Enlightenment Prelate : Benjamin Hoadly, 1676-1761

Gibson, William

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Benjamin Hoadly, Bishop successively of Bangor, Hereford, Salisburyand Winchester, was the most controversial English churchman of the eighteenthcentury, and he has unjustly gained the reputation of a negligent and politicalbishop. His sermon on the nature of Christ's kingdom sparked the Bangoriancontroversy, which raged from 1717 to 1720 and generated hundreds of books,tracts and sermons, while his commitment to the Whigs and the cause oftoleration for Dissenters earned him the antagonism of many contemporary andlater churchmen. In this powerfully revisionist study, Hoadly emerges as a dedicatedand conscientious bishop with strong and progressive principles. His commitmentto the ideology of the Revolution of 1688 and to the comprehension ofDissenters into the Church of England are revealed as the principal motives forhis work as a preacher, author and bishop. Gibson also shows how Hoadly's stoutdefence of rationalism made him a contributor to the English Enlightenment,while his commitment to civil liberties made him a progenitor of the AmericanRevolution. Above all, however, the goal of reuniting of English Protestantsremained the heart of Hoadly's legacy.

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