Jarvis, Clive Robert
Growth in English Baptist churches: with special reference to the Northamptonshire Particular Baptist Association (1770-1830).
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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The purpose of this study is to investigate and to substantiate the revival in the life of English Baptist churches that commenced during the last third of the eighteenth century and continued until the early years of the twentieth century. I have taken the strategically important Northamptonshire Particular Baptist Association as my focal point and restricted myself to the key period from its formation in 1765 until 1830 when the original association covering nine countries had broken down into several county-based associations. The specific reason for the choice of the NPBA should be apparent from the research presented.
In general terms, the bulk of the eighteenth century is a period ignored by Baptist historians primarily due to the prevailing assumption that it is a period of stagnation and decline following the high point of the Glorious Revolution and the subsequent Act of Toleration of 1689. The cause of this decline is firmly laid at the door of the prevalence of hyper-Calvinism and its principal Baptist proponent Dr. John Gill. The idea that from c.1770 the English Baptists suddenly burst out of this decline into a century long revival was one that quickly came under scrutiny as the research progressed. Such statistical evidence as was available (see Chapter IV) began to question the reality of this supposed decline and this in turn led to further consideration of the true nature and extent of hyper-Calvinism (see Chapter III). If early to mid-eighteenth century English Baptists were not in decline and in fact growing, they could not be characterised as stagnating. If this were proven to be so, then our understanding of hyper-Calvinism would need to be reconsidered for it could not be held to be the cause of something that did not take place.
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