Dissenters experienced considerable change during the eighteenth century. The political and cultural environment in which they lived was in flux. Before 1689, public declarations of Dissenting faith were risky. By the early nineteenth century, Dissenters were increasingly influential and secure. Several different processes helped to make these changes possible. One was the revival of ‘vital religion’, associated with a period of awakening. Awakening spread far and wide within European and American Protestantism but Dissenters were strongly affected by it. The growth of ideas of enlightenment encouraged both an emphasis on personal faith and the ability of the individual to make choices about faith for him/herself and also helped increase the resources able to express faith through burgeoning print culture.
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