The English Puritans

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In agreement with Thomas Cranmer , the Puritans stressed "that Christ comes down to us in the sacrament by His Word and Spirit, offering Himself as our spiritual food and drink". While the Puritans were united in their goal of furthering the English Reformation, they were always divided over issues of ecclesiology and church polity , specifically questions relating to the manner of organizing congregations, how individual congregations should relate with one another and whether established national churches were scriptural.

The episcopalians known as the prelatical party were conservatives who supported retaining bishops if those leaders supported reform and agreed to share power with local churches. In addition, these Puritans called for a renewal of preaching, pastoral care and Christian discipline within the Church of England. Like the episcopalians, the presbyterians agreed that there should be a national church but one structured on the model of the Church of Scotland. The Westminster Assembly proposed the creation of a presbyterian system, but the Long Parliament left implementation to local authorities.

As a result, the Church of England never developed a complete presbyterian hierarchy. Congregationalists or Independents believed in the autonomy of the local church, which ideally would be a congregation of "visible saints" meaning those who had experienced conversion.

Furthermore, the sacraments would only be administered to those in the church covenant. Most congregational Puritans remained within the Church of England, hoping to reform it according to their own views. The New England Congregationalists were also adamant that they were not separating from the Church of England. However, some Puritans equated the Church of England with the Roman Catholic Church, and therefore considered it no Christian church at all.

These groups, such as the Brownists , would split from the established church and become known as Separatists. Other Separatists embraced more radical positions on separation of church and state and believer's baptism , becoming early Baptists.

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Based on Biblical portrayals of Adam and Eve, Puritans believed that marriage was rooted in procreation, love, and, most importantly, salvation. Puritan husbands commanded authority through family direction and prayer. The female relationship to her husband and to God was marked by submissiveness and humility. Thomas Gataker describes Puritan marriage as:. The paradox created by female inferiority in the public sphere and the spiritual equality of men and women in marriage, then, gave way to the informal authority of women concerning matters of the home and childrearing.

I had eight birds hatched in one nest; Four cocks there were, and hens the rest. I nursed them up with pain and care, Nor cost nor labour I did spare. Bradstreet alludes to the temporality of motherhood by comparing her children to a flock of birds on the precipice of leaving home. While Puritans praised the obedience of young children, they also believed that, by separating children from their mothers at adolescence, children could better sustain a superior relationship with God. Girls carried the additional burden of Eve's corruption and were catechised separately from boys at adolescence.

Boys' education prepared them for vocations and leadership roles, while girls were educated for domestic and religious purposes. The pinnacle of achievement for children in Puritan society, however, occurred with the conversion process. Puritans viewed the relationship between master and servant similarly to that of parent and child. Just as parents were expected to uphold Puritan religious values in the home, masters assumed the parental responsibility of housing and educating young servants. Older servants also dwelt with masters and were cared for in the event of illness or injury.

African-American and Indian servants were likely excluded from such benefits. Like most Christians in the early modern period , Puritans believed in the active existence of the devil and demons as evil forces that could possess and cause harm to men and women. There was also widespread belief in witchcraft and witches—persons in league with the devil. Puritan pastors undertook exorcisms for demonic possession in some high-profile cases. However, Harsnett was in the minority, and many clergy, not only Puritans, believed in witchcraft and possession.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, thousands of people throughout Europe were accused of being witches and executed. In England and America, Puritans engaged in witch hunts as well. In the s, Matthew Hopkins , the self-proclaimed "Witchfinder General", was responsible for accusing over two hundred people of witchcraft, mainly in East Anglia. In New England, few people were accused and convicted of witchcraft before ; there were at most sixteen convictions.

The Salem witch trials of had a lasting impact on the historical reputation of New England Puritans. Though this witch hunt occurred after Puritans lost political control of the Massachusetts colony , Puritans instigated the judicial proceedings against the accused and comprised the members of the court that convicted and sentenced the accused.

By the time Governor William Phips ended the trials, fourteen women and five men had been hanged as witches. Puritan millennialism has been placed in the broader context of European Reformed beliefs about the millennium and interpretation of biblical prophecy , for which representative figures of the period were Johannes Piscator , Thomas Brightman , Joseph Mede , Johannes Heinrich Alsted , and John Amos Comenius.

Protestant theologians identified the sequential phases the world must pass through before the Last Judgment could occur and tended to place their own time period near the end. It was expected that tribulation and persecution would increase but eventually the church's enemies—the Antichrist identified with the Roman Catholic Church and the Ottoman Empire —would be defeated. In contrast to other Protestants who tended to view eschatology as an explanation for "God's remote plans for the world and man", Puritans understood it to describe "the cosmic environment in which the regenerate soldier of Christ was now to do battle against the power of sin".

On a larger level, eschatology was the lens through which events such as the English Civil War and the Thirty Years' War were interpreted. There was also an optimistic aspect to Puritan millennianism; Puritans anticipated a future worldwide religious revival before the Second Coming of Christ. David Brady describes a "lull before the storm" [ further explanation needed ] in the early 17th century, in which "reasonably restrained and systematic" Protestant exegesis of the Book of Revelation was seen with Brightman, Mede, and Hugh Broughton , after which "apocalyptic literature became too easily debased" as it became more populist and less scholarly.

Some strong religious beliefs common to Puritans had direct impacts on culture. Education was essential to every person, male and female, so that they could read the Bible for themselves. However, the Puritans' emphasis on individual spiritual independence was not always compatible with the community cohesion that was also a strong ideal.

At a time when the literacy rate in England was less than 30 percent, the Puritan leaders of colonial New England believed children should be educated for both religious and civil reasons, and they worked to achieve universal literacy. In , the government required all towns with 50 or more households to hire a teacher and towns of or more households to hire a grammar school instructor to prepare promising boys for college. Boys interested in the ministry were often sent to colleges such as Harvard founded in or Yale founded in The Merton Thesis is an argument about the nature of early experimental science proposed by Robert K.

Similar to Max Weber 's famous claim on the link between the Protestant work ethic and the capitalist economy , Merton argued for a similar positive correlation between the rise of English Puritanism, as well as German Pietism , and early experimental science. In the year , 62 percent of the members of the Royal Society were similarly identified. Puritans in both England and New England believed that the state should protect and promote true religion and that religion should influence politics and social life. In , Parliament outlawed the celebration of Christmas , Easter and Whitsuntide.

English jails were usually filled with drunken revelers and brawlers. Puritans were opposed to Sunday sport or recreation because these distracted from religious observance of the Sabbath. For example, Puritans were universally opposed to blood sports such as bearbaiting and cockfighting because they involved unnecessary injury to God's creatures. For similar reasons, they also opposed boxing. Card playing and gambling were banned in England and the colonies but card playing by itself was generally considered acceptable , as was mixed dancing involving men and women because it was thought to lead to fornication.

Puritans condemned the sexualization of the theatre and its associations with depravity and prostitution—London's theatres were located on the south side of the Thames , which was a center of prostitution. A major Puritan attack on the theatre was William Prynne 's book Histriomastix.

Puritan authorities shut down English theatres in the s and s, and none were allowed to open in Puritan-controlled colonies. Puritans were not opposed to drinking alcohol in moderation. Laws banned the practice of individuals toasting each other, with the explanation that it led to wasting God's gift of beer and wine, as well as being carnal. Bounds were not set on enjoying sexuality within the bounds of marriage, as a gift from God.

Women and men were equally expected to fulfill marital responsibilities. In Massachusetts colony, which had some of the most liberal colonial divorce laws, one out of every six divorce petitions was filed on the basis on male impotence. The Puritans exhibited intolerance to other religious views, including Quaker , Anglican and Baptist theologies. The Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony were the most active of the New England persecutors of Quakers, and the persecuting spirit was shared by the Plymouth Colony and the colonies along the Connecticut river.

In , one of the most notable victims of the religious intolerance was English Quaker Mary Dyer , who was hanged in Boston for repeatedly defying a Puritan law banning Quakers from the colony. The hanging of Dyer on Boston Common marked the beginning of the end of the Puritan theocracy.

The first two of the four Boston martyrs were executed by the Puritans on 27 October , and in memory of this, 27 October is now International Religious Freedom Day to recognise the importance of freedom of religion. The literature on Puritans, particularly biographical literature on individual Puritan ministers, was already voluminous in the 17th century and, indeed, the interests of Puritans in the narratives of early life and conversions made the recording of the internal lives important to them.

The historical literature on Puritans is, however, quite problematic and subject to controversies over interpretation. The early writings are those of the defeated, excluded and victims. The great interest of authors of the 19th century in Puritan figures was routinely accused in the 20th century of consisting of anachronism and the reading back of contemporary concerns. A debate continues on the definition of "Puritanism".

The national context England and Wales, as well as the kingdoms of Scotland and Ireland frames the definition of Puritans, but was not a self-identification for those Protestants who saw the progress of the Thirty Years' War from as directly bearing on their denomination, and as a continuation of the religious wars of the previous century, carried on by the English Civil Wars. English historian Christopher Hill , who has contributed to analyses of Puritan concerns that are more respected than accepted, writes of the s, old church lands, and the accusations that William Laud was a crypto-Catholic:.

To the heightened Puritan imagination it seemed that, all over Europe, the lamps were going out: Puritans were politically important in England, but it is debated whether the movement was in any way a party with policies and leaders before the early s. While Puritanism in New England was important culturally for a group of colonial pioneers in America, there have been many studies trying to pin down exactly what the identifiable cultural component was.

Fundamentally, historians remain dissatisfied with the grouping as "Puritan" as a working concept for historical explanation. The conception of a Protestant work ethic , identified more closely with Calvinist or Puritan principles, has been criticised at its root, [ by whom? From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Puritan disambiguation. Evangelicalism Charismatic movement Neo-charismatic movement.

Nondenominational churches House churches. History of the Puritans. History of the Puritans under Elizabeth I. History of the Puritans under James I. History of the Puritans from History of the Puritans in North America. Afrikaners Huguenots Pilgrims Puritans other English dissenters.

The Example of the English Puritans - by Erroll Hulse

This section may be too technical for most readers to understand. Please help improve it to make it understandable to non-experts , without removing the technical details. June Learn how and when to remove this template message. New England Puritan culture and recreation. History of education in the United States.

Christmas in Puritan New England. Calvinism portal Anglicanism portal Christianity portal History portal Religion portal. Puritan Gentry Besieged — Congregationalists were theologically descended directly from the Puritans of England and consequently enjoyed pride of place as one of the oldest, most numerous, and most significant religious groups in the colonies.

An Orthodox View of Christian History". Social History in Perspective. Archived from the original on 9 December Retrieved 21 August Jack Trickler 4 February A Layman's Guide To: Archived from the original on 18 July Retrieved 4 November Nuttall 15 July University of Chicago Press. Archived from the original on 27 June The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy", from A Book of Burlesques , being a classic rendering. The Tender Passion , W. The Emergence of Liberty in the Modern World: Historical Dictionary of the Reformed Churches.

Politics and Religion —60 Dictionary of National Biography. Perry Miller and Thomas H. Bremer, The Puritan Experiment: New England Society from Bradford to Edwards A Religious History of the American People 2nd ed. A Very Short Introduction. A History from the s to the s , London: Archived from the original on 23 August The Sacraments in Protestant Practice and Faith. Doctrine for Life Amazon Kindle ed. Separated by Their Sex: A Society Ordained by God. In King Edward's time the Lord's Supper was celebrated in simplicity in many places without the surplice.

The cope was then abrogated by law and is now being restored after abrogation. This is not to extirpate popery but to replant it; not to advance in religion but to go backward. Why should we borrow anything from popery? Why should we not agree in rites as well as in doctrine with the other Reformed Churches? It is only seven years ago that we regained our liberty, why should we go back to servitude?

There is danger in these practices; they are insidious; they do not shew themselves all at once, but creep on little by little. Why cannot the bishops endure us who formerly bore the same cross with them and who now preach the same Christ? Why do they cast us into prison? Why do they persecute us on account of the habits?

Why do they spoil us of our substance and means of subsistence? Turner, dean of Bath and Wells, a man of versatile learning and still remembered as one of the early founders of science, when preaching in his cathedral asked, with a feeling of indignation: The nonconforming clergy claimed that they had an equal right with the conformist to say the Church of England was theirs. Indeed they were not without hope that the future of that Church would be with them.

They remembered that when the decision in Convocation went against them in , it did so by only one vote, and that a proxy vote; so that there at least parties proved to be of nearly even strength. And there were not wanting signs that in the community at large they were increasing in strength and influence. Among the laity there were not a few who were quite as averse to the habits as they were themselves. With increasing dislike to popery there was increasing dislike to the vestments, many refusing to go to the churches where they were worn. Even Whitgift recorded that the clergy who did wear them were sometimes rudely assailed in the streets as time-servers and papists in disguise.

There were some people at least who could not forget that only ten years ago friends and neighbours of theirs had been burnt at the stake in Mary's time. To them therefore the vestments seemed almost as if they were stained with the blood of the martyrs. And not merely among the common people, the puritans had reason to know, there was sympathy with them, but also in high places, even in the Court itself, with men like Secretary Cecil, the Earl of Leicester, Sir Francis Knollys and the Earls of Bedford and Warwick. Meantime the archbishop persisted in his policy of coercion. Among those whom he cited to Lambeth were Sampson and Humphrey with whom he entered into conference on the points at issue.

They afterwards appealed to him by letter pleading that conscience is a very tender thing and all men cannot look upon the same things as being indifferent. They also made their appeal to antiquity, to the practice of the other Reformed Churches in their own day and even to the consciences of the bishops themselves.

It so happened that at the very time these conferences were going forward, Sampson and Humphrey were both selected as the preachers at St Paul's Cross during Lent, an appointment regarded as a mark of distinction. The archbishop was indignant, and writing to Cecil he said: They merely replied that their consciences would not permit them to comply with his injunctions, come what might. Upon this they were then and there committed to prison; and as Sampson's deanery was in the gift of the Crown he was deprived of his office at once. The same experience came to Humphrey somewhat later on.

When he also was deprived, he sent an earnest remonstrance to the commissioners in which he says: A sword is now put into the hands of those that under Queen Mary have drawn it for popery. The painful preacher for his labour is beaten, the unpreaching prelate offending in greater escapeth scot-free. The learned man without his cap is afflicted, the capped man without learning is not touched. Is not this directly to break the laws of God? Is not this to prefer man's will before faith, judgement and mercy, man's traditions before the ordinances of God?

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We confess one faith of Jesus Christ, we preach one doctrine, we acknowledge one ruler in earth over all things. Shall we be used so for a surplice? Shall brethren persecute brethren for a forked cap devised of singularity of him that is our foreign enemy?

Puritanism (an overview)

Oh that ever I saw this day, that ever our adversaries should laugh to see brethren fall together by the ears! The cases of Sampson and Humphrey, leading Oxford men, came to a final issue towards the end of April, Then about the middle of October of that same year the state of things in the sister University of Cambridge came under review.

There the movement in favour of the Protestant Reformation took shape early. As far back as Erasmus, after being at Louvain and Oxford, came to Cambridge in search of a new field of labour, taking up his residence, under Fisher's protection, in Queens' College. Between and he there wrote his Novum Instrumentum which did much to prepare the way for protestantism, and the light he kindled was kept burning. Later on a little band of Cambridge scholars met together by stealth for the discussion of Martin Luther's earlier treatises, William Tyndale, the ever-memorable translator of the English Bible, who was resident in the University from to , being one of them.

A recent historian of the University records that while it was the taunt of their adversaries that the members of this brotherhood were mostly young men, it is certain that they were among the most able and diligent of the student class of the time, and their influence made numerous converts. He goes on to say that the best scholarship of the University was represented among them, as is proved by the fact that when Cardinal Wolsey was founding his college at Oxford, and was for that purpose selecting from Cambridge the most efficient teachers and lecturers, no fewer than six out of the eight thus chosen were notable supporters of the Reformation doctrine.

The leaven had thus been working for more than a generation when in the autumn of the prevalence of puritanism came to be matter for serious inquiry. It arose, first of all, as affecting certain licenses to preach.

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Pope Alexander VI, during his occupancy of the See of Rome granted to the University of Cambridge the privilege of licensing twelve ministers yearly, to preach anywhere throughout England without obtaining license from any of the bishops. These were licensed under the common seal of the University, and this privilege was renewed in the letters patent granted by Queen Elizabeth, and was retained and made use of to further the more advanced forms of Reformation. George Withers, one of the preachers thus licensed, went so far in his protestant zeal as to break certain 'superstitious' painted windows in the college chapels on which the use of prayers for the dead was enjoined.

Upon this he was summoned to appear before the archbishop at Lambeth where he 'refused to enter bonds for wearing of the cornered cap. Proceedings were therefore taken at once, and, in expectation of a proclamation of enforcement, a petition was forwarded to Cecil, at that time chancellor of the University, praying him to use his influence with the Queen that they might not be compelled to revive a popish habit which they had laid aside. They took leave to assure him, as in the presence of God, that nothing but reason and the quiet enjoyment of their consciences had led them to take the course they had taken.

Many in the University of piety and learning, they said, were convinced of the unlawfulness of the habits, therefore, if conformity should be insisted upon, they would be compelled to resign their positions, and so, by rigour and imposition both religion and learning would suffer. The first of the signatures to this petition was that of the vice-chancellor, Dr Beaumont, master of Trinity, who had himself been one of the exiles in Zurich in Mary's time. Curious to relate there was also attached to this petition the signature of John Whitgift, fellow of Peterhouse and Lady Margaret professor, who in after years, as archbishop of Canterbury, was to be the resolute persecutor of the puritans.

This petition was ill-taken by the chancellor who wrote to the vice-chancellor requiring him to call together the heads of colleges and let them know that if they valued Christianity, the honour of the University, and the favour of the Queen they must continue the use of the habits. It was at St John's college that discontent first shewed itself in violent outbreak. A young man named Fulke had 'lefte of wearing a square cappe and used a hatte,' and both at St Mary's and in the college chapel had preached in strong terms against the use of the surplice.

Upon this the college was roused to a high pitch of excitement, and 'in fine they waxed so hot that they could abide no such garment upon them. On Saturday evening, October 12, at the first tolling of the bell for prayers a number of the youths of the house rushed into the chapel without surplices, and more than that, hissed at those who came after with their surplices on. The master on his return on hearing of what had taken place practically ranged himself and the University on the side of the malcontents. The other side sent in a set of articles accusatory and urged the chancellor to take action, but Cecil was slow and Longworth seemed quite indifferent, saying that he knew the real mind of the chancellor more than most people.

However, he and several of the refractory students were sent for to London, but it came to the ears of people in Cambridge that the master had been very favourably entertained both by Cecil and the bishop of London. In the end Cecil drew up an easy form of retraction which Longworth signed with the promise that it should be read before the college on his return. But as the outbreak spread to other colleges, and especially to Trinity, Cecil took up the matter more seriously.

He then wrote to the vice-chancellor describing this nonconformity as 'a wilful breaking of common order, a lewd leprosy of libertines,' and requiring him to call together the heads of houses, urging them to unity, and further recommending that preachers who had opposed the use of the vestments should be inhibited for a time from preaching and lecturing.

The colleges having been thus dealt with, the archbishop began to devise means by which he could make London less puritanical. Grindal was at that time bishop of this important diocese, and though he had himself been one of the Zurich exiles, and was in sympathy with simpler ways of worship, yet irregularities prevailing, and the Queen's anger there at, led him to join the archbishop in his crusade on behalf of uniformity.

At this point, Beaumont, the master of Trinity, put the direct question to Cecil whether, under the Act, he had power to deprive a man merely because he declined to wear a surplice, seeing that that penalty had not been attached to disobedience in the Queen's Injunctions. This point the archbishop also was debating in his mind and was not clear upon it.

He sought legal advice on this matter of deprivation, but got little guidance: He would call before himself and the bishop of London all pastors and curates of the city, would try to win them to conformity by setting forth the penalty of disobedience; would then examine them one by one, and obtain, if possible, a promise of conformity in ministration, testified by subscription of their hands; then to suspend all who should refuse. He felt he was taking a strong course of action and was not without misgiving. By way of strengthening his own wavering resolution he sought the countenance of eminent laymen to stand by him.

But they would have none of it. They agreed that it was the archbishop's work, not theirs, and they resolved to leave him to it. Tuesday, March 26, , was the fateful date on which the clergy of London were cited to appear before Parker and the bishop of London at Lambeth. As he could prevail upon no layman, or any of the nobility, or members of council to join him, he obtained the presence of the dean of Westminster and a few canonists for the occasion. In response to his summons about a hundred and ten ministers presented themselves, nine or ten being absent. To secure that the demand he was about to make should be quite clear and definite there was provided for their inspection a clergyman properly dressed according to the pattern prescribed by the regulations.

Robert Cole, the rector of St Mary le Bow, a nonconforming minister who had been brought to compliance, consented to stand there to show how the Queen wished them to be attired when discharging their ecclesiastical functions. It is difficult to restrain a smile at the narrative, for it reads like a passage of mordant satire from Sartor Resartus. After some preliminary efforts at persuasion the chancellor of the London diocese became the spokesman of the occasion.

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Masters answer presently sub poena contemptus: Parker writing to Cecil the same day told him that thirty-seven refused to conform 'of which number were the best and some preachers. Of those who refused he says: They showed reasonable quietness and modesty, otherwise than I looked for. I think some of them will come in when they shall feel their want. There he was wrong. Not that they did not feel the consequences keenly: Still all must be faced. Not despising men, therefore, but trusting in God only, we seek to serve Him with a clear conscience so long as we shall live here, assuring ourselves that those things we shall suffer for doing so shall be a testimony to the world, that great reward is laid up for us in heaven, where we doubt not but to rest for ever with them that have before our days suffered for the like.

THE separation made at Lambeth palace between the consenting and non-consenting clergy had more significance and farther-reaching consequences than could be realised at the time. The decided action then taken by the authorities of the Church led to yet more resolute advance on the part of the dissentients, so that the question soon came to be one, not merely of vestments and forms of ritual, but of the whole hierarchical system on which the Church was based.

A dividing line, with parties ranged on separate sides, may be traced from that day down to our own times. Of the clergy deprived on March 26, , some betook themselves to the study and practice of medicine, others became chaplains in the families of the puritan nobility and gentry; some went north and joined the presbyterian Church of Scotland while others emigrated to the Low Countries.

It is to be feared that not a few were, with their families, reduced to sore straits of poverty. Of the remainder, not thus accounted for, five went the length of defying the interdict placed upon them, going to their churches and preaching as aforetime. For this act of disobedience they were summoned before the Queen in Council.

They were given eight days wherein to visit their friends, after which they were committed as prisoners to the private custody of certain bishops, two being sent to the bishop of Winchester, two to the bishop of Ely, and one to the bishop of Norwich. The withdrawal of so many London ministers from their parishes naturally led to considerable embarrassment in the conduct of services. Some churches had to be closed, there being no one to officiate. To one church on Palm Sunday six hundred persons came to receive the Communion, only to find the doors shut against them.

The deprived ministers on their part issued a joint manifesto explanatory of the step they had felt compelled to take. Among other things they pointed out that neither the prophets of the Old Testament nor the apostles of the New were distinguished by their garments; that the linen vestment was the mark of that priesthood of Aaron which had been superseded by Christ and His Church. Historically speaking, they maintained that the distinction of garments in the Christian Church came in when antichrist came in; for the clergy of Ravenna, writing to the emperor in A.

To this manifesto a printed reply was issued from the other side commending the attention of the seceders to those words of the apostle: After waiting for about eight weeks, to see if there might be any relenting on the part of the Queen and the archbishop, the ministers, and those of the puritan party in the city who were in agreement with them, held solemn conference together, in which after prayer and serious debate as to the lawfulness and necessity of separation from the Established Church, they came to the following agreement: It soon became known that there were gatherings for worship in woods and private buildings without the habits and ceremonies of the Church, whereupon the Queen sent an urgent message to the commission to take effectual steps to prevent the people leaving their parish churches, and to be careful to warn them of the consequences of frequenting separate conventicles.

All the same the gatherings continued on through the winter till the following summer, when, on the 19th of June, , a congregation of about a hundred people being met in Plumber's Hall for sermon and communion, the sheriffs of the city broke in upon them, taking many into custody. The next day several of these were called to appear before Grindal, bishop of London, and the lord mayor.

The bishop reminded them that by these proceedings of theirs they were in effect condemning the Reformed Church of England, and those martyrs who had shed their blood for it. To this one of them replied that they condemned not others, but felt that for themselves they must stand to God's Word. Another 'the ancientest of them,' added: But when it came to this that all our preachers were displaced by your law, so that we could hear none of them in any church by the space of seven or eight weeks, and were troubled and commanded by your Courts from day to day for not coming to our parish churches, then we bethought us what were best to do.

And now if from the Word of God you can prove we are wrong we will yield to you and do open penance at Paul's Cross: At this point the scene shifts from London to Cambridge and the University becomes the centre of interest in the fortunes of puritanism.

The English Puritans

The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to "purify" the Church of England from its "Catholic" practices, maintaining that. The roots of Puritanism are to be found in the beginnings of the English Reformation. The name “Puritans” (they were sometimes called.

New subjects begin to be debated and new leaders come to the front. Of these leaders the foremost was Thomas Cartwright, a fellow of Trinity, who is described as a man of genius and one who would have been prominent in any age. Thomas Fuller spoke of his fame as that of 'a pure Latinist, accurate Grecian, exact Hebraist,' and Theodore Beza was of opinion that he was the most learned man he knew. In , when he became a fellow, he was already known in the University as an eloquent preacher and a rising theological scholar.

On the occasion of Queen Elizabeth's visit to Cambridge in he was elected to take part in the theological disputation held in her presence, and stories have come down to us of the enthusiasm he created as University preacher, the windows of St Mary's, it is said, having to be taken out that those might hear without who could not find entrance within.

But what we are now more immediately concerned with is the fact that when towards the end of Dr Chaderton resigned the Lady Margaret chair and became Regius Professor of Theology, Cartwright, at the age of thirty-four, became his successor. In the fulfilment of his office as Lady Margaret professor he gave a series of lectures on the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, in the course of which he assailed the hierarchical constitution of the Church.

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The position he took was that nothing should be established in the Church but what was enjoined in Scripture; that therefore the names and functions of archbishop and archdeacon should be abolished, and that the lawful ministers of the Church, bishops and deacons, should be reduced to the apostolic institution the bishops to preach the Word of God and pray, while the deacons had the care of the poor. He held further that every church ought to be governed by its own minister and presbyters, not by the bishop's chancellor or the official of the archdeacon; and that bishops should not be created by the civil authority, but be freely chosen by the Church.

On other points also he contended that no man ought to be admitted to the ministry unless he was able to preach; that as equal reverence was due to every part of Scripture and to all the revealed names of God, there is no reason why the people should stand at the reading of the gospel, or bow at the name of Jesus; that at the Communion it was as lawful to sit as to kneel or stand; that the sign of the cross in baptism is superstitious; that it is papistical to forbid marriages at certain times of the year; and that the observation of Lent and fasting on Friday is superstitious.

These, of course, were startling opinions to be uttered from a professor's chair, or worse, from the University pulpit, and Dr Whitgift, then master of Trinity, entered into the lists against Cartwright. He also reported his proceedings to Sir William Cecil, the chancellor, and eventually in combination with the vice-chancellor and other heads of the University, he obtained a body of new statutes giving larger powers.

This was in the month of August, That same month Cartwright also wrote to Cecil, assuring him that he was contending for a discipline which not only in England but also in foreign nations was accompanied by the daily prayers of pious men; that what some men called novelties were really most ancient, and began with the Churches of Christ and His Apostles. Cecil, never an extreme churchman, urged on behalf of Cartwright that he spoke as he did, not from arrogance or ill-will, but as reader of the Scriptures had merely given notes by way of comparison between the orders of the ministry in the Apostles' time and those of the present Church of England.

Whitgift and his party, however, were unwilling to take so lenient a view, and under the increased powers of the new statutes, Cartwright was first deprived of his professorship and fellowship and afterwards expelled the University. In he went abroad and became minister of the Congregation of English Merchants at Antwerp and subsequently at Middelburg in Zealand. As their spokesman, Mr Strickland, 'an ancient gentleman,' brought in a Bill on the 6th of April for the further reformation of the Church.

As in a second speech, a week later, he was enforcing the provisions of this Bill, the treasurer of the Queen's household rose and reminded him that all matters of ceremonies were to be referred to the Queen, and that for the House to meddle with the royal prerogative was not convenient. Afterwards also the Queen herself, to shew her displeasure at Strickland's motion, summoned him before her presence in Council and forbade him the Parliament House.

This unconstitutional invasion of the liberties of the Commons led, however, to so many protesting speeches that the Queen, having the Tudor instinct of knowing when to retreat from an untenable position, recalled the prohibition on the 20th of April. On his return to the House Strickland proceeded further and moved that a Confession of Faith be published with the authority of Parliament, as in other protestant countries. This was assented to, and a committee was appointed which drew up certain Articles, which were really those of the Convocation of , with, however, certain omissions.

The archbishop asked why they had left out that for the consecration of bishops and others relating to the hierarchy; Peter Wentworth replied they had done so because they had not yet made up their minds as to whether they were agreeable to the Word of God or not. Before Christmas next following, every minister under the degree of a bishop was 'to declare his assent and subscribe to all the Articles of Religion which only concern the confession of the true Christian faith and the doctrine of the sacraments comprised in the book of , and bring from the bishop, in writing, under his seal authentic, proof of such assent and subscription.

In addition to the demand for subscription to the Articles, which was a new thing, the Commissioners Ecclesiastical, when the parliamentary session was over, issued an order on the 7th of June to all churchwardens to the effect that they were in no wise to suffer any minister to minister any sacrament or say public prayers other than according to the Book of Common Prayer, and not thus unless his license to preach is dated after the 1st of May last. In the convocation of this year a Book of Canons was made, one of the requirements of which was that every bishop should, before September next, call before him all the clergy of his diocese, and require of them their faculties for preaching under authentic seal, only giving back these licenses to such ministers as he approved.

Before, however, any licenses could be restored the ecclesiastical vestments were to be enforced. Upon refusal a minister was to resign quietly or be deprived. In pursuance of these orders the archbishop, early in June, cited some of the leading puritans to Lambeth, Lever, Sampson, Goodman, Walker and Wiborne being among them; the same month Robert Browne, at that time chaplain to the Duke of Norfolk, and sometimes spoken of since as the founder of the Brownists, was also cited.

In the northern province Whittingham and Gilby came under observation. Details of what happened in all cases have not come down to us, but it is said that through the action of the commissioners at this time about one hundred ministers suffered deprivation. Browne, Harrison, and others went beyond sea to Zealand; and there is a curious document among the State Papers of this period containing a proposal for transplanting the precisians, to the number of men, to Ireland, assigning them a portion of Ulster, 'there, as concerning religion, to live according to the reformation of the best churches.

Parliament met again on the 8th of May, , the lord keeper making the opening speech, in which, in the Queen's name, he recommended the Houses to see the laws relating to the Church carried into effect and to enact other laws, if needful, for that purpose. Instead, however, of making new laws for the enforcement of ceremonies, two Bills were introduced for their regulation, in one of which it was proposed to redress certain grievances complained of by the puritans.

Both these Bills passed the Commons and were referred to a select committee of both Houses. The Queen again resented this interference, as she regarded it, and through the speaker informed the Commons that it was her pleasure that no Bills on religion should be received without previous consent from the bishops, and she commanded that the two Bills concerning rites and ceremonies should be delivered up.

Peter Wentworth again protested against this infringement of the liberty and free speech of Parliament.

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Then there is little hope of reformation. I have heard an old Parliament man say that the banishment of the pope, and the reforming of the true religion had its beginning from this House, not from the bishops. It was at this time the puritans entered upon a new and important departure in their line of policy. Having lost all hope of effecting such reformation as they desired by appealing to the Queen or the bishops, they resolved to make their appeal to Parliament itself.

At a meeting of the leaders held in London it was resolved to draw up a manifesto, which is now known as the First Admonition to Parliament. It was published anonymously in , but was admitted to be the work of John Field, the minister of Alderbury, in conjunction with Thomas Wilcocks; and Strype records that it was so eagerly read that it went through four editions before the end of This manifesto is historically important as being a clear and deliberate declaration of what the puritans had in view at this stage in the development of their scheme of reformation.

The Admonition began by asserting in the preface that till there was a right ministry of God and a right government of His Church there could be no right religion. They, therefore, present for the godly consideration of Parliament a true platform of a Church reformed. It would be seen that radical changes were needed, for as yet 'we are scarce come to the outward face of the same.

Then, when better men are sought, there ought to be an election of the minister by the elders with the common consent of the whole church. He should be called by the congregation, not thrust upon them by the bishop, or ordained without a title, and should be admitted to his function by the laying on of the hands of the eldership only. The officers of a church are chiefly three—ministers or pastors, elders and deacons.

As for the elders not only their office but their very name has been removed out of the English Church, and in their stead we yet maintain the lordship of one man over many churches, yea over sundry shires. If you would restore the Church to her ancient officers this you must do: Instead of an archbishop or lord bishop you must make equality of ministers; instead of chancellors, archdeacons, officials, commissaries, proctors, summoners, church-wardens and such like you have to plant a lawful and godly eldership.

To these three jointly—ministers, elders and deacons—is the whole government of the Church to be committed. Amend therefore these abuses and reform God's Church and the Lord is on your right hand: Is a reformation good for France and can it be evil for England? Is discipline meet for Scotland and is it unprofitable for this realm? The right government of the Church cannot be separated from the doctrine of the Church.

The writers were conscious that the work Parliament was thus called upon to undertake was no light task: Remove homilies, articles, injunctions, and that prescript order of service made out of the Mass book; take away the lordship, the loitering, the pomp, the idleness and livings of bishops, but yet employ them to such ends as they were in the old Church appointed for. Such in brief was the drift of the First Admonition, which produced a great sensation on its appearance in print.

Its authors were at once committed to Newgate, and several of the bishops assailed the book as foolish as well as dangerous, to which a writer of the time replied that 'foolish it may be, but it is still unanswered, and though there are scarce as many leaves in it as there are months past since it came forth, it is fleeing as a firebrand from place to place and setting all the country on fire.

This work has been described as 'a learned answer,' and an 'excellent book, containing a very satisfactory vindication of the Church of England. This reply by Whitgift was published in , and called forth a Second Admonition, which is admitted to be from the pen of Thomas Cartwright, and in which he went over Whitgift's argument point by point. The First Admonition having set forth what should be reformed, this points out how the work of reformation ought to be carried out.

He suggests that a sufficient maintenance for the ministry should be provided so that every parish may have a preaching pastor; and that the statutes should be repealed which make the ministry partly to consist of lords spiritual, making one minister higher than another.

For Christ most severely forbade His Apostles and successors all claims of primacy and dominion and gave an equal power and function to all the ministers of the Church. He suggests among other arrangements a series of ecclesiastical assemblies or conferences. At which conferences any one or any certain of the brethren are at the order of the whole to be employed upon some affairs of the Church; and where the demeanours of the ministers may be examined and rebuked. From a provincial synod there might be an appeal to a national synod; and from this again to a more general synod of all churches.

From these larger arrangements he passes to the question of the local consistory which there should be in every congregation, consisting of the ministers and elders, or assistants whom the parish shall consent upon and choose, and upon whom, when chosen, the minister may lay his hands to testify to them their admission. The powers of the consistory were those of rebuke, and, if need arose, of excommunication. It was theirs also to abolish unprofitable ceremonies used in place of prayer, to put a stop to lewd customs either in games or otherwise, to exercise supervision over the relief of the poor, and to send representatives to a provincial or national council.

He concludes with an appeal to the Queen, the council, the nobility and the commons to give the case a fair hearing or procure a free conference on the matter. The Queen especially is besought to take the defence of this movement upon her, and to fortify it by law. For though all orders should first of all be drawn from the Book of God, 'yet it is her Majesty that by her princely authority should see every of these things put in practice, and punish those that neglect them.

In these two Admonitions addressed to Parliament we have what may be described as the puritans' platform, the ecclesiastical system they would have brought about in England if they could. The effect they had upon the Queen was to excite her anger and to cause her to reprimand the bishops for not suppressing these men.

Commissions were appointed under the Great Seal in every shire to put the penal laws into execution by way of Oyer and Terminer, and in the month of October she issued a proclamation requiring all offenders against the Act of Uniformity to be rigorously dealt with. Yet in spite of this, and about the same time, there were started certain voluntary associations which did much to prepare the minds of the people to look with favour upon the puritan discipline. One of these was held in the town of Northampton and was not regarded as being contrary to the Act of Uniformity.

Strype describes it as 'a very commendable reformation instituted and established for Religion and good manners,' and tells us that it was approved of by Dr Scambler, the bishop of Peterborough. The ministers of the town, together with the mayor and the justices of the county met and agreed upon certain regulations for worship and discipline. Among other things it was decided that every Tuesday and Thursday there should be a lecture in the chief church of the town beginning with the confession and ending with prayer and a confession of faith; and that every Sunday evening the youth of the town should be instructed and examined in a portion of Calvin's Catechism.

Altogether there were thirteen items in these arrangements, the last of which provided that excessive ringing of bells on the Lord's day should be prohibited, also the carrying of the bell before a corpse in the street, and bidding prayers for the dead. Besides these voluntary associations, which were intended for the benefit of the laity, the clergy with the approval of the bishop set up a series of religious exercises which they called Prophesyings.

This term took its rise from the passage in 1 Corinthians xiv. They also conferred among themselves touching sound doctrine and good life and manners. There was a moderator appointed and three speakers, the first of whom after offering prayer should unfold a given passage of Scripture, set aside misapplications and then make a practical reflection, 'but not dilate to a commonplace.

At a time when theological training was but little known we may well accept the judgement of Strype, the Church historian, on these gatherings when he calls the Prophesyings 'a well-minded and religiously disposed combination of both bishop, magistrates and people, designed to stir up an emulation in the clergy to study the Scriptures, that they might be more capable of instructing the people in Christian knowledge.

Besides the county of Northampton these exercises were carried on also in the diocese of Norwich where they were regarded with favour by the bishop. But the Queen disliked them. They were not part of her arrangement for the Church, therefore not to be borne. Hearing that the discussions sometimes turned upon what was the scriptural form of church government, and that the laity had actually taken part in them, she sent peremptory orders to the archbishop to have them stopped. Parker communicated this order at once to Parkhurst, bishop of Norwich. But Parkhurst, who had been one of the protestant exiles himself in Mary's time, and had considerable sympathy with puritan ideas, demurred.

He said that the Prophesyings brought 'singular benefit to the Church of God, as well in the clergy as in the laity, and was a right necessary exercise to be continued, so the same were not abused. In this letter they say that having heard 'that certain good exercises of Prophesying and expounding of Scriptures at Holt and other places in Norfolk whereby both Speakers and hearers do profit much in the knowledge of the Word of God. Parker's biographer sums up the matter briefly telling us that another letter came from the archbishop to the bishop of Norwich which was followed immediately by one from the bishop of Norwich to the chancellor of his diocese, saying: The archbishop ended the correspondence by this caustic piece of advice: Do not take such men to counsel, as, when they have endangered you, cannot bring you out of trouble.

Of my care I have to you and to the Diocese I write thus much. Within eight months of the receipt of that letter Bishop Parkhurst went the way of all the earth, whither, in three months time, he was followed by the archbishop himself, upon which a further chapter in the history of puritan Prophesyings is opened to us.

But the increase of dignity in his case meant increase of sorrow. He had done what he could to foster the Prophesyings and to keep them free from any cause of complaint in his northern province, intending to take the same course in that of Canterbury. This brought him into conflict with the Queen, who sent for him. She was informed, she said, that the rites and ceremonies of the Church were not duly observed in these prophesyings; that persons not lawfully called to be ministers exercised in them; these assemblies she maintained were illegal not being allowed by public authority; the laity neglected their business in going to these meetings; in short she commanded him peremptorily to put them down.

It was good for the Church, she added, to have but few preachers, three or four in a county were quite sufficient. Now was he at a point, for he was painfully conscious of the need of enlightenment on the part of the people. When he went to his northern province he was appalled at their ignorance and superstition. The remains of the old Roman teaching were seen in their customs at the burial of the dead, and in their praying with beads. It seemed to him to be another religion, rather than that of the Reformed Church of England, which he found there.

As Dr Paget, the present bishop of Oxford, has well said: In it was found that in the archdeaconry of London there were ministers who held three, some four, and one five, livings together. Strype reports that there was one minister who was vicar of St Dunstan's West and held at the same time the following livings: And when, in , the puritans made a survey of the parishes they found in the parishes of Cornwall only 29 preachers, in the of Buckinghamshire only 30, in the of Essex only 12; and altogether in 10, parish churches only Such was the spiritual destitution of England at the time on the one side, and on the other, the resolute determination of the Queen to suppress those studies and exercises which in the archbishop's opinion might go some way in providing a remedy.

As we gather, reading between the lines of his letter to the Queen dated December 20, , she at their personal interview was passionate and stormful; 'her speeches sounded very hardly against mine own person, exceedingly dismayed and discomforted me. After asserting his unchanging loyalty, and the absence of any desire on his part to offend her Majesty, he says it is only his duty to God which makes him refuse to suppress the preachers and the exercises.

For public and continual preaching of God's word is the ordinary means and instrument of salvation of mankind; by this the glory of God is enlarged, faith is nourished and charity increased. He has been careful only to admit competent men to the office, no man professing either papistry or puritanism, generally only graduates of the University, except some few who have excellent gifts of knowledge in the Scriptures, joined with good utterance and godly persuasion.

He had himself within six years procured above forty learned preachers and graduates within the province of York besides those he found there. As to the Prophesyings, he has consulted other bishops who think as he does, that they are a thing profitable to the Church, and therefore expedient to be continued. He explains at length what was done at these gatherings and under what conditions, and gives his final determination thus: If it be your Majesty's pleasure to remove me out of this place, I will in all humility yield thereunto, and render again to your Majesty that I received of the same.

He who acts against his conscience builds for hell. And what should I win, if I gained I will not say a bishopric, but the whole world, and lose mine own soul? The proud Tudor spirit of Elizabeth resented the faithfulness of this English Ambrose. Offended at this plain speaking she resolved to have him suspended and sequestered.

As though she were archbishop herself, setting him aside, she sent her own commandment by her letters direct to the rest of the bishops, to put down these exercises. From that hour to the day of his death, seven years later, so far as his office as archbishop was concerned, he was practically a dead man.

He was confined to his own house and sequestered for six months. Members of the Privy Council pleaded for him, and the bishops of his province besought his restoration to office, but in vain. At the end of the six months he was summoned before the Star Chamber, and there lectured and humiliated for his disobedience. He still remained sequestered and the duties of his office were placed in commission. There was some talk of actual deprivation, but stopping short of this he remained under the Queen's displeasure for the rest of his days.

As these seven years passed slowly away, blindness came down upon the old man, and, tormented as he was besides by a painful disease, he sighed for that release which came at length on the 6th of July, , in his seventy-third year. The Queen's despotic treatment of the highest ecclesiastical officer in the State is the most striking illustration of that absolute dominion she exercised always over the Church and by which she made it what it has since remained. THE succession of Whitgift to Grindal in , as archbishop of Canterbury, had much to do with the deepening and embitterment of the puritan conflict within the Church's borders.

The earlier bishops of Elizabeth's reign, Grindal, Parkhurst of Norwich, Jewell of Salisbury, Pilkington of Durham, Sandys of London, Horn of Winchester, and Cox of Ely, were not unfriendly to puritan ideas, indeed, had the Queen permitted, would have made large concessions to them. For, as we know, they had themselves been exiles for protestantism among the Reformed Churches of Switzerland and the Upper Rhine.

The advent of Whitgift to Canterbury, of Aylmer to London and Freke to Norwich, meant more than an ordinary change in the episcopate. It meant that the Queen had now those to her hand who would readily work her will. There was a time when it seemed as if Whitgift would have thrown in his lot with the puritan party. For in , as fellow of Trinity and Lady Margaret professor he signed the petition to the chancellor against the revival of the papal vestments. But when in Cartwright created a stir in the University by assailing the hierarchical constitution of the Church, he at once entered the lists against him, reported his teachings to the chancellor, and joined the movement for obtaining new statutes, under the powers of which Cartwright was deprived of his Lectureship and expelled the University.

In , again, he was chosen to reply to the First Admonition of Field and Wilcocks, and also to the Second by Cartwright. Thus when Whitgift came to be archbishop he was already in full sympathy with the Queen in her dislike of puritan ideas. He was with her also in her love of pomp and stately show. No ecclesiastic since Cardinal Wolsey had departed so far from puritan simplicity of life. Sir George Paule, the comptroller of his household, tells us that 'he had a desire always to keep a great and bountiful House,' that 'upon some chief Festival days he was served with great solemnity upon the knee for the upholding of the state that belonged unto his place.

On his advancement to his new position the Queen charged him to restore the discipline of the Church and the Uniformity established by law which, said she, 'through the connivance of some prelates, the obstinacy of the puritans and the power of some noblemen is run out of square. The week after his confirmation at Lambeth he issued to the bishops of his province certain Articles which were aimed both against recusants and puritans.

Those specially bearing upon the latter required, 1 That none be permitted to read and preach and catechise in the Church unless he do, four times a year at least, minister the sacraments according to the Book of Common Prayer; 2 That all preachers do at all times wear and use such kind of apparel as is prescribed by the Book of Advertisements and her Majesty's Injunctions; and 3 That none be admitted unless he subscribe Articles a asserting the Queen's supremacy over all causes ecclesiastical as well as civil; b declaring that the Book of Common Prayer contains nothing contrary to the Word of God, he promising to use no other form ofservice; and c avowing acceptance of the Thirty-nine Articles of After the promulgation of these Articles the archbishop carried out a Metropolitical Visitation to see them enforced.

The first appearance of serious opposition was in his own diocese of Kent where some twenty ministers refused to subscribe. They were willing, they said, to subscribe to the Prayer Book, so far as it was not contrary to the Word of God, but they were not prepared to say there was nothing in the book contrary thereto, and they proceeded to indicate several things they regarded as imperfect They also stated their objections to the observance of Saints' Days, and to the public reading of the Apocrypha, and they desired that the attire of ministers might be as in the second year of Edward VI.

They further thought that the length of the Litany unduly hindered the sermon, that the prayers were over long, and they could not agree that children were really regenerated and necessarily saved by being baptized. On matters of church polity also they held equally decided views, objecting to the creation of superior clergy, and contending that archbishops, bishops and priests were inventions of men, the practical effect of which was to deface the true Word of God. They noted the omission of Elders such as those recognised in the New Testament, and contended that the people in every church ought to have right and liberty to choose their own ministers.

Notwithstanding this statement of their views, however, they were still called upon to subscribe the new Articles, and refusing to do so, were pronounced contumacious, and required to answer at law in February following. The same proceedings occurred elsewhere. In Norfolk alone, 64 parish ministers were suspended, and in Suffolk In the six counties of Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Kent, Lincoln and Sussex, no fewer than of the clergy were placed under interdict; those in Kent making formal appeal to the Privy Council against the archbishop's decision. There was also another part of his administration against which serious protest was made.

In December, , he established in more permanent and oppressive form the Court of High Commission, whose methods of investigation were described as worthy only of the Spanish Inquisition.