Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

The non-conformists, generally, adopted the doctrine and discipline of Calvin. On this account, they were disliked by the Lutherans ; and the conduct of these, in their regard, was most uncharitable. They proceeded so far,-(as we are informed by Dr. Maclaine *), as to call “ the English mar“ tyrs, who, in the reign of queen Mary, had

sealed the reformation with their blood, the “ devil's martyrs."

LVIII. 2.

The principal Points in difference between the Church of

England and the Puritans.

From Mosheimt, we transcribe the following very accurate statement of this difference.

“ The principles laid down by the commissioners “ of the queen's high court of commission, on the

one hand, and the puritans on the other, were

very different.

1. “ For, in the first place, the former main“ tained, that the right of reformation,--that is, “ the privilege of removing the corruptions, and “ of correcting the errors, that may have been in“ troduced into the doctrine, discipline, or worship “ of the church, is lodged in the sovereign, or civil

“mon Prayer-books for the use of the English church “ of Geneva;" the xxist, which contains “ the Burden of “ Issachar, or, the Tyrannical Power and Practices of the

Presbyterial Government in Scotland," first printed in 1646; and the xxiiid article, which contains “ the Dissertatio de Pace, &c. or, a Discourse touching the Peace and Con“ cord of the Church,” supposed to be written by Mr. John “ Hales, of Eaton;" also deserve the reader's perusal.

* Translation of Mosheim's History, ed. 2. vol. iv. p. 87. + Ibid. cent. xvi. s. 3. part ii.

magistrate alone; while the latter denied that the

power of the magistrate extended so far; and “ maintained, that it was rather the business of the

clergy to restore religion to its native dignity “ and lustre. This was the opinion of Calvin, as “ has been already observed.

2dly, “ The queen's commissioners maintained, “ that the rule of proceeding, in reforming the “ doctrine or discipline of the church, was not to “ be derived from the sacred writings alone, but “ also from the writings and decisions of the “ fathers, in the primitive ages. The puritans, on “ the contrary, affirmed, that the inspired word of “God, being the pure and only fountain of wis“ dom and truth, it was from thence alone; that the “ rules and directions were to be drawn, which “ were to guide the measures of those, who un“ dertook to purify the faith, or to rectify the dis

cipline and worship of the church; and that the « ecclesiastical institutions of the early ages, as “ also the writings of the ancient doctors, were

absolutely destitute of all sort of authority. 3dly, “ The queen's commissioners ventured to assert, that the church of Rome was a true church,

though corrupt and erroneous in many points of “ doctrine and government; that the Roman pon“ tiff, though chargeable with temerity and arro

gance, in assuming to himself the title and “jurisdiction of head of the whole church, was,

[ocr errors]

“ nevertheless, to be esteemed a true and lawful

bishop; and consequently, that the ministers, “ ordained by him, were qualified for performing “ the pastoral duties. This was a point which the

English bishops thought it absolutely necessary “ to maintain, since they could not otherwise claim “ the honour of deriving their dignities, in an un“ interrupted line of succession, from the apostles. “ But, the puritans entertained very different no“tions of this matter ; they considered the Romish

hierarchy as a system of political and spiritual

tyranny, that had justly forfeited the title and “ privileges of a true church ; they looked upon “ its pontiff as antichrist; and its discipline as “ vain, superstitious, idolatrous, and diametrically “ opposite to the injunctions of the gospel ; and in

consequence of this, they renounced its commu“ nion, and regarded all approaches to its disci

pline and worship, as highly dangerous to the “ cause of true religion.

4thly, “ The court commissioners considered, “ as the best and most perfect form of ecclesiastical “ government, that which took place during the « first four or five centuries ;- they even preferred “ it to that which had been instituted by the

apostles ; because, as they alleged, our Saviour “ and his apostles had accommodated the form " mentioned in the scripture, to the feeble and in“ fant state of the church ; and left it to the wisdom " and discretion of future ages, to modify it in "such manner as might be suitable to the trium

phant progress of christianity, the grandeur of a

66

[ocr errors]

“ national establishment, and also to the ends of “ civil policy. The puritans asserted, in opposi“tion to this, that the rules of church government

were clearly laid down in the holy scriptures, “ the only standard of spiritual discipline; and that “ the apostles, in establishing the first christian “ church on the aristocratical plan, that was then s observed in the Jewish sanhedrim, designed it

as an unchangeable model, to be followed in all “ times and in all places.

5thly, “ The court reformers were of opinion, “ that things indifferent, which are neither com“ manded nor forbidden by the authority of scrip“ture, such as the external rites of public worship,

the kind of vestments that are to be used by the

clergy, religious festivals, and the like, might be “ ordered, determined, and rendered a matter of

obligation, by the authority of the civil magis

trate ; and that in such a case, the violation of “ his commands would be no less criminal, than an act of rebellion against the laws of the state.

The puritans alleged, in answer to this assertion, that it was an indecent prostitution of power, to impose, as necessary and indispensable, those “ things which Christ had left in the class of mat“ters indifferent; since this was a manifest en“ croachment upon that liberty with which the

divine Saviour had made us free. To this they added, that such rites and ceremonies as had “ been abused to idolatrous purposes, and had a

manifest tendency to revive the impressions of superstition and popery in the minds of men,

66

66

“could by no means be considered as indifferent, “but deserved to be rejected, without hesitation,

as impious and profane. Such, in their estimation, were the religious ceremonies of ancient

times, whose abrogation was refused by the queen “ and her council.”

LVIII. 3.

Division of the English Puritans into Presbyterians,

Independents, and Baptists. 1. These were the tenets of the original Puritans : the Presbyterians are usually considered as their legitimate descendants.

2. The Independents sprang from the Brownists, the most distinguished of the sects, into which the puritans divided. Brown, the founder of this denomination of puritans, was a man of talent. His aim was, to model his party into the form of the christian church, in its infant state. Being dissatisfied with the treatment which he received in England, he retired to the continent: and founded churches in Middleburgh, Amsterdam, and Leyden. Thus abandoned by him, his English followers mitigated the extreme simplicity of his plan, but preserved its leading principle--that each congregation is itself a separate and independent church, acknowledging no superiority or right of interference, in any man, or in any body of men.

. This gave them the name of independents, or of congregation-brethren. A fuller account of them seen in the writer's Confessions of Faith, ch. 12.

may be

« ForrigeFortsæt »