A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Latitudinarians

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LATITUDINARIANS, a name which distinguished those in the seventeenth century, who attempted to bring episcopalians, presbyterians, and independents, into one communion, by compromising the difference between them. The chief leaders of this party were the great Chillingworth, and John Hales, to whom may be added More, Cudworth, Gale, Tillotson, and Whitchcot. They were zealously attached to the church of England; but did not look upon episcopacy as indispensable to the constitution of the christian church: hence they maintained, that those who followed other forms of government and worship, were not on that account to be excluded from the communion, or to forfeit the title of brethren. They reduced the fundamental doctrines of christianity to a few points. By this way of proceeding they showed that neither the episcopalians, who, generally speaking, were Arminians, nor the presbyterians and independents, who as generally adopted the doctrines of Calvin, had any reason to oppose each other with such animosity and bitterness, since the subjects of their debates were matters of an indifferent nature, with respect to salvation; and might be variously explained and understood without any prejudice to their eternal interests.[1]

Original footnotes[edit]

  1. Mosheim, vol. iv. p. 535. Burnet's History of his own times, p. 186.