The debate on the polity of the church was at the centre of the religious debates in the British Atlantic world during the middle decades of the seventeenth-century. From the Covenanter revolution in Scotland, to the congregationalism of the New England colonies, to the protracted debates of the Westminster assembly, and the abolition of the centuries-old episcopalian structure of the Church of England, the issue of the polity of the church was intertwined with the political questions of the period. This book collects together essays focusing on the conjunction of church polity and politics in the middle years of the seventeenth century. A number of chapters in the volume address the questions and conflicts arising out of the period’s reopening and rethinking of the Reformation settlement of church and state. In addition, the interplay between the localities and the various Westminster administrations of the era are explored in a number of chapters. Beyond these discussions, chapters in the volume explore the deeper ecclesiological thinking of the period, examining the nature of the polity of the church and its relationship to society at large. The book also covers the issues of liberty of conscience and how religious suffering contributed to a sense of what the true church was in the midst of revolutionary political upheaval. This volume asserts the fundamental connection between church polity and politics in the revolutions that affected the seventeenth-century British Atlantic world.

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Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
Elliot Vernon

Introduction Chapter 1 Introduction: church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66 Elliot Vernon T he topic of church polity is one of the ‘Cinderella’ subjects of early modern religious history, late to the ball but entrancing none the less.1 The chapters presented in this volume argue that the topic of church polity was a crucial factor in the politics of the British Atlantic world during the mid-seventeenth century. By ‘church polity’ is meant the manner in which the church is structured and governed. It is related to the term

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
The Welsh experience of church polity, 1640–60
Stephen K. Roberts

Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic Chapter 4 ‘One of the least things in religion’: the Welsh experience of church polity, 1640–60 Stephen K. Roberts T he condition of the protestant ministry in Wales was considered as deplorable at the restoration of the monarchy as it had been on the eve of the civil war nearly twenty years previously, and the condition of Wales, both in social and religious terms, remained generally marginal to the concerns of successive regimes at Westminster. Yet controversy over the governance of the church in Wales was

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
An exploration of church polity and the governance of the region’s churches
Francis J. Bremer

The New England way reconsidered Chapter 8 The New England way reconsidered: an exploration of church polity and the governance of the region’s churches Francis J. Bremer N ewly arrived in Boston after three decades as the spiritual leader of the New Haven church and colony, John Davenport welcomed an invitation from the deputies of the Massachusetts General Court to deliver the annual election-day sermon in May 1669. Mounting a defence of the congregational principles on which the region had been founded, he warned of changes that would lead to ‘an end of

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
The importance of the covenant in Scottish presbyterianism, 1560–c. 1700
R. Scott Spurlock

Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic Chapter 5 Polity, discipline and theology: the importance of the covenant in Scottish presbyterianism, 1560–c. 1700 R. Scott Spurlock W hilst some of the chapters in this volume focus on conceptions of church government and the use of the keys, the present chapter will discuss early modern Scottish presbyterian understandings of ecclesiology and who was understood to be the subject of the keys. A number of recent studies have demonstrated the fluidity of polity in seventeenth-century Britain, which is

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
To what extent was Richard Baxter a congregationalist?
Tim Cooper

Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic Chapter 10 Polity and peacemaking: to what extent was Richard Baxter a congregationalist? Tim Cooper O n 17 July 1658 Edward Burton wrote a penitent letter to Richard Baxter in which he regretted ever allowing himself to believe, as he recently had, that Baxter’s church at Kidderminster was one of those ‘Congregated Churches in the Independent way’.1 In his reply, written a few days later, Baxter testily pointed out the absurdity of Burton’s error by listing six distinctive markers of ‘the Separatists and

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
Autobiography, suffering and professions of faith
Sarah Ward Clavier

Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic Chapter 12 The Restoration episcopate and the interregnum: autobiography, suffering and professions of faith Sarah Ward Clavier1 R estoration bishops came in all flavours: Laudians, Calvinists and those who have apparently left so little indication of their religious views that they still remain a mystery to posterity. They ranged from authoritarian micromanagers to those who seemed barely interested in the business of their individual dioceses. On the whole, however, it is difficult to imagine the events of

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
The congregationalist divines and the establishment of church and magistrate in Cromwellian England
Hunter Powell

Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic Chapter 11 ‘Promote, protect, prosecute’: the congregationalist divines and the establishment of church and magistrate in Cromwellian England Hunter Powell 1 I t might be said that England’s attempt at a reformation of the national church in the 1640s failed because it was a British experiment. Forced by the need for a Scottish military alliance, it was derailed by clashing notions of the relationship between church and state within the divergent British traditions of church polity. By contrast, the effort to

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
Chad Van Dixhoorn

Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic Chapter 6 Presbyterian ecclesiologies at the Westminster assembly Chad Van Dixhoorn ECCLESIASTICAL CONTEXTS T he Westminster assembly was in many ways the high point of the puritan experiment. The special morning service on 1 July 1643 saw the nave of Westminster Abbey thronged with supporters of a godly reformation. Long prayed-for alterations in worship, clarifications in doctrine and renovations in church government were finally within reach. While continuing reformation was to proceed on all three fronts

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66
The polity of the British episcopal churches, 1603–62
Benjamin M. Guyer

was found in the liturgy for confirmation. Upon learning the catechism, children were brought before the bishop, who laid hands upon them, prayed for them and blessed them. In the 1549 version of the rite, the bishop made the sign of the cross upon the newly confirmed. This act was moved in 1552 to the baptismal rite, where it replaced the anointing that originally followed the immersion 17 Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic and subsequent donning of white vesture by the baptised.4 Later liturgies maintained these changes; baptisands were signed

in Church polity and politics in the British Atlantic world, c. 1635–66