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also much more attentive than the Brownists in keeping on foot a regular ministry in their communities ; for while the latter allowed promiscuously all ranks and orders of men to teach in public, and to perform the other pastoral functions, the independents had, and still have, a certain number of ministers, chosen respectively by the congregations where they are fixed; nor is any person among them permitted to speak in public, before he has submitted to a proper examination of his capacity and talents, and been approved of by the heads of the congregation. This community, which was originally formed in Holland; in the year 1610, made at first but a very small progress in England ;49 it worked its way slowly, and in a clandestine manner; and its members concealed their principles from public view, to avoid the penal laws that had been enacted against nonconformists. But during the reign of Charles I. when, amidst the shocks of civil and religious discord, the authority of the bishops and the cause of Episcopacy began to decline, and more particularly about the year 1640, the independents grew more courageởus, and came forth, with an air of resolution and confidence, to public view. After this period, their affairs took a prosperous turn; änd, in a little time, they became so considerable, both by their numbers and by the reputation they acquired, that they vied, in point of pre-eminence and credit, not only with the bishops, but also with the presbyterians, though at this time in the very zenith of their power. This rapid progress of the independents was, no doubt, owing to a variety of causes; among which justice obliges us to reckon the learning of their teachers, and the regularity and sanctity of their manners. During the administration of Cromwell, whose peculiar protection and patronage they enjoyed on more than one account, their credit arose to the greatest height, and their influence and reputation were universal; but after the restoration of Charles II. their cause declined, and they fell back gradually into their primitive obscurity. The sect indeed still subsisted ; but in such a state of dejection and weakness, as engaged them, in the year 1691, under the reign of king William,
qq in the year 1616, Mr. Jacob, who had adopted the religious sentiments of Robinson, set up the first Independent or Congregational church in England.
r Neal's History of the Puritans, vol. ii. p. 107, 293, vol. viii. p. 141, 145, 276, 303, 437, 549. See also a German work, entitled Englische Reformations Historie, by An.. thony William Bobm, p. 794.
to enter into an association with the Presbyterians residing in and about London, under certain heads of agreement that tended to the maintenance of their respective institutions.
XXII. While-Oliver Cromwell held the rein's of government in Great Britain, all sects, even those that The state of dishonoured true religion in the most shocking manner, by their fanaticism or their ignorance, en- der Cromwell. joyed a full and unbounded liberty of professing publicly their respective doctrines. The Episcopalians alone were
the church of England un
s From that time they were called United Brethren. The heads of agreement that formed and cemented this union are to be found in the second volume of Whiston's Memoirs of his Life and Writings, and they consist in nine articles. The first relates to churches and church members, in which the united ministers, Presbyterians, and Independents, declare, among other things, “That each particular church had a right to choose their own officers; and being furnished with such as are duly qualified and ordained according to the gospel rule, hath authority from Christ for exercising government, and enjoying all the ordinances of worsbip within itself; that, in the administration of church power, it belongs to the pastors and other elders of every particular churcb, if such there be, to rule and govern ; and to the brotherhood to consent, according to the rule of the gospel.” In this both Presbyterians and Independents depart from the principles of their respective institutions. Article ii. relates to the ministry, which they grant to have been instituted by Jesus Christ, For the gathering, guiding, cdifying, and governing of his church; in this article it is further observed, that ministers ought to be. endued with competent learning, sound judgment, and solid piety ; that None are to be ordained to the work of the ministry, but such as are chosen and called thereunto by a par-' ticular church ; that, in such a weighty matter, It is ordinarily requisite, that every sticla church consult and advise with the pastors of neighbouring congregations : and that after such advice the person thus consulted about, being chosen by the brotherhood of that par. ticular church, be duly ordained and set apart to his office over them. Article iii. relates to censures, and prescribes first, the admonishing, and, if this prove ineffectual, the excommunication of offending and scandalous members, to be performed by the pastors, with the consent of the brethren. Article iv. concerning the communion of churches, lays it down as a principle, that there is no subordination between particular churches; that they are all equal, and consequently independent; that the pastors however of these churches ought to have frequent meetings together, that, by mutual advice, support, encouragement, and brotherly intercourse, they strengthen the hearts and hands of each other in the ways of the Lord. In article v. which relates to deacons aud ruling elders, the united brethren acknowledge, that the office of a deacon is of divine appointment, and that it belongs to their office to receive, lay out, and distribute, the stock of the church to its proper uses; and as there are different sentiments about the office of ruling elders, who labour not in word and doctrine, they agree, that this difference makes no breach among them. In article vi. concerning occasional meetings of ministers, &c. the brethren agree, that it is needful, in weighty and difficult cases, that the ministers of several churches meet together, in order to be consulted and advised with about such matters; and that particular churches ought to have a reverential regard to their judgment so given, and not dissent therefrom without apparent grounds from the word of God. Article vii. which relates to the demeanour of the brethren toward the civil magistrate, prescribes, obedience to, and prayers for God's protection and blessing upon their rulers. In article viii. which relates to a confession of faith, the brethren esteem it sufficient, that a church acknowledge the Scriptures to be the word of God, the perfect and only rule of faith and practice, and own either the doctrinal part of the articles of the ckurch of England, or the Westminster confession and catechisms, drawn up by the Presbyterians, or the confession of the congregational brethren, i. e the Independents, to be agreeable to the said rule. Article ix. which concerns the duty and deportment of the brethren toward those that are not in communion with them, inculcates charity and moderation. It appears from these articles, that the Independents were led, by a kind of necessity, to adopt, in many things, the sentiments of the Presbyterians, and to depart thus far from the original principles of their sect.
excepted from this toleration, and received the most severe and iniquitous treatment. The bishops were deprived of their dignities and revenues, and felt the heavy hand of oppression in a particular manner. But, though the toleration extended to all other sects and religious communities, yet the Presbyterians and Independents were treated with peculiar marks of distinction and favour. Cromwell, though attached to no one particular sect, gave the latter extraordinary proofs of his good will, and augmented their credit and authority, as this seemed the easiest and least exasperating method of setting bounds to the ambition of the Presbyterians, who aimed at a very high degree of ecclesiastical power. It was during this period of religious anarchy, that the fifth monarchy men arose, a set of wrong-headed and turbulent enthusiasts, who expected Christ's sudden appearance upon earth to establish a new kingdom; and, acting in consequence of this illusion, aimed at the subver sion of all human government, and were for turning all things into the most deplorable confusion. It was at this time, also, that the Quakers, of whom we propose to give a more particular account, and the hot-headed Anabaptists,' propagated, without restraint, their visionary doctrines. It must likewise be observed, that the Deists, headed by Sidney, Neville, Martin, and Harrington, appeared with impunity, and promoted a kind of religion, which consisted in a few plain precepts, drawn from the dictates of natural reason.
Ft A little after Cromwell's elevation, it was resolved by the parliament, at the conclusion of a debate concerning public worship and church government, that the Presbyterian government should be the established government. The Independents were not as yet agreed upon any standard of faith and discipline; and it was only a little before Cromwell's death that they held a synod, by his permission, in order to publish to the world a uniform account of their doctrine and principles.
u See Burnet's History of his own Times, tom. i. p. 67. w See, in this volume, the History of the Quakers. D xWe are not to imagine, by the term hot-headed, furiosi, that the Anabaptists resembled the furious fanatics of that name that formerly excited such dreadful tumults in Gerinany, and more especially at Munster. This was by no means the case ; the English Anabaptists differed from their protestant brethren about the subject and mode of baptism alone ; confining the former to grown Christians, and the latter to immersion or dipping. They were divided into generals and particulars, from their different sentiments upon the Arminian controversy. The latter, who were so called from their beliet of the doctrines of particular election, redemption, &c. were strict Calvinists, who separated from the Independent congregation at Leyden, in the year 1638. Their confession was composed with a remarkable spirit of modesty and charity. Their preachers were generally illiterate, and were eager in ináking proselytes of all that would submit to their immersion, without a due regard to their religious principles or their moral characters. The writers of these times represent them as tinctured with a kind of enthusiastic fury against all that opposed them. There were nevertheless among them some pious and learned persons, who disapproved highly of all violent and uncharitable proceedings.
y Neal's History of the Purilans, vol. iv. p. 87.
XXIII. Among the various religious factions that sprung up in England, during this period of confusion The English and anarchy, we may reckon a certain sect of intinorniana Presbyterians, who were called by their adversaries Antinomians, or enemies of the law, and still subsist even in our times. The Antinomians are a more rigid kind of Cal. vinists, who pervert Calvin's doctrine of absolute decrees to the worst purposes, by drawing from it conclusions highly detrimental to the interests of true religion and virtue. Such is the judgment that the other Presbyterian communities form of this perverse and extravagant sect.? Several of the Antinomians, for they are not all precisely of the same mind, look upon it as unnecessary for Christian ministers to exhort their flock to a virtuous practice and a pious obedience to the divine law, “ since they whom God has elected to salvation by an eternal and immutable decree, will, by the irresistible impulse of divine grace, be led to the practice of piety and virtue ; while those who are
doomed sy a divine decree to eternal punishments, will • never be engaged, by any exhortations or admonitions, how affecting soever they may be, to a virtuous course ; nor have they it in their power to obey the divine law, when the succours of divine grace are withheld from them.” From these principles they concluded, that the ministers of the gospel discharged sufficiently their pastoral functions, when they inculcated the necessity of faith in Christ, and proclaimed the blessings of the new covenant to their people. Another, and a still more hideous form of antino.. mianism, is that which is exhibited in the opinions of other doctors of that sect, a who maintain, “ That as the elect cannot fall from grace, nor forfeit the divine favour, so it follows, that the wicked actions they commit, and the violations of the divine law with which they are chargeable, are not really sinful, nor are to be considered as instances of their departing from the law of God; and that, consequently, they have no occasion either to confess their sins, or to break them off by repentance. Thus adultery, for example, in one of the elect, though it appear sinful in the
doomed y coed, by anya be, to a Mihe divine law, sight of men, and be considered universally as an enormous violation of the divine law, yet is not a sin in the sight of God, because it is one of the essential and distinctive characters of the elect, that they cannot do any thing which is either displeasing to God, or prohibited by the law.” :: XXIV. The public calamities, that flowed from these ve
z See Toland's Letter to Le Clerc, in the periodical work of the latter, entitled Bibliotheque Universelle et Historique, tom. xxiii. p. 505. As also Hornbeck, Summa Controversiarum, p. 800, 812.
Spa This second antinomian hypothesis has certainly a still more odious aspect than the first; and it is therefore surprising that our author should use, in the original, these terms: “Hi tantum statuunt, Electos,” &c.
hement and uncharitable disputes about religion, Latitudinarians. afflicted all wise and good men, and engaged several, who were not less eminent for their piety than for their moderation and wisdom, to seek after some method of uniting such of the contending parties as were capable of listening to the dictates of charity and reason, or at least, of calming their animosities, and persuading them to mutual forbearance. These pacific doctors offered themselves as mediators between the more violent Episcopalians on the one hand, and the more rigid Presbyterians and Independents on the other; and hoped that, when their differences were accommodated, the lesser factions would fall of themselves. The contests that reigned between the former turned partly on the forms of church government and public worship, and partly on certain religious tenets, more especially those that were debated between the Arminians, and Calvinists. To lessen the breach that kept these two great communities at such a distance from each other, the arbitrators, already mentioned, endeavoured to draw them out of their narrow enclosures, to render their charity more extensive, and widen the paths of salvation, which bigotry and party rage' had been labouring to render inaccessible to many good Christians. This noble and truly evangeli. cal method of proceeding, procured to its authors the denomination of Latitudinarians. Their views indeed were generous and extensive. They were zealously attached to the forms of ecclesiastical government and worship that . were established in the church of England, and they recommended episcopacy with all the strength and power
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There is an account of the other tenets of the antinomians, and of the modern disputes that were occasioned by the publication of the Posthumous Works of Crisp, a flaming doctor of that extravagant and pernicious sect, given by Pierre Francois Le Courayer, in his “Examen des defauts Theologiques,” tom. ii. p. 198. Baxter and Tillotson distinguished themselves by their żeal against the antinomians; and they were also completely refuted by Dr. Williams, in his famous book, entitled “Gospel Truth stated and vindicated,” 8vo. Bp I have been informed, since the first edition of this history was published, that the book, entitled “ Examen des defauts Theologiques,". which our author supposes to have been written by Dr. Courayer, is the production of another pen.
c See Burnet's “ History of his own Times," vol. i. book ij, p. 188.