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ticular confessions should not clash with those which were general. Dr. Mather, in the preface just referred to, says: “It is true that particular churches in the country have confessions by themselves, drawn up in their own forms; nor indeed were the symbols in the most primitive times ipsissimis verbis' [in precisely the same language.] It is also true that few learned men have been admitted as members of our churches, but what have, at their admission, entertained them with notable confessions of their own composing; insomuch that if the Protestants have been by the Papists called the Confessionists, the Protestants of New England have of all, given the most laudable occasion to be called so. Nevertheless all this variety has been the exactest unity : all those confessions have been but so many derivations from, and explanations and confirmations of that confession, which the Synod had voted for them all: for ut plures rivuli ab uno fonte, ita plures fidei confessiones ab una eademque fidei veritate manare possunt: [many confessions may be formed from one and the same system of truth, as many little streams may flow from a single fountain."]
The churches in Connecticut have generally had particular confessions, though the associated churches in Litchfield South, in 1828, adopted common articles of faith, and a common covenant. And assuredly, if particular churches
may have a brief confession of their own, associated churches may have a common confession of this description.
It has been mentioned that the compilers at Saybrook appended to the articles of faith which they adopted, proof-texts from the Scriptures; and here seems to be the place for noticing that they did not consider these articles, nor any other formularies, binding, as the productions of men, by their own authority, but as expressing concisely and happily the great truths of the Word of God. They counted it the glory of their fathers, "that they heartily professed the only rule of their religion, from the very first, to be the Holy Scriptures, according whereunto, so far as they were persuaded, upon diligent inquiry, solicitous search and faithful prayer, conformed was their faith, their worship, together with the whole administration of the house of Christ, and their manners; allowance being given to human failures and imperfections.”
In offering the Savoy Confession, they doubted not that the same had been the constant faith of the churches of Connecticut from the first foundation of them.” They offered it as being, in their firm persuasion, "well and fully grounded upon the Holy Scriptures,” and they commended the same unto all, and particularly the people of Connecticut, "to be examined, accepted and constantly maintained.” They
did not assume that any thing should be taken upon trust from themselves, “but commended to the people several counsels," concerning the articles of Faith, in which the authority of Scripture is strongly urged.*
The Second Part of the Platform consists of the Heads of Agreement, and Articles for the Administration of Discipline.
The Puritans were not at first as fully settled and agreed upon church government and discipline as upon doctrines : and in this fact there is nothing at which we need to marvel. Doctrines are more clearly and fully revealed in the Scriptures, than matters pertaining to government and discipline, and the latter were subjects of much controversy when New England was seltled. While some principles of government are obvious, the formation of a system of government, whether ecclesiastical or civil, defining the rights and duties of different classes of officers, their relations to each other, and the privileges of the people, has always been found a difficult work : and then, when a system of government is formed, to sustain it, and to carry all its principles and provisions, even in the church of God, into harmonious and full execution, is a work of greater difficulty. "The Pedobaptist part of the dissenting interest in England," in the language of President Stiles, “was
* See Preface to the Platform,
unhappily divided into Presbyterians and Congregationalists, both unanimously agreeing in doctrines, and differing only in forms of church government, and yet generally very amicably differing, as knowing they were harmoniously agreed in all the great, essential and most important things in religion. The Puritans who came to New England, particularly those who came to Connecticut, were neither Presbyterians, nor Independents, but Congregationalists. Though the sentiment prevailed extensively among them for a time, that in every church fully organized, “there is a pastor and teacher, ruling elder and deacons;” though all these are mentioned as church officers in the Cambridge Platform, and a number of the first and largest churches were furnished with them, yet where they all existed, they did not constitute a church session, nor were the concerns of the church transacted by a session. The distinction between pastor and teacher soon ceased : for it was too tenuous to be long held : and the office of ruling elder, also, soon died away in most of the churches where it was introduced, and finally in all.†. The voice of the churches was for Čongregationalism in matter and form; and while these were conducted upon Congregational principles, early measures were taken to guard against Presbyterianism, and to establish a general platform of Congregational discipline; * Stiles' Judges, p. 16. + Savage's Winthrop, Vol. I. pp. 31, 32
particularly by the Reverend John Cotton, and the Reverend Thomas Hooker, whose influence was patriarchal, more especially in the colonies in which they resided. About 1635 Mr. Cotton sent to the Reverend John Davenport such a favorable, account of the order of the churches and commonwealth of New England as then settled by common consent, that he was induced to emigrate to this country. He became the patriarch of New Haven, and exerted himself in favor of the same ecclesiastical polity.
These three eminent men, in 1642, were earnestly invited to return to England for a season, and assist in the Assembly at Westminster, appointed to consider and advise about the settling of church government, “though for one reason and another neither attended. Mr. Hooker was preparing for the press about that time a vindication of Congregational churches, or rather forming a system or plan of church government, (the "Summe of Discipline”) which he designed for the churches of New England, let the determination at Westminster be what it might.I “Cotton and Hooker, the next year, were moderators of an assembly at Cambridge, of all the elders in the country, about 50, convened principally because some of the elders went about to set up some things according to
* Holmes' Annals, Vol. 1, pp. 218–19. + Trumbull, Vol. I. p. 466
Hutchinson, Vol. I. pp. 116–17.