Evangelical Christianity was not just the preoccupation of ministers of religion and itinerant evangelists, it was not the motivating force merely of public figures such as William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury, it affected the lives, the loves, the hopes, and the fears of millions of ordinary men and women. If the appeal of rational Dissent was often to the prosperous, the well-educated, and the cultured, Evangelical Nonconformity found its main support among the poor, the ignorant, and the unsophisticated. In its impact on the lives of working-class men and women the influence of Evangelical Nonconformity was behind only that of the population explosion, the industrial revolution, and possibly that of its great rival, the public house.
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