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severe.

Discipline and the Power of the Keys' was no less

The Assembly claimed this power for the Presbytery in words so important for the comprehension of the Third Canto of the First Part of Hudibras, that they may be here quoted : “ The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were committed to the officers of the Church by virtue whereof they have power respectively to retain and remit sins, to shut the Kingdom of Heaven against the impenitent both by the Word and censures, and to open it to the penitent by absolution; and to prevent the profanation of the Holy Sacrament by notorious and obstinate offenders, the said officers are to proceed by admonition, suspension from the sacrament of the Lord's Supper for a season, and by excommunication from the Church, according to the nature of the crime and demerit of the person.'1 [Cf. Hudibras, I. iii. 1125–1148.] The same powers were claimed by the Independents on behalf of each congregation. The Erastians still protested against suspension or excommunication in any form, and they were aided in the House of Commons by a speech from Selden. In final result the Parliament passed the Ordinance for Excommunication, but fenced round the power with limitations, and allowed of an appeal from the Presbytery to the Classical Elderships, and from them to the Provincial Assembly, and from them to the National, and from them to the Parliament.

Here, then, are the various assemblies on which Ralpho pours out the vials of his wrath. The best conception of their nature may perhaps be obtained from the Propositions concerning Church Government and Ordination of Ministers,' published in

1 Cf. Neal's History of the Puritans, Vol. III. Chap. VI.

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London in 1647. The following extracts from that work will perhaps make the relations of such assemblies to each other, as well as their own nature, tolerably clear.

Of Church Government and the several sorts of Assemblies for the same.

It is lawful and agreeable to the Word of God that the Church should be governed by several sorts of Assemblies, which are Congregational, Classical, and Synodical.

Of the Power in Common of all these Assemblies. It is lawful and agreeable to the Word of God that the several assemblies before mentioned have power to call before them any person within their several bounds whom the ecclesiastical business which is before them doth concern ; proved by Matt. chap. xviii. It is lawful and agreeable to the Word of God that all the said assemblies have some power to dispense Church censures.

Of Congregational Assemblies. The meeting of the ruling officers of a particular congregation for the rule thereof. The ruling officers of a congregation have power authoritatively to call before them

any

member of the congregation as they shall see just occasion; to enquire into the knowledge and spiritual estate of the several members of the congregation; to admonish and rebuke. .

* Of Classical Assemblies. The Scripture doth hold out a Presbytery and a Church, both in the First Epistle to Timothy, chap. iv. verse 14, and in Acts xv. verses 2, 4, 6. Presbytery consisteth of ministers of the Word, and such other public officers as are agreeable to and warranted by the Word of God to be church governors, to join with the ministers in the government of the church, as appeareth, Rom. xii. 7, 8;

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1 Cor. xii. 28. The Scripture doth hold forth that many congregations may be under one Presbyterial government.

Of Synodical Assemblies. The Scripture doth hold out another sort of assemblies for the government of the Church besides Classical and Congregational, all which we call Synodical ; Acts xv. Pastors and teachers and other church governors (as also other fit persons when it shall be deemed expedient) are members of those assemblies which we call Synodical, when they have a lawful calling thereunto.

“Synodical assemblies may lawfully be of several sorts, as Provincial, National, and Ecumenical.

It is lawful and agreeable to the Word of God that there be a subordination of Congregational, Classical, Provincial, and National Assemblies for the government of the Church.'i

The above are the leading propositions of Presbyterianism such as Hudibras would maintain and Ralpho would oppose, and these are debated by Squire and Knight, because in Butler's time these

1 The student who desires to look into these questions for himself, and make himself. acquainted with their history, will find benefit from the following amongst other works :

Propositions concerning Church Government and Ordination of Ministers. London, 1647, 12mo.

An Answer to those Questions Propounded by the Parliament to the Assembly of Divines, touching Jus Divinum in datters of Church Government. London, 1646.

The Main Points of Church Government and Discipline, plainly and modestly handled by way of Question and Answer. 1648, 12mo.

History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines. By W. M. Hetherington, New York, 1843.

[All the above are indexed in the British Museum Catalogue under England, Divines, Assembly of.']

Robert Baillie's Lcttcrs, ctc.
Neal's History of the Puritans, Vol. III.

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were the questions of which all men's minds were full, and the discussions that were on every tongue.

But though these two sects are thus prominent, Butler's humour does not confine itself, nor was public attention wholly engrossed, within the limits of Presbyterianism and Independency alone. Outside the doors of the Westminster Assembly there was legion of sects springing up, much as if the Parliament had sown again the dragon's teeth. Amongst these we may notice the Anabaptists, made subjects by Butler of some of the keenist satire that has ever been written in English. [Cf. Hudibras, I. i. 509 sq.] Their doctrines mostly found favour amongst the poorer classes. Being formidable to nobody and obnoxious to everybody, they seem to have been treated with as much justice as such persons in such times may reasonably expect, that is, with none at all. Fines and imprisonment forced some of their ministers into recantation, but the oppressions of authority produced their inevitable results in the spread of the cause against which they were directed. The Anabaptists rapidly increased in numbers, and soon became divided amongst themselves. General Baptists, Particular Baptists, Latter Day Saints, Fifth Monarchy Men, were thus jostling one another outside the doors of the Assembly of Divines, whilst Puritans and Independents were quarrelling within. It will be obvious to the student that Butler's materials for satire must have been abundant and ready to his hand. It requires but the calm observer

that looker-on who sees most of the game-to find boundless mirth in the absurdities into which even an honest enthusiasm is sure to run when judgment drops the reins.

1 Cor. xii. 28. The Scripture doth hold forth that many congregations may be under one Presbyterial government.

Q1 Synodical Assemblies. The Scripture doth hold out another sort of assemblies for the

government of the Church besides Classical and Congregational, all which we call Synodical ; Acts xv. Pastors and teachers and other church governors (as also other fit persons when it shall be deemed expedient) are members of those assemblies which we call Synodical, when they have a lawful calling thereunto.

'Synodical assemblies may lawfully be of several sorts, as Provincial, National, and Ecumenical.

'It is lawful and agreeable to the Word of God that there be a subordination of Congregational, Classical, Provincial, and National Assemblies for the government of the Church.’i

The above are the leading propositions of Presbyterianism such as Hudibras would maintain and Ralpho would oppose, and these are debated by Squire and Knight, because in Butler's time these

1 The student who desires to look into these questions for himself, and make himself. acquainted with their history, will find benefit from the following amongst other works :

Propositions concerning Church Government and Ordin Ministers. London, 1647, 12mo.

An Answer to those Questions Propounded by the to the Assembly of Divines, touching Jus Divinum Church Government. London, 1646.

The Main Points of Church Government plainly and modestly handled by way of muest 1648, 12mo.

History of the Westminster Assem Hetherington, New York, 1843.

[All the above are indexed in under England, Divines, Ass

Robert Baillie's Letters, etc
Neal's History of the Pur

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