The name was used in the early part of the 18th century as the equivalent of "Latitudinarian," i.e.
There was a school of distinctively latitudinarian thought in the Church of England; others not unnaturally thought it better to extend the realm of the adiaphora beyond the sphere of Protestant ritual or the details of systematic divinity.
But we are not to suppose that even he, latitudinarian and innovator as he was, could have conceived the possibility of abolishing an institution so deeply rooted in the social conditions, as well as in the ideas, of his time.
"Latitudinarian" gave place at the same time to "Broad Churchman," to designate those who lay stress on the ethical teaching of the Church and minimize the value of orthodoxy.
Paley's latitudinarian views are said to have debarred him from the highest positions in the Church.
So great were his variations even in his latter years, that he could speak to his friend Allsop in a highly latitudinarian sense, declaring that in Christianity "the miracles are supererogatory," and that "the law of God and the great principles of the Christian religion would have been the same had Christ never assumed humanity."
His form of religious sentiment was not evangelical or mystical, any more than it was ascetic or ceremonial or dogmatic. As regards one of the accepted doctrines of his own church, the excellence of the celibate life, of poverty, and of elaborate obedience to a rule, he no doubt was a strong dissident; but the evidence that, as a Christian, he was unorthodox, that he was even a heretical or latitudinarian thinker in regard to those doctrines which the various Christian churches have in common, is not merely weak, it is practically nonexistent.
The existence of separate nationalities, on the other hand, was the justification of national churches according to the latitudinarian churchmen with whom Locke associated: a national church comprehensive in creed, and thus co-extensive with the nation was their ideal.