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HELD AT THE SAVOY PALACE, LONDON, SEPTEMBER, 1658.
The apparent isolation of Congre Christ, not in an express command, gational Churches has long been but, in the nature of the thing ita fruitful topic of reproach amongst self, fortified with apostolical exthe enemies of their system, who ample."* have condescended to employ no It was these views, entertained very elegant similes to describe by the other fathers of the Contheir want of adhesion, which is gregational Churches, as well as exhibited as one of its characteristic himself, which led to the important defects. Whilst we gladly con- Assembly, the history of which is cede that a great jealousy does the subject of the present paper. exist in our denomination of all Various causes may be assigned authoritative interference, yet we why the materials for such a narmust also maintain that the Con- rative are now so few, and that the gregational Churches may be character of the meeting itself is brought, without violation either so little known. The Assembly of principle or precedent, into a was convened on the eve of one state of contact most advantageous of those portentous periods in the to the whole body
history of our country, which ab“ Distinct as the billows, yet one as the
sorbs public attention, and blots,
as it were, from the memory the resea.”
collection of less momentous topics. Dr. Owen has well said, that The treacherous and vindictive “ no church is so independent, as proceedings of the restored Stuarts, that it can always, and in all.cases, who, to adopt the sagacious reobserve the duties it owes unto mark of a fallen chieftain, conthe Lord Christ, and the Church cerning another royal house, “ had Catholic, by all those powers learned nothing, and forgat nothing, which it is able to act in itself dis- in their exile," rendered it very intinctly, without conjunction with expedient for men to employ their others; and the church that con- time in collecting documents, and fines its duty unto the acts of its in writing the history of proceedown assemblies, cuts itself off from ings which, to the perverted vision the external communion of the of the dominant party,looked vastly Church Catholic ; nor will it be like treason; or if such illustrations safe for any man to commit the of these doings were preserved for conduct of his soul to such a Church. Wherefore this acting in * Owen's True Nature of a Gospel Synods is an institution of Jesus Church, p. 251. 4to. New Series, No.21.
a few short years, yet it may be dertook to write a connected acpresumed, that the destructive fire count of a meeting, which from the which reduced London to ruins, numbers, influence, learning, and consumed thein, with the libraries piety of its members seemed desof their authors. Dr. Thomas tined to exercise by its example and Goodwin, for instance, was a decisions, if not an authoritative, member of this assembly, and his yet a persuasive contrond, which solicitude to preserve the records might, even until now, have been of such solemn proceedings is well found corrective of the evils we known, by the fact that he kept the are still content to deplore. journal of the proceedings of the The occasion of this Assembly Assembly of Divines at West- has been variously represented. minster, which extended through One historical folio, written "by many volumes; amongst his papers a learned and impartial hand,” therefore, it is probable, many do- remarks, “ the world did not yet cuments existed, but, alas, bis kuow what the religion of the Indevaluable library was half con- pendents was; for it had not been sumed, which, tliough it occasioned drawn into any public confession, the writing of a discourse eminently nor had the leaders met in any one consolatoy to the churches, yet it General Assembly. To make up doubtless deprived their historians this defect, Cromwell resolved on of much valuable information. a Convention, or Assembly of InMany of the pastors and elders dependent ministers, whom he of the Congregational Churches, called to meet at the Savoy, there who were present at this Synod, to treat with the Presbyterians, survived the brunt of the resto- and come, if possible, to some ac, ration, and from them Baxter and commodation with them.” Calamy, the dissenting historians The fact appears to have been of the times, might have obtained the very opposite of tbis “impar. abundant information. Mr. Bax- tial” statement; for Neale says, ter's petulant' opposition to it, “ some of their divines and prinwill explain why he did not take cipal brethren in London mei tothe trouble, and Dr. Calamy was, gether, and proposed that there unless he is strangely traduced,* too might be a correspondence amongst strongly devoted to Presbyte. their churches, in city and rianism fairly to exhibit a Congre- country, for counsel and mutual gational Synod to the notice of edification, and for as much as all posterity. Pity it is that no one of sects and parties of Christians had that assembly, who survived the published a confession of faith, perilous times of the Stuarts, un- they apprehended the world might
reasonably expect it from them; to But it seems those principles are
for these reasons they petitioned dividing ones, and therefore, by all means the Protector for liberty to asto be opposed ; and, perhaps, we must not semble for this purpose. This was be told that most of the ejected minister's opposed by some of the Court, as were of those principles, lest a vigorous imitation should render the opposition con
tending to establish a separation betemotible and ineffectual. I suppose the tween them andthe Presbyterians.** Doctor is no stranger to that person who “ Eachard represents Cromwell said, I have rooted independency out of as granting permission," says Mr. Kent, and I am resolved I will root it out
Orme,“ with great reluctance. This
o of Esser. But, alas! all will be in vain ; so long as the root of it is in the Bible it was, perhaps, the case, though not will grow again, though the Lord should for the reason which that historian suffer that gentleman to'glut himself with puts into his mouth, that the reindignation against it, and revenge upon it." Vide Maurice's Monuments of Mercy, Preface, puge vii.
- * Neale, Vol. 4. p. 179, 8vo.
quest must be complied with, or illustrate the “temper in which they would involve the nation in the overture was received by the blood again.' Oliver knew well pastors." that they were not the persons who The majority of them promised had involved the country in its to communicate the business to calamities, but his security con- their respective churches, one or sisted in the division of religious two announce the appointment of parties rather than their union, messengers, and some others anand as he had discouraged Pres- swer more cautiously. byterian associations, consistency Amongst the latter, the answer required that he should not appear of Vavasor Powell, the laborious friendly to Independent conven- apostle of Wales, is the most cutions." **
rious. In principle a decided reAmongst the Independent mic publican, he viewed the advancénisters most active in the prelimi- ment of Cromwell to almost kingly nary business, was the Rev. dignity with great displeasure, and George Griffiths, who, though not jealously alive to the rights of Inknown as a writer, was a distin- dependent Churches, he thus writes guished minister, “a man of consi- to his brother Griffiths : derablelearning and judgment,of an
"I hope yr ends are good, and yr actions agreeable conversation, and much lawful; if 'soe you may not doubt of the the gentleman." He was preacher concurrence of the poor Welsh churches, to the Charter House, a collegiate who doe desire, at least several of them, establishment then delightfully se
to follow the Lamb fully, humbly, and
closely. (I fear, though I dare not precluded from the bustle of the city.
judge, lest there should be some mixed On the permission of the Protector work carried on now, as there was in Con. being obtained, Mr. Scobell, the stantines's time. You better know both clerk of his Excellency's Council,
the dislike God shewed by a voice from
heaven, hodie, fc. and the effects thereof. issued the following circular to the
However God will bring glory to his congregational ministers in the church, and good to his chosen out of it." city and neighbourhood, invitiag them to a provisional meeting at
All the pastors and churches the Charter House.
were not so jealous as the Inde
pendents of the Principality. Mr. i SIR, --The meeting of the elders of
John Wright, of Woodborough, tire Congregational Churches, ia and about London, is appointed at Mr. Griffiths, on
addressing Mr. Scobell, says, Monday text, at two o'clock in the after
« We do rejoice that God hath put such noon, where you are desired to be present.
a thing into the hearts of his people, tu "Your's to love and serve in the Lord,
seek his face, and search bis mind in such “ June 15, 1658" HENRÝ ScoBell."
a day as this. We have nominated a mes. It appears that at this meeting
senger to goe, and shall, according as the
Lord shall help us, pray for the presence it was agreed that Mr. Griffiths of the Prince of Peace, and great Counshould address letters to the pastors and churches, inviting them to appoint delegates, and that their writers' names and places of their resi
dence. answers were to be addressed to
William Sheldrake, Wisbech; Banks Mr. Scobell, at Whitehall.
Anderston, Boston ; Vavasor Powell, Happily several replies + thus Wales; Edward Reyner, Lincoln ; Isaac addressed, are preserved, which
Loeffs, Shenley; Samuel Basnet, Coventry; William Bridge, Yarmouth; Thomas
Gilbert, Edgemont; Samuel Crossman, · * Orme's Life of Owen, p. 231.
Sudbury; Comfort Starr, Carlisle ; An. + These replies, fifteen in number, are thony Palmer, and Carn Helme, Bourton preserved in Peck's Desiderata Curiosa, on the Water; Thomas Palmer, Ast:ton Vol. 11. Book 13. folio ; and as it may il upon Trent ; John Wright, Woodborough; lustrate the early history of our Congrega. John Player, Canterbury; and Williara tional Churches, we insert the list of the Hughes, Marlborough.
sellor of his people. The Lord by his month, at the Savoy Palace, when spirit meet with and abide amongst you." the ministers and messengers of · The register of the church at about one hundred churches atCockermouth, contains the follow. tended. “They first observed," ing notices of this transaction, in says Mr. Orme, “ a day of prayer the same spirit of union and piety. and fasting, after which they con
"In the beginning of ve month of sidered, whether they should adopt Septr a letter being sent to ye church at the Westminster Confession, or Carlisle,* from Mr. Griffith, pastor of a draw up an entirely original one church in London, appointed to write to of their own. They preferred the the churches in the country, by the churches in and about London, for a general meeting
latter resolution, but agreed to of the churches in England, of the con keep as near the method of the gregaonal way at ye Savoy, in London, other as possible.” ye 29th of ye same month, to draw up a To facilitate the business. Mr. confession of their faith, and declaraon of their order, &c. The church did make
G. Griffiths was appointed scribe choice of their pastour, (George Lark to the assembly, and a committee ham,) to go there as a messenger, who of six eminent divines and influenbegan his journey Sept" 20th."
tial ministers was nominated, conSeptr 24th.--The church mett at Bridkirke, and kept a solemne day of seeking
sisting of Dr. J. Owen, Dr. T. God by fasting and praier; 1. For a bles Goodwin, Joseph Caryl, Wm. sing upon ye messengers sent from ye se- Greenhill, Philip Nye, and Wm. verall churches in their consultaons at their Bridge to draw up the confession. meeting at ye Savoy. 2. For seasonable
This distinguished committee sat weather for ye fruits of the earth. 3. For ye whole naon under the sad dispensaon in daily, and prepared the heads of the death of the Lord Protectoar.” doctrine and discipline, which they
The death of the Protector Oli- presented every morning to their ver took place on the 3d of Sept. brethren by the hand of their 1658, and threatened the noncon- scribe, who read them to the asformist churches with a storm of sembly. " There were,” says persecution, as fearful as that Neale, “ some speeches and dewhich agitated the elements when bates upon words and phrases, but he expired. As, however, the at length all acquiesced.” meeting was summoned, and the Whilst the committee were ocdanger not immediate, the assem- cupied in the composition of the bly convened + on the 29th of that articles, the assembly “ heard com
plaints and gave advice in several * It appears that there existed no accurate list of the. Congregational Churches
cases which were brought before at the time, and therefore the leading
them, relating to disputes and difcongregational ministers and churches, ferences in their churches.” It is were requested to communicate the matter much to be regretted, that no reto the sister churches in their respective
cords of these proceedings exist, neighbourboods and counties. Promises to this effect are given in most of the answers as they would at once illustrate preserved. Thus Mr. Bridge, of Yarmouth, how far the learned and holy elders engaged to do so in Norfolk, and Dr. Ca.
and messengers who formed that lamy says, “ There were fifteen celebrated
assembly were prepared to go in churches upon the coasts of Norfolk and Suffolk, that received their direction and deliberating on the affairs of other encouragement from Mr. Bridge, of Yar. Christian societies. mouth, and Mr Armitage, of Norwich.”+ The venerable James Forbes, Mr. Comfort Starr, of Carlisle, received a nestor letter from Mr. Griffith, and he, doubtless,
pastor of the church at Gloucester, corresponded with the church at Cocker: then more than seventy years old, mouth on the subject.
has given the following warm and + Neale has mistaken the day when the interesting account* of the union, entire confession was completed, October devotion, and love, which charac12, for the day of their meeting. Vol. II. p. 647.
* Memoirs of Dr. Owen, pp. 21, 22.