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From 1649 to 1660, Puritans in the Commonwealth of England were allied to the state power held by the military regime, headed by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell until he died in 1658. They broke into numerous sects, of which the Presbyterian group comprised most of the clergy, but was deficient in political power since Cromwell's sympathies were with the Independents. During this period, the term "Puritan" becomes largely moot, therefore, in British terms, though the situation in New England was very different. After the English Restoration, the Savoy Conference and Uniformity Act 1662 and Great Ejection drove most of the Puritan ministers from the Church of England, and the outlines of the Puritan movement changed over a few decades into the collections of Presbyterian and Congregational churches, operating as they could as Dissenters under changing regimes.
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|History of the Church of England|
The English Interregnum was a period of religious diversity in England. With the creation of the Commonwealth of England in 1649, the government passed to the English Council of State, a group dominated by Oliver Cromwell, an advocate of religious liberty. In 1650, at Cromwell's behest, the Rump Parliament abolished the Act of Uniformity 1558, meaning that while England now had an officially established church with Presbyterian polity, there was no legal requirement that anyone attend services in the established church.
In 1646, the Long Parliament had abolished episcopacy in the Church of England and replaced it with a presbyterian system, and had voted to replace the Book of Common Prayer with the Directory of Public Worship . The actual implementation of these reforms in the church proceeded slowly for a number of reasons:
With the abolition of the Act of Uniformity, even the pretense of religious uniformity broke down. Thus, while the Presbyterians were dominant (at least theoretically) within the established church, those who opposed Presbyterianism were in fact free to start conducting themselves in the way they wanted. Separatists, who had previously organized themselves underground, were able to worship openly. For example, as early as 1616, the first English Baptists had organized themselves in secret, under the leadership of Henry Jacob, John Lothropp, and Henry Jessey. Now, however, they were less secretive. Other ministers – who favored the congregationalist New England Way – also began setting up their own congregations outside of the established church.
Many sects were also organized during this time. It is not clear that they should be called "Puritan" sects since they placed less emphasis on the Bible than is characteristic of Puritans, instead insisting on the role of direct contact with the Holy Spirit. These groups included the Ranters, the Fifth Monarchists, the Seekers, the Muggletonians, and – most prominently and most lastingly – the Quakers.
The Puritan movement split over issues of ecclesiology in the course of the Westminster Assembly. In the course of the 1650s, the movement became further split in the course of a number of controversies. With no means to enforce uniformity in the church and with freedom of the press, these disputes were largely played out in pamphlet warfare throughout the decade.
In 1647, John Owen, the pastor of Coggeshall, Essex, a man who was a champion of congregationalism, who had preached to the Long Parliament, and who had published a number of works denouncing Arminianism, published his work The Death of Death in the Death of Christ . In this work, he denounced the Arminian doctrine of the unlimited atonement and argued in favour of the doctrine of a limited atonement. He also denounced the spread of Amyraldism in England, a position most associated with John Davenant, Samuel Ward and their followers.
In 1649, Richard Baxter, the minister of Kidderminster, Worcestershire and who served as chaplain to Colonel Edward Whalley's regiment, published a reply to Owen, entitled Aphorisms of Justification. He argued that the doctrine of unlimited atonement was more faithful to the words of scripture. He invoked the authority of dozens of the Reformers, including John Calvin, in support of his position.
In the course of the 1650s, Owen and Baxter engaged in a series of replies and counter-replies on the topic. At the same time, both men gained followers for their positions. John Owen preached to the Long Parliament the day after the execution of Charles I, and then accompanied Oliver Cromwell to Ireland. Cromwell charged Owen with reforming Trinity College, Dublin. In 1651, after the Presbyterian Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Edward Reynolds, refused to take the Engagement, Cromwell appointed Owen as vice-chancellor in his stead. From that post, Owen became the most prominent Independent churchman of the 1650s.
Baxter also gained a following in the 1650s, publishing prolifically after his return to Kidderminster. Two of his books – The Saints' Everlasting Rest (1650) and The Reformed Pastor (1656) – have been regarded by subsequent generations as Puritan classics. Many clergymen came to see Baxter as the leader of the Presbyterians, the largest party of Puritans, in the course of the 1650s.
Socinianism, an anti-trinitarian position, had made a few in-roads into England in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Adherents of this position had been brutally oppressed, with a number of high-profile executions, including that of Francis Kett in 1589, and Bartholomew Legate and Edward Wightman in 1612, after they in 1609 published a Latin version of the Racovian Catechism.
The most prominent Socinian of the 1650s was John Biddle, often known as the "Father of English Unitarianism." Biddle was imprisoned in 1645 and 1646 for publicizing his denials of the Trinity. After being defended in the Long Parliament by Henry Vane the Younger, Biddle was released in 1648. In 1652, he was arrested again after he published an anti-trinitarian catechism. ohn Owen produced several pieces denouncing Biddle's views. However, Cromwell, true to his principle of religious liberty, intervened to ensure that Biddle was not executed, but instead sent to exile on the Isles of Scilly in 1652.
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The largest Puritan faction – the Presbyterians – had been deeply dissatisfied with the state of the church under Cromwell. They wanted to restore religious uniformity throughout England and they believed that only a restoration of the English monarchy could achieve this and suppress the sectaries. Most Presbyterians were therefore supportive of the Restoration of Charles II. Charles II's most loyal followers – those who had followed him into exile on the continent, like Sir Edward Hyde – had fought the English Civil War largely in defense of episcopacy and insisted that episcopacy be restored in the Church of England. Nevertheless, in the Declaration of Breda, issued in April 1660, a month before Charles II's return to England, Charles II proclaimed that while he intended to restore the Church of England, he would also pursue a policy of religious toleration for non-adherents of the Church of England. Charles II named the only living pre-Civil War bishop William Juxon as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1660, but it was widely understood that because of Juxon's age, he would likely die soon and be replaced by Gilbert Sheldon, who, for the time being, became Bishop of London. In a show of goodwill, one of the chief Presbyterians, Edward Reynolds, was named Bishop of Norwich and chaplain to the king.
Shortly after Charles II's return to England, in early 1661, Fifth Monarchists Vavasor Powell and Thomas Venner attempted a coup against Charles II. Thus, elections were held for the Cavalier Parliament in a heated atmosphere of anxiety about a further Puritan uprising.
Nevertheless, Charles II had hoped that the Book of Common Prayer could be reformed in a way that was acceptable to the majority of the Presbyterians, so that when religious uniformity was restored by law, the largest number of Puritans possible could be incorporated inside the Church of England. At the April 1661 Savoy Conference, held at Gilbert Sheldon's chambers at Savoy Hospital, twelve bishops and twelve representatives of the Presbyterian party (Edward Reynolds, Anthony Tuckney, John Conant, William Spurstowe, John Wallis, Thomas Manton, Edmund Calamy, Richard Baxter, Arthur Jackson, Thomas Case, Samuel Clarke, and Matthew Newcomen) met to discuss Presbyterian proposals for reforming the Book of Common Prayer drawn up by Richard Baxter. Baxter's proposed liturgy was largely rejected at the Conference.
When the Cavalier Parliament met in May 1661, its first action, largely a reaction to the Fifth Monarchist uprising, was to pass the Corporation Act of 1661, which barred anyone who had not received communion in the Church of England in the past twelve months from holding office in a city or corporation. It also required officeholders to swear the Oath of Allegiance and Oath of Supremacy, to swear belief in the Doctrine of Passive Obedience, and to renounce the Covenant.
In 1662, the Cavalier Parliament passed the Act of Uniformity of 1662, restoring the Book of Common Prayer as the official liturgy under the 1662 prayer book. The Act of Uniformity prescribed that any minister who refused to conform to the Book of Common Prayer by St. Bartholomew's Day 1662 would be ejected from the Church of England. This date became known as Black Bartholomew's Day , among dissenters, a reference to the fact that it occurred on the same day as the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572.
The majority of ministers who had served in Cromwell's state church conformed to the Book of Common Prayer. Members of Cromwell's state church who chose to conform in 1662 were often labeled Latitudinarians by contemporaries - this group includes John Tillotson, Simon Patrick, Thomas Tenison, William Lloyd, Joseph Glanvill, and Edward Fowler. The Latitudinarians formed the basis of what would later become the Low church wing of the Church of England. The Puritan movement had become particularly fractured in the course of the 1640s and 1650s, and with the decision of the Latitudinarians to conform in 1662, it became even further fractured.
Around two thousand Puritan ministers resigned from their positions as Church of England clergy as a consequence. This group included Richard Baxter, Edmund Calamy the Elder, Simeon Ashe, Thomas Case, William Jenkyn, Thomas Manton, William Sclater, and Thomas Watson. After 1662, the term "Puritan" was generally supplanted by "Nonconformist" or "Dissenter" to describe those Puritans who had refused to conform in 1662.
Though expelled from their pulpits in 1662, many of the non-conforming ministers continued to preach to their followers in public homes and other locations. These private meetings were known as conventicles. The congregations that they formed around the non-conforming ministers at this time form the nucleus for the later English Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Baptist denominations. The Cavalier Parliament responded hostilely to the continued influence of the non-conforming ministers. In 1664, it passed the Conventicle Act banning religious assemblies of more than five people outside of the Church of England. In 1665, it passed the Five Mile Act, forbidding ejected ministers from living within five miles of a parish from which they had been banned, unless they swore an oath never to resist the king, or attempt to alter the government of Church or State. Under the penal laws forbidding religious dissent (generally known to history as the Clarendon Code), many ministers were imprisoned in the latter half of the 1660s. One of the most notable victims of the penal laws during this period (though he was not himself an ejected minister) was John Bunyan, a Baptist, who was imprisoned from 1660 to 1672.
At the same time that the Cavalier Parliament was ratcheting up the legal penalties against religious dissent, there were various attempts from the side of government and bishops, to establish a basis for "comprehension", a set of circumstances under which some dissenting ministers could return to the Church of England. These schemes for comprehension would have driven a wedge between Presbyterians and the group of Independents; but the discussions that took place between Latitudinarian figures in the Church and leaders such as Baxter and Manton never bridged the gap between Dissenters and the "high church" party in the Church of England, and comprehension ultimately proved impossible to achieve.
In 1670, Charles II had signed the Secret Treaty of Dover with Louis XIV of France. In this treaty he committed to securing religious toleration for the Roman Catholic recusants in England. In March 1672, Charles issued his Royal Declaration of Indulgence, which suspended the penal laws against the dissenters and eased restrictions on the private practice of Catholicism. Many imprisoned dissenters (including John Bunyan) were released from prison in response to the Royal Declaration of Indulgence.
The Cavalier Parliament reacted hostilely to the Royal Declaration of Indulgence. Supporters of the high church party in the Church of England resented the easing of the penal laws, while many across the political nation suspected that Charles II was plotting to restore Catholicism to England. The Cavalier Parliament's hostility forced Charles to withdraw the declaration of indulgence, and the penal laws were again enforceable. In 1673, Parliament passed the first Test Act, requiring all officeholders in England to abjure the doctrine of transubstantiation (thus ensuring that no Catholics could hold office in England).
Puritan experience underlay the later Latitudinarian and Evangelical trends in the Church of England. Divisions between Presbyterian and Congregationalist groups in London became clear in the 1690s, and with the Congregationalists following the trend of the older Independents, a split became perpetuated. The Salters' Hall conference of 1719 was a landmark, after which many of the congregations went their own way in theology. In Europe, in the 17th and 18th centuries, a movement within Lutheranism parallel to puritan ideology (which was mostly of a Calvinist orientation) became a strong religious force known as pietism. In the United States, the Puritan settlement of New England was a major influence on American Protestantism.
With the start of the English Civil War in 1642, fewer settlers to New England were Puritans. The period of 1642 to 1659 represented a period of peaceful dominance in English life by the formerly discriminated Puritan population. Consequently, most felt no need to settle in the American colonies. Very few immigrants to the Colony of Virginia and other early colonies, in any case, were Puritans. Virginia was a repository for more middle class and "royalist" oriented settlers, who were leaving England following their loss of power during the English Commonwealth. Many migrants to New England who had looked for greater religious freedom found the Puritan theocracy to be repressive, examples being Roger Williams, Stephen Bachiler, Anne Hutchinson, and Mary Dyer. Puritan populations in New England, continued to grow, with many large and prosperous Puritan families. (See Estimated Population 1620–1780: Immigration to the United States.)
The Puritans were English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries who sought to purify the Church of England of Roman Catholic practices, maintaining that the Church of England had not been fully reformed and should become more Protestant. Puritanism played a significant role in English history, especially during the Protectorate.
Roundheads were the supporters of the Parliament of England during the English Civil War (1642–1651). Also known as Parliamentarians, they fought against King Charles I of England and his supporters, known as the Cavaliers or Royalists, who claimed rule by absolute monarchy and the principle of the divine right of kings. The goal of the Roundheads was to give to Parliament the supreme control over executive administration of the country/kingdom.
In English church history, the Nonconformists are Protestant Christians who did not "conform" to the governance and usages of the established church, the Church of England. Use of the term in England was precipitated after the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy in 1660, when the Act of Uniformity 1662 renewed opposition to reforms within the established church. By the late 19th century the term specifically included other Reformed Christians, plus the Baptists, Brethren, Methodists, and Quakers. The English Dissenters such as the Puritans who violated the Act of Uniformity 1559 – typically by practising radical, sometimes separatist, dissent – were retrospectively labelled as Nonconformists.
John Wilkins, was an Anglican clergyman, natural philosopher, and author, and was one of the founders of the Royal Society. He was Bishop of Chester from 1668 until his death.
The Act of Uniformity 1662 is an Act of the Parliament of England. It prescribed the form of public prayers, administration of sacraments, and other rites of the Established Church of England, according to the rites and ceremonies prescribed in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Adherence to this was required in order to hold any office in government or the church, although the new version of the Book of Common Prayer prescribed by the Act was so new that most people had never even seen a copy. The Act also required that the Book of Common Prayer 'be truly and exactly Translated into the British or Welsh Tongue'. It also explicitly required episcopal ordination for all ministers, i.e. deacons, priests and bishops, which had to be reintroduced since the Puritans had abolished many features of the Church during the Civil War. The act did not explicitly encompass the Isle of Man.
In English history, the penal laws were a series of laws that sought to uphold the establishment of the Church of England against Catholicism and Protestant nonconformists by imposing various forfeitures, civil penalties, and civil disabilities upon these dissenters. The penal laws in general were repealed in the early 19th century during the process of Catholic Emancipation. Penal actions are civil in nature and were not English common law.
Richard Baxter was an English Nonconformist church leader and theologian from Rowton, Shropshire, who has been described as "the chief of English Protestant Schoolmen". He made his reputation in the late 1630s by his ministry at Kidderminster in Worcestershire, when he also began a long and prolific career as theological writer.
John Owen was an English Nonconformist church leader, theologian, and academic administrator at the University of Oxford.
The Elizabethan Religious Settlement is the name given to the religious and political arrangements made for England during the reign of Elizabeth I (1558–1603). Implemented between 1559 and 1563, the settlement is considered the end of the English Reformation, permanently shaping the theology and liturgy of the Church of England and laying the foundations of Anglicanism's unique identity.
The Wars of the Three Kingdoms, sometimes known as the British Civil Wars, were a series of intertwined conflicts fought between 1639 and 1653 in the kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, then separate entities united in a personal union under Charles I. They include the 1639 to 1640 Bishops' Wars, the First and Second English Civil Wars, the Irish Confederate Wars, the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland and the Anglo-Scottish war (1650–1652). They resulted in victory for the Parliamentarian army, the execution of Charles I, the abolition of monarchy, and founding of the Commonwealth of England, a unitary state which controlled the British Isles until the Stuart Restoration in 1660.
Francis Rous, also spelled Rouse, was an English politician and Puritan religious author, who was Provost of Eton from 1644 to 1659, and briefly Speaker of the House of Commons in 1653.
John Biddle or Bidle was an influential English nontrinitarian, and Unitarian. He is often called "the Father of English Unitarianism".
In Welsh and English church history, Independents advocated local congregational control of religious and church matters, without any wider geographical hierarchy, either ecclesiastical or political. They were particularly prominent during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms as well under the Commonwealth and Protectorate. The New Model Army became the champion of Independent religious views and its members helped carry out Pride's Purge in December 1648.
The Savoy Conference of 1661 was a significant liturgical discussion that took place, after the Restoration of Charles II, in an attempt to effect a reconciliation within the Church of England.
The Great Ejection followed the Act of Uniformity 1662 in England. Several thousand Puritan ministers were forced out of their positions in the Church of England, following The Restoration of Charles II. It was a consequence of the Savoy Conference of 1661.
The dissenting academies were schools, colleges and seminaries run by English Dissenters, that is, those who did not conform to the Church of England. They formed a significant part of England's educational systems from the mid-seventeenth to nineteenth centuries.
Protestantism is a Christian minority on the island of Ireland. In the 2011 census of Northern Ireland, 48% (883,768) described themselves as Protestant, which was a decline from approximately 50% from the 2001 census. In the 2011 census of the Republic of Ireland, 4.27% of the population described themselves as Protestant. In the Republic, Protestantism was the second largest religious grouping until the 2002 census in which they were exceeded by those who chose "No Religion". Some forms of Protestantism existed in Ireland in the early 16th century before the English Reformation, but demographically speaking these were very insignificant and the real influx of Protestantism began only with the spread of the English Reformation to Ireland. The Church of Ireland was established by King Henry VIII of England, who had himself proclaimed as King of Ireland.
Under Charles I, the Puritans became a political force as well as a religious tendency in the country. Opponents of the royal prerogative became allies of Puritan reformers, who saw the Church of England moving in a direction opposite to what they wanted, and objected to increased Catholic influence both at Court and within the Church.
John Durel (1625–1683), John Durell, or Jean Durel, was a cleric from Jersey, known for his apologetical writing on behalf of the Church of England. He became Dean of Windsor in 1677. His French translation of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was used frequently on the Channel Islands through to the 20th century and his 1670 Latin translation had been authorized by Convocation.
The 1604 Book of Common Prayer, often called the Jacobean prayer book or the Hampton Court Book, is the fourth version of the Book of Common Prayer as used by the Church of England. It was introduced during the early English reign of James I as a product of the Hampton Court Conference, a summit between episcopalian, Puritan, and Presbyterian factions. A modest revision of the 1559 prayer book, the Jacobean prayer book became the basis of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, a still-authorized liturgical book within the Church of England and global Anglicanism.