The English Church in the Eighteenth Century eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 807 pages of information about The English Church in the Eighteenth Century.

As it was, things took a different course.  The chief promoters of these noble efforts died, and much of their work died with them.  Or it may be that the times were not yet ripe for such a revival.  It may even have been better in the end for English Christianity, that no special period of religious excitement should interfere with the serious intellectual conflict, in which all who could give any attention to theology were becoming deeply interested.  Great problems involved in the principles of the Reformation, but obscured up to that time by other and more superficial controversies, were being everywhere discussed.  An interval of religious tranquillity amounting almost to stagnation may have been not altogether unfavourable to a crisis when the fundamental axioms of Christianity were being reviewed and tested.  And, after all, dulness is not death.  The responsibilities of each individual soul are happily not dependent upon unusual helps and extraordinary opportunities.  Yet great efforts of what may be called missionary zeal are most precious, and fall like rain upon the thirsty earth.  It is impossible not to feel disappointment that the practical energies which at the beginning of the eighteenth century seemed ready to expand into full life should have proved comparatively barren of permanent results.  But though the effort was not seconded as it should have been, none the less honour is due to the exemplary men who made it.  It was an effort by no means confined to any one section of the Church.  There were few more earnest in it than many of the London clergy who had worked heart and soul with Tillotson.  But wherever any great religious undertaking, any scheme of Christian benevolence, was under consideration, wherever any plan was in hand for carrying out more thoroughly and successfully the work of the Church, there at all events was Robert Nelson, and the pious, earnest-hearted Churchmen who enjoyed his friendship.



[Footnote 1:  Birch’s Life of Tillotson, lxi.]

[Footnote 2:  Ken and a few others are conspicuous as exceptions.]

[Footnote 3:  W.H.  Teale, Life of Nelson, 221.]

[Footnote 4:  Dr. S. Clarke called him a model controversialist.  Teale, 330.]

[Footnote 5:  See his Address to Persons of Quality, and Representation of the several Ways of doing Good.  Secretan, 149.  Teale, 338.]

[Footnote 6:  Life, by Boswell, ii. 457.]

[Footnote 7:  G.G.  Perry, History of the Church of England, iii. 110.]

[Footnote 8:  Secretan, 50, 71.]

[Footnote 9:  Practice of True Devotion, 28.]

[Footnote 10:  S. Wesley’s poem on R. Nelson, prefixed to some editions of the Practice, &c..  He adds in a note that this was a personal reminiscence of his friend.]

[Footnote 11:  Nelson’s Life of Bull, 303.]

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