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The Development of Religious Liberty in Connecticut by M. Louise Greene, Ph. D.

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The following monograph is the outgrowth of three earlier and shorter
essays. The first, "Church and State in Connecticut to 1818," was
presented to Yale University as a doctor's thesis. The second, a
briefer and more popularly written article, won the Straus prize
offered in 1896 through Brown University by the Hon. Oscar S. Straus.
The third, a paper containing additional matter, was so far approved
by the American Historical Association as to receive honorable mention
in the Justin Winsor prize competition of 1901.

With such encouragement, it seemed as if the history of the
development of religious liberty in Connecticut might serve a larger
purpose than that of satisfying personal interest alone. In
Connecticut such development was not marked, as so often elsewhere, by
wild disorder, outrageous oppression, tyranny of classes, civil war,
or by any great retrograde movement. Connecticut was more modern in
her progress towards such liberty, and her contribution to advancing
civilization was a pattern of stability, of reasonableness in
government, and of a slow broadening out of the conception of liberty,
as she gradually softened down her restrictions upon religious and
personal freedom.

And yet, Connecticut is recalled as a part of that New England where
those not Congregationalists, the unorthodox or radical thinkers,
found early and late an uncomfortable atmosphere and restricted
liberties. By a study of her past, I have hoped to contribute to a
fairer judgment of the men and measures of colonial times, and to a
correct estimate of those essentials in religion and morals which
endure from age to age, and which alone, it would seem, must
constitute the basis of that "ultimate union of Christendom" toward
which so many confidently look. The past should teach the present,
and one generation, from dwelling upon the transient beliefs and
opinions of a preceding, may better judge what are the non-essentials
of its own.

Connecticut's individual experiment in the union of Church and State
is separable neither from the New England setting of her earliest days
nor from the early years of that Congregationalism which the colony
approved and established. Hence, the opening chapters of her story
must treat of events both in old England and in New. And because
religious liberty was finally won by a coalition of men like-minded in
their attitude towards rights of conscience and in their desire for
certain necessary changes and reforms in government, the final
chapters must deal with social and political conditions more than with
those purely religious. It may be pertinent to remark that the passing
of a hundred years since the divorce of Church and State and the
reforms of a century ago have brought to the commonwealth some of the
same deplorable political conditions that the men of the past, the
first Constitutional Reform Party, swept away by the peaceful
revolution of 1818.

For encouragement, assistance, and suggestions, I am especially
indebted to Professor George B. Adams and Professor Williston Walker
of Yale University, to Professor Charles M. Andrews of Bryn Mawr, to
Dr. William G. Andrews, rector of Christ Church, Guilford, Conn., and
to Professor Lucy M. Salmon of Vassar College. Of numerous libraries,
my largest debt is to that of Yale University.


NEW HAVEN, October 20, 1905.




Preparation of the English nation for the two earliest forms of
Congregationalism, Brownism and Barrowism.--Rise of Separatism and
Puritanism.--Non-conformists during Queen Mary's reign.--Revival of
the Reformation movement under Queen Elizabeth.--Development of
Presbyterianism.--Three Cambridge men, Robert Browne, Henry Greenwood,
and Henry Barrowe.--Brownism and Barrowism.--The Puritans under
Elizabeth, her early tolerance and later change of policy.--Arrest of
the Puritan movement by the clash between Episcopal and Presbyterian
forms of polity and the pretensions of the latter.--James the First
and his policy of conformity.--Exile of the Gainsborough and Scrooby
Separatists.--Separatist writings.--General approachment of Puritans
and Separatists in their ideas of church polity.--The Scrooby exiles
in America.--Sympathy of the Separatists of Plymouth Colony with both
the English Established Church and with English Puritans.


English Puritans decide to colonize in America.--Friendly relations
between the settlements of Salem and Plymouth.--Salem decides upon the
character of her church organization.--Arrival of Higginson and
Skelton with recruits.--Formation of the Salem church and election of
officers.--Governor Bradford and delegates from Plymouth present.--The
beginning of Congregational polity among the Puritans and the break
with English Episcopacy.--Formation and organization of the New
England churches.


Church and State in the four New England colonies.--Early theological
dissensions and disturbances.--Colonial legislation in behalf of
religion.--Development of state authority at the cost of the
independence of the church.--Desire of Massachusetts for a platform of
church discipline.--Practical working of the theory of Church and
State in Connecticut.


Necessity of a church platform to resist innovations, to answer
English criticism, and to meet changing conditions of colonial
life.--Summary of the Cambridge Platform.--Of the history of
Congregationalism to the year 1648.--Attempt to discipline the
Hartford, Conn., church according to the Platform.--Spread of its
schism.--Petition to the Connecticut General Court for some method of
relief.--The Ministerial Convention or "Synod" of 1657.--Its Half-Way
Covenant.--Attitude of the Connecticut churches towards the
measure.--Pitkin's petition to the General Court of Connecticut for
broader church privileges.--The Court's favorable reply.--Renewed
outbreak of schism in the Hartford and other churches.--Failure in the
calling of a synod of New England churches.--The Connecticut Court
establishes the Congregational Church.--Connecticut's first toleration
act.--Settlement of the Hartford dispute.--The new order and its
important modifications of ecclesiastical polity.


Drift from religious to secular, and from intercolonial to individual
interests.--Reforming Synod of 1680.--Religious life in the last
quarter of the seventeenth century.--The "Proposals of 1705" in
Massachusetts.--Introduction in Connecticut of the Saybrook System of
Consociated Church government.


The Confession of Faith.--Heads of Agreement.--Fifteen
Articles.--Attitude of the churches towards the Platform.--Formation
of Consociations.--The "Proviso" in the act of establishment.--Neglect
to read the proviso to the Norwich church.--Contention arising.--The
Norwich church as an example of the difficulty of collecting church


Toleration in the "Proviso" of the act establishing the Saybrook
Platform.--Reasons for passing the Toleration Act of 1708.--Baptist
dissenters.--Rogerine-Baptists, Rogerine-Quakers or Rogerines, and
their persecution.--Attitude toward the Society of Friends or
Quakers.--Toward the Church of England men or
Episcopalians.--Political events parallel in time with the dissenters'
attempts to secure exemption from the support of the Connecticut
Establishment.--General Ineffectiveness of the Toleration Act.


General dissatisfaction with the Toleration Act.--Episcopalians resent
petty persecution.--Their desire for an American
episcopate.--Conversion of Cutler, Rector of Yale College, and
others.--Bishop Gibson's correspondence with Governor Talcott.
--Petition of the Fairfield churchmen.--Law of 1727 exempting
Churchmen.--Persecution growing out of neglect to enforce the
law.--Futile efforts of the Rogerines to obtain exemption.--Charges
against the Colony of Connecticut.--The Winthrop case.--Quakers
attempt to secure exemption from ecclesiastical rates.--Exemption
granted to Quakers and Baptists.--Relative position of the dissenting
and established churches in Connecticut.


Minor revivals in Connecticut before 1740.--Low tone of moral and
religious life.--Jonathan Edwards's sermons at Northampton.--Revival
of religious interest and its spread among the people.--The
Rev. George Whitefield.--The Great Awakening.--Its immediate results.


The Separatist churches.--Old Lights and New.--Opposition to the
revival movement.--Severe colony laws of 1742-43--Illustrations of
oppression of reformed churches, as the North Church of New Haven, the
Separatist Church of Canterbury, and that of Enfield.--Persecution of
individuals, as of Rev. Samuel Finlay, James Davenport, John Owen,
and Benjamin Pomeroy.--Persecution of Moravian missionaries,--The
colony law of 1746, "Concerning who shall vote in Society
meeting."--Change in public opinion.--Summary of the influence of the
Great Awakening and of the great schism.


Revision of the laws of 1750.--Attitude of the colonial authorities
toward Baptists and Separatists.--Influence on colonial legislation of
the English Committee of Dissenters.--Formation of the Church of Yale
College.--Separatist and Baptist writers in favor of
toleration.--Frothingham's "Articles of Faith and Practice."--Solomon
Paine's "Letter."--John Bolles's "To Worship God in Spirit and in
Truth."--Israel Holly's "A Word in Zion's Behalf."--Frothingham's "Key
to Unlock the Door."--Joseph Brown's "Letter to Infant
Baptizers."--The importance of the colonial newspaper.--Influence of
English non-conformity upon the religious thought of New England.--The
Edwardean School.--Hopkinsinianism and the New Divinity.--The clergy
and the people.--Controversy over the renewed proposal for an American
episcopate.--Movement for consolidation among all religious
bodies.--Influences promoting nationalism and, indirectly, religious
toleration.--Connecticut at the threshold of the
Revolution.--Connecticut clergymen as advocates of civil
liberty.--Greater toleration in religion granted by the laws of
1770.--Development of the idea of democracy in Church and
State.--Exemption of Separatists by the revision of the laws in
1784.--Virtual abrogation of the Saybrook Platform.--Status of


Expansion of towns.--Revival of commerce and industries.--Schools and
literature.--Newspapers.--Rise of the Anti-Federal party.--Baptist,
Methodist, and Separatist dissatisfaction.--Growth of a broader
conception of toleration within the Consociated churches.


Opposition to the Establishment from dissenters, Anti-Federalists, and
the dissatisfied within the Federal ranks.--Certificate law of 1791 to
allay dissatisfaction.--Its opposite effect.--A second Certificate law
to replace the former.--Antagonism created by legislation in favor of
Yale College.--Storm of protest against the Western Land bills of
1792-93.--Congregational missions in Western territory.--Baptist
opposition to legislative measures.--The revised Western Land bill as
a basis for Connecticut's public school fund.--Result of the
opposition roused by the Certificate laws and Western Land bills.


Government according to the charter of 1662.--Party tilt over town
representation.--Anti-Federal grievances against the Council or
Senate, the Judiciary, and other defective parts of the machinery of
government.--Constitutional questions.--Rise of the
Democratic-Republican party.--Influence of the French Revolution.--The
Federal members of the Establishment or "Standing Order," the
champions of religious and political stability.--President Dwight, the
leader of the Standing Order.--Leaders of the
Democratic-Republicans.--Political campaigns of 1804-1806.--Sympathy
for the defeated Republicans.--Politics at the close of the War of


Waning of the power of the Federal party in Connecticut.--Opposition
to the Republican administration during the War of
1812.--Participation in the Hartford Convention.--Economic benefits of
the war.--Attitude of the New England clergy toward the war.--The
Toleration party of 1816.--Act for the Support of Literature and
Religion.--Opposition.--Toleration and Reform Ticket of 1817.--New
Certificate Law.--Constitution and Reform Ticket of 1818.--Its
victory.--The Constitutional Convention.--New Constitution of
1818.--Separation of Church and State.






The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the
corner.--Psalm cxviii, 22.

The colonists of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven
were grounded in the system which became known as Congregational, and
later as Congregationalism. At the outset they differed not at all in
creed, and only in some respects in polity, from the great Puritan
body in England, out of which they largely came.[a]

For more than forty years before their migration to New England there
had been in old England two clearly developed forms of
Congregationalism, Brownism and Barrowism. The term Congregationalism,
with its allied forms Congregational and Congregationalist, would not
then have been employed. They did not come into general use until the
latter half of the seventeenth century, and were at first limited in
usage to defining or referring to the modified church system of New
England. The term "Independent" was preferred to designate the
somewhat similar polity among the nonconformist churches in old
England.[b] Brownism and Barrowism are both included in Dr. Dexter's
comprehensive definition of Congregationalism, using the term "to
designate that system of thought, faith, and practice, which starting
with the dictum that the conditions of church life are revealed in the
Bible, and are thence to be evolved by reverent common-sense, assisted
but never controlled by all other sources of knowledge; interprets
that book as teaching the reality and independent competency of the
local church, and the duty of fraternity and co-working between such
churches; from these two truths symmetrically developing its entire
system of principles, privileges, and obligations." [1] The
"independent competency of the local church" is directly opposed to
any system of episcopal government within the church, and is
diametrically opposed to any control by king, prince, or civil
government. Yet this was one of the pivotal dogmas of Browne and of
the later Separatists; this, a fundamental doctrine which Barrowe
strove to incorporate into a new church system, but into one having
sufficient control over its local units to make it acceptable to a
people who were accustomed to the autonomy and stability of a church
both episcopal and national in character.

In order to appreciate the changes in church polity and in the
religious temper of the people for which Browne and Barrowe labored,
one must survey the field in which they worked and note such
preparation as it had received before their advent. It is to be
recalled that Henry VIII substituted for submission to the Pope
submission to himself as head of a church essentially Romish in
ritual, teaching, and authority over his subjects. The religious
reformation, as such, came later and by slow evolution through the
gradual awakening of the moral and spiritual perceptions of the
masses. It came very slowly notwithstanding the fact that the first
definite and systematic opposition to the abuses and assumptions of
the clergy had arisen long before Henry's reign. As early as 1382, the
itinerant preachers, sent out by Wyckliff, were complained of by the
clergy and magistrates as teachers of insubordinate and dangerous
doctrines. Thenceforward, outcroppings of dissatisfaction with the
clergy appear from time to time both in English life and
literature. This dissatisfaction was silenced by various acts of
Parliament which were passed to enforce conformity and to punish
heresy. Their character and intent were the same whether the head of
the church wore the papal tiara or the English crown. Two hundred
years after Wyckliff, in 1582, laws were still fulminated against
"divers false and perverse people of certain new sects," for
Protestant England would support but one form of religion as the moral
prop of the state. She regarded all innovations as questionable, or
wholly evil, and their authors as dangerous men. Chief among the
latter was Robert Browne. But before Browne's advent and in the days
of Henry the Eighth, there had been a large, respectable, and steadily
increasing party whose desire was to remain within the English church,
but to purify it from superstitious rites and practices, such as
penances, pilgrimages, forced oblations, and votive offerings. They
wished also to free the ritual from many customs inherited from the
days of Rome's supremacy. It was in this party that the leaven of
Protestantism had been working. Luther and Henry, be it remembered,
had died within a year of each other. Under the feeble rule of Edward
the Sixth, the English reform movement gained rapidly, and, in 1550,
upon the refusal of Bishop Hooper to be consecrated in the usual
Romish vestments, it began to crystallize in two forms, Separatism and
Puritanism.[c] In spite of much opposition, the teachings of Luther,
Calvin, and other Continental reformers took root in England, and
interested men of widely different classes. They stirred to new
activity the scattered and persecuted groups, that, from time to time,
had met in secret in London and elsewhere to read the Scriptures and
to worship with their elected leaders in some simpler form of service
than that prescribed by law. Under Mary's persecution, these
Separatists increased, and with other Protestants swelled the roll of
martyrs. In her severity, the Queen also drove into exile many able
and learned men, who sought shelter in Geneva, Zurich, Basle, and
Frankfort, where they were hospitably entertained. Upon their return,
there was a marked increase in the Calvinistic tone both of preaching
and teaching in the English church and in the university lecture
rooms, especially those of Cambridge. Among the most influential
teachers was Thomas Cartwright,[d] in 1560-1562, Lady Margaret
Professor of Divinity at Cambridge. While having no sympathy with the
nonconformist or Separatist of his day, Cartwright accepted the polity
and creed of Calvin in its severer form. He became junior-dean of
St. John's, major-fellow of Trinity, and a member of the
governing-board. In 1565 he went to Ireland to escape the heated
controversy of the period which centred in the "Vestiarian"
movement. He was recalled in 1569 to his former professorship, and in
September, 1571, was forced out of it because, when controversy
changed from vestments to polity, he took extreme views of church
discipline and repudiated episcopal government.[e] While Cartwright
was very pronounced in his views, his desire at first was that the
changes in church polity should be brought about by the united action
of the Crown and Parliament. Such had been the method of introducing
changes under the three sovereigns, Henry, Mary, and Elizabeth. With
this brief summary of the reform movements among the masses and in the
universities covering the years until Cartwright, through the
influence of the ritualistic church party, was expelled from
Cambridge, and Robert Browne, as a student there, came under the
strong Puritan influence of the university, we pass to a consideration
of Brownism.

Robert Browne was graduated from Cambridge in 1572, the year after
Cartwright's expulsion. The next three years he taught in London and
"wholly bent himself to search and find out the matters of the church:
as to how it was guided and ordered, and what abuses there were in the
ecclesiastical government then used." [2] When the plague broke out in
London, Browne went to Cambridge. There, he refused to accept the
bishop's license to preach, though urged to do so, because he had come
to consider it as contrary to the authority of the
Scriptures. Nevertheless, he continued preaching until he was silenced
by the prelate. Browne then went to Norwich, preaching there and at
Bury St. Edmunds, both of which had been gathering-places for the
Separatists. At Norwich, he organized a church. Writing of Browne's
labors there in 1580 and 1581, Dr. Dexter says: "Here, following the
track which he had been long elaborating, he thoroughly discovered and
restated the original Congregational way in all its simplicity and
symmetry. And here, by his prompting and under his guidance, was
formed the first church in modern days of which I have any knowledge,
which was intelligently and one might say philosophically
Congregational in its platform and processes; he becoming its pastor."
[3] Persecution followed Browne to Norwich, and in order to escape it
he, in 1581, migrated with his church to Middelburg, in
Zealand. There, for two years, he devoted himself to authorship,
wherein he set forth his teachings. His books and pamphlets, which had
been proscribed in England, were printed in Middelburg and secretly
distributed by his friends and followers at home. But Browne's
temperament was not of the kind to hold and mould men together, while
his doctrine of equality in church government was too strong food for
people who, for generations, had been subservient to a system that
demanded only their obedience. His church soon disintegrated. With but
a remnant of his following, he returned in 1583 by way of Scotland
into England, finding everywhere the strong hand of the government
stretched out in persecution. Three years later, after having been
imprisoned in noisome cells some thirty times within six years,
utterly broken in health, if not weakened also in mind, and never
feeling safe from arrest while in his own land, Browne finally sought
pardon for his offensive teachings and, obtaining it, reentered the
English communion. Though he was given a small parish, he was looked
upon as a renegade, and died in poverty about 1631, at an extreme old
age. He died while the Pilgrim Separatists were still a struggling
colony at Plymouth, repudiating the name of Brownists; before the
colonial churches had embodied in their system most of the
fundamentals of his; and long before the value of his teachings as to
democracy, whether in the church or by extension in the state, had
dawned upon mankind.

The connecting link between Brownism and Barrowism, whose similarities
and dissimilarities we shall consider together, or rather the
connecting link between Robert Browne and Henry Barrowe, was another
Cambridge student, John Greenwood. He was graduated in 1581, the year
that Browne removed to Middelburg. Greenwood had become so enamored
with Separatist doctrines, that within five years of his graduation he
was deprived of his benefice, in 1586, and sent to prison. While
there, he was visited by his friend, Henry Barrowe, a young London
lawyer, who, through the chance words of a London preacher, had been
converted from a wild, gay life to one devout and godly. During a
visit to Greenwood, Barrowe was arrested and sent to Lambeth Palace
for examination. Upon refusing to take the oath required by the
bishop, Barrowe was remanded to prison to await further
examination. Later, he damaged himself and his cause by an
unnecessarily bitter denunciation of his enemies and by a too dogmatic
assertion of his own principles. Accordingly, he was sent back to
prison, where, together with Greenwood, he awaited trial until March,
1593. Then, upon the distorted testimony of their writings, both men
were sentenced as seditious fellows, worthy of death. Though twice
reprieved at the seemingly last hour, they were hanged together on
April 6, 1593.

Both Greenwood and Barrowe frequently asserted that they never had
anything to do with Browne. [4] Yet it is probable that it was
Browne's influence which turned Greenwood's puritanical convictions to
Separatist principles. Barrowe had been graduated from Clare Hall,
Cambridge, in 1569-70; Browne, from Corpus Christi in 1572. The two
men, so different in character, probably did not meet in university
days, and certainly not later in London, where one went to a life of
pleasure and the other to teaching and to the study of the
Scriptures. Greenwood, however, had entered Cambridge in 1577-78, and
left it in 1581. Thus he was in college during the two years that
Browne was preaching in and near Cambridge. It is safe to assume that
the young scholar, soon to become a licensed preacher, and overflowing
with the Puritan zeal of his college, might be drawn either through
curiosity or admiration to hear the erratic and almost fanatic
preacher. Later, when Browne's writings were being secretly
distributed in England, both Barrowe and Greenwood had come in contact
with the London congregations to whom Browne had preached. The fact
that many men in England were thinking along the same lines as the
Separatists; that Browne had recanted just as Barrowe and Greenwood
were thrust into prison; and that they both disapproved in some
measure of Browne's teachings, might account for a denial of
discipleship. Browne's influence might even have been unrecognized by
the men themselves. Be that as it may, during their long
imprisonment, both Barrowe and Greenwood, in their teachings, in their
public conferences, and in their writings strove to outline a system
of church government and discipline, which was very similar to and yet
essentially different from Browne's.

Thus it happened that in the last decade of the sixteenth century two
forms of Congregationalism had developed, Brownism and Barrowism.
Neither Browne nor Barrowe felt any need, as did their later
followers, to demonstrate their doctrinal soundness, because in all
matters of creed they "were in full doctrinal sympathy with the
predominantly Calvinistic views of the English Established Church from
which they had come out."

"Browne, first of all English writers, set forth the Anabaptist
doctrine that the civil ruler had no control over the spiritual
affairs of the church and that State and Church were separate realms."
[5] In the beginning, Browne's foremost wish was not to establish a
new church system or polity, but to encourage the spiritual life of
the believer. To this end he desired separation from the English
church, which, like all other state churches, included all baptized
persons, not excommunicate, whether faithful or not to their baptismal
or confirmation vows to lead godly lives. [6] Moreover, as Browne did
not believe that the magistrates should have power to coerce men's
consciences, teaching, as he did, that the mingling of church offices
and civil offices was anti-Christian,[7] he was unwilling to wait for
a reformation to be brought about by the changing laws of the
state.[8] He further advocated such equality of power [9] among the
members of the church that in its government a democracy resulted, and
this theory, pushed to a logical conclusion, implied that a democratic
form of civil government was also the best.[f] Browne roughly
draughted a government for the church with pastors, teachers, elders,
deacons, and widows. He insisted, however, that these officers did not
stand between Christ and the ordinary believer, "though they haue the
grace and office of teaching and guiding.... Because eurie one of the
church is made Kinge, and Priest and a Prophet, under Christ, to
vpholde and further the kingdom of God."

Browne and Barrowe both made the Bible their guide in all matters of
church life. From its text they deduced the definition of a true
church as, "A company of faithful people gathered by the Word unto
Christ and submitting themselves in all things;" of a Christian, as
one who had made a "willing covenant with God, and thereby did live a
godly and Christian life."[10] This covenanting together of Christians
constituted a church. From their interpretation of the New Testament,
Browne and Barrowe held that this covenanting included repentance for
sin, a profession of faith, and a promise of obedience. Moreover, to
their minds, primitive Christianity had insisted upon a public,
personal narration of each covenanter's regenerative experience. From
sacred writ they derived their church organization also.[ll] Their
pastors were for exhorting or "edifying by all comfortable words and
promises in the Scriptures, to work in our hearts the estimate of our
duties with love and zeal thereunto." Their teachers were for teaching
or "delivering the grounds of Religion and meaning of the Scriptures
and confirming the same." Both officers were to administer baptism and
the Lord's supper, or "the Seals of the Covenant." The elders included
both pastors and teachers and also "Ruling Elders," all of whom were
for "oversight, counsel, and redressing things amiss," but the ruling
elders were to give special attention to the public order and
government of the church. According to both Browne and Barrowe, these
officers were to be the mouthpiece of the church in the admission,
censure, dismissal, or readmission of members. They were to prepare
matters to be brought before the church for action. They were also to
adjust matters, when possible, so as to avoid overburdening the church
or its pastor and teacher with trivial business. In matters spiritual,
they were to unite with the pastor and teacher in keeping watch over
the lives of the people, that they be of good character and godly

Browne taught that the church had power which it shared with its
officers as fellow-Christians, but which lifted it above them and
their office. It lay with the church to elect them. It lay with the
church to censure them. Barrowe also maintained that the church was
"above its institutions, above its officers," [12] and that every
officer was responsible to the church and liable to its censure as
well as indebted to it for his election and office. But he further
maintained that the members of the church should render meek and
submissive, faithful and loving obedience to their chosen
elders. Barrowe thus taught that guidance in religious matters should
be left in the hands of those to whom by election it had been
delegated. The elders were to be men of discernment, able to judge
"between cause and cause, plea and plea," to redress evil, and to see
that both the people and their officers[g] did their full duty in
accordance with the laws of God and the ordinances of the
church. Barrowe had seen the confusion and disintegration of Browne's
church, and he planned by thus introducing the Calvinistic theory of
eldership to avoid the pitfalls into which the Brownists had plunged
while practicing their new-found principle of religious
equality. Barrowe hoped by his system to secure the independence of
the local churches and also to avoid the repellent attitude of a
nation that was as yet unprepared to welcome any trend towards
democracy.[h] Having devised this system of compromise, Barrowe made a
futile attempt to interest Cartwright, but the latter regarded the
reformer as too heretical. Yet Cartwright himself, tired of waiting
for the better day when his desired reforms should be brought about
through the operation of Parliamentary laws, was attempting in
Warwickshire and Northamptonshire to test his system of

To the list of church officers already enumerated, both reformers
added deacons and widows. The deacons were to attend to the church
finances and all temporal cares, and, in their visiting of the sick
and afflicted, they were to be aided by the widows. The latter office,
however, soon fell into disuse, for it was difficult to find women of
satisfactory character, attainments, and physical ability, since, in
order to avoid scandal or censoriousness, those filling the office had
to be of advanced years.[i]

With respect to the relation of the churches among themselves, Browne
and Barrowe each insisted upon the integral independence and
self-governing powers of the local units. Both approved of the
"sisterly advice" of neighboring churches in matters of mutual
interest. Both held that in matters of great weight, synods, or
councils of all the churches should be summoned; that the delegates to
such bodies should advise and bring the wisdom of their united
experience to questions affecting the welfare of all the churches, and
also, when in consultation upon serious cases, that any one church
should lay before them. Browne insisted that delegates to synods
should be both ministerial and lay, while Barrowe leaned to the
conviction that they should be chosen only from among the church
officers. Both reformers limited the power of synods, maintaining that
they should be consultative and advisory only. [13] Their decisions
were not to be binding upon the churches as were those of the
Presbyterian synods,[j] whose authority both reformers regarded as a
violation of Gospel rule. The church system, outlined by these two
men, became, in time, the organization of the churches of Plymouth,
Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven. The character of their
polity fluctuated, as we shall see, leaning sometimes more to
Barrowism and sometimes, or in some respects, emphasizing the greater
democracy which Browne taught. In England, and because of the pressure
of circumstances among English exiles and colonists, Barrowe's
teachings at first gained the stronger hold and kept it for many
years. Moreover, as Barrowe's almost immediate followers embraced
them, there was no objection to the customary union of church and
state. And furthermore, if only the state would uphold this peculiar
polity, it might even insist upon the payment of contributions, which
both Browne and Barrowe had distinctly stated were to be voluntary and
were to be the only support of their churches. Though Barrowism was
more welcomed, eventually--yet not until long after the colonial
period--Brownism triumphed, and it predominates in the
Congregationalism of to-day.

The immediate spread of Barrowism was due to the poor Separatists of
London. Doubtless among them were many who in the preceding years had
listened to Browne and had begun to look up to him as their
Luther. While Barrowe and Greenwood were in prison, many of these
Separatists had gone to hear them preach and had studied their
writings. During the autumn of 1592, there had been some relaxation in
the severity exercised toward the prisoners, and Greenwood was allowed
occasionally to be out of jail under bail. He associated himself with
these Separatists, who, according to Dr. Dexter, had organized a
church about five years before, and who at once elected Greenwood to
the office of teacher. Dr. John Brown, writing later than Dr. Dexter,
claims this London church as the parent of English Congregationalism.
To make good the claim, he traces the history of the church by means
of references in Bradford's History, Fox's "Book of Martyrs," and in
recently discovered state papers to its existence as a Separate church
under Elizabeth, when, as early as 1571, its pastor, Richard Fitz, had
died in prison. Dr. Brown believes he can still farther trace its
origin to Queen Mary's reign, when a Mr. Rough, its pastor, suffered
martyrdom, and one Cuthbert Sympson was deacon. [l4] After the death
of Greenwood and Barrowe, this London congregation was sore pressed.
Their pastor, Francis Johnson, having been thrown into prison, they
began to make their way secretly to Amsterdam. There Johnson joined
them in 1597, soon after his release. To this London-Amsterdam church
were gathered Separatist exiles from all parts of England, for
converts were increasing,[k] especially in the rural districts of the
north, notwithstanding the fact that persecution followed hard upon

The policy of Elizabeth during the earlier years of her reign was one
of forbearance towards inoffensive Catholics and of toleration towards
all Protestants. Caring nothing for religion as such, her aim was to
secure peace and to increase the stability of her realm. This she did
by crushing malcontent Catholics, by balancing the factions of
Protestantism, and by holding in check the extremists, whether
High-Churchmen or the ultra-Puritan followers of Cartwright. She had
forced on the contending factions a sort of armed truce and silenced
the violent antagonism of pulpit against pulpit by licensing
preachers. The Acts of Supremacy and of Uniformity placed all
ecclesiastical jurisdiction, as well as all legislative power, in the
hands of the state. They outlined a system of church doctrine and
discipline from which no variation was legally
permitted. Notwithstanding the enforced outward conformity, the Bible
was left open to the masses to study, and private discussion and
polemic writing were unrestrained. The main principles of the
Reformation were accepted, even while Elizabeth resisted the sweeping
reforms which the strong Calvinistic faction of the Puritan party
would have made in the ceremonial of the English church. This she did
notwithstanding the fact that about the time Thomas Cartwright,
through the influence of the ritualists under Whitgift, had been
driven from Cambridge, Parliament had refused to bind the clergy to
the Three Articles on Supremacy, on the form of Church government, and
on the power of the Church to ordain rites and ceremonies. Parliament
had even suggested a reform of the liturgy by omitting from it those
ceremonies most obnoxious to the Puritan party.[l] That representative
assembly had but reflected the desire of all moderate statesmen, as
well as of the Puritans. But, in the twelve years between Cartwright's
dismissal from Cambridge and Browne's preaching there without a
license, a great change took place, altering the sentiment of the
nation. All but extremists drew back when Cartwright pushed his
Presbyterian notions to the point of asserting that the only power
which the state rightfully held over religion was to see that the
decrees of the churches were executed and their contemners punished,
or when this reformer still further asserted that the power and
authority of the church was derived from the Gospel and consequently
was above Queen or Parliament. Cartwright claimed for his church an
infallibility and control of its members far above the claims of Rome,
and, tired of waiting for a purification of existing conditions by
legislative acts, he had, as has been said, boldly organized, in
accordance with his system, the clergy of Warwickshire and
Northamptonshire. The local churches were treated as self-governing
units, but were controlled by a series of authoritative Classes and
Synods. Having done this, Cartwright called for the establishment of
Presbyterianism as the national church and for the vigorous
suppression of Episcopacy, Separatism, and all variations from his
standard. As he thus struck at the national church, at the Queen's
supremacy, and, seemingly to many Englishmen, at the very roots of
civil government and security, there was a sudden halt in the reform
movement. The impetus which would have probably brought about all the
changes that the great body of Puritans desired was arrested. Richard
Hooker's "Ecclesiastical Polity" swept the ground from under Thomas
Cartwright's "Admonition to Parliament." Hooker's broad and
philosophic reasoning showed that no one system of church-government
was immutable; that all were temporary; and that not upon any man's
interpretation of Scripture, or upon that of any group of men alone,
could the divine ordering of the world, of the church or of the state,
be based. Such order depended upon moral relations, upon social and
political institutions, and changed with times and nations.

The death of Mary Queen of Scots crushed the Catholic party, and the
defeat of the Armada left Elizabeth free to turn her attention to the
phases of the Protestant movement in her own realm. While Browne was
preaching in Norwich, the Queen raised Whitgift to the See of
Canterbury. He was the bitter opponent of all nonconformity, and
immediately the persecution both of Separatists and of Puritans became
severe. Elizabeth, sure at last of her throne and of her position as
head of the Protestant cause in Europe, gave her minister a free
hand. She demanded rigid conformity, but wisely forbore to revive many
of the customs which the Puritans had succeeded in rendering
obsolete. Notwithstanding such modifications, the English liturgy had
been so slightly altered that, "Pius the Fifth did see so little
variation in it from the Latin service that had been formerly used in
that Kingdom that he would have ratified it by his authority, if the
Queen would have so received it."[m] Elizabeth now forbade all
preaching, teaching, and catechising in private houses, and refused to
recognize lay or Presbyterian ordination. Ministers who could no
longer accept episcopal ordination, or subscribe to the Thirty-nine
Articles, or approve the Book of Common Prayer and conform to its
liturgy were silenced and deprived of their salaries. In default of
witnesses, charges against them were proved by their own testimony
under oath, whereby they were made to incriminate themselves. The
censorship of the press was made stringent, printing was restricted to
London and to the two universities, and all printers had to be
licensed. Furthermore, all publications, even pamphlets, had to
receive the approval of the Primate or of the Bishop of London. In
addition, the Queen established the Ecclesiastical Commission of
forty-four members, which became a permanent court where all authority
virtually centred in the hands of the archbishops. English law had not
as yet defined the powers and limitations of the Protestant
clergy. Consequently, this Commission assumed almost unlimited powers
and cared little for its own precedents. Its very existence undid a
large part of the work of the Reformation, and the successive
Archbishops of Canterbury, Parker, Whitgift, Bancroft, Abbott, and
Laud, claimed greater and more despotic authority than any papal
primate since the days of Augustine. The Commission passed upon all
opinions or acts which it held to be contrary to the Acts of Supremacy
and Uniformity. It altered or amended the Statutes of Schools and
Colleges; it claimed the right of deprivation of clergy and held them
at its mercy; it passed from decisions upon heresy, schism, or
nonconformity to judgment and sentence upon incest and similar
crimes. It could fine and imprison at will, and employ any measures
for securing information or calling witnesses. The result was that all
nonconformists and all Puritans drew closer together under
trial. Another result was that the Bible was studied more earnestly in
private, and that there was a public eager to read the religious books
and pamphlets published abroad and cautiously circulated in
England. Though the Presbyterians were confined to the nonconformist
clergy and to a comparatively small number among them, they were
rising in importance, and were accorded sympathetic recognition as a
section of the Puritan party. This party, as a whole, continued to
increase its membership. The Separatists also increased, for, as of
old, the blood of the martyrs became the seed of the church.

The hope that times would mend when James ascended the throne was soon
abandoned. As he had been trained in Scotch Presbyterianism, the
Presbyterians believed that he would grant them some favor, while the
Puritans looked for some conciliatory measures. Eight hundred Puritan
ministers, a tenth of all the clergy, signed the "Millenary Petition,"
asking that the practices which they most abhorred, such as the sign
of the cross in baptism, the use of the surplice, the giving of the
ring at marriage, and the kneeling during the communion service,
should be done away with. The petition was not Presbyterian, but was
strictly Puritan in tone. It asked for no change in the government or
organization of the church. It did ask for a reform in the
ecclesiastical courts, and it demanded provision for the training of
godly ministers. James replied to the petition by promising a
conference of prelates and of Puritan ministers to consider their
demands; but at the conference it was found that he had summpned it
only to air the theological knowledge upon which he so greatly prided
himself. His answer to the petition was that he would have "one
doctrine, one religion, in substance and in ceremony," and of the
remonstrants he added, "I will make them conform or I will harry them
out of the land." The harrying began. The recently organized
Separatist church at Gainsborough-on-Trent endured persecution for
four years, and then emigrated with its pastor, John Smyth, M.A., of
Christ's College, Cambridge. It found refuge in Amsterdam by the side
of the London-Amsterdam church and its pastor, Francis Johnson, who
had been Smyth's tutor in college days. The next year, after more of
the King's harrying, the future colonists of Plymouth, the Separatist
Church of Scrooby, an offshoot of the Gainsborough church, attempted
to flee over seas to Holland. The magistrates would not give them
leave to go, and to emigrate without permission had been counted a
crime since the reign of Richard II. Their first attempt to leave the
country was defeated and their leaders imprisoned. During their second
attempt, after a large number of their men had reached the ship with
many of their household goods, and while their wives and children were
waiting to embark, those on the beach were surprised and arrested, and
their goods confiscated. Public opinion forbade sending helpless women
and children to prison for no other offense than agreeing with and
wishing to join their husbands and fathers. Consequently the
magistrates let their prisoners go, but made no provision for
them. Helpless and destitute, they were taken in and cared for by the
people of the countryside, and sheltered until their men returned. The
latter had suffered shipwreck, because the Dutch captain had attempted
to sail away when he saw the approach of the English officers. When
the church had once more raised sufficient funds for the emigration,
the magistrates gave them a contemptuous permission to depart, "glad
to be rid of them at any price." So, in 1608, they also joined the
English exiles in Amsterdam. The rank injustice and cruelty of their
treatment, together with their patience and forbearance under their
sufferings, drew people's attention to the character and worth of the
pious "pilgrims" and Separatists whom James was constantly driving
forth from England.

Meanwhile, both in England and on the continent, the Separatists held
fast to the principles of their leaders, of which the cardinal ones
were a church wherein membership was not by birthright, but by
"conversion;" over which magistrates or government should have no
control; in which each congregation constituted an independent unit,
coequal with all others; and with which the state should have nothing
more to do than to see that members respected the decrees of the
church and were obedient to its discipline.

On the continent, the Separatists elaborated these fundamentals and
developed detailed and systematic expression of them. Such were the
"True Description out of the Word of God of the Visible Church" of the
London-Amsterdam church, put forth in 1589, and in which Barrowe
himself outlined his system; the "True Confession," issued by the same
church about ten years later; "The Points of Difference," some
fourteen in number, in which the London-Amsterdam church set forth
wherein it differed from the English church; and the "Seven Articles,"
signed by John Robinson and William Brewster. This last document the
exiled Scrooby church sent from Leyden to the English Council of State
in 1617, with the hope of convincing King James that if allowed to go
to America under the Virginia patent, and to worship there in their
own fashion, they would be desirable colonists and law-abiding
subjects. The "True Confession"[n] sets forth the nature, powers,
order, and officers of the church. It limits the sacraments to the
members, and baptism to their children. It insists upon the wisdom of
churches seeking advice from one another, and of their use of
certificates of membership so as to guard against the admission of
strangers coming from other churches, and possibly of unworthy
character. In the definition of eldership, the "True Confession"
passes out of the haze in which Barrowe's "True Description" left the
conflicting powers of the eldership, and of the church. It plainly
asserts that the elders have the power of guidance and also of
control, should members attempt to censure them or to interfere in
matters beyond their knowledge. This platform also insists that
magistrates should uphold the church which it defines, because it is
the one true church, and that they should oppose all others as
anti-Christian. [15] In the "Points of Difference," stress is again
laid upon the covenant-nature of the church, upon its voluntary
support, upon the right of election of officers, and upon the
abolishment of "Popish Canons, Courts, Classes, Customs or any human
inventions," including the Popish liturgy, the Book of Common Prayer,
and "all Monuments of Idolatry in garments or in other things, and all
Temples, Chapels, etc." Many of the Puritans desired these same
changes. Many favored a polity giving the local churches some degree
of choice in the election of their officers. If the "Points of
Difference" aimed to lay bare the errors of Episcopacy and of
Presbyterianism as well as to demonstrate the superior merits of the
new aspirant for the status of a national church, the "Seven Articles"
[16] aimed to minimize differences in church usage by omitting mention
of them when possible and by emphasizing agreement. The evident
advance along the line of a more authoritative eldership had developed
out of the experience of the first two English churches in
Amsterdam. John Robinson and his followers had held more closely to
Robert Browne's standard of Congregationalism, for Robinson maintained
that the government of the church should be vested in its membership
rather than in its eldership alone. In order to maintain this
principle in greater purity, Robinson withdrew his fold from their
first resting-place in Amsterdam to Leyden. Richard Clyfton, who had
been pastor of the church in Scrooby, remained in Amsterdam, partly
because he felt too old to migrate again, and partly because he leaned
to Francis Johnson's more aristocratic theories of church
government. These divergent views caused trouble in the Amsterdam
churches, and Robinson wished to be far enough away to be out of the
vortex of doctrinal eddies. For eleven years his people lived a
peaceful and exemplary church life in Leyden, and it was chiefly their
longing to rear their children in an English home and under English
influences that made them anxious to emigrate to America. As the years
passed, Robinson sympathized more with the Barrowistic standards of
other churches and came also to regard more leniently the English
Established Church as one having true religion under corrupt forms and
ceremonies, and accordingly one with which he could hold a limited
fellowship. This was a step in the approachment of Separatist and
Puritan, and Robinson was a most influential writer. Of necessity, his
work was largely controversial, but he wrote from the standpoint of
defense, and rarely departed from a broad and kindly spirit. In the
"Seven Articles" Robinson admits the royal supremacy in so far as to
countenance a passive obedience. His teaching had the greatest
influence in shaping the religious life of the first and second
generation of New Englanders.

The Separatists who remained in England devoted themselves to the
discussion of particular topics rather than to platforms of faith and
discipline. Many of the writers were men who, like the pastors of two
of the exiled churches, were at first ministers in good standing in
the English church; but, later, had allowed their Puritan tendencies
to outrun the bounds of that party and to become convictions that the
Bible commanded their separation from the Establishment as witnesses
to the corruptions it countenanced. Poring over the Bible story, they
had become enamored with the simplicity of the Gospel age.

From the days of Elizabeth, the English nation became more and more a
people of one book, and that book the Bible. As, deeply dyed with
Calvinism, they read over and over its sacred pages, they became a
serious, sombre, purposeful--and almost fanatic people. The faults and
extravagances of the Puritan party and of the later Commonwealth do
not at this time concern us. It is with their purposefulness, their
determination to make the church a home of vigorous and visible
righteousness, and to preserve their ecclesiastical and civil
liberties from the encroachment of Stuart pretensions, that we have to
do. More and more, as has been said, the Puritan was coming to the
conviction that the best way to reform the church would be to
substitute some restrictive policy for her all-embracing membership,
or, at least, to supplement it by such measures of local church
discipline as should practically exclude the unregenerate and the
immoral. Again, the Church of England could be arraigned as a
politico-ecclesiastical institution, and in the pages of the Bible,
King James's theory of the divine right of kings and bishops found no
support. It was obnoxious alike to Separatist and Puritan, and James's
Puritan subjects had the sympathy of more than three fourths of the
squires and burgesses in the king's first Parliament of 1604, while
the Separatists counted some twenty thousand converts in his
realm. The Puritan opposition was a formidable one to provoke. Yet
"the wisest fool in Christendom" jeered at its clergy and scolded its
representatives in Parliament for daring to warn him, in their reply
to his boasted divine right of kings, that

Your majesty would be misinformed if any man should deliver that
the Kings of England have any absolute power in themselves either
to alter religion, or to make any laws concerning the same,
otherwise than as in temporal causes, by consent of Parliament.

It was the extravagant claims for himself and his bishops, coupled
with his lawless overriding of justice and his profligate use of the
national wealth, that undermined the king's throne and prepared the
downfall of the House of Stuart. Notwithstanding the remonstrance of
Parliament, James's insistence upon his divine right, by very force of
reiteration, whether his own or that of the clergy who favored
royalty, won a growing recognition from a conservative people. For
his king as the political head of the nation, the Puritan had all the
Englishman's half-idolatrous reverence, until James's own acts
outraged justice and substituted contempt.

The self-restraint for which every Separatist, every Puritan, strove,
was characteristic of the great reform party. They asked only for
ecclesiastical betterment, for the reform of the ecclesiastical
courts, for provision for a godly ministry, and for the suppression of
"Popish usages." These requests of the "Millenary Petition" were,
after the Guy Fawkes plot, urged with all the intensity of a people
who, as they looked abroad upon the feeble and warring Protestantism
of Europe, and at home upon the attempt to revive Romanism, believed
themselves the sole hope and savior of the Protestant
cause. Persecution had created a small measure of tolerance throughout
all nonconformist bodies. Fear of the revival of Catholicism, the
renewed attempt to enforce the Three Articles, the dismissal from
their parishes of three hundred Puritan ministers, and the hand and
glove policy of the king and his bishops, welded together the variants
in the Puritan party. The desire for personal righteousness, for
morality in church and state, which had seized upon the masses in the
nation, stood aghast at the profligacy of the king and his courtiers.
Reason seemed to cry aloud for reform, preferably for a reform that
should be free from every trace of the old hypocrisies, but which
should be strong within the old episcopal system which had endured for
centuries and which still kept its hold upon the vast majority of the
people. And to this idea of reform the great Puritan party clung,
until the exactions of the Stuarts, their suppression of both
religious and civil rights, forced upon it a civil war and the
formation of the Commonwealth. As a preliminary training of the men of
the Puritan armies and of the Commonwealth, and for their great
contest, all the years of Bible study, of controversial writing, of
individual suffering, were needed. These brought forth the necessary
moral earnestness, the mental acumen, the enduring strength. These
qualities, though most noticeable in the leaders, were well-nigh
universal traits. Every common soldier felt himself the equal of his
officer as a soldier of God, a defender of the faith, and a necessary
builder of Christ's new kingdom upon earth. To this growing sense of
democracy, to this sense of personal responsibility and
self-sacrifice, the teaching, the writings, and the sufferings of the
oppressed Separatists, as well as those of the persecuted Puritans,
had contributed.

When, in 1620, James I permitted the Pilgrims of Leyden to emigrate,
they planted in Plymouth of New England the first American
Congregational church and erected there the first American
commonwealth. The influence of this Separatist church upon New England
religious life belongs to another chapter. Here it is only necessary
to repeat that its members differed not at all in creed, only in
polity, from the English established church out of which they had
originally come. With the English Puritan they were one in faith,
while they differed little from him in theories of church government,
though much in practice. In America, the Plymouth colonists at once
set up the same church polity as in Leyden, one from which, as has
been shown, many of the English Puritans would have borrowed the
features of a converted or covenant membership and of local
self-government, or at least some measure of it. Eight years were to
elapse before the great Puritan exodus began. In those eight years
both parties, through the discipline of time, were to be brought still
nearer to a common standard of church life. When the vanguard of the
Puritans reached the Massachusetts shore, the Plymouth church stood
ready to extend the right hand of fellowship. How it did so, and how
it impressed itself upon the church life in the three colonies of
Massachusetts, New Haven, and Connecticut, is a part of the story of
the earliest period of colonial Congregationalism.


[a] "Our pious Ancestors transported themselves with regard unto
Church Order and Discipline, not with respect to the Fundamentals in
Doctrine."--Richard Mather, _Attestation to the Ratio
Disciplina_, p. 10.

"The issue on which the Pilgrims and Puritans alike left sweet fields
and comfortable homes and settled ways of the land of their birth for
this raw wilderness, was primarily an issue of politics rather than of
the substance of religious life."--G. L. Walker, _Some Aspects of
Religious Life in New England_, p. 19.

[b] "After the 17th century 'Independent' was chiefly used in England,
while 'Congregational' was decidedly preferred in New England, where
the 'consociation' of the churches formed a more important feature of
the system." "Congregational" first appeared in manuscript in 1639, in
print in 1642. "Congregationalist" appeared in 1692, and
"Congregationalism," not until 1716.--J. Murray, _A New English
Dict. on Hist. Principles._

[c] Separatism is commonly said to date from the year 1554. About
1564, the other branch of the reform party was nicknamed
"Puritan."--G. L. Walker, _History of the First Church in
Hartford_, p. 6.

[d] Another noted preacher who left an indelible impression upon
several early New England ministers was William Perkins, who was in
discourse "strenuous, searching, and ultra-Calvinistic." He was a
Cambridge man, filling the positions of Professor of Divinity, Master
of Trinity, and Chancellor of the University.--G. L. Walker, _Some
Aspects of the Religious Life in New England_, p. 14.

[e] Cartwright in 1574, the year of its publication, translated
Travers's _Ecclesiasticae Disciplinae et Anglicanae Ecclesiae ab
illa Aberrationis, plena e verbo Dei & dilucida Explicatio_, and
made it the basis of a practical attempt to introduce the Presbyterian
system into England. More than five hundred of the clergy seconded his
attempt, subscribing to the principles that (1) there can be only one
right form of church government, but one church order and one form of
church, namely, that described in the Scriptures; (2) that every local
church should have a presbytery of elders to direct its affairs; and
(3) that every church should obey the combined opinion of all the
churches in fellowship with it. In this declaration lay a blow at the
Queen's supremacy.--H. M. Dexter, _Congregationalism as seen in
Lit_. p. 55.

[f] "Browne's polity was essentially, though unintentionally,
democratic, and that gives it a closer resemblance in some features to
the purely democratic Congregationalism of the present century, than
to the more aristocratic, one might almost say semi-Presbyterianized,
Congregationalism of Barrowe and the founders of New England. His
picture of the covenant relation of men in the church, under the
immediate sovereignty of God, he extended to the state; and it led him
as directly, and probably as unintentionally, to democracy in the one
field as in the other. His theory implied that all governors should
rule by the will of the governed, and made the basis of the state on
its human side essentially a compact."--W. Walker, _Creeds and
Platforms_, pp. 15, 16. See also H. M. Dexter, _Congregationalism
as seen in Lit_., pp. 96-107; 235-39; 351; R. Browne, _Book which
Sheweth, Def_., 51.

[g] Barrowe wrote, "Though there be communion in the Church, yet is
there no equality." This is in strong contrast to Browne's, "Every one
of the church is made King and Priest and Prophet under Christ to
uphold and further the kingdom of God." Barrowe continues, "The Church
of Christ is to obey and submit unto her leaders.... The Church
knoweth how to give reverence unto her leaders." In his _True
Description_ there is a hazy attempt to define how far the
membership of the church may judge its elders. This authority of the
elders was defined more clearly and elaborated by Barrowe's followers
in their _True Confession_, published in Amsterdam in
1596-98.--H. Barrowe, _A True Description; Discovery of False
Churches_, p. 188; _A Plain Refutation of Mr. Gifford_, p. 129
(ed. of 1605).

[h] "Traces of this (Barrowe's) innovation on apostolic
Congregationalism have been aptly characterized as a Presbyterian
heart within a Congregational body, and are seen long after the
denomination grew to be a power in New England."--A. E. Dunning,
_Congregationalists in America_, p. 61.

[i] Barrowe says, "over sixty."

[j] The first English Presbytery was organized in 1572. Among its
organizers, there was the seeming determination to treat the Episcopal
system as a mere legal appendage.--F. J. Powicke, _Henry
Barrowe_, p. 139.

[k] At the height of its prosperity this church contained about three
hundred communicants, with representatives from twenty-nine English
counties. Among them was one John Bolton, who had been a member of
Mr. Fitz's church in 1571. At the beginning of James the First's
reign, 1603, Separatist converts numbered 20,000 souls in England.

[l] "The wish for a reform in the Liturgy, the dislike of
superstitious usages, of the use of the surplice, the sign of the
cross in baptism, the gift of the ring in marriage, the posture of
kneeling at the Lord's Supper, was shared by a large number of the
clergy and laity alike. At the opening of Elizabeth's reign almost all
the higher churchmen but Parker were opposed to them, and a motion for
their abolition in Convocation was lost but by a single
vote."--J. R. Green, _Short History of the English People_,
p. 459.

[m] John Davenport, in his _Answer to the Letter of Many Ministers
in Old England_, p. 3.

[n] Its full title is "A True Confession of the Faith and Humble
Acknowledgement of the Allegeance which wee his Majestes Subjects
falsely called Brownists, doo hould towards God and yeild his Majestie
and all others that are over us in the Lord."



Those who cross the sea change not their affection but their

The rule of absolutism forced the transplanting of a democratic
church. The arrogance of the House of Stuart compelled English
Puritans to seek refuge in America. The exercise of the divine right
of kings and of the divine power of bishops provoked the commonwealths
of New England and the development there of the Congregational church,
as later it brought the Commonwealth of Cromwell, with its tolerance
of Independent and Presbyterian.

When the Pilgrims left England, the Puritans had entered upon their
long contest with James over their ecclesiastical and also their
constitutional rights. At his accession, the king had seemed inclined
to tolerate the Catholics. Yet only a short time elapsed before many
Romanists were found upon the proscribed lists. The Guy Fawkes plot
followed. Its scope, its narrow margin of failure, coupled with the
king's previous leniency towards Catholics and his bitter persecution
of nonconformists, created a frenzy of fear among
Protestants. Immediately the Puritans saw in every objectionable
ceremonial of the English church some hidden purpose, some Jesuitical
contrivance for overthrowing Protestantism. And as the ritualistic
clergy made their pulpits resound with the doctrines of the divine
right of kings, the divine right of bishops, and of passive obedience,
and as they thundered at the preachers who opposed or denied these
principles, the high-church party came to be associated more and more
with the unconstitutional policy of the king. And this was so,
notwithstanding the praiseworthy efforts of Archbishop Abbott to
modify the practical working of these royal notions. This archbishop
of Canterbury was a man of great learning and of gentle spirit. His
name stands second among the translators of King James's version,
while as head of the Ecclesiastical Commission his power was great,
his influence far reaching. So earnestly did he strive to moderate the
king's severity toward nonconformists, to bring about a compromise
between the two great church parties, and so simple was the ritual in
his palace at Lambeth, that many people believed the kindly prelate
was more than half a Puritan at heart. He even refused to license the
publication of a sermon that most unduly exalted the king's
prerogative, and he forbade the reading of James's proclamation
permitting games and sports on Sunday. This proclamation was the
famous "Book of Sports," and many Puritan clergymen paid dearly for
refusing to read it to their congregations. Its issue exasperated and
discouraged the reform party, and, from this time, the Puritans began
to lose hope that any moral or religious betterment would be permitted
among the people.

In the constitutional imbroglio, James resented the attempt of
Parliament to curb his extravagance by its method of granting him
money on condition that he would make ecclesiastical reforms and grant
the redress of other grievances. When the king grew angry and
attempted to rule without a Parliament, the Puritan party broadened
its purpose and became the champion also of civil liberty. Among his
offenses, James refused to restore to their pulpits three hundred
Puritan ministers whom, in 1605, he silenced for not accepting the
Three Articles, notwithstanding the fact that Parliament itself had
refused to make them binding upon the clergy. The king also refused to
define the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts, and to respect
the limitation of the powers of the High Court of Commission when they
were determined by the judges. And further, James positively refused
to admit that with Parliament alone rested the power to levy imposts
and duties. After wrangling with his first Parliament for seven years
over these and similar questions, the king ruled for the next three
without that representative body. Finding it necessary, in 1614, to
convene his lords, squires, and burgesses, the king was disappointed
to find that the new Parliament was no more pliable to his will than
its predecessor had been, and he shortly dissolved it. The great
leaders of the opposition, such as Coke, Eliot, Pym, Selden and
Hampden, were not all Puritans, but these men, and others of their
kind, joined with the reform party in demanding that the rights of the
people should be respected and the evils of government
redressed. James's whole reign was marked by quarrels with a stubborn
Parliament and by periods of absolute rule that were characterized by
forced loans and other unlawful extortions.

Upon the death of James, in 1625, the nation turned hopefully to the
young prince, who thus far had pleased them in many ways. In contrast
to the ungainly, rickety, garrulous James, Charles was kingly in
appearance, bearing, and demeanor. He was reserved in speech and
manner. So far, the stubbornness which he had inherited from his
father was mistaken for a strong will, and his attitude towards Spain,
after the failure of the Catholic marriage which had been arranged for
him, was regarded as indicating his strong Protestantism. It took but
a short time, however, to reveal his stubbornness, his vanity, pique,
extravagance, and insincerity. Within four years, he had dissolved
Parliament three times, had sent Sir John Eliot to the Tower for
boldly defending the rights of the people, had dismissed the Chief
Justice from office for refusing to recognize as legal taxes laid
without consent of Parliament, had thrown John Hampden into prison for
refusing to pay a forced loan, and, finally, had signed the "Petition
of Rights" [17] in 1628, only to violate it almost as soon as the
contemporary bill for subsidies had been passed. Charles, finding he
could not coerce Parliament, dissolved it, and entered upon his twelve
years of absolute rule, marked by imprisonments, by arbitrary fines,
forced loans, sales of monopolies, and illegal taxes, which raised the
annual revenue from L500,000 to L800,000. [18]

It was during the first years of Charles's misrule--to be specific,
in 1627--that "some friends being together in Lincolnshire fell into
discourse about New England and the planting of the Gospel there."
Among them were, probably, Thomas Dudley (who mentions the discussion
in a letter to the Countess of Lincoln), Atherton Hough, Thomas
Leverett, and possibly also John Cotton and Roger Williams, for all
these men were wont to assemble at Tattersall Castle, the family seat
of Lord Lincoln. The latter was, in religious matters, a staunch
Puritan, and in political, a fearless opponent of forced loans and
illegal measures. Thomas Dudley was his steward and confidential
adviser, and the others were his personal friends and, in politics,
his loyal followers. These men, afterwards prominent in New England,
had watched with interest the fortunes of the Plymouth Colony, and now
concluded that since England lay helpless in the grasp of Charles the
time had come to prepare somewhere in the American wilderness a refuge
and home for oppressed Englishmen and persecuted Puritans. This
little group of men began at once to correspond with others in London
and also in the west of England who were like-minded with
themselves. Men of the west, in and about Dorchester, had for some
four years or more been interested in the New England fisheries
between the Kennebec and Cape Ann. On that promontory they had landed
some fourteen men, hoping to start a permanent settlement. The plan
had failed, the partnership had been dissolved, and a few of the
settlers had removed to Salem, Massachusetts. The Rev. John White,
the Puritan rector of Salem, England, saw a great opportunity. He at
once interested some wealthy merchants to make Salem, in
Massachusetts, the first post in a colonization scheme of great
magnitude, and as leader of an advance party they secured John
Endicott. From the council for New England the company secured a
patent on March 19, 1628, for the lands between the Merrimac and the
Charles rivers. On June 20, 1628, thirteen days after Charles had
signed the "Petition of Rights" that he was so soon to violate, the
advance guard of the colonists set sail for Salem, in the New World,
arriving there early in the following September.

In America, friendly relations were soon established between the
settlers of Salem and Plymouth. On the voyage over, sickness, due to
the unwholesome salt in which some of their provisions had been
packed, broke out among the Salem colonists, and continuing in the
settlement, forced Endicott to send to Plymouth for Dr. Samuel
Fuller, deacon in the church there. He was skilled both in medicine
and in church-lore, for he had also been one of the two deacons in the
church during its Leyden days. He worked among the disabled at Salem,
and, later, among the sick colonists at Boston, paving the way for a
better understanding and closer friendship with the Plymouth
settlers. There had been a tendency to look upon these earlier
colonists as extremists. Their enemies in derision called them
"Brownists." They did in truth cling most firmly to Browne's doctrine
that the civil magistrate had no control over the church of Christ. In
their opinion, the function of the civil power in any union of church
and state was limited to upholding the spiritual power by approving
the church's discipline, since that had for its object the moral
welfare of the people. As Endicott and Fuller talked together of all
that in their hearts they both desired for the church of the future,
they realized that they agreed on many points. The Plymouth church
had been virtually under the sole rule of its elder, William Brewster,
during the greater part of its life in America, for its aged pastor
had died before he could rejoin his flock. Such government had tended
to modify the early insistence upon the principle that the power of
the church was "above that of its officers." This doctrine was
associated in men's minds more with Robert Browne, who had originated
it, than with Henry Barrowe, who had modified it, and it was towards
Barrowism that the larger body of Puritans were drawn.

The Salem people, in their isolation three thousand miles from the
home-land, felt the necessity of some form of church organization. As
they had fled from the offensive ceremonial of the English Church,
they determined to be free from cross and prayer-book, and from
anything suggestive of offense. In the great matter of membership and
constitution, their new church was to be brought still nearer to the
requirements and simplicity of Gospel standards. More and more
Puritans were coming to prefer the church of "covenant membership" to
the birthright membership of the English Establishment. Many were
urging a limited independence in the organization, management, and
discipline of members of local churches. Some among the Puritans had
adopted the Presbyterian polity, while many preferred that form of
ordination. Such ordination had been accepted as valid for English
clergymen during the earlier part of Elizabeth's reign. It was still
so recognized by all the English clergy for the ministers of the
Reformed churches on the Continent, and with such, English clergymen
of all opinions still continued to hold very friendly intercourse. It
was not until Laud's ascendency that claims for the divine right of
Episcopacy, to the exclusion of other branches of the Christian faith,
were strenuously urged. Thus it happened that after many conferences,
Endicott could write to Governor Bradford in May of 1629, that:--

I acknowledge myself much bound to you for your kind love and care
in sending Mr. Samuel Fuller among us, and rejoice much that I am
by him satisfied touching your judgment of the outward form of
God's worship. It is, as far as I can gather, no other than is
warranted by the evidence of truth, and the same which I have ever
professed and maintained ever since the Lord in mercy revealed
Himself unto me: being far from the common report that hath been
spread of you touching that particular.

Endicott further expresses the wish that they may all "as Christian
brethren be united by a heavenly and unfeigned love;" that as servants
of one Master and of one household they should not be strangers, but
be "marked with one and the same mark, and sealed with one and the
same seal, and have, for the main, one and the same heart guided by
one and the same Spirit of truth," and that they should bend their
hearts and forces to the furthering of the work for which they had
come into the wilderness. Thus, Salem had decided upon the type of
church her people wanted, while she still waited for the ministers who
were coming with the larger number of her colonists, and whom she
believed competent to guide her religious life.

Only a few weeks after the sending of Endicott's letter to Governor
Bradford, five vessels arrived, bringing several hundred well-equipped
colonists. They had been sent out by the Governor and Company of
Massachusetts Bay. This corporation had bought out the Salem Company,
and was backed by the most influential Puritans of wealth and social
prominence, by men who had lost all hope of either religious or civil
freedom when Laud had been raised to the bishopric of London and when
Charles persisted in his despotic government. By the elevation of Laud
to the bishopric of London, Charles offended the most puritanically
inclined diocese in England, and the whole Puritan party. In his new
office, Laud quickly succeeded in severing communication between the
Reformed churches on the Continent and those in England. He strictly
prohibited the common people from using the annotated pocket-Bibles
sent out by the Genevan press. He forbade the entrance into office of
nonconformists as lecturers or chaplains. He put an end to feofments,
so that puritanically inclined men of wealth could no longer control
the livings. He excluded suspended ministers from teaching, and also
from the practice of medicine, and even forbade their entering
business life. He required absolute conformity to his own high-church
standards. He insisted upon doing away with all Calvinistic
innovations tending to simplicity of ritual, and upon reviving many
ecclesiastical ceremonies which had fallen into disuse. Hence, English
Puritans saw in America the only hope of the future, and began that
exodus which, during the next ten years, or more, annually sent two
thousand emigrants to the Massachusetts shore to find homes throughout
New England. Of these, the Salem colonists were the first large body
of Puritans to emigrate. Among them were three ministers, Endicott's
former pastor Samuel Skelton, Francis Higginson, and Francis Bright.

When Higginson and Skelton learned of the friendship with Plymouth,
and that Endicott had adopted the system of church organization
established in the older settlement, they accepted it as being in
accord with the principles of the Reformed churches on the Continent,
whose pattern they had themselves resolved to follow in organizing the
church at Salem. Not so Francis Bright. He could not agree with the
others, and so withdrew to Charlestown in order not to embarrass the
young church. Higginson and Skelton were each, in turn questioned as
to their conception of a minister's calling. Replying that it was
twofold: a call from within to a conviction that a man was chosen of
God to be His minister, and thereby endowed with proper gifts, and a
call from without by the free choice of a "covenanted church" to be
its pastor, they were accepted as satisfactory candidates for the two
highest offices in the Salem church. Later, upon an appointed day of
prayer and fasting, July 20, 1629, the people by written ballot chose
Francis Skelton to be their pastor and Thomas Higginson their
teacher. When they had accepted their election, "first Mr. Higginson,
with three or four of the gravest members of the church, laid their
hands upon Mr. Skelton, using prayer therewith. This being done, there
was imposition of hands upon Mr. Higginson also." Upon a still later
day of prayer and humiliation, August 6, elders and deacons were
chosen and ordained. Upon this day, the two ministers and many among
the people gave their assent to the Confession and Covenant which the
pastor and teacher had revised. At the second of these two important
meetings, Governor Bradford and delegates from the Plymouth church
were present. "Coming by sea they were hindered by cross-winds that
they could not be there at the beginning of the day; but they came
into the assembly afterward, and gave them the right hand of
fellowship, wishing all prosperity and all blessedness to such good
beginnings." [19] The Salem covenant in its original form was a single
sentence: "We covenant with the Lord and with one another; and doe
bynd ourselves in the presence of God to walk together in all his
wayes, according as he is pleased to reveale him' self unto us in his
Blessed word of truth." [20]

The formation of the church of Salem by covenant practice[a] marked
the beginning of the Congregational polity among the Puritan body;
their local ordination of their minister, the break with English
Episcopacy, though, for a considerable while longer, the colonists
still spoke of themselves as members of the Church of England, for
both the colonial and the home authorities were equally anxious to
avoid the stigma of Separatism.

The next large body of colonists to leave England was Governor
Winthrop's company, and, upon their arrival, the Boston church quickly
followed the example of Salem. Next, the Dorchester church, afterwards
the church of Windsor, Connecticut, emigrated as a body from Plymouth,
England, where, before embarking, its members seem to have taken some
form of membership pledge,--an unusual proceeding, but operating to
put this church in line with those already organized in Plymouth and
Massachusetts. The Watertown church, whence emigrants were to settle
Wethersfield, Connecticut, also organized with a covenant similar to
that of Salem and Boston. These four oldest congregations set the type
for the thirty-five New England churches that were founded previous to
1640, as well as for the later ones that followed the standard thus
early set up by Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. There was
some variation in the form of covenant,[b] and to it a brief
confession of faith, or creed, was early added. There was some
variation also in the interpretation of the laying on of hands in
ordination as to whether it was to be considered, in cases where the
candidate had previously been ordained in England, as ordination or as
confirmation of that previously received.[c] In regard to officers,
the churches at first provided themselves with pastor, ruling elders
(one or two, but generally only one), and deacons. There were
exceptions among them, as at Plymouth, where there was no pastor for
ten years, and in which there had never been a teacher, for John
Robinson had filled both offices. As the first generation of colonists
passed away, partly because of lack of fit candidates, partly because
of the kinship of the two offices of pastor and teacher, and partly
because of the heavy expense in supporting both, the office of teacher
was dropped. The ruling eldership also was gradually discontinued; but
at first the churches generally had, with the exception of widows, the
full complement of officers as appointed by Browne and Barrowe. The
usual order of worship was (1) Prayer. (2) Psalm. (3) Scripture
reading, followed by the pastor's preaching to explain and apply
it. (4) Prophesying or exhortation, the elders calling for speakers,
whether members or guests from other churches. (5) Questions from old
or young, women excepted. (6) Occasional administration of the Lord's
Supper or of Baptism, rites known as the administration of "the Seals
of the Covenant." (7) Psalm. (8) Collection. (9) Dismissal with
blessing. Such were the New England churches, the churches of a
transplanted creed and race. They were Calvinistic in dogma,
democratic in organization, and of extreme simplicity in their order
of worship.


[a] This fundamental principle of Congregationalism belonged to the
Separatists and was one of their distinctive tenets. It was never
adopted by the English Puritans as a body, nor was ordination by a
local church. The Dorchester church had some form of pledge at the
time of its organization. So also, possibly, because influenced by
Dutch example, did Rev. Hugh Peter's church in Rotterdam. But these
were exceptions.--W. Walker, _Hist, of Cong._, p. 192.

[b] The evolution of the Salem covenant and creed is given in detail
in W. Walker's _Creeds and Platforms_, pp. 99-122.

The Windsor Creed of 1647, though not covering the range of Christian
doctrine, contained in simple phrase the essentials of Gospel
redemption from sin through repentance and faith in the atoning work
of Christ and a life of love toward God and our neighbor, through the
strength which comes from him.--W. Walker, _Creeds and
Platforms_, p. 154.

[c] The evolution of the Salem covenant and creed is given in detail
in W. Walker's _Creeds and Platforms_, pp. 99-122.

The Windsor Creed of 1647, though not covering the range of Christian
doctrine, contained in simple phrase the essentials of Gospel
redemption from sin through repentance and faith in the atoning work
of Christ and a life of love toward God and our neighbor, through the
strength which comes from him.--W. Walker, _Creeds and
Platforms_, p. 154.



For God and the Church!

With the great Puritan body in England, and with the great mass of the
English nation, whatever their religious opinions, the colonists of
Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven held in common one
foremost theory of civil government. Pausing for a brief consideration
of this fundamental and far-reaching theory, which created so many
difficulties in the infant commonwealths, and which confronts us again
and again as we follow their later history, we find that the Pilgrim
Separatist of Plymouth, the strict Puritan of Massachusetts, the voter
in the theocratic commonwealth of New Haven, and the holder of the
liberal franchise in Connecticut, all clung to the proposition that
the State's first duty was the maintenance and support of religion.
Thereby they meant enforced taxation for the support of its
predominant type, conformity to its mode of worship, and in the last
analysis supervision or control of the Church by the State or by the
General Court of each colony. As a corollary to this proposition, the
duty of the churches was to define the creed, to set forth the church
polity, and to determine the bounds of morality within the state. Two
of the colonies held the corollary to be so important that it almost
changed places with the proposition when Massachusetts and New Haven
became rigid theocracies.[a]

With respect to taxation in the four colonies the statement should be
modified, inasmuch as the support of religion was at first voluntary
in all four: in Plymouth until 1657, in Massachusetts from 1630 to
1638, in Connecticut before 1640; yet both New Haven and Connecticut
accepted the suggestion made by the Commissioners of the United
Colonies on September 5, 1644, "that each man should be required to
set down what he would voluntarily give for the support of the gospel,
and that any man who refused should be rated according to his
possessions and compelled to pay" the sum so levied. Since in
religious affairs strict conformity was required by the three Puritan
colonies, and since the liberty accorded to the few early dissenters
in Plymouth was not such as to modify her prevailing polity or
worship, these first few years of voluntary assessment do not nullify
the dominant truth of the preceding statement.

In the intimate relation of Church and State, the people of these four
New England colonies regarded the magistrates as "Nursing Fathers" of
the Church, [2l] who were to take "special note and care of every
Church and provide and assign allotments of land for the maintenance
of each of them." [22] The State, accepting the same view of
caretaker, carried its supervision still farther and devised a system
for the maintenance of the ministry in accordance with sundry laws
made to insure the people's support, respect, and obedience. The
churches reciprocated. First of all, they provided their members with
the approved and accepted essentials of religious life, and they
further exercised a rigorous supervision over the moral welfare of the
whole community. Secondly, they aided the State through the influence
of their ministers, who, on all important occasions, were expected to
meet with the magistrates to consult and advise upon affairs whether
spiritual or temporal. But the framers of governments were not
satisfied with these measures that aimed to present a strongly
established church, capable of extending a fine moral, ethical, and
religious influence over the colonists, and also to enforce upon the
wayward, the careless, or the indifferent among them its support and
their obedience. If these measures provided for the ordinary welfare
of the community and for the usual relations b between the ministers
and their people, there were still possibilities of factional strife
to guard against, and such warfare in that age might or might not
confine itself within the limits of theological controversy or within
the lines of church organization. Consequently, the better to preserve
the churches from schism or corrupting innovations and the
commonwealth from discord, the supreme control of the churches was
lodged in the General Court of each colony. It could, whenever
necessary to secure harmony, whether ecclesiastical or civil,
legislate with reference to all or any of the churches within its
jurisdiction. Examples of such legislation occur frequently in the
religious history of the colonies, especially of Massachusetts and
Connecticut. Such interdependence of the spiritual and temporal power
practically amounted to a union of Church and State. Indeed, in
Massachusetts and New Haven, to be a voter, a man must first be a
member of a church of approved standing.[b] In more liberal Plymouth
and Connecticut, the franchise, at first, was made to depend only upon
conduct, though it was early found necessary to add a property
qualification in order to cut off undesirable voters.[23] In the
Connecticut colony, it was expressly enacted that church censure
should not debar from civil privilege. When advocating this amount of
separation between church and civil power, Thomas Hooker was not moved
by any such religious principle as influenced the Separatists of
Plymouth. On the contrary, it was his political foresight which made
him urge upon the colonists a more representative government[c] than
would be obtainable from a franchise based upon church-membership
where, as in the colonial churches, admission to such membership was
conditioned upon exacting tests. The great Connecticut leader was far
in advance of the statesmen of his time, for they held that the
religion of a prince or government must be the religion of the people;
that every subject must be by birthright a member of the national
church, to leave which was both heretical and disloyal and should be
punished by political and civil disabilities. This union of Church and
State was the theory of the age,--a principle of statecraft throughout
all of Europe as well as in England. Naturally it emigrated to New
England to be a foundation of civil government and a fortress for that
type of nonconformity which the colonists chose to transplant and make
predominant. The type, as we have seen, was Congregationalism, and the
Congregational church became the established church in each of the
four colonies.

This theory of Church and State was the cause at bottom of all the
early theological dissensions which disturbed the peace and threatened
the colony of Massachusetts. Moreover, their settlement offers the
most striking contrast between the fundamental theory of
Congregationalism and the theory of a union between Church and
State. With the power of supervision over the Church lodged in the
General Court, whatever the theory of Congregationalism as to the
independence of the individual churches, in practice the civil
authority disciplined them and their members, and early invaded
ecclesiastical territory. In Salem, Endicott took it upon himself to
expel Ralph Smith for holding extreme Separatist principles, and
shipped the Browns back to England for persisting in the use of the
Book of Common Prayer. He considered both parties equally dangerous to
the welfare of the community, because, according to the new standard
of church-life, both were censurable. Endicott held that to tolerate
any measure of diversity in religious practices was to cultivate the
ferment of civil disorder. Considering the bitterness, narrowness,
intensity, and also the irritating conviction that every one else was
heretical and anti-Christian, with which men of that age clung to
their religious differences, Endicott had some reason for holding this
opinion. The Boston authorities believed in no less drastic measures
to maintain the civil peace and consequent good name of the
colony. John Davenport of New Haven voiced the Massachusetts sentiment
as well as his own in: "Civil government is for the common welfare of
all, as well in the Church as without; which will then be most
certainly effected, when Public Trust and Power of these matters is
committed to such men as are most approved according to God; and these
are Church-members."[24] Consequently, the Massachusetts law of 1631
[25] forbade any but church members to become freemen of the colony,
and to these only was intrusted any share in its government. A similar
law was later formulated for the New Haven colony. John Cotton echoed
the further sentiment of a New England community when, writing of the
relations between the churches and the magistrates, he defined the
church as "subject to the Magistrate in the matters concerning the
civil peace, of which there are four sorts:" (1) with reference to
men's goods, lives, liberty, and lands; (2) with establishment of
religion in doctrine, worship, and government according to the Word of
God, as also the reformation of corruption in any of these; (3) with
certain public spiritual administrations which may help forward the
public good, as fasts and synods; (4) and finally the church must be
subject to the magistrates in patient suffering of unjust persecution,
since for her to take up the sword in her own defense would only
increase the disturbance of the public peace. [26] As a result of such
public sentiment, churches were not to be organized without the
approval of the magistrates, nor were any "persons being members of
any church ... gathered without the approbation of the magistrates and
the greater part of said churches" (churches of the colony) to be
admitted to the freedom of the commonwealth. [27] This law, or its
equivalent, with reference to church organization was found upon the
statute books of all four colonies.

In a pioneer community and a primitive commonwealth, developing slowly
in accord with the new democratic principles underlying both its
church and secular life, the "maintenance of the peace and welfare of
the churches,"[28] which was intrusted to the care of the General
Court, was frequently equivalent to maintaining the civil peace and
prosperity of the colony. Endicott's deportation of the Browns and the
report of the exclusiveness and exacting tests of membership in the
colonial churches had early led the members of the Massachusetts Bay
Company, resident in England, to fear that the emigrants had departed
from their original intent and purpose. And the colonists began to
feel that they were in danger of falling under the displeasure of
their king and of their Puritan friends at home. Consequently, there
entered into the settling of all later religious differences in the
colony the determination to avoid appeals to the home country, and
also to avoid any report of disturbance or dissatisfaction that might
be prejudicial to her independence, general policy, or commercial
prosperity. The recognition of such danger made many persons
satisfied to submit to government by an exclusive class, comprising in
Massachusetts one tenth of the people and in the New Haven colony one
ninth. These alone had any voice in making the laws. In submitting to
their dictation, the large majority of the people had to submit to a
"government that left no incident, circumstance, or experience of the
life of an individual, personal, domestic, social, or civil, still
less anything that concerned religion, free from the direct or
indirect interposition of public authority." [29] Such inquisitorial
supervision was due to the close alliance of Church and State within
the narrow limits of a theocracy. In more liberal Plymouth and
Connecticut, the "watch and ward" over one's fellows, which the early
colonial church insisted upon, was extended only over church members,
and even over them was less rigorous, less intrusive. Something of
the development of the great authority of the State over the churches
and of its attitude and theirs towards synods may be gleaned from the
earliest pages of Massachusetts ecclesiastical history. The
starting-point of precedent for the elders of the church to be
regarded as advisors only and the General Court as authoritative seems
to have been in a matter of taxation, when, in February, 1632, the
General Court assessed the church in Watertown. The elders advised
resistance; the Court compelled payment. In the following July, the
Boston church inquired of the churches of Plymouth, Salem, Dorchester,
and Watertown, whether a ruling elder could at the same time hold
office as a civil magistrate. A correspondence ensued and the answer
returned was that he could not. Thereupon, Mr. Nowell resigned his
eldership in the Boston church. [30] Winthrop mentions eight[d]
important occasions between 1632 and 1635 when the elders, which term
included pastors, teachers, and ruling elders, were summoned by the
General Court of Massachusetts to give advice upon temporal
affairs. In March of 1635-36 the Court "entreated them (the elders)
together with the brethren of every church within the jurisdiction, to
consult and advise of one uniforme order of discipline in the churches
agreable to Scriptures, and then to consider how far the magistrates
are bound to interpose for the preservation of that uniformity and
peace of the churches." [31] The desire of the Court grew in part out
of the influx of new colonists, who did not like the strict church
discipline, and in part out of the tangle of Church and State during
the Roger Williams controversy. The Court had disciplined Williams as
one, who, having no rights in the corporation, had no ground for
complaint at the hostile reception of his teachings. These the
authorities regarded as harmful to their government and dangerous to
religion. His too warm adherents in the Salem church were, however,
rightful members of the community, and they had been punished for
upholding one whom the General Court, advised by the elders of the
churches, had seen fit to censure. Punished thus, ostensibly, for
contempt of the magistrates by the refusal to them of the land they
claimed as theirs on Marblehead Neck, and feeling that the
independence of their church life and their rightful choice in the
selection of their pastor had really been infringed, the Salem church
sent letters to the elders of all the other churches of the Bay,
asking that the magistrates and deputies be admonished for their
decision as a "heinous sin." The Court came out victorious, by
refusing at its next general session to seat the Salem deputies "until
they should give satisfaction by letter" for holding dangerous
opinions and for writing "letters of defamation," and by proceeding to
banish Roger Williams. Before the session of the Court, the elders of
the Massachusetts churches, jointly and individually, labored with the
Salem people and brought the majority to a conviction of their error
in supporting Roger Williams. [e]

The platform of church discipline which the Court advised in 1635-36
was not forthcoming, and the matter was allowed to rest.[f] In 1637,
with the consent of the General Court, a synod of elders and lay
delegates from all the New England churches was called to harmonize
the discordant factions created by the heated Antinomian
controversy. During the synod, the magistrates were present all the
time as hearers, and even as speakers, but not as members. The
dangerous schism was ended more by the Court's banishment of
Wheelwright and Mrs. Hutchinson, together with their more prominent
followers, than by the work of the synod. However, Governor Winthrop
was so delighted with the conferences of the synod that, in his
enthusiasm, he suggested that it would be fit "to have the like
meeting once a year, or at least the next year, to settle what yet
remained to be agreed, or if but to nourish love."[32] But his
suggestion was voted down, for the Synod of 1637 was considered by
some to be "a perilous deflection from the theory of
Congregationalism."[33] Even the fortnightly meeting of ministers who
resided near each other, and which it had become a custom to call for
friendly conference, was looked at askance by those[g] who feared in
it the germ of some authoritative body that should come to exercise
control over the individual churches. When this custom was endorsed
and permitted in the "Body of Liberties," in 1641, the assurance that
these meetings "were only by way of Brotherly conference and
consultation" was felt to be necessary to appease the
opposition. When, two and four years later, Anabaptist converts and a
flood of Presbyterian literature called for measures of repression,
and the Court summoned councils to consult upon a course of action, it
was most careful in each case to reassert the doctrine of the complete
independence of the individual church. Synods, from the purely
Congregational standpoint, were to be called only upon the initiative
of the churches, and were authoritative bodies, composed of both
ministerial and lay delegates from such churches, and their duty was
to confer and advise upon matters of general interest or upon special
problems. In cases where their decisions were unheeded, they could
enforce their displeasure at the contumacious church only by cutting
it off from fellowship. Consequently, though there was some opposition
to the Court's calling of synods and a resultant general restlessness,
there was none when the Court confined its supervision and commands to
individually schismatic churches or to unruly members. The time had
not yet come for the recognition of what this double system of church
government--government by its members, supervision by the Court
--foreboded. The colonists did not see that within it was the embryo
of an authoritative body exercising some of the powers of the
Presbyterian General Assembly. The supervising body might be composed
of laymen acting in their capacity as members of the General Court,
but the powers they exercised were none the less akin to the very ones
that Congregationalism had declared to be heretical and
anti-Christian. Moreover, the tendency was toward an increase of this
authoritative power every time it was exercised and each time that the
colonists submitted to its dictation.

Of the two colonies founded after Massachusetts, Connecticut and New
Haven, the latter preserved the complete independence of her original
church until the admission of the shore towns[h] to her jurisdiction,
when she instituted that friendly oversight of the churches which had
begun to prevail elsewhere. Thereafter her General Court kept a
rigorous oversight over the purity of her churches and the conduct of
their members. The General Court of Connecticut early compelled a
recognition of its authority[i] over the religious life of the people
and its right of special legislation.[j] For example, in 1643, the
Court demanded of the Wethersfield church a list of the grievances
which disturbed it. In the next year, when Matthew Allyn petitioned
for an order to the Hartford church, commanding the reconsideration of
its sentence of excommunication against him, the Court "adjudged his
plea an accusation upon the church" which he was bound to prove.
These incidents from early colonial history in some measure illustrate
the practical working of the theory of Church and State. The
conviction that the State should support one form of religion, and
only one, was ever present to the colonial mind. If confirmation of
its worth were needed, one had only to glance at the turmoil of the
Rhode Island colony experimenting with religious liberty and a
complete separation of Church and State. Like all pioneers and
reformers, she had gathered elements hard to control, and would-be
citizens neither peaceable nor reasonable in their interpretation of
the new range of freedom. Watching Rhode Island, the Congregational
men of New England hugged more tightly the conviction that their
method was best, and that any variation from it would work havoc. It
was this theory and this conviction, ever present in their minds, that
underlay all ecclesiastical laws, all special legislation with
reference to churches, to their members, or to public fasts and
thanksgivings. This deep-rooted conviction created hatred toward and
fear of all schismatical doctrines, enmity toward all dissenting
sects, and opposition to any tolerance of them.


[a] "The one prime, all essential, and sufficient qualiiy of a
theocracy ... adopted as the form of an earthly government, was that
the civil power should be guided in its exercise by religion and
religious ordinances."--G. E. Ellis, _Puritan Age in Massachusetts,_
p. 188.

[b] "Noe man shal be admitted to the freedome of this body politicke,
but such as are members of some of the churches within the lymitts of
the same."--Mass. Col. Rec. i, 87, under date of May 28, 1631.

"Church members onely shall be free burgesses and they onely shall
chuse magistrates and officers among themselves to haue the power of
transacting in all publique and ciuill affayres of this
plantatio."--New Haven Col. Rec. i, 15; also ii, 115, 116.

The governments of Massachusetts and New Haven "never absolutely
merged church and state." The franchise depended on church-membership,
but the voter, exercising his right in directing the affairs of the
colony, was speaking, "not as the church but as the civil Court of
Legislation and adjudication."--W. Walker, _History of the
Congregational Churches_, p. 123.

Yet it was due to this merging and this dependence that on October 25,
1639, there were only sixteen free burgesses or voters out of one
hundred and forty-four planters in the New Haven Colony.--See
N. H. Col. Rec. i, 20.

"Theoretically Church and State (in Connecticut) were separated:
practically they were so interwoven that separation would have meant
the severance of soul and body."--C. M. Andrews, _Three River Towns
of Conn_. p. 22.

[c] To John Cotton's "democracy, I do not conceive that ever God did
ordain, as a fit government for church or commonwealth," and to
Gov. Winthrop's objections to committing matters to the judgment of
the body of the people because "safety lies in the councils of the
best part which is always the least, and of the best part, the wiser
is always the lesser," Hooker replied that "in all matters which
concern the common good, a general council, chosen by all, to transact
the business which concerns all, I conceive under favor, most suitable
to rule and most safe for the relief of the whole."--Hutchinson,
_Hist. of Mass._ i, App. iii.

[d] (1) To adjust a difference between Governor Winthrop and Deputy
Dudley in 1632; (2) about building a fort at Nantasket, February,
1632; (3) in regard to the settlement of the Rev. John Cotton,
September, 1633; (4) in consultation concerning Roger Williams's
denial of the patent, January, 1634; (5) concerning rights of trade at
Kennebec, July, 1634; (6) in regard to the fort on Castle Island,
August, 1634; (7) concerning the rumor in 1635 of the coming of a
Governor-General; and (8) in the case of Mr. Nowell.--_Winthrop_,
i, pp. 89, 99, 112, 122, 136-137, 159-181.

[e] Roger Williams was the real author of the letters which the Salem
church was required to disclaim.

[f] Upon a further suggestion from the General Court, John Cotton
prepared a catechism entitled, _Milk for Babes_.

[g] Governor Winthrop replied to Dr. Skelton's objections that "no
church or person could have authority over another church."--See
H. M. Dexter, _Ecclesiastical Councils of New England_, p. 31;
_Winthrop_, i. p. 139.

[h] Guilford, Branford, Milford, Stamford, on the mainland, and
Southold, on Long Island.

[i] The General Court was head of the churches. "It was more than
Pope, or Pope and College of Cardinals, for it exercised all
authority, civil and ecclesiastical. In matters of discipline, faith,
and practice there was no appeal from its decisions. Except the right
to be protected in their orthodoxy the churches had no privileges
which the Court did not confer, or could not take away."--Bronson's
_Early Gov't. in Conn._ p. 347, in
_N. H. Hist. Soc. Papers_, vol. iii.

[j] On August 18, 1658, the court refused, upon complaint of the
Wethersfield church, to remove Mr. Russell. In March, 1661, after duly
considering the matter, the court allowed Mr. Stow to sever his
connection with the church of Middletown. It concerned itself with
the strife in the Windsor church over an assistant pastor from 1667 to
1680. It allowed the settlement of Woodbury in 1672 because of
dissatisfaction with the Stratford church. It permitted Stratford to
divide in 1669. These are but a few instances both of the authority
of the General Court over individual churches and of that discord
which, finding its strongest expression in the troubles of the
Hartford church, not only rent the churches of Connecticut from 1650
to 1670, but "insinuated itself into all the affairs of the society,
towns, and the whole community." Another illustration of the court's
oversight of the purity of religion was its investigation in 1670 into
the "soundness of the minister at Rye." For these and hosts of similar
examples see index _Conn. Col. Rec._ vols. i, ii, iii, and iv.



It is always right that a man should be able to render a reason
for the faith that is within him.--Sydney Smith.

In each of the New England colonies under consideration, the settlers
organized their church system and established its relation to the
State, expecting that the strong arm of the temporal power would
insure stability and harmony in both religious and civil life. As we
know, they were speedily doomed to disappointment. As we have seen,
they failed to estimate the influences of the new land, where freedom
from the restraint of an older civilization bred new ideas and
estimates of the liberty that should be accorded men. Within the first
decade Massachusetts had great difficulty in impressing religious
uniformity upon her rapidly increasing and heterogeneous
population. She found coercion difficult, costly, dangerous to her
peace, and to her reputation when the oppressed found favorable ears
in England to listen to their woes. Ecclesiastical differences of less
magnitude, contemporary in time and foreshadowing discontent and
opposition to the established order of Church and State, were settled
in more quiet ways. John Davenport, after witnessing the Antinomian
controversy, declined the pressing hospitality of Massachusetts, and
led his New Haven company far enough afield to avoid theological
entanglements or disputed points of church polity. Unimpeded, they
would make their intended experiment in statecraft and build their
strictly scriptural republic. Still earlier Thomas Hooker, Samuel
Stone, and John Warham led the Connecticut colonists into the
wilderness because they foresaw contention, strife, and evil days
before them if they were to be forced to conform to the strict policy
of Massachusetts.[a] They preferred, unhindered, to plant and water
the young vine of a more democratic commonwealth. And even as
Massachusetts met with large troubles of her own, so smaller ones
beset these other colonies in their endeavor to preserve uniformity of
religious faith and practice. Until 1656, outside of Massachusetts,
sectarianism barely lifted its head. Religious contumacy was due to
varying opinions as to what should be the rule of the churches and the
privileges of their members. As the churches held theoretically that
each was a complete, independent, and self-governing unit, their
practice and teaching concerning their powers and duties began to show
considerable variation. Such variation was unsatisfactory, and so
decidedly so that the leaders of opinion in the four colonies early
began to feel the need of some common platform, some authoritative
standard of church government, such as was agreed upon later in the
Cambridge Platform of 1648 and in the Half-Way Covenant, a still later
exposition or modification of certain points in the Platform.

The need for the Platform arose, also, from two other causes: one
purely colonial, and the other Anglo-colonial. The first was, since
everybody had to attend public worship, the presence in the
congregations of outsiders as distinct from church members. These
outsiders demanded broader terms of admission to holy privileges and
comforts. The second cause, Anglo-colonial in nature, arose from the
inter-communion of colonial and English Puritan churches and from the
strength of the politico-ecclesiastical parties in England. Whatever
the outcome there, the consequences to colonial life of the rapidly
approaching climax in England, when, as we now know, King was to give
way to Commonwealth and Presbyterianism find itself subordinate to
Independency, would be tremendous.

In the first twenty years of colonial life, great changes had come
over New England. Many men of honest and Christian character--"sober
persons who professed themselves desirous of renewing their baptismal
covenant, and submit unto church discipline, but who were unable to
come up to that experimental account of their own regeneration which
would sufficiently embolden their access to the other sacrament"
(communion) [34]--felt that the early church regulations, possible
only in small communities where each man knew his fellow, had been
outgrown, and that their retention favored the growth of
hypocrisy. The exacting oversight of the churches in their "watch and
ward" over their members was unwelcome, and would not be submitted to
by many strangers who were flocking into the colonies. The
"experimental account" of religion demanded, as of old, a public
declaration or confession of the manner in which conviction of
sinfulness had come to each one; of the desire to put evil aside and
to live in accordance with God's commands as expressed in Scripture
and through the church to which the repentant one promised
obedience. This public confession was a fundamental of
Congregationalism. Other religious bodies have copied it; but at the
birth of Congregationalism, and for centuries afterwards, the bulk of
European churches, like the Protestant Episcopal Church to-day,
regarded "Christian piety more as a habit of life, formed under the
training of childhood, and less as a marked spiritual change in
experience." [35]

It followed that while many of the newcomers in the colonies were
indifferent to religion, by far the larger number were not, and
thought that, as they had been members of the English Established
Church, they ought to be admitted into full membership in the churches
of England's colonies. They felt, moreover, that the religious
training of their children was being neglected because the New England
churches ignored the child whose parents would not, or could not,
submit to their terms of membership. Still more strongly did these
people feel neglected and dissatisfied when, as the years went by,
more and more of them were emigrants who had been acceptable members

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