes of admission to fellowship were of the strictest
description ; bonds of discipline were tightly drawn.

The Baptist principle presented itself in connexion
with both Calvinistic and Arminian sentiments.
This occasioned a twofold division, under the names
of Particular and General Baptists ; the former hold-
ing the Calvinistic doctrine of particular redemption,
the latter the Arminian doctrine of universal redemp-


The extreme doctrines held by Particular Baptists
made way chiefly amongst the humbler classes.
Those of the denomination in superior circumstances
were generally moderate ; and persons of this order
were numerous in several towns, especially in Cam-
bridge ; but in Cambridgeshire, the Fens, and the
County of Northampton, Particular Baptists had a
stronghold, and characteristic stories are told of
some of the congregations. 1

General Baptists were strong in the west of
England and in some of the midland counties. In
the former of these instances they resembled the
Presbyterians, and adopted Unitarian views ; in the
latter their Arminianism was of a decidedly evan-
gelical stamp.

Another distinction amongst Baptists related to
the practice of communion. Strict communionists,
as they were called, allowed those only who had been
immersed to partake of the Lord's Supper ; open
communionists welcomed to the Lord's table all
Christian believers, whatever their baptismal senti-
ments might be. An important controversy on this
subject will have to be described.

Friends commenced the century with a confession
of the same principles as had been taught by George
Fox and William Penn. They insisted upon the
spirituality of religion, and the guidance of the
Holy Spirit. They renounced the common forms of

1 See Memoir of Andrew Fuller, by his son.


public devotion, and found sweet satisfaction in silent
worship. They opposed tithes and Church rates, and
condemned any engagement in war. They had declined
in numbers during the century, but were numerous at
the end of it in London, Norwich, and other places.
Some new modifications of rule had been admitted,
and though peculiarities of dress and speech were
still retained, strictness of observance was in a
measure relaxed, and some young Quakers had more

intercourse with outward society than their ancestors

would have approved. Declensions in evangelical
beliefs were at hand, preparing for grave controversies
in the first quarter of this century.

Moravianism, of foreign growth, still kept a foot-
hold in a few English minds. It retained evangelical
sentiment, primitive episcopal order, and peculiar
institutes of its own. Fetter Lane, where Wesley
had once held fellowship with them, was the principal
metropolitan locality for worship and discipline.
Their missionary achievements in Greenland, the
West Indies, and other places became increasingly
known in England, and awakened deep sympathy in
evangelical Churches. That circumstance gave the
chief distinction to this interesting community when
the century commenced.

Political and religious disabilities of many kinds
weighed heavily upon Roman Catholics, and they
were prevented from carrying out their own system
as they wished ; but their prospects brightened as the
old century expired. The Gordon riots indicated


a hatred of popery amongst the lower class, that
hatred arising more from traditions of Marian in-
tolerance than from any intelligent acquaintance
with the dogmas of the Church. But severity of
English law against the Romish body gradually
relaxed ; increase was slow ; it became more rapid
afterwards. Catholic emancipation was looming in
the distance, and how it was brought about will be
described in its proper place.

Methodism was already a great spiritual power in
the country. Not sixty years old in its full organi-
zation, it exerted an influence far beyond its own
borders, and, as seen in the light of history since,
it carried within an inspiration which awakened
men's souls to a sense of religion all over the world.
Its growth has been amazing, and the secret of what
it is may be found in the bosom of what it was.
We find it in good working order when the century
opened, and that, notwithstanding shocks which it
received during the previous ten years. Wesley
died in 1791, and some of its friends were in a
state of painful apprehension lest the loss of the
founder should immediately check its progress. The
human master-hand could no longer guide the helm,
and looking at its fortunes apart from Divine power,

Online LibraryJohn StoughtonReligion in England from 1800 to 1850 : a history, with a postscript on subsequent events (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 27)