Tenacious of Their Liberties: The Congregationalists in Colonial Massachusetts

Oxford University Press, 4. feb. 1999 - 304 sider
Although the importance of Congregationalism in early Massachusetts has engaged historians' attention for generations, this study is the first to approach the Puritan experience in Congregational church government from the perspective of both the pew and the pulpit. For the past decade, author James F. Cooper, Jr. has immersed himself in local manuscript church records. These previously untapped documents provide a fascinating glimpse of lay-clerical relations in colonial Massachusetts, and reveal that ordinary churchgoers shaped the development of Congregational practices as much as the clerical and elite personages who for so long have populated histories of this period. Cooper's new findings will both challenge existing models of church hierarchy and offer a new dimension to our understanding of the origins of New England democracy. Refuting the idea of clerical predominance in the governance of colonial Massachusetts churches, Cooper shows that the laity were both informed and empowered to rule with ministers, rather than beneath them. From the outset of the Congregational experiment, ministers articulated--and lay people embraced--principles of limited authority, higher law, and free consent in the conduct of church affairs. These principles were codified early on in the Cambridge Platform, which the laity used as their standard in resisting infringements upon their rights. By neglecting the democratic components of Congregationalism, Cooper argues, scholars have missed the larger political significance of the movement. Congregational thought and practice in fact served as one indigenous seedbed of several concepts that would later flourish during the Revolutionary generation, including the notions that government derives its legitimacy from the voluntary consent of the governed, that governors should be chosen by the governed, that rulers should be accountable to the ruled, and that constitutional checks should limit both the governors and the people. By examining the development of church government through the perspective of lay-clerical interchange, Cooper comes to a fresh understanding of the sometimes noble, sometimes sordid, and sometimes rowdy nature of church politics. His study casts new light upon Anne Hutchinson and the "Antinomian Controversy," the Cambridge Platform, the Halfway Covenant, the Reforming Synod of 1679, and the long-standing debate over Puritan "declension." Cooper argues that, in general, church government did not divide Massachusetts culture along lay-clerical lines, but instead served as a powerful component of a popular religion and an ideology whose fundamentals were shared by churchgoers and most ministers throughout much of the colonial era. His is a book that will interest students of American culture, religion, government, and history.

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1 The Implementation of the Congregational Way
Clerical Authority and Lay Liberty
Antinomianism and Its Aftermath
4 The Presbyterian Challenge
The Halfway Covenant
6 An Uneasy Balance
7 Declension and Reform
8 Clerical Conflict and the Decline of Sola Scriptura
9 Perpetuation and Disintegration
10 The Great Awakening and the Privatization of Piety

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Populære passager

Side 63 - How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is 'turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
Side 242 - New England's Memorial ; or, A brief relation of the most memorable and remarkable passages of the providence of God, manifested to the planters of New-England in America ; with special reference to the first colony thereof, called NewPlimouth.
Side 32 - Democracy, I do not conceyve that ever God did ordeyne as a fit government eyther for church or commonwealth. If the people be governors, who shall be governed? As for monarchy, and aristocracy, they are both of them clearely approoved, and directed in scripture, yet so as referreth the soveraigntie to himselfe, and setteth up Theocracy in both, as the best forme of government in the commonwealth, as well as in the church.28 26.
Side 84 - The parts of church government are all of them exactly described in the word of God, being parts or means of instituted worship, according to the second commandment, and therefore to continue one and the same unto the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, as a kingdom that cannot be shaken, until he shall deliver it up unto God, even to the Father.
Side 24 - The office of pastor and teacher, appears to be distinct. The pastor's special work is to attend to exhortation, and therein to administer a word of wisdom ; the teacher is to attend to doctrine, and therein to administer a word of knowledge...
Side 51 - Cotton, finding how he had been abused, and made (as himself said) their stalking horse, (for they pretended to hold nothing but what Mr. Cotton held, and himself did think the same,) did spend most of his time, both publicly and privately, to discover those errors, and to reduce such as were gone astray.
Side 26 - ... 4. To moderate the carriage of all matters in the church assembled; as, to propound matters to the church, to order the season of speech and silence, and to pronounce sentence according to the mind of Christ, with the consent of the church.
Side 12 - Looke into all the stories whether divine or humane, and you shall never finde that God ever rooted out a people that had the Ordinances planted amongst them, and themselves planted into the Ordinances : never did God suffer such plants to be plucked up; on all their glory shall be a defence.
Side 16 - III. They who have power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power, also, to set the bounds and limitations of the power and place unto which they call them.

Om forfatteren (1999)

James F. Cooper, Jr. is Associate Professor of History at Oklahoma State University.

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