Many works on nineteenth-century religious thought shy away from the Dissenting world as being both peripheral to the intellectual life of the period and too diverse for brief justice to be done. I have not attempted to represent the doctrinal variations to be found within Nonconformity, which at the most extreme range from Unitarianism, thin on dogma and strong beyond its numbers in the Victorian intellectual milieu and the circles of social reform, to the dogmatic precision of rigorously exclusive sects like the Strict Baptists. Inevitably the various limbs of this doctrinally heterogenous body came to terms with Biblical criticism and evolutionary theory at substantially differing rates. Early in the nineteenth century, however, the division between the old style Dissenters such as Presbyterians, Baptists, Independents or Quakers and the new sects thrown up by the mid-eighteenth century Evangelical Revival became less marked as the Evangelical spirit became more broadly diffused and High Calvinism more rarely affirmed.
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