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Presbytery, as of Newbury, &c. The assem bly concluded against some parts of the Presbyterial way, and the Newbury ministers took time to consider arguments, &c."* Two years after, as many books came "out of England, some in defence of anabaptism, and other errors, and for liberty of conscience, as a shelter for their toleration, &c., others in maintainance of the Presbyterial government, (agreed upon by the assembly of divines in England,) against the Congregational way, which was practised here, the elders of the churches through all the United Colonies held by agreement another meeting at Cambridge, in which they conferred their counsels and examined the writings, which some of them had prepared in answer to the said books, which being agreed and perfected, were sent over into England to be printed. Among these answers was one by Mr. Hooker to Mr. Rutterford, the Scotch minister, about Presbyterial government."
Though “the Summe of Discipline” was not published until 1648, the year after Mr. Hooker's death, yet the principles of it were known and fully discussed in this Synod, and contributed powerfully to check the growth of Presbyterianism, and to settle the churches upon the Congregational basis.
These principles are interwoven in the articles of the Cambridge
* Savage's Winthrop, Vol. II. pp. 136-7. 7 Savage's Winthrop, Vol. II. pp. 248-9.
Platform, the penman of which is said to have been the Rev. Richard Mather.
But while the Puritans disliked Presbyterianism, they objected to strict independency. The Rev. John Robinson, in his farewell address to those of his congregation who emigrated to America, said, “I must also advise you to abandon, avoid and shake off the name of Brownists,” [who were rigid Independents,] "it is a mere nick-name, and a brand for the making religion, and the professors of it, odious to the Christian world."* In a book written by the Rev. Mr. Mather, just named, in 1639, nine years before the Cambridge Platform, are these words: 6. The consociation of churches into classes and synods, we hold to be lawful, and in some cases necessary, as, namely, in things that are not peculiar to one church, but common to them all. And likewise when a church is not able to end any matter which concerns only themselves, then they are to seek for counsel and advice from neighbor churches, as the church at Antioch did send unto the church at Jerusalem, Acts xv. 2. The ground and use of classes and synods, with the limitations therein to be observed, is summarily laid down by Dr. Ames, unto whom we do wholly consent in this matter." His son, Pres. Mather, in his treatise entitled, “The Order of the Gospel professed and practiced by the churches of Christ in New
* Ct. Mag. and Intel. Vol. V. p. 205.
England,” published in 1700, affirms ; “This was and is the judgment of all that adhere to the order of the gospel professed in the churches of New England;" and he cites various authorities in support of his affirmation. “The world is much mistaken,” he adds, "in thinking that Congregational churches are independent. That name has indeed been fastened upon them by their adversaries, but our Platform of Discipline, Chap. 2. Sect. 5, disclaims the name.” President Dakes in his election sermon before the Massachusetts Legislature, in 1673, inquires, speaking of our way of church order, « Consider what will be the real issue of revolting from the way fixed upon to one extreme or another, whether it be to Presbyterianism or Brownism.”
The object of the New England fathers was, to establish churches, and to provide for their communion or consociation, upon the principles of the New Testament, which they believed to be Congregational. While they felt strongly for the rights and privileges of particular churches, and insisted upon their equality, they wished them not only to exercise the most friendly feelings, but to be continually helpful to one another. Mr. Hooker, who is said “to have assisted in gathering and organizing all the churches which were formed in the towns settled within the present limits of this State before his death, to have helped to ordain their minis
ters, and to have given them such advice as their peculiar situation required," was a great friend to the meeting and consociation of ministers and churches, as a grand mean of promoting purity, union and brotherly affection, among ministers and churches. During his life, the ministers in the vicinity of Hartford, had frequent meetings at his house, and about a week before his death, he observed with great earnestness; “We must agree upon constant meetings of ministers, and settle the consociation of churches, or else we are undone,” Other wise and good men felt very much as he did about consociation, and a year after his death, an effort was made to provide for it, or for something approixmating towards it, under the phrase “Communion of Churches,” in the Cambridge Platform, as may be seen by looking into the fifteenth and sixteenth chapters. But whatever truths those chapters contain, it was found sufficient provision was not made for securing the blessings desired. The Massachusetts synod which met in 1662, fourteen years after, acknowledged "that some few particulars, referring to the continuation and combination of churches, needed yet a more explicit stating and reducing unto practice." The expression “combination of churches," respects the passages in the Platform about the "communion of churches," and they endeavored to remedy the defect
* Trumbull, Vol.. I.
in what they advanced on consociation, in answer to the question, “ Whether, according to the word of God, there ought to be a Consociation of Churches, and what should be the manner of it?” This question they answered with great brevity; "partly," as they say, “because so much is already said thereabout in the aforesaid Platform of Discipline; and partly by reason of great straits of time.
Although what they presented was the joint conclusion of the synod; yet, occupied almost wholly with the question about baptism, they left the subject in an imperfect state. The consociation was not made a fixed, definite body; though expected ordinarily to consist of the representatives of churches
planted in a convenient vicinity, yet liberty was reserved for others to be used without offence." Churches might meet in consociation from the vicinity or from a distance, in larger or smaller numbers; and there was nothing to prevent one consociation from sitting after another
There was no suitable nor direct provision for the relief of aggrieved individuals ; nor indeed for convening, the members of the body. The churches of Connecticut realized these defects both before and after the session of this synod. The difficulty in the first church in Hartford, growing out of a controversy between the pastor and ruling elder, afflicted them exceedingly, and in
* Preface to Cam. Platform, p. 5. Boston Edition.