« EelmineJätka »
Being dissatisfied with the treatment which he received in England, he retired to the continent, and founded churches at Middleburgh, Amsterdam, and Leyden. Thus abandoned by him, his English followers mitigated the extreme simplicity of his plan and thus gave rise to the Independents, or Congregational Brethren. It is observable, that a part of the Brownist congregation established at Leyden, emigrated to America, and founded the colony of New England.
The independents have two confessions of faith: the former was drawn up by Mr. John Robinson, a disciple of Brown, and was published at Leyden in quarto, in the year 1619, under the title, Apologia pro exulibus Anglis, qui Brownistæ vulgo appellantur. The latter appeared in London, for the first time, in the year 1658, with the title, "A Declaration of the Faith and Order owned and practised by the Congregational Churches of England, agreed upon and consented unto by their elders and messengers in their meeting at the Savoy, October the 12th, 1658."
During those times, when the enthusiastic spirit met with such honour and encouragement, and was the immediate means of distinction and preferment, it was impossible, (says Mr. Hume *), to set bounds to these holy fervours, or confine within any natural limits, what was directed towards an infinite and a supernatural object. Every man,
*History, c. 47.
as prompted by the warmth of his temper, excited by emulation, or supported by his habits of hypocrisy, endeavoured to distinguish himself beyond his fellows, and to arrive at a higher pitch of saintship and perfection. In proportion to its degree of fanaticism, each sect became dangerous and destructive; and as the independents went a note higher than the presbyterians, they could less be restrained within any bounds of temper and moderation. From this distinction, as from a first principle, were derived, by a necessary consequence, all the other differences of these two sects.
"The independents rejected all ecclesiastical establishments, and would admit of no spiritual courts, no government amongst pastors, no interposition of the magistrate in religious concerns, no fixed encouragement annexed to any system of doctrines or opinions. According to their principles, each congregation, united voluntarily and by spiritual ties, composed within itself a separate church, and exercised a jurisdiction, but one destitute of temporal sanctions, over its own pastor and its own members. The election alone of the congregation was sufficient to bestow the sacerdotal character; and, as all essential distinction was denied between the laity and the clergy, no ceremony, no institution, no vocation, no imposition of hands was, as in all other churches, supposed requisite to convey a right to holy orders. enthusiasm of the presbyterians led them to reject
the authority of prelates, to throw off the restraint of liturgies, to retrench ceremonies, to limit the riches and authority of the priestly office. The fanaticism of the independents, exalted to a higher pitch, abolished ecclesiastical government, disdained creeds and systems, neglected every ceremony, and confounded all ranks and orders. The soldier, the merchant, the mechanic, indulging the fervours of zeal, and guided by the illapses of the spirit, resigned himself to an inward and superior direction, and was consecrated, in a manner, by an immediate intercourse and communication with heaven.
"The catholics, pretending to an infallible guide, had justified upon that principle, their doctrine and practice of persecution. The presbyterians imagining that such clear and certain tenets, as they themselves adopted, could be rejected only from a criminal and pertinacious obstinacy, had hitherto gratified to the full, their bigotted zeal in a like doctrine and practice. The independents, from the extremity of the same zeal, were led into the milder principles of toleration. Their mind, set afloat in the wide sea of inspiration, could confine itself within no certain limits, and the same variations, in which an enthusiast indulged himself, he was apt, by a natural train of thinking, to permit in others. Of all christian sects, this was the first, which during its prosperity, as well as its adversity, always adopted the principle of
a doctrine owed its origin, not to reasoning, but to the height of extravagance and fanaticism. Popery and Prelacy alone, whose genius seems to tend towards superstition, were treated by the independents with rigour. The doctrines, too, of fate or destiny were deemed by them essential to all religion. In these rigid opinions, the whole sectaries, amidst all their other differences, unanimously concurred."
THE SCOTTISH CONFESSION OF FAITH.
THE reformed church of Scotland acknowledges as its founder the celebrated John Knox, a disciple of Calvin. From its foundation, it adopted the doctrine and ecclesiastical government of the church of Geneva. In 1581, King James, with his whole family, and the whole nation subscribed a confession of faith, with a solemn league and covenant, obliging themselves to maintain and defend the protestant religion, and presbyterian government. The title of this confession is, "A General Confession of the true Christian Faith and Religion, according to God's Word, and Acts of our Parliament, subscribed by the King's Majestie and his household; with sundrie others. To the glory of God, and good example of all men. At
Edinburgh, the 28th day of Januarie. The year of our Lord 1581. And in the 14th year of his Majestie's reign."
THE IRISH CONFESSION OF FAITH.
WHEN Henry the eighth was declared supreme head of the church of England, George Brown, an Augustinian monk, whom that monarch had raised to the archiepiscopal see of Dublin, caused the royal supremacy to be acknowledged in that portion of Ireland, which was said to be within the English pale, and in many other parts of the kingdom, where the power or influence of the English government particularly prevailed. It was further extended, by the archbishop's exertions, during the reign of king Edward the sixth. On the accession of queen Mary, the acts, which established the protestant religion, were repealed. They were re-enacted by the first parliament of queen Elizabeth, and the Irish dioceses were filled with protestant bishops. But the general body of the nation continued catholic. King James the first was very desirous of bringing over the body of the nation to the protestant religion, and employed a multitude of missionaries in the work of