Изображения страниц

honest men to any truth, or to dissuade them from errors. . . . Life and goods are at his (the prince] command; only in divine things must he not command nor be obeyed. . . . It were contrary to the liberty and freedom God hath given us in Christ.

[ocr errors]

Yet he also said, in his “Brief Discovery”: “The prince hath the Book of God committed unto him, with charge to see it duly executed, by every one in his calling." Greenwood also thought he protested against religious persecution, and he separated from the Established Church as impure and intolerant; yet he said: “The magistrate ought to compel the infidels to hear the doctrine of the church.” Penry, another noble martyr, when urged to recant, replied:

If my blood were an ocean sea, and every drop thereof were a life unto me, I would give them all up for the maintenance of this my confession. Far be it from me that either the saving of an earthly life, the regard which I ought to have to the desolate outward state of a friendless widow and four poor fatherless children, or any other thing, should enforce me, by denial of God's truth, to perjure mine own soul. [Yet even he could say]: Her Majesty hath full authority from the Lord to establish and enact all laws, both ecclesiastical and civil, among her subjects; in making whereof the Lord requireth that her ecclesiastical acts be warranted by his written Word.

Francis Johnson, whom persecution drove to Holland in 1593, where he became pastor of an Independent Church in Amsterdam, declared in “An Answer to Master Jacob":

That it is not in the power of princes, or any man whatsoever, to persuade the conscience, and make members of the church, but this must be left to God alone, who only can do it. Princes may and ought, within their dominions, to abolish all false worship, and all false ministers what-| soever; and to establish the true worship and ministry appointed by God in his Word; commanding and compelling his subjects to come unto, and practice no other but this.

It seems difficult to reconcile these views of the sphere and duties of the magistrate, with those which these same men so clearly asserted as to the spirituality and independence of the church, and the community of believers under the sole headship of Christ. But their idea was this, that the magistrate had no authority in matters of religion except "according to the Word of the Lord,” and that resistance was right to whatever laws were judged to be opposed thereto. But, as the civil ruler must exercise his own judgment as to the meaning of Scripture, the way was left open for persecution, as the Separatists themselves found to their sorrow.


[ocr errors]

In 1596, the joint pastors of the English Independent Church at Amsterdam, banished from England by Elizabeth, published a “Confession of Faith," in which "they adhered to the doctrine that it was the official duty of princes and magistrates to 'suppress and root out hy their authority all false ministries, voluntary religions, and counterfeit Word of God; yea, to enforce all their subjects, whether ecclesiastical or civil, to do their duties to God and man.'" (Skeats, p. 33.) Of course, their controversy was with Her Majesty, for routing out the true ministry—that of the Independents !

The famous Westminster Assembly of divines was chiefly under Presbyterian control. “The position taker," says Skeats," .

“by the few Independents who were nominated to it, was not favorable to a very extensive degree of religious liberty.” They signed the "solemn League and Covenant,” which engaged “to extirpate” all heresy and schism from the land. Yet noble and brave words for liberty were spoken by Jeremiah Burroughs; and the Independents, as a body, opposed the establishment of Presbyterianism as a National Church; in this differing wholly from the Puritans. Even Burroughs, however, made certain exceptions in favor of civil interference in religious matters, which forbid his being ranked among the champions of religious liberty, in its proper sense. “The Independents" (in the Assembly) says Neal,“ pleaded for a toleration so far as to include themselves and the sober Anabaptists, but did not put the controversy on the most generous grounds; they were for tolerating all who were agreed in the fundamentals of Christianity.”

At the Savoy Synod, held 1658, and attended by the delegates of a hundred Independent Churches of England and Wales-among them such men as Owen, Goodwin, Nye, and others of wide reputation —many noble words were uttered in favor of religious toleration; yet its published Confession goes no farther than this: “We have always maintained this principle, that among all Christian states and churches there ought to be a forbearance and mutual indulgence to Christians of all persuasions, that keep to and hold fast the necessary foundations of faith and holiness." And Goodwin, in behalf of the Synod, said to Richard Cromwell: “We look at the magistrate, or custos utriusque tabulae, and so commend it [the gospel] to your trust, as our chief magistrate, to countenance and propagate." Dr. John Owen, a prince among the English Independents, published a sermon on Toleration; but it was toleration, and not full religious liberty, for which he pleaded. And in the “Resolutions" of his church at Yarmouth, published 1650, and" probably,” says Stoughton ("Church of the Restoration”), “ drawn up by Owen himself, expressing the


opinions of a wider circle than the provincial society which adopted them," occur the following sentiments : “As touching the magistrate's power in matters of faith and worship, we have declared our judgment in our late [Savoy] Confession; and though we greatly prize our Christian liberties, yet we profess our utter dislike and abhorrence of a universal toleration, as being contrary to the mind of God in his Word." “We judge that the taking away of tithes for maintenance of ministers, until as full a maintenance be fully secured, and as legally settled, tend very much to the destruction of the ministry and the preaching of the gospel in these nations.” “ It is our desire that countenance be not given, nor trust reposed in the hands of Quakers; they being persons of such principles as are destructive of the gospel, and inconsistent with the peace of civil societies." It was this very year that Quakers were banished from Massachusetts and Plymouth. Skeats says that Dr. Owen sanctioned the whipping of the Quaker women for speaking in church. Dr. Goodwin, another champion of Independency, wrote in favor of a large toleration; yet Thomas Edwards shows that, in denying the coercive power of the civil magistrate in religious matters, Goodwin proceeded on the ground that the magistrate cannot infallibly know what is heresy; implying that if he could do so, it would be his province to punish it.

We have purposely left till now the consideration of John Robinson's views of religions liberty, as he was the “father of Independence," and the father of the Pilgrim Colony. He was unquestionably far in advance of the Puritans in his views of church independency and the rights of conscience, yet, in various works, he published sentiments widely at variance with the doctrine of full religious freedom. Thus, in his controversy with the Baptists ("Religious Communion "), he says:


They [Helwisse and the Baptists generally ) add, " that the magistrate is not to meddle with religion or matters of conscience, nor compel men to this or that form of religion, because Christ is the King and Lawgiver of the church and consciences. James iv. 12." I answer, that this indeed proves that he may alter, devise, or establish nothing in religion other than Christ hath appointed, but proves not that he may not use his lawful power lawfully for the furtherance of Christ's kingdom.

In his “Observations, Divine and Moral," he says: " Yet do I not deny all compulsion to the hearing of God's Word, as the means to work religion.” In 1619, the year before the sailing of the Pilgrims for Holland, he published "A Certain and Necessary Apology of Certain Christians, no less contumeliously than commonly called


Brownists or Barrowists," in which he says: “We believe the very same, touching the civil magistrates, with the Belgic Reformed Church.” According to the Belgic Confession, “It is their (the magistrates') duty, not only to be careful to preserve the civil government, but also to endeavor that the ministry may be preserved, that all idolatry and counterfeit worship of God may be clean abolished."

In view of these published sentiments of leading Brownists and Independents, can it be maintained, that the difference between the Puritans and Pilgrims “involved nothing less than the whole question of enforced or free religion ?” Did not the Separatists, if not to the same extent as the non-conforming members of the Church of England, maintain views inconsistent with entire religious freedom? Free principles had indeed taken a stronger hold of the Independents than of the Puritans; yet the former never came clear out into the full recognition of the rights of conscience. Their separation from the Established Church was indeed a long step in the direction of freedom, which put them far in advance of the Puritan Episcopalians, the influence of which is apparent in the spirit and legislation of the two colonies; but it is too much to say, that the difference between the two parties was "radical and irreconcilable." The Puritans, by their non-conformity, entered, though far in the rear, the same path with the Separatists, not thinking to what lengths it would lead them. In America, the Puritans, as we have seen, immediately became Separatists, though they formally disavowed the name, and denounced Separation as a grievous heresy. In both classes there were underlying principles at work—especially their regard for the Word of God-of the ultimate drift of which they were not themselves fully conscious, but which, with the help of other sects whom they despised and persecuted, at length, though slowly and reluctantly, carried their descendants to the position which they now happily occupy—that of universal and unrestricted religious liberty.

J. CHAPLIN. Boston, Mass.

(To be Continued.)



Life and Lahors of Mr. Brassey. By ARTHUR HELPS.

Bell & Daldy. 1872.

E trust that no apology is needed for asking the readers of a

magazine largely occupied with theological subjects, to consider briefly the career of a man who was totally removed from speculative inquiries—whose labors were devoted entirely to solving material problems. The minister fails to “know the times” who allows himself to be ignorant of the character, the feelings, and the wants of the army of industry, alike the captains and the soldiers, who form, with each year, a more and more important element in our civilization. Not all the attacks of skeptics could have given so damaging a blow to the cause of Christianity in England, and to the Anglican Church, as was inflicted by the Bishop of Gloucester, when he recommended that all persons who should endeavor to awaken in the agricultural laborers a desire for higher wages, and for an improved social condition, should be ducked in the nearest horse-pond.' To be able to gain the ear of working men, to set before them the laws which govern the accumulation of wealth, and to exhibit honorable examples of conscientious, intelligent and successful industry, is a great means of usefulness.

1 We observe that the friends of his lordship apologize for the utterance, on the ground that it was " a post-prandial slip of the tongue." How far bis situation is improved by the plea, it would be foreign to our purpose to inquire.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »