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Title: 'Jacob and Esau strugling in the Wombe' : a study of Presbyterian and independent religious conflicts, 1640-1648, with particular reference to the Westminster Assembly and the pamphlet literature
Author: Bradley, R. D.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3475 8934
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 1975
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1640-1643 saw clear differences between Presbyterians and Independents that were inherent in Puritan history, although theories on church-government were still imprecise and the Presbyterians not a united group. An agreement to avoid public controversy was composed and largely adhered to until the end of 1643. The opening of the Westminster Assembly promised either unity or a breach, although its members were moderate compared with hotheads outside the Assembly. Despite some conflicts, unity prevailed until December 1643. Although this was only achieved by ambiguous statements in the Covenant and Dissuasive. But in January 1643-4 the Assembly Independents published a manifesto, which, although designed to defend their theories from the taint of separatism and assist accommodation, had the opposite effect. Assembly debates immediately became more divisive, despite the efforts of an accommodation group led by Marshall, and the influential Scots divines guided the leading Assembly members, fearful of the sects and antagonised by the Independents' delaying tactics, to begin to vote a Scottish style Presbytery. The Independents became more intransigent in defence and in case dissent was necessary, began to hint at a toleration and to seek an alliance with Erastianism. Meanwhile the manifesto was deemed to have broken the previous agreement, whereupon. a vehement pamphlet war began and gathered momentum. This recriminatory literature, the preserve of extremists although, moderate pleas were heard, did display the similarities and dissimilarities between the two systems before the public. 1644-5 saw Assembly divisions reach a zenith with the inevitability of a Presbyterian establishment, the failure of the Parliamentary committee of accommodation and the Independents' open dissent. The Independents' new aim - toleration - was reflected in the continuing pamphlet war and inevitably entailed a close identification between radical Independents and the sects. Independent congregations were steadily growing and the religious terms had been translated into politics. Although the Independents had failed in the Assembly, they had successfully delayed the Presbyterian-settlement, and the strength of the army would now aid their cause. The Presbyterians' own divisions and clashes with Parliament over the "sure divino" right of church officers to govern the church and suspend sinners from the sacrament further delayed the settlement of Presbyterian discipline and strengthened the position of Independents who exploited the controversy to their own ends. By 1646 the establishment of Presbytery was resumed, but it was too late. The army, espousing the cause of toleration, was in conflict with Parliament, as a result of which the political involvement of extremist ministers reached a crescendo. Attacked and defended in pamphlets ", the army's ultimate triumph meant that the national Presbyterian church would have to suffer Independent congregations. Moreover, in practice Independent churches were more successful than Presbyterian, because of the commitment of their members and the lack of civil support for Presbytery. In general conflict in the 1640s on a local basis was followed by greater harmony in the 165014 but national attempts at unity still failed. The Restoration meant that once again Presbyterians and Independents must be partners in adversity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: D203 Modern History, 1453-