Williams, it is to be remembered, had held these views while he was yet only a Congregationalist generally, and before he had become a Baptist. Though he found them among the Baptists, therefore, he may be said to have recovered them for Independency at large, and to have been the first to impregnate modern "Independency" with them through and through. Nay, as he had himself gone out of the camp of the mere Baptist Congregationalists when he published his treatise,—as he had begun to question whether there was any true Visible Church in the world at all, any perfect pastorate in any nation, anything else under the sun of a Christian kind than a chance-medley of various preaching and effort into which God might sooner or later send new shafts of light and direction from heaven—in the view of all this, Williams has to be regarded as the father of a speculation that cannot be contained within the name of Independency, even at its broadest. If we were forced to adopt a modern designation for him, we should call him. the father of all that, since his time, has figured, anywhere in Great Britain, or in the United States, or in the British Colonies, under the name of Voluntaryism. This involves a restriction on the one hand. Since his time, there has been an abundance of speculation in the world as to the true duties and limits of the power of a State even in civil matters; and the prevailing effect of these speculations has been to hand over more and more of the care of human well-being and human destinies, in everything whatsoever, to the liberty of individuals, the pressure of their competing desires, and their powers of voluntary association, and so to reduce the function of the magistrate or any power of corporate rule to a thing becoming small by degrees and beautifully less. Of late, this tendency, victorious already in many matters, has tried to assert itself in the question of Education. It has been maintained that there should be no attention on the part of the State to the education of the citizens, but that, in the matter of learning to read and write and of all farther learning or mental training, the individuals horn into a community should be left to their hereditary chances, the discretion or kindness of those about them, and their own power of gradually finding out what they need, and buying it or begging it. Now with this direction of modern speculation the intentions of Roger Williams had nothing to do. He was a democrat in politics, and, as such, he might have gone on to new definitions of what, in secular matters, should be left to the individual, and what should be still regulated by the majority; but what these definitions would have been must be left to inference from the records of his farther political life in Rhode Island. Respecting Schools and Universities he did, indeed, hold that they were not to be regarded as the nurseries of a clergy, the appendages of a Church, or the depositaries and supports of any religious creed. "For any depending of the Church of Christ on such schools," he wrote, "I find not a tittle in the Testament of Christ Jesus." He would certainly, therefore, have been for no expenditure of public money on the religious education of the young, and he would have been for the extraction of all theological teaching out of existing schools and universities. But he "honoured schools," he says," for tongues and arts," and I have found no trace in him of a notion that State support of schools and universities for such secular learning is illegitimate. His Voluntaryism, so far as it was declared, or, I believe, intended, was wholly Voluntaryism in the matter of Church and Religion. In that sphere, however, his Voluntaryism was absolute, and went as far as anything calling itself Voluntaryism that has since been heard of in the English- speaking world.
Williams's Bloody Tenent, as I have said, was his parting gift to the English nation before his return to America. It was out in June or July 1644; and in September of the same year Williams, after a stay of about fifteen months in and near London, was on his way back to New England. He had succeeded in the immediate object of his mission. For, during his stay in England, the management of the Colonies, till then in the hands of Commissioners under the Crown, was transferred (Nov. 2, 1643) to a Parliamentary Commission of Lords and Commoners, at the head of which was the Earl of Warwick as Lord High Admiral, and among the members of which were Lord Saye and Sele, Pym, the younger Vane, Sir Arthur Haselrig, and Oliver Cromwell. Before such Commissioners, with Vane as his personal friend. Williams had had little difficulty in making out his case; and he had obtained from them a Patent, dated March 14, 1643-4, associating "the towns of Providence, Portsmouth, and Newport," into one body-politic by the name of "the Incorporation of Providence Plantations in Narraganset Bay in New England." This Patent gave a carte blanche to the colonists to settle their own form of government by voluntary consent, or vote, among themselves; and, having it in his pocket, Williams might hope, on his return to America, to set up, in the polity of Rhode Island and its adjacencies, such an example of complete civil democracy combined with absolute religious individualism as the world had never yet seen. The Bloody Tenent might be left in England as an exposition of his theory in the sphere of Religion until this practical Transatlantic example of it should be ready! He had shrewdly taken care, however, to have the Patent in his pocket before issuing the Bloody Tenent. Had that book been out first, he might have had some difficulty in obtaining the Patent even from such Commissioners for the Colonies as he had to deal with. Possibly, however, they granted it with full knowledge of Williams, and were willing, through him, to try a bolder experiment in the American wilds than it was possible to promote or to announce in England. [Footnote: Palfrey's New England, I. 633-4, and II. 215; and Gammell's Life of Williams, 119, 120.]
While we have been so long with Roger Williams, his colleague in the Toleration heresy, John Goodwill, has been waiting. He was fifty-one years of age, or six or seven years older than Williams. Rather late in life, he had begun to find himself a much-abused man in London. For, though he had sided with the Parliamentarians zealously from the first, and had even, it appears, taken the Covenant, [Footnote: That Goodwin had taken the Covenant appears from words of his own in a tract of 1646 quoted in Fletcher's Hist, of Independency, IV. 47.] his theology was thought to be lax, [Footnote: The suspicion of Goodwin's Socinianism was as early as November 1613, when he got into trouble with the Assembly on that and other grounds (see Baillie's Letters, II. III, and Lightfoot's Notes, Nov. 8 and 9, 1643).] and the interpretation he was putting on the Covenant was not the common one. He thought that the oath to seek "reformation of religion" and to "endeavour to bring the Church of God in the three kingdoms to the nearest conjunction and uniformity," did not necessarily imply acceptance of the Presbyterian system which the Assembly were bent upon bringing in. Therefore, when the Five Dissenting Brethren of the Assembly appealed to Parliament in their Apologetical Narration, they found a champion outside in Goodwin. His championship took the form of that answer to "A. S." (i.e. the Scotsman, Adam Steuart, author of the first printed attack on the Apologetic Narration) which we have mentioned as appearing with the brief title M. S. to A. S., and again, in a second edition, with the fuller title A Reply of Two of the Brethren to A. S., &c.; with A Plea for Liberty of Conscience, &c. As the second title implies, Goodwill had associates in the work; but it was principally his, and the part on Toleration wholly his. So far as the tract concerns itself with the question between Presbytery and Congregationalism, Goodwin avows himself a Congregationalist. And yet he was not at one in all points with the five Assembly-men. "I know I am looked upon," he afterwards wrote, "by reason partly of my writings, partly of my practice, as a man very deeply engaged for the Independents' cause against Presbytery. But the truth is, I am neither so whole for the former, nor yet against the latter, as I am, I believe, generally voted in the thoughts of men to be." [Footnote: Quoted, from the Preface to Goodwin's Anapologesiastes Anapologias, by Fletcher, IV. 46.] This was written in 1616; but even in 1644 he fought so much for his own hand that the Independents of the Assembly may have but half liked his partnership. His Toleration doctrine, at all events, though uttered in their behalf, was too strong doctrine even for them. Hear what Baillie writes to his friend Spang, at Campvere, in Holland, just after the appearance of Goodwin's tract for the Independents: "M.S. against A.S., is John Goodwin of Coleman Street: he names you expressly, and professes to censure the letter of Zeeland. He is a bitter enemy to Presbytery, and is openly for a full liberty of conscience of all sects, even Turks, Jews, Papists, and all to be more openly tolerate than with you [i.e. than even in Holland]." [Footnote: Baillie, II. 180, 181. Goodwin's mention of Spang, referred to by Baillie, is as follows:— "There is a Scottish Church, of which one Spang is a very busy agent, at Trevere [Campvere]... whence the Letter [i.e. the Zeeland Letter in favour of Presbytery] came."] Baillie's representation of Goodwin's Toleration doctrine is fair enough. It is not so deep, so exceptionless, and so transcendentally reasoned as Roger Williams's; and indeed there was none of the sap and mystic richness of nature in Goodwin that we find in Williams, but chiefly clear courage, and strong cool sense. For most practical purposes, however, Goodwin's Toleration was thorough. He was for tolerating not merely the orthodox Congregationalists and such more heterodox sects as might be thought respectable, but all religions, sects, and schisms whatsoever, if only the professors of them were otherwise peaceable in the State. Not, of course, that they were not to be reasoned with and proved false publicly; or that heretics in congregations were not to be admonished, and, if obdurate, excommunicated; or that a whole church tainted with a great heresy ought not to be put under a ban by all other churches, and communion with it renounced. All this was assumed in the theory of Church-Independency which was common to Goodwin and Williams. True, Williams, now that he had passed beyond the Baptists and saw no true Church anywhere on earth, must have begun to doubt also the efficacy and validity of even spiritual censures, as exercised by the so-called churches, to regard as a mere agency of troublesome moonshine that incessant watchfulness of each other's errors on which Independency relied, and so to luxuriate in a mood of large charity, sighing over all, and hoping more from prayer and longing and pious well-doing all round than from censures and disputations. To Goodwin, on the other hand, troubled with no such visionary ideas, and fully convinced that a very good model of a Church had been set up in Coleman Street, the right and efficacy of disputation against error, and of ministerial vigilance against error in particular churches, seemed more important, or at least more worth insisting on in a public plea for Toleration. Williams and Goodwill did not differ theoretically, but only practically, over this item in the exposition of their doctrine. The sole difference, of theoretical import, was that Goodwin, in dwelling on the duty of disputation by Christian ministers against false religions and dangerous opinions in society round about them, and of vigilance against minor heresies in their own congregations, talked vaguely of a right on the part of the civil magistrate to admonish ministers in this respect should they be negligent or forgetful of their duty. This, as we know, would have grated on Williams. Perhaps, however, Goodwin, even here, was only throwing a sop to Cerberus. At all events, he comes out finally a thorough Tolerationist. Whatever minister or magistrate may do towards confuting and diminishing error, there is a point at which they must both stop. There is not to be a suppression of false religions, sects and schisms, by fining, imprisoning, disfranchising, banishment, death, or any civil punishment whatsoever; and, when it comes to that, they are all to be tolerated. [Footnote: Jackson's Life of Goodwin. pp. 110, 117; Hanbury's Memorials, II. 341- 365.]
We are now prepared to classify the various forms in which the Toleration Doctrine was urged on the English mind in the year 1644. There were three grades of the doctrine:—
I. Absolute Liberty of Conscience, and No National Church, or State- interference with Religion, of any kind whatsoever. This was, in fact, more than Toleration, and Toleration is hardly the fit name for it. The advocates of this idea were Roger Williams, perhaps the Baptists generally, also Burton in a certain way; but, above all, Roger Williams. He did not think there could be Liberty of Conscience, in the perfect and absolute sense, where there was a National Church, even if free dissent were allowed from that Church. For, by the establishment of a Church, he held, a substantial worldly premium was put on certain religious beliefs, and an advantage conferred on a portion of the community at the expense of all; and to be compelled to pay for, or even to acknowledge politically, a Church which one did not approve, was in itself inconsistent with true Liberty of Conscience, whatever freedom of nonconformity might be left to individuals. Accordingly, if Roger Williams, at that crisis, had been a statesman of England, instead of a mere commissioner from an infant colony in America, his advice would have been in this strain:—"It is agreed that the Episcopal or Prelatic Church, called hitherto the Reformed Church of England, is no longer to exist. That is settled; and the question is, What Church Reformation shall there now be? My answer is sweeping and simple. Let there be no National Church, no Church of England, at all, of any kind or form whatsoever. Let England henceforth be a civil State only, in which Christianity shall take care of itself, and all forms of Christianity and all other religions shall have equal rights to protection by the police. Confiscate for the use of the State all the existing revenues of the defunct Church and its belongings, giving such compensation for life- interests therein as may seem reasonable; but create no new Church, nor stump of a Church, round which new interests may gather. Do not even implicate the State so far in the future of Religion as to indicate to the subjects any form of Church as esteemed the best, or any range of option among Churches as presumably the safest. Leave the formation and the sustentation of Christ's Church in the English realm, and everywhere else, entirely to the unseen power of the Spirit, and the free action of those whom the Spirit may make its instruments."—For nothing like this was the Long Parliament, or any other legislature in the world, then prepared; and Williams knew it. But he had faith in the future of his speculation. In America, whither he was to carry it back, he hoped to be able to exhibit it in practice on a small scale in the new colony he was founding; and there could be no harm, he thought, in leaving the leaven to ferment in the denser society of England.
II. Unlimited Toleration round an Established National Church. So we may express a form of Tolerationism in which there was a concurrence of persons, and perhaps of bodies of persons, who yet differed from each other in the motives for their concurrence. Williams, of course, accepted this form of Tolerationism, as next best to his own absolute Voluntaryism, Individualism, and universal Liberty of Conscience. "If there is to be in England a National or State Church of some kind (which I think wrong, and so wrong that I will take no part in the debate what kind of National Church would be best, whether a Prelatic, Presbyterian, or any other), at least, when you have set up such a Church, let there be a perfect toleration for all subjects of the realm round about that Church, no compulsion on any of them to belong to that Church, no pains and penalties for any profession of belief or disbelief, or any form of worship or no-worship, out of that Church." These are not Williams's own words, but they exactly express his meaning; and, in fact, he intended his Bloody Tenent to be a plea for toleration in this practical sense, if it should fail in winning people to his higher and more peculiar idea of real Liberty of Conscience. And a most eloquent plea it was. He insists again and again on the necessity that there should be no limits to the toleration of Religious Difference in a state. He argues expressly that not only orthodox or slightly heterodox dissenters should have the benefit of such toleration, but all kinds of dissentients without exception, Papists, Jews, Mohammedans, Pagans, or Infidels. He knew what a hard battle lie was fighting. "I confess I have little hope," he said, "till those flames are over, that this discourse against the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience should pass current, I say not amongst the wolves and lions, but even amongst the sheep of Christ themselves. Yet, liberavi animam meam: I have not hid within my breast my soul's belief." He trusted, doubtless, that his treatise might have some effect, if not for its highest purpose, at least as a practical plea for unlimited toleration round the new National Church of England that was to be. And here most of the Baptists were in the same predicament with Williams. They would have preferred no National Church at all; but, as there was to be a National Church, they wanted the amplest toleration round it. Burton also was pretty nearly in the same category. He too doubted the lawfulness of a State Church of any kind, but was earnest that, if such must be established, it should not be coercive. He did not formally demand unlimited toleration, and indeed conceded something in words to the effect that in cases of "known heresy, or blasphemy, or idolatry," offenders would have to be "obnoxious to the Civil Power;" but I rather think that the concession was prudential, and that his heart did not go with it. I will retain him therefore among the Unlimited Tolerationists. Far outshining him in this class, however, was John Goodwin.—Well, but were the advocates of unlimited toleration in connexion with an Established Church exclusively persons who would have prevented the formation of such a Church if they could, or doubted its righteousness and propriety, and who only insisted on Toleration with such a Church as a practical necessity to which they were driven? Were there no theorists in that time who positively desired an Established Church on its own account, and for the general good of the community, but who had worked out the conclusion that such a Church might consist, and ought to consist, with universal Religious Toleration, or the freest liberty of Nonconformity and Dissent? In view of the fact that this is the theory of Establishments evolved by some of the best ecclesiastical spirits in our own later times, the question is interesting. My researches do not enable me to give a very precise answer to it applicable to the exact year 1644. If there were such theorists, however, they were, I should say, among those wiser and younger sons of the Episcopal Church of England who would fain have preserved that Episcopal Church, but had privately made up their minds that Laud's basis for that Church was untenable, and that a very different basis must be substituted. One thinks of Chillingworth, Hales, and the rest of that "Latitudinarian" brotherhood; one thinks of Jeremy Taylor; one thinks of the candid Fuller; one thinks even of the Calvinistic Usher. Chillingworth had died at Chichester, Jan. 30, 1643-4, at the age of forty-one, an avowed Royalist, and indeed a Royalist prisoner-at-war, tended on his death-bed by Presbyterians. [Footnote: Wood's Ath. III. 93, 94; and Life of Chillingworth prefixed to the Oxford edition of his Works.] Whatever hardy cogitations had been in his mind, pointing to a revived Episcopal Church of England with an ample toleration within it and round about it, had gone prematurely to the grave. The others were still alive, also pronounced Royalists, and acting or suffering more or less on that side; and whatever thoughts they had in the direction under notice were irrelevant to their immediate duty and opportunities, and had to wait for utterance at a more convenient season. [Footnote: Yet there had been one recent utterance of Hales relating to the idea of Toleration. It was in the form of A Tract concerning Schism and Schismatics, which he had prepared in 1636, partly for the use of his friend Chillingworth then engaged on his "Religion of Protestants," but which, in deference to Laud's private objections and remonstrances, he had kept unpublished. In 1642, when Laud was in prison and the state of things wholly changed, the Tract was brought out at the Oxford University Press. It is vague in its conception and expression; but that it is decidedly in favour of toleration and free inquiry will appear from the opening sentences: "Heresy and Schism, as they are in common use, are two theological [Greek: Mosmos], or scarecrows, which they who uphold a party in religion use to fright away such as, making inquiry into it, are ready to relinquish and oppose it if it appear either erroneous or suspicious. For, as Plutarch reports of a painter who, having unskilfully painted a cock, chased away all cocks and hens, that so the imperfection of his art might not appear by comparison with nature, so men, willing for ends to admit of no fancy but their own, endeavour to hinder an inquiry into it, by way of comparison of somewhat with it, peradventure truer, that so the deformity of their own might not appear." Wood's Ath. III. 413, 414, and Tract itself with letter to Laud, Vol. I. pp. 114-144 of "The Works of the ever memorable Mr. John Hales," Glasgow, 1765.] On the whole, however, I judge that any such thoughts in their minds (even in Jeremy Taylor's as yet) fell considerably short of the Unlimited Toleration advocated by Williams and John Goodwin, and, if they could have been ascertained and measured, would have referred their owners rather to the next category than to the present.
III. A Limited Toleration round an Established National Church. This would probably have sufficed the thoughtful Anglicans of whom we have just been speaking. Their ideal probably was a revived Episcopal Church of England, liberally constituted within itself, and with a toleration of all respectable forms of Dissent round about itself, but still with a right reserved for the Civil Power of preventing and punishing gross errors and schisms. We are more concerned, however, with another set of Limited Tolerationists, then much more conspicuous in England. They were those who had given up all thoughts of the retention of a Prelatic Establishment, and who indeed regarded the deliverance of England from such an Establishment as the noblest accomplished fact of the time. What they were anxious about was the nature of the new National Church, if any, that was to be substituted, and especially the degree of conformity to that Church that was to be required. The chief representatives of this state of feeling in its more moderate form were the Five Independent Divines of the Assembly, Messrs. Thomas Goodwin, Bridge, Nye, Simpson, and Burroughs. They were not, I think, distinctly adverse to a National Church on theoretical grounds, as Williams and Burton were; and probably what they would have liked best would have been a National Church on the Congregationalist principle, like that of New England. For, though Congregationalism and a National Establishment of Religion may seem radically a contradiction in terms, yet in fact the case had not been quite so in America. There may be a State Church without public endowments, or rather there may be endowments and privileges that are not pecuniary. The New England Church, though consisting of a few scores of congregations, mutually independent, self- supporting, and scattered stragglingly over an extensive territory, was really a kind of State Church collectively, inasmuch as the State required, by rule or by custom, membership of some congregation as a qualification for suffrage and office, and also kept some watch and control over the congregations, so as to be sure that none were formed of a very heretical kind, and that none already formed lapsed into decided heresy. How had Mr. Cotton of Boston, the great light of the New England Church, expounded its principle in respect of the power of the civil magistrate in matters of Religion? "We readily grant you," he had written, "liberty of conscience is to be granted to men that fear God indeed, as knowing they will not persist in heresy or turbulent schism when they are convinced in conscience of the sinfulness thereof. But the question is whether an heretic, after once or twice admonition, and so after conviction, or any other scandalous and heinous offender, may be tolerated, either in the Church without excommunication, or in the Commonwealth without such punishment as may preserve others from dangerous and damnable infection." [Footnote: From Cotton's Answer to the old Tract of "Scriptures and Reasons against Persecution" (see ante, p. 114). The Answer is printed by Williams in his Bloody Tenent: See Hanserd Knollys Society edition (1848), p. 30.]
Clearly, with such a principle, and with all the particulars of practice which it implied, the Congregationalist Church of New England was, after all, a State Church, and a pretty strict State Church too. Now, it was probably such a National Congregationalist Church, but with an allowance of toleration somewhat larger than Cotton's, that the Five Independents of the Assembly would have liked to see set up in England. That, however, being plainly out of the question, and the whole current of dominant opinion in Parliament and the Assembly being towards a Presbyterian settlement, what remained for the Five? In the first place, to delay the Presbyterian settlement as long as they could, and to criticise its programme at every stage so as to liberalize its provisions as much as possible; in the second place, to put in a plea for Toleration for Dissent under the settlement when it should be enacted. They had performed, and were performing, both duties. They were fighting the propositions of strict Presbytery inch by inch in the Assembly, if not with success, at least so as to impede progress; and in their Apologetical Narration (Jan. 1643-4) they had lodged with Parliament and the country a demand for Toleration under the coming Presbytery. What they had thus expressed in print they had continued to express in speech and in every other possible way. They were, in a certain sense, the most marked Tolerationists of the time; Toleration was identified with them. And yet it was but a limited Toleration, a very limited Toleration, that they demanded. Indulgence for themselves in Congregationalist practices after Presbytery should be established, and indulgence for other respectable sects and persons in "lesser differences:" that was all. Nothing like Williams's or John Goodwill's toleration: no liberty, or at least none avowedly, for such glaring heresies as Antinomianism, Socinianism, and Arianism, not to mention open Infidelity. Here, I believe, they represented the mass of the ordinary Independents. Whatever more a few strong spirits among the Independents, and especially among the lay Independents, desired, the mass of them were content for the present to be Limited Tolerationists.
Such were the three forms of the Toleration Doctrine in England in 1644. They were of unequal strengths and confusedly mixed, but constituted together a powerful and growing force of opinion. And what was the opposition? ANTI-TOLERATION, OR ABSOLUTE AND ENTIRE CONFORMITY OF THE WHOLE NATION TO THE ONE ESTABLISHED CHURCH: this was the category of the opposition.
In this category, now that Prelacy was done with, and it was certain that the new National Church was to be on the Presbyterian model, the Presbyterians had succeeded the Laudians. As a body, the Presbyterians of 1644 and subsequent years were absolute Anti-Tolerationists. The proofs are so abundant, collectively they make such an ocean, that it passes comprehension how the contrary could ever have been asserted. From the first appearance of the Presbyterians in force after the opening of the Long Parliament, it was their anxiety to beat down the rising idea of Toleration; and, after the meeting of the Westminster Assembly, and the publication of the Apologetical Narration of the Independents, the one aim of the Presbyterians was to tie Toleration round the neck of Independency, stuff the two struggling monsters into one sack, and sink them to the bottom of the sea. In all the Presbyterian literature of the time,—Baillie's Letters, Rutherford's and Gillespie's Tracts, the pamphlets of English Presbyterian Divines in the Assembly, the pamphlets of Prynne, Bastwick, and other miscellaneous Presbyterian controversialists out of the Assembly,—this antipathy to Toleration, limited or unlimited, this desire to pinion Independency and Toleration together in one common death, appears overwhelmingly. Out of scores of such Presbyterian manifestoes, let us select one, interesting to us for certain reasons apart.
Of all the Divines in London, not members of the Assembly, none had come to be better known for his Presbyterian acrimony than the veteran Mr. Thomas Edwards, of whose maiden pamphlet of 1641, called Reasons against the Independent Government, with Mrs. Chidley's Reply to the same, we have had occasion to take notice (ante, p. 110). The spirited verbosity, as we called it, of that pamphlet of Edwards had procured him a reputation among the Presbyterians, which he felt himself bound to justify by farther efforts. The appearance of the Apologetical Narration of the Five Independents in Jan. 1643-4 gave him a famous opportunity. Various answers were at once or quickly published to that Independent manifesto—not only that by A. S. or Adam Steuart (ante, p. 25), but various others. When it became known, however, that Mr. Edwards also was preparing an Answer, it was expected to beat them all. There was a flutter of anticipation of it among the Presbyterians; but it was rather slow in coming. "There is a piece of 26 sheets, of Mr. Edwards, against the Apologetick Narration, near printed, which will paint that faction [the Independents] in clearer colours than yet they have appeared," writes Baillie, June 7, 1644; in a later letter, July 5, he says it is expected "within two or three days," but "excresced to near 40 sheets;" and it is not till Aug. 7 that he speaks of it as fairly out: "Mr. Edwards has written a splendid confutation of all the Independents' Apology." [Footnote: Baillie, II. 190, 201-2, and 215.] In fact, it appeared in the end of July, just at the time when the Assembly adjourned for their fortnight's vacation, and almost contemporaneously with John Goodwin's M. S. to A. S. and Williams's Bloody Tenent. Baillie's measure of "sheets" must have been different from ours, or he had been under some mistake; for the treatise, though long enough, consisted but of 367 small quarto pages, with this title: "Antapologia: or, A Full Answer to the Apologetical Narration of Mr. Goodwin, Mr. Nye, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Burroughs, Mr. Bridge, members of the Assembly of Divines. Wherein many of the controversies of these times are handled: viz. [&c.]. Humbly also submitted to the Honourable Houses of Parliament. By Thomas Edwards, Minister of the Gospel." [Footnote: Hanbury's Memorials, II. 366. Mr. Hanbury gives a summary of the Antapologia with extracts (366- 385); but I have before me the book itself in a reprint, of 1646, "by T.R. and E.M. for Ralph Smith, at the signe of the Bible in Cornhill neer the Royall Exchange." It consists of 259 pages of text, besides introductory epistle, and table of contents at the end.]
It was a most remarkable treatise, and ran through London at once. For the style, though slovenly, was fluent and popular, and Edwards, having plenty of time on his hands, and having a taste for personalities, had made minute inquiries into the antecedents of the Five Independents in Holland and in England, and had interwoven the results of these inquiries with his arguments against Independency itself. The Five, he tells us in a preliminary epistle, were among his personal acquaintances. "I can truly speak it," he says, "that this present Antapologia is so far from being written out of any malice or ill-will to the Apologists that I love their persons and value them as brethren, yea some of them above brethren; and, besides that love I bear to them as saints, I have a personal love, and a particular love of friendship for some of them; and I can truly speak it, that I writ not this book, nor any part of it, out of any personal quarrel, old grudge, or former difference (for to this day there never was any such difference or unkindness passed between us); but I have writ it with much sorrow, unwillingness, and some kind of conflict." This explanation was certainly necessary; for Mr. Edwards does not spare his friends. He tells all he has found out about them; he quotes their conversations with himself; he gives them the lie direct, and appeals to their consciences whether he is not right in doing so. They martyrs! they poor exiles in Holland, and now whining to Parliament that they would have to go into exile again if Presbyterianism were established without a Toleration! Why, they had been in clover in Holland; they had been living there "in safety, plenty, pomp, and ease," leaving the genuine Puritans at home to fight it out with Prelacy; and, after the battle was won, they had slunk back to claim the rewards they had not earned, to become pets and "grandees" in English society, to secure good appointments and assume leading parts, and to be elected members of the venerable Westminster Assembly! They had not even had the courage to go to New England, though some of them had talked of doing so! And then their prate of this emigration to New England, which they had themselves declined, as the greatest undertaking for the sake of pure Religion, next to Abraham's migration out of his own country, that the world had ever seen! Why, the emigration to New England was no such great affair after all! There had been mixed motives in it; all New England would not make a twentieth part of London; it had but two or three Divines in it worth naming in the same breath with the worthies of Old England, and was on the whole but a kind of outlandish mess; the "Reformation in Church-government and worship" then going on in Old England would be a wonder "to all generations to come far beyond that of New England!" But in Holland, where the cowardly Apologists had preferred to stay, what had they been doing? Quarrelling among themselves, going into all kinds of conceits, anointing people with oil, and the like; respecting all which Edwards had obtained from Rotterdam and Arnheim a budget of information! Then that lie of the Apologists, that they had, since their return to England, been careful not to press their peculiar Congregationalist opinions, or endeavour to make a party, but had waited in patience to see what course affairs would take! Not press their peculiar opinions—not endeavour to make a party! Why, Mr. Edwards could aver (and cite dates, places, and witnesses to prove it) that they had been doing nothing else, since they came to England, than press their peculiar opinions and endeavour to make a party! "Suffer me to deal plainly with you: I am persuaded that, setting aside the Jesuits' acting for themselves and way, you Five have acted for yourselves and way, both by yourselves and by your instruments, both upon the stage and behind the curtain, considering circumstances and laying all things together, more than any five men have done in so short a time this sixty years. And, if it be not so, whence have come all these swarms and troops of Independents in Ministry, Armies, City, Country, Gentry, and amongst the Common People of all sorts, men, women, servants, children?"
So, on and on, Edwards goes, decidedly more readable than most pamphleteers of the time, because he writes with some spirit, and mixes a continual pepper of personalities with his arguments against the tenets of the Independents. With these arguments we shall not meddle. Their purpose was to hold up "a true glass to behold the faces of Presbytery and Independency in, with the beauty, order, strength, of the one, and the deformity, disorder, and weakness of the other." In other words, the pamphlet is a digest of everything that could be said against Independency and in favour of Presbyterianism. But the grand tenet of Presbyterianism in which Mr. Edwards revels with most delight, and which he exhibits as the distinguishing honour of that system, and its fitness beyond any other for grappling with the impiety of men in general and the disorderliness of that age in particular, is its uncompromising Anti- Toleration. Throughout the whole pamphlet there runs a vein of declamation to this effect; and at the close some twenty pages are expressly devoted to the subject, in connexion with that claim for a Limited Toleration which the Apologists had advanced. Eight Reasons are stated and expounded why there should not be even this Limited Toleration, why even Congregationalist opinions and practice should not be tolerated in England. It would be against the rule of Scripture as to the duty of the civil magistrate; it would be against the Solemn League and Covenant; it would be against the very nature of a national Reformation, for "a Reformation, and a Toleration are diametrically opposite;" it would be "against the judgment of the greatest lights in the Church, both ancient and modern;" it would be an invitation and temptation to error and "an occasion of many falling who otherwise never would;" &c. &c. Wherever Presbytery and strict Anti-Toleration had prevailed since the Reformation had there not been a marvellous orderliness and freedom from error and heresy? All over the map of Europe would it not be found that error and heresy had been rank precisely in proportion to the deviation of a country from Presbytery or to the relaxation of its grasp where it was nominally professed? What, in particular, had made Scotland the country it was, pure in faith, united in action, and with a Church "terrible as an army with banners"? What but Presbytery and Anti-Toleration? O then let Presbytery and Anti-Toleration reign in England as well! And, while they were proceeding to the great work of establishing Presbytery, let them beware of such an inconsistency as granting the least promise beforehand of a Toleration! On this point Mr. Edwards addresses the Parliament in his own name, telling them that Toleration is the device of the Devil. "I humbly beseech the Parliament," he says, "seriously to consider the depths of Satan in this design of a Toleration; how this is now his last plot and design, and by it would undermine and frustrate the whole work of Reformation intended. 'Tis his masterpiece for England; and, for effecting it, he comes and moves, not in Prelates and Bishops, not in furious Anabaptists, &c., but in holy men, excellent preachers; moderate and fair men, not for a toleration of heresies and gross opinions, but an 'allowance of a latitude to some lesser differences with peaceableness.' This is Candidus ille Diabolus [that White Devil], as Luther speaks, and meridianus Diabolus [mid-day Devil], as Johannes Gersonius and Beza express it, coming under the merits of much suffering and well-deserving, clad in the white garments of innocency and holiness. In a word, could the Devil effect a Toleration, he would think he had gained well by the Reformation and made a good exchange of the Hierarchy to have a Toleration for it. I am confident of it, upon serious thoughts, and long searching into this point of the evils and mischief of a Toleration, that, if the Devil had his choice whether the Hierarchy, Ceremonies, and Liturgy should be established in this kingdom, or a Toleration granted, he would choose and prefer a Toleration before them."
Did Mr. Thomas Edwards in all this represent the whole body of the Presbyterians of his time? I am afraid he did. In his very sense, with the same vehemency, and to the same extent, they were all Anti- Tolerationists.
Was there no exception? Had no one Presbyterian of that day worked out, in the interest of Presbytery, a conclusion corresponding to that which we have seen reason to think some of the wiser Anglicans then within the Royalist lines were quietly working out in the interest of Episcopacy, in case Episcopacy should ever again have a chance? Was no one Presbyterian prepared to come forth with the proposal of a Toleration in England, either limited or unlimited, round an Established National Church on the Presbyterian model? That there may not have been some such person among those Erastian laymen who favoured Presbytery on the whole for general and political reasons, one would not assert positively. None such, however, is distinctly in historical view; and it is certain that among the real or dominant Presbyterians, the jure divino Presbyterians, English or Scottish, there was no one upon whom the idea in question had clearly dawned or who dared to divulge it. Perhaps it was the belief in the absolute jus divinum of Presbytery that made the idea impossible to them. Yet why should it have been impossible in consistency even with that belief? It may be jure divino that the square on the hypothenuse of a right-angled triangle is equal to the sum of the squares on the sides, that he is a blockhead who believes otherwise, and that a permanent apparatus should be set up in every land for teaching this mathematical faith; and yet it may be equally jure divino that no one shall be compelled to avail himself of that apparatus, or be punished for doubting or denying the proposition. But the Presbyterians of 1644 did not so refine or argue. They stood stoutly to the necessary identity of Presbyterianism and absolute Anti-Toleration. And so Presbyterianism missed the most magnificent opportunity she has had in her history. Had her offer to England been "Presbytery with a Toleration," who knows what a different shaping subsequent events might have assumed? What if Henderson, in whose natural disposition one sees more of room and aptitude for the idea than in that of any other Presbyterian leader, had actually become possessed with the idea and had proclaimed it? Would he have carried the mass of the Presbyterians with him? or would they have deposed him from the leadership? It is useless to inquire. The idea never occurred even to Henderson; and that it did not occur to him constituted his unfitness for leadership, out of Scotland, in the complex crisis which had at last arrived, and was the one weakness of his career near its close.
MULTIPLICATION OF HERESIES: SYNOPSIS OF ENGLISH SECTS AND SECTARIES IN 1644.
It was all very well, the Presbyterians argued, to propound the principle of Toleration in the abstract. Would its advocates be so good as to think of its operation in the concrete? The society of England was no longer composed merely of the traditional PAPISTS, PRELATISTS, PRESBYTERIANS, and CONGREGATIONALISTS or ORTHODOX INDEPENDENTS. Beyond these last, though sheltering themselves under the unfortunate principle of Church- Independency, there was now a vast chaos of SECTS and SECTARIES, some of them maintaining the most dangerous and damnable heresies and blasphemies! Would the Tolerationists, and especially the Limited Tolerationists, take a survey of this chaos, and consider how their principle of Toleration would work when applied to its ghastly bulk and variety?
This matter, of the extraordinary multiplication of Sects and Heresies in England, had been in constant public discussion since the opening of the Long Parliament. It had figured constantly in messages and declarations of the King; who had first charged the fact of the sudden appearance and boldness of the Sects and Sectaries to the abrogation of his Kingly prerogative and Episcopal government by the Parliament, and had then attributed the origin of the Civil War to the lawless machinations of these same Sects and Sectaries. It had figured no less, though with very different interpretations and comments, in the proceedings and appeals of the Parliament. Now, however, the SECTS and SECTARIES had become the objects of a more purely scientific curiosity. Without a survey and study of them as well as of the PAPISTS, the PRELATISTS, the PRESBYTERIANS, and the ORTHODOX INDEPENDENTS, there could, it was argued, be no complete Natural History of Religious Opinion in England in the year 1644. The Presbyterians, for reasons of their own, were earnest for such a survey and study; and they recommended it ironically to the Orthodox Independents in their character of Tolerationists. Not the less did the Presbyterians, with some Prelatists among them, undertake it themselves.- -Coming after these authorities, and availing myself of their inquiries, but with other authorities to aid me, and as much of fresh investigation, and of criticism of my authorities, as I can add, I shall attempt what, even for our own forgetful and self-engrossed time, ought to be a not uninteresting portion of the history of bygone English opinion.
This is a case in which the authorities should be mentioned formally at the outset. They are numerous. They include the Lords and Commons Journals, Lightfoot's Notes of the Assembly, Baillie's Letters, Pamphlets of the time passim, and even the Registers of the Stationers' Company. Certain particular publications, however (all of the year 1645 or the years immediately following), are of pre-eminent interest, as being attempts at a more or less complete survey of the huge medley or tumult of opinions on religious subjects that had by that time arisen in English society, with some classification of its elements.
The reader will remember Dr. DANIEL FEATLEY, Rector of Lambeth and Acton, the veteran Calvinist who had persisted in attending the Assembly in spite of his disapproval of the Covenant and his adhesion to the theory of a modified Episcopacy, but who had at length (Sept. 30, 1643) been ejected for misdemeanour. His misdemeanour had consisted in maintaining a correspondence with Usher, reflecting on the Assembly and the Parliament, and divulging secrets in the King's interest. For this he had not only been ejected from the Assembly by the Commons, and sequestered from his two livings, but also committed to custody in "the Lord Petre's house in Aldersgate Street," then used by Parliament as a prison for such culprits. To beguile his leisure here, he had occupied himself in revising his notes of a dispute he had held, in Oct. 1642, with a Conventicle of Anabaptists in Southwark, where he had knocked over a certain "Scotchman" and one or two other speakers for the Conventicle. But this revision of his notes of that debate had suggested various extensions and additions; so that, in fact, he had written in prison a complete exposure of Anabaptism. It was ready in January 1644-5, and was published with this title: "The Dippers Dipt; or, The Anabaptists Duck'd and Plung'd over Head and Ears," &c. It is a virulent tractate of about 186 pages, reciting the extravagances and enormities attributed to the German Anabaptists, and trying to involve the English Baptists in the odium of such an original, but containing also notices of the English Baptists themselves, and their varieties and ramifications. It became at once popular, and passed through several editions. [Footnote: Commons Journals, Sept. 30 and Oct 3, 1613; Wood's Athenae, III. 156 et seq.; and Featley's Epistle Dedicatory to his treatise. The copy of the treatise before me at present is one of the sixth edition, published in 1651, six years after the authors death. It contains a portrait of Featley by W. Marshall, and, among other illustrations, a coarse ad captandum print by the same engraver, exhibiting the "dipping" of men and women naked together in a river.]
A well-known personage in London, of humbler pretensions than Featley, was a certain EPHRAIM PAGET (or PAGIT), commonly called "Old Father Ephraim," who had been parson of the church of St. Edmund in Lombard Street since 1601, and might therefore have seen, and been seen by, Shakespeare. Besides other trifles, he had published, in 1635, a book called "Christianographia" or a descriptive enumeration of the various sorts of Christians in the world out of the pale of the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps because he had thus acquired a fondness for the statistics of religious denominations, it occurred to him to write, by way of sequel, a "Heresiography; or, A Description of the Hereticks and Sectaries of these latter times." It was published in 1645, soon after Featley's book, from which it borrows hints and phrases. There is an Epistle Dedicatory to the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, very senile in its syntax and punctuation, and containing this touching appeal: "I have lived among you almost a jubilee, and seen your great care and provision to keep the city free from infection, in the shutting up the sick and in carrying them to your pest-houses, in setting warders to keep the whole from the sick, in making of fires and perfuming the streets, in resorting to your churches, in pouring out your prayers to Almighty God, with fasting and alms, to be propitious to you. The plague of Heresy is greater, and you are now in more danger than when you buried five thousand a week." Then, after an Epistle to the Reader, signed "Old Ephraim Pagit," there follows the body of the treatise in about 160 pages. The Anabaptists are taken first, and occupy 55 pages; but a great many other sects are subsequently described, some in a few pages, some in a single paragraph. There is an engraved title-page to the volume, containing small caricatures of six of the chief sorts of Sectaries—Anabaptism being represented by one plump naked fellow dipping another, much plumper, who is reluctantly stooping down on all fours. The book, like Featley's, seems to have sold rapidly. In the third edition of it, however, published in 1646, there is a postscript in which the poor old man tells us that it had cost him much trouble. The sectaries among his own parishioners had quarrelled with him on account of it, and refused to pay him his tithes; nay, as he walked in the streets, he was hooted at and reviled, and somebody had actually affirmed "Doctor Featley's devil to be transmigrated into Old Ephraim Paget." This seems to have cut him to the quick, though he avows his sense of inferiority in learning to the great Doctor. In short, we can see Father Ephraim as a good old silly body, of whom people made fun. [Footnote: Wood's Athenae, III. 210 et seq.; and Paget's own treatise.]
Another writer against the Sectaries was the inexhaustible WILLIAM PRYNNE,
That grand scripturient paper-spiller, That endless, needless, margin-filler, So strangely tossed from post to pillar.
There was, indeed, something preternatural in the persistent vitality and industry of this man. Only forty years of age when the Long Parliament released him from his second imprisonment and restored him to society, a ghoul-like creature with a scarred and mutilated face, hiding the loss of his twice-cropped ears under a woollen cowl or nightcap, and mostly sitting alone among his books and papers in his chamber in Lincoln's Inn, taking no regular meals, but occasionally munching bread and refreshing himself with ale, he had at once resumed his polemical habits and mixed himself up as a pamphleteer with all that was going on. As many as thirty fresh publications, to be added to the two-and-twenty or thereabouts already out in his name, had come from his pen between 1640 and 1645, bringing him through about one-fourth part of the series of some 200 books and pamphlets that were to form the long ink-track of his total life. In these recent pamphlets of his he had appeared as a strenuous Parliamentary Presbyterian, an advocate of the Scottish Presbyterianism which was being urged in the Assembly, but with more of Erastianism in his views than might have pleased most of his fellow-Presbyterians. No man more violent against Independency of all sorts, and the idea of Toleration. And so, after various other pamphlets against Independency in general, and this or that Independent in particular, there came from him, in July 1645, [Footnote: Date from my notes from Stationer's Registers.] a quarto of about 50 pages, with this title: "A Fresh Discovery of some Prodigious new Wandering-Blazing-Stars and Firebrands, styling themselves New Lights, firing our Church and State into new Combustions." The pamphlet was dedicated to Parliament; and its purpose was to exhibit all the monstrous things that lay in the bosom of what called itself Independency. Hence "Independency" is used by Prynne as a common name for all the varieties of Sectarians as well as for the Congregationalists proper; and his plan is to shock the public and rouse Parliament to action, by giving a collection of specimens, culled from pamphlets of the day, of the "scurrilous, scandalous, and seditious" views put forth, with impunity hitherto, by some of the "Anabaptistical Independent Sectaries and new-lighted Firebrands," Accordingly his tract contains a jumble of the most wild and extravagant sayings against the Assembly, the Scots, and the Parliament itself, that Prynne could pick out from the contemporary pamphlets of the Anabaptists and other Sectaries.[Footnote: Wood's Athenae, III. 844 et seq.; Aubrey's Lives (for a notice of Prynne's habits); and the Fresh Discovery itself. The edition before me is the second, dated 1646, and swollen by added matter at the end to over 80 pages.]
Much cleverer and more spirited than Featley, old Ephraim Paget, or Prynne, as a describer and opponent of the Sectaries, was our friend, Mr. Thomas Edwards, of the Antapologia (ante, pp. 130-135). That "splendid confutation" of Independency and Tolerationism had so increased Mr. Edwards's fame that the Presbyterians of London had erected a weekly lectureship for him at Christ Church in the heart of the City, that he might "handle these questions and nothing else before all that would come to hear." Thus encouraged, he ranged beyond Independency proper, and employed himself in collecting information respecting the English Sectaries generally; and in about eighteen months, or before the end of 1645, he had ready a treatise (his third in order) entitled "Gangraena: or, a Catalogue and Discovery of many of the Errors, Heresies, Blasphemies, and Pernicious Practices of the Sectaries of this time." This treatise, consisting of more than 60 pages, he dedicated to Parliament, in an Epistle of twelve pages, hinting at the remissness of Parliament in its dealings with the Sectaries up to that time, and reminding it of its duty. There is all Edwards's fluency of language in the pamphlet, and some real literary talent; so that not only was Edwards's Gangraena a popular Presbyterian book at the time, but it is still valued by bibliographers and antiquarians. As it has come down to us, however, it is not a pamphlet merely, but a concretion of pamphlets. For it was enlarged by the author, in the course of 1646, to eight or nine times its original bulk, by the addition of a Second Part and then a Third Part, containing "New and Farther Discoveries" of the Sectaries, and their opinions and practices. This was because Mr. Edwards had solicited fresh information from all quarters, and it was poured in upon him superabundantly by Presbyterian correspondents. The First Part, as the skimming of the cream by Mr. Edwards himself, is perhaps the richest essentially. The others consist mainly of verifications and additional details, rumours, and anecdotes. Altogether, the Three Parts of Edwards's Gangraena are a curious Presbyterian repertory of facts and scandals respecting the English Independents and Sectaries in and shortly after the year of Marston Moor. The impression which they leave of Mr. Edwards personally is that he was a fluent, rancorous, indefatigable, inquisitorial, and, on the whole, nasty, kind of Christian. [Footnote: Wood's Fasti, I. 413; Baillie's Letters, II. 180, 193, 201, 215, 251: and Gangraena itself—the copy of which before me consists of the third edition of Parts I. and II. (1646) and the first edition of Part III, (1646) bound in two volumes.]
With Featley, Paget, Prynne, and Edwards, as authorities full of detail, though also full of prejudice on the subject of the English Sects and Sectaries of 1644, we may finally name Baillie. We name him now, however, not on account of his "Letters," but on account of two publications of his dealing expressly with this subject. One of these, published in November 1645, in a quarto of 252 pages, was his "Dissuasive from the Errours of the Time: wherein the Tenets of the Principall Sects, especially of the Independents, are drawn together in one Map, for the most part in the words of their own Authors;" the other, published in December 1646, in about 180 pages quarto, and intended as a Second Part of the "Dissuasive," was entitled "Anabaptism, the True Fountain of Independency, Brownisme, Antinomy, &c." In both publications, but especially in the former, we see Baillie's characteristic merits. He writes, of course, polemically and with strong Presbyterian prejudice; but in clearness of arrangement and statement he is greatly superior to either the senile Paget, or the fluent and credulous Edwards. His Dissuasive, indeed, is, in its way, a really instructive book.[Footnote: Both the Dissuasive and its continuation were published in London (by "Samuel Gellebrand at the Brazen Serpent in Paul's Churchyard"), and dedicated to "The Right Honourable the Earle of Lauderdaile, Lord Metellane"—i.e. to Baillie's Scottish colleague in the Assembly, Lord Maitland, then become Earl of Lauderdale.]
The information from these and other sources may be summed up, from the Presbyterian point of view, under two headings, as follows:—
I. MISCELLANEOUS BLASPHEMIES AND ENTHUSIASMS.—The very air of England, it seemed, was full of such. There had broken loose a spirit of inquiry, a spirit of profanity and scoffing, and a spirit of religious ecstasy and dreaming; and the three spirits together were producing a perfect Babel of strange sayings, fancies, and speculations. From a catalogue of no fewer than 176 miscellaneous "errors, heresies, and blasphemies" collected by Edwards, and which he professes to give as nearly as possible in the very words in which they had been broached by their authors in print, or in public or private discourse, take the following samples:—
"That the Scriptures are a dead letter, and no more to be credited than the writings of men."
"That the holy writings and sayings of Moses and the Prophets, of Christ and his Apostles, and the proper names, persons, and things contained therein, are allegories."
"That the Scriptures of the Old Testament do not concern nor bind Christians" (in which belief, says Edwards, some Sectaries had ceased to read the Old Testament, or to bind it with the New).
"That right Reason is the rule of Faith."
"That God is the author not of those actions alone in and with which sin is, but of the very pravity, ataxy, atomy, irregularity, and sinfulness itself, which is in them."
"That the magistrate may not punish for blasphemies, nor for denying the Scriptures, nor For denying that there is a God."
"That the soul dies with the body, and all things shall have an end, but God only."
"That there is but one Person in the Divine Nature."
"That Jesus Christ is not very God: no otherwise may he be called the Son of God but as he was man."
"That we did look for great matters from one crucified at Jerusalem 1600 years ago, but that does us no good; it must be a Christ formed in us: Christ came into the world to live 32 years, and do nothing else that he [Thomas Webb, of London, aetat. 20] knew."
"That the Heathen who never heard of Christ by the Word have the Gospel, for every creature, as the sun, moon, and stars, preach the Gospel to men."
"That Christ shall come and live again upon the earth, and for a thousand years reign visibly as an earthly monarch over all the world."
"That the least truth is of more worth than Jesus Christ himself."
"That the Spirit of God dwells not nor works in any; it is but our conceits and mistakes to think so; 'tis no spirit that works but our own."
"That a man baptized with the Holy Ghost knows all things even as God knows all things; which point is a deep mystery and great ocean, where there is no casting anchor, nor sounding the bottom."
"That, if a man by the Spirit knew himself to be in the state of grace, though he did commit murder or drunkenness, God did see no sin in him."
"That the guilt of Adam's sin is imputed to no man."
"That the moral law is of no use at all to believers."
"That there ought to be no fasting days under the Gospel."
"That the soul of man is mortal as the soul of a beast, and dies with the body."
"That Heaven is empty of the Saints till the resurrection of the dead."
"That there is no resurrection at all of the bodies of men after this life, nor no Heaven nor Hell after this life, nor no Devils."
"That there shall be in the last day a resurrection from the dead of all the brute creatures, all beasts and birds that ever lived upon the earth."
"That many Christians in those days have more knowledge than the Apostles."
"That there ought to be in these times no making or building of churches, nor use of church-ordinances; but waiting for a church, being in a readiness upon all occasions to take knowledge of any passenger, of any opinion or tenet whatsoever: the Saints, as pilgrims, do wander as in a temple of smoke, not able to find Religion, and therefore should not plant it by gathering or building a pretended supposed House."
"That, in points of Religion, even in the Articles of Faith and principles of Religion, there's nothing certainly to be believed and built on; only that all men ought to have liberty of conscience and liberty of prophesying."
"That 'tis as lawful to baptize a cat, or a dog, or a chicken, as to baptize the infants of believers."
"That the calling and making of ministers are not jure divino, but a minister comes to be so as a merchant, bookseller, carter, and such like."
"That all settled certain maintenance for ministers of the Gospel is unlawful."
"That all days are alike to Christians, and they are bound no more to the observation of the Lord's day, or first day of the week, than of any other."
"That 'tis lawful for women to preach; and why should they not, having gifts as well as men?" ("And some of them," adds Edwards, "do actually preach, having great resort to them.")
"That there is no need of humane learning, nor of reading authors, for preachers; but all books and learning must go down: it comes from the want of the Spirit that men writ such great volumes."
"That 'tis unlawful to preach at all, sent or not sent, but only thus: a man may preach as a waiting disciple, i.e. Christians may not preach in a way of positive asserting and declaring things, but all they may do is to confer, reason together, and dispute out things."
"That all singing of Psalms is unlawful."
"That the gift of miracles is not ceased in these times."
"That all the earth is the Saints', and there ought to be a community of goods."
"That 'tis unlawful to fight at all, or to kill any man, yea to kill any of the creatures for our use, as a chicken, or on any other occasion." [Footnote: Gangraena, Part I. pp. 15-31.]
From this little enumeration it will be seen that we have not, even in the nineteenth century, advanced so far as perhaps we had thought beyond English notions of the seventeenth. But there must be added a recollection of the scurrilities against the Covenant, the Assembly as a body, its chief Presbyterian members, and the whole Scottish nation and its agents. These had not reached their height at the time with which we are at present concerned (Aug. 1644); so that the richest specimens of them have to be postponed. But already there were popular jokes about "Jack Presbyter" the "black coats" of the Assembly, and their four shillings a day each for doing what nobody wanted; and already a very rude phrase was in circulation, expressing the growing feeling among the English Independents and Sectaries that England might have managed her Reformation better without the aid of the Scots and their Covenant. Had England come to such a pass, it was asked, that it was necessary to set up a Synod in her, to be "guided by the Holy Ghost sent in a cloak-bag from Scotland"? The author of this profanity, according to Prynne, was a pamphleteer named Henry Robinson. It was, in fact, an old joke, originally applied to one of the Councils of the Catholic Church; and Robinson had stolen it. [Footnote: Prynne's Fresh Discovery, p.27 and p.9; and Gangraena, Part I. p.32]
II. RECOGNISED SECTS AND THEIR LEADERS.—In the general welter or anarchy of opinion there were, of course, vortices round particular centres, forming sects that either had, or might receive, definite names. Edwards, when systematizing his chaos of miscellaneous errors and blasphemies, apportions them among sixteen recognisable sorts of Sectaries; but old Ephraim Paget, who had preceded Edwards had been much more hazy. By jumbling the English Sectaries with all he could recollect of the German Sectaries of the Reformation and all he could hear of the Sects of New England, he had made his list of Sects and subdivisions of Sects mount up to two or three scores. Using Edwards and old Ephraim, with hints from Featley, Prynne, and Baillie, but trying to ascertain the facts for ourselves, we venture on the following synoptical view of English Sects and Sectaries in 1644-5:—
BAPTISTS, OR ANABAPTISTS:—These were by far the most numerous of the Sectaries. Their enemies (Featley, Paget, Edwards, Baillie, &c.) were fond of tracing them to the anarchical German Anabaptists of the Reformation; but they themselves claimed a higher origin. They maintained, as Baptists do still, that in the primitive or Apostolic Church the only baptism practised or heard of was that of adult believers, and that the form of the rite for such was immersion in water; and they maintained farther that the Baptism of Infants was one of those corruptions of Christianity against which there had been a continued protest by pure and forward spirits in different countries, in ages prior to Luther's Reformation, including some of the English Wycliffites, although the protest may have been repeated in a louder manner, and with wild admixtures, by the German Anabaptists who gave Luther so much trouble. Without going back, however, upon the Wycliffites, or even on the Anabaptists that were scattered through England in the reigns of Henry VIII., Edward VI., Mary, and Elizabeth, one may date the Baptists as we have now to do with them from the reign of James.——The first London congregation of General Baptists, or Baptists who favoured an Arminian theology, had been formed, as we have seen (Vol. II. p. 544), in 1611 out of the wrecks of John Smyth's English congregation of Amsterdam or Leyden, brought back into their native land by Smyth's successor Thomas Helwisse, assisted by John Murton. Although there are traces of this congregation for several years after that date, it seems to have melted away, or to have been crushed into extinction by the persecution of its members individually; so that the Baptists of whom we hear as existing in London, or dispersed through England, after the opening of the Long Parliament, appear to have been rather of the kind known as Particular Baptists, holding a Calvinistic theology, and generated out of the Independent congregations that had been established in London and elsewhere after Helwisse's and on different principles (Vol. II. pp. 544 and 585). In some of these congregations, including that taught by a certain very popular Samuel Howe, called "Cobbler Howe" from his trade, who died in prison and excommunicated some time before 1640, Paedobaptism appears to have become an open question, on which the members agreed to differ among themselves. On the whole, however, the tendency was to the secession of Antipaedobaptists from congregations of ordinary Independents, and to the formation of the seceders into distinct societies. Thus we hear of a Baptist congregation in Wapping formed in 1633 by a John Spilsbury, with whom were afterwards associated William Kiffin and Thomas Wilson; of another formed in Crutched Friars in 1639 by Mr. Green, Paul Hobson, and Captain Spencer; and of a third, formed in Fleet Street, in 1640, by the afterwards famous Praise-God Barebone: these three congregations being all detachments from Henry Jacob's original Independent congregation of 1616 during the ministries of his successors, Lathorp and Henry Jessey. In spite of much persecution, continued even after the Long Parliament met, the Baptists of these congregations propagated their opinions with such zeal that by 1644 the sect had attained considerably larger dimensions. In that year they counted seven leading congregations in London, and forty-seven in the rest of England; besides which they had many adherents in the Army. Although all sorts of impieties were attributed to them on hearsay, they differed in reality from the Independents mainly on the one subject of Baptism. They objected to the baptism of infants, and they thought immersion, or dipping under water, the proper mode of baptism: except in these points, and what they might involve, they were substantially at one with the Congregationalists, This they made clear by the publication, in 1644, of a Confession of their Faith in 52 Articles—a document which, by its orthodoxy in all essential matters, seems to have shamed the more candid of their opponents. Even Featley was struck by it, and called it "a little ratsbane in a great quantity of sugar," and became somewhat more civil in consequence. It was signed for the seven Baptist congregations of London by these seven couples of persons—Thomas Gunn and John Mabbit; John Spilsbury and Samuel Richardson; Paul Hobson and Thomas Goare; Benjamin Cox and Thomas Kilcop; Thomas Munden and George Tipping; William Kiffin and Thomas Patience; Hanserd Knollys (Vol. II. 557 and 586) and Thomas Holmes. These fourteen, accordingly, with Praise- God Barebone, were in 1644 the Baptist leaders or chief Baptist preachers in London. We hear, however, of other Baptist preachers and pamphleteers —John Tombes, B.D. (accounted the most learned champion of the sect, and its intellectual head), Francis Cornwall, M.A., Henry Jessey, M.A. (a convert to baptism at last), William Dell, M.A., Henry Denne, Edward Barber, Vavasour Powell, John Sims, Andrew Wyke, Christopher Blackwood, Samuel Oates, &c. Several of these leading Baptists—such as Tombes, Cornwall, Jessey, Cox, and Denne—were University men, who had taken orders regularly; one or two, such as Patience and Knollys, had been preachers in New England; but some were laymen who had recently assumed the preaching office, or been called to it by congregations, on account of their natural gifts. The Presbyterians laid great stress on the illiteracy of some of the Baptist preachers and their mean origin. Barebone was a leather-seller in Fleet Street; and, according to Edwards or his informants, Paul Hobson was a tailor from Buckinghamshire, who had become a captain in the Parliamentary Army; Kiffin had been servant to a brewer; Oates was a young weaver; and so on. The information may be correct in some cases, but is to be received with general caution; as also Edwards's stories of the extravagant practices of the Baptists in their conventicles and at their river-dippings. Any story of the kind was welcome to Edwards, especially if it made a scandal out of some dipping of women-converts by a Baptist preacher. Baillie, who took more trouble in sifting his information, and who distinctly allows that the Anabaptists, like other people, ought to have the benefit of the principle "Let no error be charged upon any man which he truly disclaims," and that the errors of some of the sect ought not to be charged upon all, yet maintains that the Confession of the seven Baptist Churches of London was but an imperfect and ambiguous declaration of the opinions of the English Baptists. He attributes to them collectively the following tenets, in addition to those of mere Antipaedobaptism and rigid Separatism:—"They put all church-power in the hand of the people;" "They give the power of preaching and celebrating the sacraments to any of their gifted members, out of all office;" "All churches must be demolished: they are glad of so large and public a preaching place as they can purchase, but of a steeple-house they must not hear;" "All tithes and all set stipends are unlawful; their preachers must work with their own hands, and may not go in black clothes." According to Baillie, also, the Baptists outwent even the Brownists in the power in church matters they gave to women. There were many women-preachers among them; of whom a Mrs. Attaway, "the mistress of all the she-preachers in Coleman Street," was the chief. [Footnote: Crosby's History of the English Baptists (1738), Vol. I. pp. 215-382; Ivimey's Baptists, I. 113 et seq.; Featley's Dippers Dipt, and Animadversions on the Anabaptists' Confession; Gangraena passim; Baillie's Dissuasive, Part II. p. 47 et seq.; Neal's Puritans, III. 147-152, with Toulmin's Supplement to that Vol., 517-530. The Confession of the Baptists is given in Neal; Appendix to the whole work; also in Crosby, Appendix to Vol. I]
OLD BROWNISTS:—By this name may be called certain adherents of that vehement Independency, more extreme than mere Congregationalism, which had been propagated in Elizabeth's reign by Robert Brown himself. Brown's writings, we learn from Baillie, had totally disappeared in England; so that the so-called Brownists can hardly have been his direct disciples, but must have been persons who had arrived at some of his opinions over again for themselves. Briefly, without being Baptists, they were more violent Separatists, more fierce in their rejection of the discipline, worship, and ordination of the Church of England than the Independents proper. Henry Burton, minister of Friday Street church, now between fifty and sixty years of age, was one of the chief of them, and his Protestation Protested (Vol. II. 591-2) may be regarded as a manifesto of their views. Even the Independents of the Assembly disowned these views. Mr. Nye had said of the book that "there was in that book gross Brownism which he nor his brethren no way agreed with him in;" and Edwards had heard stories of queer goings-on in Mr. Burton's church, and his quarrel with "a butcher and some others of his church" about prophesying. Among the Brownists, besides Burton, Edwards names prominently "Katherine Chidley, an old Brownist, and her son, a young Brownist, a pragmatical fellow," who preached in London, and occasionally went on circuit into the country. Edwards characterizes Mrs. Chidley as "a brazen-faced audacious old woman;" but we know the motive. He had not forgotten the thrashing in print he had received from Mrs. Chidley in 1641 (Vol. II. 595). [Footnote: Paget's Heresiography, pp. 55-82 (a great deal about the Brownists; but with next to no real information); Edwards's Gangraena, Part I. pp. 62-64 and Part III. 242-248 (gossip about Burton); and Part III. 170, 171 (about Chidley); Baillie's Letters, II. 184 and 192; Hanbury's Historical Memorials, II. 108 et seq.]
ANTINOMIANS:—The origin of this heresy is attributed to Luther contemporary and fellow townsman, John Agricola, of Eisleben in Saxony (1492-1566); but the Antinomians of New England, and their chief Mrs. Hutchinson, had recently been more heard of. The story of poor Mrs. Hutchinson, the chief of these New England Antinomians, has already been told by us (Vol. II.371-7), as far as to the beginning of 1643, when we left her, a widow with a family of children, including a married daughter and that daughter's husband, beyond the bounds of New England altogether, and seeking rest for her wearied mind, and a home for her little ones, in the Dutch plantations somewhere near what is now New York. The sad end has now to be told. The Indians and the Dutch of those parts were then at feud; and in September 1643, in an inroad of the Indians into the plantation where Mrs. Hutchinson was, she and all her family were murdered, with the exception of a little daughter eight years of age, who was carried into captivity among the Indians, and not recovered till four years afterwards. The news of this tragic end of Mrs. Hutchinson had been brought across the Atlantic, and had added to the interest of pious horror with which her previous career of heresy in Massachusetts had been heard of by the orthodox in England. Mrs. Hutchinson and her Antinomianism, in fact, were already the subjects of a dreadful popular myth. Here, for example, is old Father Ephraim's account of the New England Antinomians, as he had compiled it from information received direct from America:—"Some persons among those that went hence to New England being freighted with many loose and unsound opinions, which they durst not here, they there began to vent them ... working first upon women, traducing godly ministers to be and preach under Covenant of Works, dropping their baits by little and little and angling yet further when they saw them take, and fathering their opinions on those of the best quality in the country; and, by means of Mrs. Hutchinson's double weekly lecture at Boston, under pretence of repeating Mr. Cotton's sermons, these opinions were quickly dispersed before authority was aware." But at length, when the infant church in America had been thus "almost ruinated," the judgments of God overtook the prime fomenters of the heresy in a notorious manner. "As, first, Mistress Hutchinson, the Generalissimo, the high-priestess of the new religion, was delivered at one time of 30 monstrous births, or thereabouts, much about the number of her monstrous opinions; some were bigger, some less, none of them having human shape, but shaped like her opinions: Mistress Dyer also, another of the same crew, was delivered of a large—" [here follows a minute description of a feminine monster that would have made the fortune of any travelling showman, so complexly-horrible was its physiology]. Thus God punished those monstrous "wretches," But the civil authorities of New England, as we know, had punished them too. "God put it into the hearts of the civil magistrates to convent the chief leaders of them; and, after fruitless admonitions given, they proceeded to sentence: some they disfranchised, others they excommunicated, and some they banished. A seditious minister, one Mr. Wheelwright, was one, and Mrs. Hutchinson another; who, going to plant herself on an island, called Rhode Island, under the Dutch, where they could not agree, but were miserably divided into sundry sects, removed from thence to an island called Hell- gate [Hebgate, according to Cotton Mather], where the Indians set upon her, and slew her and her daughter, and her daughter's husband, children, and family."—Notwithstanding this dreadful fate of the Antinomians in America, the heresy had broken out in England. Nothing was publicly said of the younger Sir Henry Vane in connexion with it; though, on his return from his Massachusetts governorship, he may have brought back in his speculative head some of the Hutchinsonian ideas. According to Paget, the first Antinomian in London had been "one Master John Eaton," who had been a scholar of his own (i.e. at Trinity College, Oxford), and was afterwards curate of a parish near Aldgate. In fact, as we learn from Wood, he became a minister in Suffolk, was "accounted by all the neighbouring ministers a grand Antinomian," and suffered trouble accordingly. But this Eaton had died in 1641, aged about 66, and leaving but an Antinomian book or two, including "The Honeycomb of Free Justification;" and the leading Antinomians were new men. One of them was Mr. John Saltmarsh, a Cambridge graduate, and minister in Kent, afterwards well-known as an, army-preacher and pamphleteer; another was "one Randall who preaches about Spittal Yard."—The nature of the Antinomian doctrines, "opening such a fair and easy way to heaven," made them very popular, it appears, in London and elsewhere. Many ran after their preachers, "crowding the churches and filling the doors and windows," for "Oh, it pleaseth people well," adds old Father Ephraim, "to have heaven and their lusts too." Notwithstanding this imputation, and illustrative scandals in Edwards, it really appears that Antinomianism took itself out in high mystic preaching of justification by faith, the doctrine of assurance, and the privileges of saintship. The wild phrases that came in such preaching were the chief offence. [Footnote: Cotton Mather's Magnalia, Book VII. p. 19; Palfrey's Hist. of New England, I. 609, Note; Paget, 105-118; Wood's Athenae, III. 21 (for more about Eaton); Gangraena in several places, for references to Saltmarsh and Randall. Baillie in his Dissuasive (pp. 57-64) has much the same story as Paget about Mrs. Hutchinson and the New England Antinomians, and attributes the rise of that heresy to the evil influence of Independency.—The idiotic and disgusting myth of the monstrous accouchements of the two Antinomian women seems to have found great favour with the orthodox: and it figures in many pious books of the time and afterwards. It seems actually to have originated in America, and to have been widely believed there, while Mrs. Hutchinson was alive; for Cotton Mather, repeating it, with the most abject good faith, and in great detail, as late as 1702 (Magnalia, VII. 20), quotes a letter of Mr. Thomas Hooker, to the effect that at the very time of one of the diabolic accouchements, Mrs. Dyer's (Oct. 17, 1637), the house in which her and his wife were sitting was violently shaken, as if by an earthquake, for the space of seven or eight minutes. Mather also avers that there was an investigation of the affair by the magistrates at the time.]
FAMILISTS:—Probably because there had been a continental sect of this name in the sixteenth century, founded by a David George of Delft, Edwards includes Familists among his leading English sorts of Sectaries, and Paget devotes ten pages to them. Paget, however, admits that they were "so close and cunning that ye shall hardly ever find them out." If there really was such an English sect, their main principle probably was that every society of Christians should be a kind of family- party, jolly within itself in confidential love-feasts and exchanges of sentiment, and letting the general world and its creeds roar around unquestioned and unheeded. Baillie, however, in an incidental notice of Familism in the Second Part of his Dissuasive, gives a somewhat different account. It was, according to him, a wild development of Anabaptism, of which not a few once "counted zealous and gracious" were suspected—including "a great man, a peer of the land." It had a public representative in Mr. Randall, who had "for some years preached peaceably in the Spital" (already mentioned among the Antinomians), and of whom Baillie had heard that he entertained such ideas as these, though reserving them probably as esoteric mysteries for the highest class of the Family of Love—"that all the resurrection and glory which Scripture promises is past already, and no other coming of Christ to judgment, or life eternal, is to be expected than what presently in this earth the saints do enjoy; that the most clear historic passages of Scripture are mere allegories; that in all things, Angels, Devils, Men, Women, there is but one spirit and life, which absolutely and essentially is God; that nothing is everlasting but the life and essence of God which now is in all creatures;" &c. We should now call this a kind of Pantheism; but probably it was coupled with that disposition to privacy, and indifference to creeds and controversies, which has been mentioned as the peculiarity of Familism. Even the Familists, however, it seems, had their subdivisions. One John Hetherington, a box-maker, had been a kind of Familist, but had recanted. [Footnote: Paget, 92 102, and 137,138; Gangraena, Part I. 13; Baillie's Dissuasive Part II. pp. 99-104]
MILLENARIES OR CHILIASTS:—"An Heresy," says old Father Ephraim, "frequent at this time. This sect look for a temporary [temporal] kingdom of Christ, that must begin presently and last 1,000 years. Of this opinion are many of our Apocalyptical men, that study more future events than their present only." This is substantially all we have from Paget. In fact, however, the Chiliasts or Millenarians were hardly a mere sect. The expectation of a Millennium near at hand was very prevalent, or was becoming very prevalent, among the English Divines of the Assembly itself. "Many of the Divines here," wrote Baillie, September 5, 1645, "not only Independents, but others, such as Twisse, Marshall, Palmer, and many more, are express Chiliasts." In his Dissuasive, however, where he devotes an entire chapter to this heresy of Chiliasm, he attributes the grosser form of the heresy chiefly to the Independents. A kind of Chiliasm or Millenarianism, he says, had been held by some former English Divines, including Joseph Meade; but it had been reserved for two Independents—"Mr. Archer and his colleague at Arnheim, T. G." (i.e. Thomas Goodwin)—to invent new dreams on the subject; and these had recently been adopted by Mr. Burroughs. The purport of their doctrine was that in the year 1650, or, at the furthest, 1695, Christ was to reappear in human form at Jerusalem, destroy the existing fabric of things in a conflagration, collect the scattered Jews, raise martyrs and saints from their graves, and begin his glorious reign of a thousand years. [Footnote: Paget, 136, 137; Baillie's Letters, II. 313, and Dissuasive, 224-252.]
SEEKERS:—"Many have wrangled so long about the Church that at last they have quite lost it, and go under the name of Expecters and Seekers, and do deny that there is any Church, or any true minister, or any ordinances; some of them affirm the Church to be in the wilderness, and they are seeking for it there; others say that it is in the smoke of the Temple, and that they are groping for it there—where I leave them praying to God."—So far Old Ephraim; and what he says, combined with one of Edwards's miscellaneous blasphemies already quoted, enables us to fancy the Seekers. They were people, it seems, who had arrived at