Cromwellian Britain, c. 1653–9
in London presbyterians and the British revolutions, 1638–64
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This chapter traces London presbyterian activity from the execution of Christopher Love to the end of the Protectorate. It explores how the presbyterians focused their energies on defending Reformed orthodoxy, often in alliance with ‘magisterial’ congregationalists at the centre of the Cromwellian state. By 1654 the London presbyterian ministers were cautiously supporting attempts led by the leading congregationalist John Owen to establish a confessional foundation for the otherwise loose structure of the Cromwellian ecclesiastical administration. This ambition was ultimately frustrated by the chronic instability of Cromwellian politics, although the co-operation with the Protectorate ultimately led to the return to politics of London’s presbyterians from the mid-1650s. The chapter also looks at the presbyterians’ attempt to defend their position in disputation and their attempt to restore controls on printing.

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