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You may send this item to up to five recipients. It changed character and emphasis almost decade-by-decade over that time. Elizabethan Puritanism contended with the Elizabethan religious settlement, with little to show for it. The Lambeth Articles of , a high-water mark for Calvinism within the Church of England, failed to receive royal approval.
The accession of James I brought the Millenary Petition , a Puritan manifesto of for reform of the English church, but James wanted a new religious settlement along different lines. He called the Hampton Court Conference in , and heard the teachings of four prominent Puritan leaders there, including Laurence Chaderton , but largely sided with his bishops.
He was well informed on theological matters by his education and Scottish upbringing, and he dealt shortly with the peevish legacy of Elizabethan Puritanism, pursuing an eirenic religious policy, in which he was arbiter. Many of his episcopal appointments were Calvinists, notably James Montague , who was an influential courtier. Puritans still opposed much of the Catholic summation in the Church of England, notably the Book of Common Prayer , but also the use of non-secular vestments cap and gown during services, the sign of the Cross in baptism, and kneeling to receive Holy Communion.
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The Puritan movement of Jacobean times became distinctive by adaptation and compromise, with the emergence of "semi-separatism", "moderate puritanism", the writings of William Bradshaw , who adopted the term "Puritan" as self-identification, and the beginnings of congregationalism.
The Puritan movement in England was riven over decades by emigration and inconsistent interpretations of Scripture, as well as some political differences that surfaced at that time. The Fifth Monarchy Men , a radical millenarian wing of Puritanism, aided by strident, popular clergy like Vavasor Powell , agitated from the right wing of the movement, even as sectarian groups like the Ranters , Levellers , and Quakers pulled from the left.
The Westminster Assembly was called in , assembling clergy of the Church of England. The Assembly was able to agree to the Westminster Confession of Faith doctrinally, a consistent Reformed theological position. The Directory of Public Worship was made official in , and the larger framework now called the Westminster Standards was adopted by the Church of Scotland. In England, the Standards were contested by Independents up to The Westminster Divines , on the other hand, were divided over questions of church polity and split into factions supporting a reformed episcopacy , presbyterianism , congregationalism , and Erastianism.
The membership of the Assembly was heavily weighted towards the Presbyterians, but Oliver Cromwell was a Puritan and an independent Congregationalist separatist who imposed his doctrines upon them. The Church of England of the Interregnum —60 was run along Presbyterian lines but never became a national Presbyterian church, such as existed in Scotland, and England was not the theocratic state which leading Puritans had called for as "godly rule".
At the time of the English Restoration in , the Savoy Conference was called to determine a new religious settlement for England and Wales. Under the Act of Uniformity , the Church of England was restored to its pre- Civil War constitution with only minor changes, and the Puritans found themselves sidelined.
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A traditional estimate of historian Calamy is that around 2, Puritan clergy left the Church in the " Great Ejection " of The Dissenters divided themselves from all Christians in the Church of England and established their own separatist congregations in the s and s. An estimated 1, of the ejected clergy continued in some fashion as ministers of religion, according to Richard Baxter.
There followed a period in which schemes of "comprehension" were proposed, under which Presbyterians could be brought back into the Church of England, but nothing resulted from them. The Whigs opposed the court religious policies and argued that the Dissenters should be allowed to worship separately from the established Church, and this position ultimately prevailed when the Toleration Act was passed in the wake of the Glorious Revolution in This permitted the licensing of Dissenting ministers and the building of chapels.
The term " Nonconformist " generally replaced the term "Dissenter" from the middle of the 18th century. Some Puritans left for New England , particularly in the years after , supporting the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and other settlements among the northern colonies. The large-scale Puritan immigration to New England ceased by , with around 21, having moved across the Atlantic. This English-speaking population in America did not all consist of original colonists, since many returned to England shortly after arriving on the continent, but it produced more than 16 million descendants.
Puritan hegemony lasted for at least a century. That century can be broken down into three parts: Puritanism broadly refers to a diverse religious reform movement in Britain committed to the continental Reformed tradition. They believed that all of their beliefs should be based on the Bible , which they considered to be divinely inspired. The concept of covenant was extremely important to Puritans, and covenant theology was central to their beliefs.
After the fall of man , human nature was corrupted by original sin and unable to fulfill the covenant of works, since each person inevitably violated God's law as expressed in the Ten Commandments. As sinners, every person deserved damnation.
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Puritans shared with other Calvinists a belief in double predestination , that some people the elect were destined by God to receive grace and salvation while others were destined for Hell. According to covenant theology, Christ's sacrifice on the cross made possible the covenant of grace , by which those selected by God could be saved.
Puritans believed in unconditional election and irresistible grace —God's grace was given freely without condition to the elect and could not be refused. Covenant theology made individual salvation deeply personal. It held that God's predestination was not "impersonal and mechanical" but was a "covenant of grace" that one entered into by faith. Therefore, being a Christian could never be reduced to simple "intellectual acknowledgment" of the truth of Christianity. Puritans agreed "that the effectual call of each elect saint of God would always come as an individuated personal encounter with God's promises".
The process by which the elect are brought from spiritual death to spiritual life regeneration was described as conversion. Over time, however, Puritan theologians developed a framework for authentic religious experience based on their own experiences as well as those of their parishioners. Eventually, Puritans came to regard a specific conversion experience as an essential mark of one's election.
The Puritan conversion experience was commonly described as occurring in discrete phases. It began with a preparatory phase designed to produce contrition for sin through introspection , Bible study and listening to preaching. This was followed by humiliation , when the sinner realized that he or she was helpless to break free from sin and that their good works could never earn forgiveness. For some Puritans, this was a dramatic experience and they referred to it as being born again.
Confirming that such a conversion had actually happened often required prolonged and continual introspection. Historian Perry Miller wrote that the Puritans "liberated men from the treadmill of indulgences and penances , but cast them on the iron couch of introspection". Puritan clergy wrote many spiritual guides to help their parishioners pursue personal piety and sanctification. Too much emphasis on one's good works could be criticized for being too close to Arminianism , and too much emphasis on subjective religious experience could be criticized as Antinomianism.
Many Puritans relied on both personal religious experience and self-examination to assess their spiritual condition. Puritanism's experiential piety would be inherited by the evangelical Protestants of the 18th century. The sermon was central to Puritan public worship. The sermon was not only a means of religious education; Puritans believed it was the most common way that God prepared a sinner's heart for conversion.
They rejected confirmation as unnecessary. Puritans unanimously rejected the Roman Catholic doctrine of baptismal regeneration , but they disagreed among themselves on the effects of baptism and its relationship to regeneration. Most Puritans practiced infant baptism , but a minority held credobaptist beliefs. Those who baptized infants understood it through the lens of covenant theology, believing that baptism had replaced circumcision as a sign of the covenant and marked a child's admission into the visible church.
In "A Discourse on the Nature of Regeneration", Stephen Charnock distinguished regeneration from "external baptism" writing that baptism "confers not grace" but rather is a means of conveying the grace of regeneration only "when the [Holy] Spirit is pleased to operate with it". Therefore, one cannot assume that baptism produces regeneration. The Westminster Confession states that the grace of baptism is only effective for those who are among the elect; however, its effects are not tied to the moment of baptism but lies dormant until one experiences conversion later in life.
Puritans rejected both Roman Catholic transubstantiation and Lutheran sacramental union teachings that Christ is physically present in the bread and wine of the Lord's Supper. Instead, Puritans embraced the Reformed doctrine of real spiritual presence, believing that in the Lord's Supper the faithful receive Christ spiritually. In agreement with Thomas Cranmer , the Puritans stressed "that Christ comes down to us in the sacrament by His Word and Spirit, offering Himself as our spiritual food and drink". While the Puritans were united in their goal of furthering the English Reformation, they were always divided over issues of ecclesiology and church polity , specifically questions relating to the manner of organizing congregations, how individual congregations should relate with one another and whether established national churches were scriptural.
The episcopalians known as the prelatical party were conservatives who supported retaining bishops if those leaders supported reform and agreed to share power with local churches. In addition, these Puritans called for a renewal of preaching, pastoral care and Christian discipline within the Church of England. Like the episcopalians, the presbyterians agreed that there should be a national church but one structured on the model of the Church of Scotland. The Westminster Assembly proposed the creation of a presbyterian system, but the Long Parliament left implementation to local authorities.
As a result, the Church of England never developed a complete presbyterian hierarchy. Congregationalists or Independents believed in the autonomy of the local church, which ideally would be a congregation of "visible saints" meaning those who had experienced conversion. Furthermore, the sacraments would only be administered to those in the church covenant. Most congregational Puritans remained within the Church of England, hoping to reform it according to their own views.
The New England Congregationalists were also adamant that they were not separating from the Church of England. However, some Puritans equated the Church of England with the Roman Catholic Church, and therefore considered it no Christian church at all. These groups, such as the Brownists , would split from the established church and become known as Separatists. Other Separatists embraced more radical positions on separation of church and state and believer's baptism , becoming early Baptists.
Based on Biblical portrayals of Adam and Eve, Puritans believed that marriage was rooted in procreation, love, and, most importantly, salvation. Puritan husbands commanded authority through family direction and prayer.
The female relationship to her husband and to God was marked by submissiveness and humility. Thomas Gataker describes Puritan marriage as:.
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The paradox created by female inferiority in the public sphere and the spiritual equality of men and women in marriage, then, gave way to the informal authority of women concerning matters of the home and childrearing. I had eight birds hatched in one nest; Four cocks there were, and hens the rest. I nursed them up with pain and care, Nor cost nor labour I did spare. Bradstreet alludes to the temporality of motherhood by comparing her children to a flock of birds on the precipice of leaving home.
While Puritans praised the obedience of young children, they also believed that, by separating children from their mothers at adolescence, children could better sustain a superior relationship with God.