HISTORY OF THE

WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY OF DIVINES

BY

WILLIAM MAXWELL HETHERINGTON,
D. D., LL. D.


CONTENTS

PEFACE

CHAPTER 1

INTRODUCTORY

1531

Importance of the Westminster Assembly, – Quarrel between Henry VIII and the Pope, – Cranmer’s Suggestion,– Henry styled Supreme Head of the Church,– Effects of the Power thus assumed,– Six articles of Religious Agreement,– Reformation promoted by Edward VI.,– The Liturgy and Book of Ordinations,–

1550

Hooper refuses the Episcopal Vestments, – Articles of Religion, – "Bloody Mary" and Persecution, – "Frankfort Troubles" – Contests about Ceremonies, – Queen Elizabeth – Act of Supremacy, – Renewed Contests about Vestments and Ceremonies, –

1562

Convocation – Close of Reforming Period, – General View of the Grounds of Controversy between the – Court Divines and the Reforming Party, – Despotic Injunction of the Queen, – Suspension of those who refused to Conform, and who, wishing greater Purity, were now called Puritans, – Remonstrances of Foreign Churches, –

1566

The Puritans begin to form a separate Body, – Chief Differences between them and the Church, –

1567

Their first Communion interrupted, – Parliament attempts to interpose, but in vain, – State of Religion in England, – Associations for Worship, Discipline, "Prophesyings," – Cartwright and Whitgift, –

1572

Presbytery constituted in England, – Grindal interposes, but in vain, – Puritan Writings prohibited, – Rise of the Brownists, – Whitgift’s Articles – High Commission, –

1588

Bancroft’s Theory of jure divino Prelacy, – The Martin Mar-Prelate Tracts, – Attempt of Parliament to interfere – Suffering of Puritans, – Controversy on Sabbath-keeping, – Growth of Arminianism among the Prelatists, – King James – The Millenary Petition, – Hampton Court Conference, – Bancroft and the High Commission, – Civil Liberty manifestly endangered,

1616

Rise of the Independents, or Congregationalists,

1618

The King’s Book of Sports, – The King’s Despotism begins to rouse Parliament, – Acession of Charles I, – Despotic Principles of the High Church Party, – The Parliament begins to defend Liberty, Civil and Religious, –

1633

The Book of Sports revived, – Continued Contest between the King and Parliament, – Laud’s cruel Treatment of Leighton, Burton, Bastwick, and Prynne, – Hampden and the Ship-money Tax, – The Emigration of Hampden and Cromwell prohibited, – Laud reaches the Climax of Prelatic Usurpation, – Abortive attempts to force Prelacy on Scotland, –

1640

The Long Parliament called – Its vigorous measures, – Laud and the Earl of Strafford impeached, – Prelatic Controversy – Smectymnuus, – Parliament declares its own sittings permanent, – Protestation of Parliament, – The King in Scotland, – Remonstrance of the House of Commons, – Impeachment of the Bishops, – The King attempts to seize the five Members, and then leaves London, –

1642

The Royal Standard raised at Nottingham, – Bill for the Abolition of Prelacy, – Ordinance calling the Assembly of Divines, – Outline of Scottish Affairs, – Reflections suggested by the preceding Narrative, –


CHAPTER 2

MEETING OF THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY

1643

List of the Assembly of Divines, – First Meeting of the Assembly – its Theory, – General Regulations of the Assembly, – Baillie’s Account of its Order of Procedure, – Prelatic Members of Assembly, – Fasts and Sermons of the Assembly, – Intercourse with the Church of Scotland, – Deliberations respecting a League, or Covenant, – The S OLEMN L EAGUE AND C OVENANT, – Remarks concerning it, – Parties in the Westminster Assembly, – Episcopalians, – Presbyterians, – Independents, – Erastians, – Remarks concerning these Parties, – The Scottish Commissioners to the Assembly, – Characters of Henderson, Gillespie, Rutherford, and Bailie, – Numerous Sects in England, – Causes of these numerous Sects, – Effects on the Assembly and the Kingdom, – Political Independents – Toleration, –


CHAPTER 3

THE INDEPENDENT CONTROVERSY

Order to frame a Directory of Worship, – Deliberations concerning the Office bearers in the Church – Concerning the Pastors and Teachers, or Doctors, – Concerning Ruling Elders, – Concerning Deacons, – Suggestions respecting the Supply of Vacant Charges, –

1644

The Subject of Ordination introduced, – The Struggle between the Parties begun, – Proposition of the Independents concerning Ordination, – Consent of the Congregation to, or Election of the Pastor, – Alterations made by the Parliament in the doctrinal part of Ordination successfully resisted by the Assembly, – Directory for Public Worship, – Form of Church Government and Discipline, – Opposition made by the Independents, – Their "Apologetical Narration" – Extracts, – Answers to that Work – Antapologia, – Remarks on the Independent Controversy, – The arguments on both sides stated, – Admission of a close Approximation, – "Many Congregations under one Presbytery" debated, – Remarkable Debate between Selden and Gillespie, – Nye’s Argument against Presbytery censured, – Admissions by the Independents, – Committee of Accommodation, – Proceedings of that Committee, – Debate on Congregational Ordination, – Suspension from Sacraments, and Excommunication, – Reasons of Dissent by the Independents, – Independents requested to state their own Model, – They decline, and publish "A Copy of a Remonstrance," – Answer to this by the Assembly, – Committee of Accommodation revived – Abandoned, – Remarks on this Controversy and its Consequences, –


CHAPTER 4

THE ERASTIAN CONTROVERSY

Preliminary Remarks on the Erastian Theory, – Seldens’ Hint respecting Excommunication, – His Argument on 1 Corinthians 5: 4, – Selden’s Argument on Matthew 18: 15-18, – Answered by Gillespie, – Whitelocke’s Argument and Suggestion on Divine Right, – Firmness of the Assembly – Successful, – Whitelocke and the jus divinum Claim in Parliament, –

1645

Conduct of Parliament on the Suspending of Ignorant and Scandalous Persons from that Lord’s Table, – Selden’s Argument on that subject, – Whitelocke’s Argument, – Remarks on these Arguments, – Ordinance upon Suspension, etc. – Erastian Clause, – Petitions from London and the City Ministers, –

1646

Ordinance for the Choice of Elders – Erastian Clause, – Remonstrance of the Scottish Parliamentary Commissioners, – Haughty Conduct of the English Parliament, – Petition of the Assembly – How received, – The Parliament’s jus divinum Questions, – The Assembly’s Deliverance on the essential element of the Controversy – Firmness of the Assembly, – The Assembly prepares Answers to these Questions, – The jus divinum Treatise by the City Ministers, – Outline of Political Events, – The King Retires to the Scottish Army – Altered tone of Parliament, – Erastian Clause Removed from the Ordinance for the choice of Elders and erection of Presbyteries, – The King in the Scottish Army – Negotiations, – Vindication of Scotland from the Accusation of having Sold the King – True state of the matter, –

1647

Removal of obstructions, and erection of Presbyteries and Synods, – Negotiations with the King – Votes of Parliament concerning Church Government and Toleration, – P REPARATION OF THE C ONFESSIONS OF F AITH, – Not the slightest Erastian modification admitted, – Presented to Parliament – Scripture Proofs required, –

1648

How far Ratified by Parliament – What alterations suggested – What topics recommitted – Remarks, – Literature of the Erastian Controversy, – Theories of different shades of Erastianism, – Coleman’s Sermon, – Gillespie’s Brotherly Examination, – Controversy between Coleman and Gillespie, – Gillespie’s Aaron’s Rod Blossoming – Rutherford’s Divine Right of Church Government, – Treatise by Apollonius, – Concluding Remarks on Erastianism, –


CHAPTER 5

CONCLUSION OF THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY.

1647-8

THE CATECHISMS COMPOSED, – Inquiry concerning the Authorship of the Catechisms, – Departure of the Scottish Commissioners, –

1649

Dissolution of the Assembly,

1655

Ratification of the Westminster Assembly’s productions by the Church of Scotland, with Explanations, – Outline of Subsequent Events in England, – Usurpations of the Army and Cromwell, –

The King in the Isle of Wight – Negotiations, – Death of Charles I, – Dissolution of the Long Parliament and the Westminster Assembly, – The Engagement – Ejection of Presbyterians, – Committee of Triers, –

1658

The Independents in Power – The Savoy Confession, – Death of Cromwell – Restoration of Charles II, – Prelacy restored – The Savoy Conference, –

1662

The Act of Uniformity – Two Thousand Presbyterian Ministers Ejected on St. Bartholomew’s Day, – Divines of the Westminster Assembly Ejected, – Retrospective View of the whole subject, – Main object of the Westminster Assembly, – Advantages of Religious Uniformity, – Effects of the Assembly – On Universities, – On Theological Literature, – On the State of Education in England, – Sectarianism – State of the Army, – On Religious Toleration, – Its True Nature intimated, – Liberty of Conscience, – How Misunderstood by both Parties, –

1654

Unlimited Toleration not granted by the Independents when in Power, – Opinions of the Early Reformers – of the Church of Scotland – of the Westminster Assembly, – Fundamental Principles of Faith by the Independents, – Great Idea of a General Protestant Union entertained by the Westminster Assembly, –


CHAPTER 6

THEOLOGICAL PRODUCTIONS OF THE WESTMINSTER ASSEMBLY

Church Government, – Directory of Public Worship, – Confession of Faith, – Objections against Confessions answered,

– What a Confession of Faith really is, – Comprehensiveness and Accuracy as a system, – Relation to Church History, – Precision of Thought and Language, – Statement of Coordinate Jurisdictions, – True Liberty of Conscience, – Plan of the Confession, – The Catechisms, – Anecdote of Gillespie, – Relation of the Confession to the idea of a General Protestant Union, – Coincidences between the period of the Westminster Assembly and the present times, – Protestant Union yet Attainable, – Conclusion, –


APPENDIX

1. Religious Uniformity Recommended by the Scottish Commissioners in 1640-41 – Their Views,

2. Extracts from Gillespie’s Manuscripts; and Extracts on Election of Ministers,

3. Ordinance about Suspension, etc.,

4. Ordinance for the Choice of Elders,

5. Biographical Notices of the Scottish Commissioners –

1. Henderson,
2. Rutherford,
3. Baillie,
4. Gillespie,
5. Warriston,
6. Lauderdale,

6. Philip Nye and Religious Liberty,

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