Latitudinarianism in the Seventeenth-Century Church of England

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The Latitudinarians, a group of prominent clergymen in the late seventeenth-century Church of England, were articulate opponents of Anglicanism's intellectual foes. Against the challenges of Hobbism, Spinozism, Deism, scepticism, and Roman Catholicism, they presented a body of thought emphasizing reason in religion and practical morality over credal speculation. Their theology was designed to combat 'practical atheism' and their sermons stressed that the chief design of Christianity was 'to make men good.' They advocated an alliance of religion and science, and were early participants in the Royal Society. In preaching, they developed a simpler sermon style influential for English prose. As an important part of the Anglican Church at the time of the Glorious Revolution, they helped in drafting the Revolution Settlement, the seedbed, in Macaulay's words, of subsequent personal liberties. This definition and analysis of Latitudinarianism was completed by the late Martin Griffin in 1962 and has been updated since his death in 1988 by Professor Richard H. Popkin.