Despite all the polemic and publicity that accompanied the various Evangelical secessions, the number of clergymen who formally seceded from the Church of England in the first half of the nineteenth century was relatively small. This does not mean, however, that their secessions were without significance. On the contrary, they were an unsettling influence on many of their brethren and on the Church as a whole. The existence of various groups of ‘ultras’ in the Evangelical ranks helped to confirm suspicious High Churchmen in their stereotyped views about the dangers inherent in extreme Protestantism. Here, it seemed, was evidence of the tendency of religious individualism — the belief in ‘private judgement’ — to produce schism and anarchy. The seceders were living proofs that Evangelicals were unsound in their churchmanship, and had a dangerous proclivity to Protestant Dissent. The threat of Evangelical secession has continued to plague the Church of England from time to time.
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