revolutions, loss of civil and religious liberty, these intestine struggles between sects have occasioned, is well known even to such as are least acquainted with the history of mankind . . . the obvious remedy was to establish one church, and give a free toleration to the rest.'1 This ideal would continue to dominate the relations of church and state; in 1780, a state church was still the norm, powerfully entrenched and defended with much sophistication.
In 1785, even the latitudinarian William Paley could advance an analysis of establishment as if it were uncontroversial:
The notion of a religious establishment comprehends three things; - a clergy, or an order of men secluded from other professions to attend upon the offices of religion; - a legal provision for the maintenance of the clergy; - and the confining of that provision to the teachers of a particular sect of Christianity.2
Yet this was a minimalist doctrine. More was involved when, in 1660, one alternative - episcopal Anglicanism - emerged as dominant. William Sancroft, later Archbishop of Canterbury, implored God that He would 'digest that Chaos, and Confusion, and Strife of Opinions into one beautifull, and Harmonious Composure'.3 This was not to be: the triumph of episcopacy henceforth defined the separated alternatives as 'denominations'. Each denomination possessed a set of teachings on ecclesiology or ecclesiastical polity that justified its claims on the basis of scriptural history, revelation, or natural law. These teachings continued to compete, especially duringthe period c. 1660-1725: this was the era in which the challenge of Protestant and Roman Catholic Dissent generated the most powerful Anglican responses.
The 'established church' was a term whose meaning nevertheless differed across the monarchy's possessions. In Wales, it might appear as the church associated with the union of 1536, like the system of shires and JPs. In Scotland, a Presbyterian polity was enforced after the Revolution of 1688. The Church of Ireland could be seen as the church of the English ascendancy, imposed in different ways by Henry VIII, Elizabeth, Cromwell, and William III. In England the church had never been established in this politically proactive sense, never chosen from among competing alternatives. An established church, in this English perspective, was strengthened, not founded, by its relations with the state. In this English sense, Samuel Johnson defined 'establishment' in his Dictionary of 1755 as 'Confirmation of something already done; ratification'. The church was also 'an establishment' in the sense that it was served by an elaborately endowed hierarchy of archbishops, bishops, deans, and archdeacons, and vouched for by the endowed universities and grammar schools; it performed acts of charity through endowed hospitals, orphanages, and
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