‘Promote, protect, prosecute’
The congregationalist divines and the establishment of church and magistrate in Cromwellian England
in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
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This chapter charts the various experiments by the leading ‘magisterial’ congregationalist ministers, in the 1640s called the ‘Dissenting Brethren’, to establish a version of the New England model of church and state in interregnum England. It looks at the political theology of these congregationalists in regard to the magistrate and then charts the various programmes and confessions advanced by the congregationalists to achieve a national religious settlement. The chapter explores the tensions between the congregationalists’ goals: the desire to preserve liberty of conscience for those holding to the foundations of sound Christian doctrine with the need to define what the boundaries of that doctrine were. This attempt culminated in the ‘Savoy Declaration’ of 1658, the political theology of which is analysed using sermons and other contemporary literature.

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