the terms on which the Church of Scotland was currently founded were fundamentally flawed and that secession was their only viable option. When the now inevitable Disruption came in May 1843, the Free Church, led by Thomas Chalmers, carried with it much of the impetus of the church extension movement, together with over a third of the Church of Scotland's ministers.
Elsewhere in the United Kingdom 1843 was also a climactic year. Whereas the events of 1834 and 1835 saw the checking of the impetus to radical reform of the state churches, those of 1843 showed that there could be no return to the pre-1828 confessional state.39 In England, provision for the education of child workers in the 1843 Factory Act had to be withdrawn in the face of protest from Dissenters because they felt it gave too much control to the Church of England. In September, John Henry Newman resigned his living of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, believing that the Church of England could never fulfil his aspirations for the spiritual regeneration ofthe nation. His conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1845 was now merely a matter of time. In Ireland the climax of the campaign for the repeal of the Union, led by Daniel O'Connell, was a striking demonstration of the political importance of the Roman Catholic Church and its growing identification with the cause of Irish nationalism. In such a context the situation of the Church of Ireland looked ever more marginal and perilous. There is room for pondering the parallel between the repeal movement in Ireland and the Disruption in Scotland, as proto-nationalist movements, drawing much of their inspiration from organised Christianity.40 Moreover all these developments in 1843 pointed, in different ways, to widespread resistance to close association between church and state.
Thus by the 1840s there had already been substantial weakening in the constitutional linkages between church, state and nation as they had existed before 1828. At the same time, however, the considerable energy shown by both Anglicans and Presbyterians in renewing and expanding their churches ensured that they retained a strong presence at the grass-roots in England, Scotland and the north of Ireland. The context though was now usually one not of monopoly but of competition, sometimes with each other, sometimes with other varieties of Protestantism, notably Methodism, sometimes with Roman Catholicism. In Scotland, although the Disruption proved a body blow to the association of church and state in its historic form, the Presbyterian tradition was invigorated through the energy and commitment of
39 Gash, Reaction and reconstruction, pp. 88-9.
40 Wolffe, God and greater Britain, p. 105; Brown, The national churches, p. 367.
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