Conclusion
in Reformation without end
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The conclusion explains why the English Reformation ended in the late eighteenth century. It discounts a secular and secularizing Enlightenment as an explanation. Rather, it offers three other reasons for the Reformation’s ending. Firstly, by the last quarter of the eighteenth century enough time had passed to make the seventeenth-century wars of religion less threatening than they had seemed earlier in the century. Secondly, the Reformation issues with which the eighteenth-century English dealt got supplanted by other, more urgent ones, often having to do with England’s expanding empire. Finally, and importantly, the Reformation ended because the polemical divines who are the subject of this book failed fully in their tasks of defining truth and of defending the autonomy of the established Church of England. In the end, the modern state took on the role as truth’s arbiter and made the Church a subordinate, dependent institution.

Reformation without end

Religion, politics and the past in post-revolutionary England

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