So far, I have worked to argue that the English Reformed tradition had already become considerably less magisterial by the mid-seventeenth century. Next, I want to suggest that Cromwell’s move towards supporting a kind of multiple establishment had echoes in the early republic, first in the abortive attempts to create shared establishments that would support churches of various denominations, as was attempted by Jefferson’s enemies in Virginia, then by the creation of an informal evangelical establishment in which Presbyterians and Congregationalists played the central role.
After the conclusion of the English Civil War, the tensions between two Puritan emphases began to become apparent: the ideal of the “godly magistracy,” which assumed general uniformity in religious practice, and the tendency towards a “gathered church,” which had encouraged the gathering of the “godly” in separate assemblies.
This essay briefly attempts to explore the major formational differences between Baptists and Reformed Christians in the American republic on the question of church and state.
One of Ussher’s major contributions to seventeenth-century debates about church government was The Reduction of Episcopacy which was probably composed in early 1641, but not appearing in print until after his death in 1656. This was an attempt to implement his vision of primitive episcopacy in the Church of England and was proposed as a mediating position between presbyterian and more conservative episcopalian polities.