Congregations before Congregationalism: social and spiritual roots of the Cambridge Platform

Written by Francis J. Bremer
October 29, 1998

Three hundred and fifty years ago the churches of New England offered the world the Cambridge Platform, a statement of polity that still has meaning to Christians today. The statement was not a foundation document in the sense that the Constitution of the United States was. It was not designed to create something new but to explain something already functioning. And so it is appropriate in reflecting on the continuing life of the document to look at the life and nature of the Christian community that gave birth to it.

Yet such an understanding of the roots of the Cambridge Platform has often been obscured by denominational historians who have over-emphasized the reformers' concern with form in efforts to establish a more ancient and illustrious lineage for their particular church tradition, and who have imposed on religious experience terms that came later. English puritanism in the sixteenth century becomes in such treatments too readily identified with Presbyterianism, and Congregationalism can only be seen as connected with Separatism, leading historians to duplicate the seventeenth century polemical arguments between those two groups. I suggest that the Cambridge Platform needs to be understood from a different perspective. It did not create the "New England Way" but rather it was an attempt to expound and defend a polity that had emerged from the experiences of English Christians who had long sought means of replicating the bonds of love and faith that they believed had characterized the earliest Christian communities. The English historian John Spurr recently wrote that "[t]heology is not simply an intellectual exercise, it expresses and resolves spiritual experiences." 1 The same can be said about platforms of polity. Consequently, the proper starting point for understanding what the Cambridge Platform was all about is an investigation of the spiritual experience that it sought to protect, the puritan search for religious community.

'One candle lighteth another'

At the heart of the movement which we call puritanism was the experience of conversion. Historians have done a marvelous job in detailing the fear and trembling that preceded conversion, and the anxiety bordering on despair that plagued many pilgrims on their progress towards faith. Likewise, scholars have offered us wonderfully nuanced descriptions of the saints' experience of God's caress. But such discussions of conversion, especially on the popular level, often focus on the individual in lonely encounter with God, and neglect the social dimension of spiritual renewal that was equally important to the puritans. Figuring largely among the fruits of conversion were fellowship and love. The social manifestation of being born again was an attempt to draw together with other godly men and women into a communion of saints. This instinct was not original to the puritans, of course, and I have suggested elsewhere that this puritan sociability was in the tradition of pious community that had been manifested during the pre-Reformation era in the culture of religious guilds. 2 But pious sociability was an aspect of religious experience that was valued very highly by the reformers of the Elizabethan era. Paul Baynes wrote that "a good man cannot tell how to go to heaven alone. The communion of the saints must be a point of practice, as well as an article of belief. One candle lighteth another." 3 And Richard Sibbes warned that God was angered "when there is not that sweet communion of saints among them to strengthen one another in the ways of holiness.... When there is not a beauty in their profession to allure and draw on others to a love and liking of these best things." 4 Not only Baynes and Sibbes, but all who talked of the need for the saints to live exemplary lives in order to draw others to their example were addressing the inspirational function of demonstrations of Christian love. 5 The "City on a Hill" that John Winthrop sought to erect on the shores of the Massachusetts Bay was to be a place of "cohabitation and consortship" where all were to be knit together by the force of Christian love so that they would, as Winthrop put it, "love one another with a pure heart, fervently,. . . [and] bear one another's burdens." 6

Seeking to find scriptural examples of such ties, puritan writers often turned to the story of David and Jonathan. Winthrop himself, in an extremely heartfelt letter to William Spring, a friend he was leaving behind as he departed England, wrote that "I embrace you and rest in your love, and delight to solace my first thoughts in these sweet affections of so deare a friend. The apprehension of your love and worth together hath overcome my heart, and removed the veil of modestye, that I must needes tell you, my soule is knitt to you, as the soule of Jonathan to David: were I now with you, I shall bedewe that sweet bosome with the tears of affection." 7 And, a few decades later, the English puritan John Owen described "communion" as "the natural sharing of those good things which delight all those in that fellowship. This was so with David and Jonathan. Their souls were bound together in love." Thomas Brooks, another English author, pointed out that this love was a fruit of grace. "Love to the saints," which, he wrote, "for the image of God stamped upon them, is a flower that grows not in nature's garden." A gift from God, it united all the saints, "the meanest as well as the richest, the wealthiest as well as the strongest, the lowest as well as the highest. They have all the same Spirit, the same Jesus, the same faith: they are all fellow-members, fellow-travelers, fellow-soldiers, fellow-citizens, fellow-heirs, and therefore must they all be loved with a sincere and cordial love." 8

John Spurr has written that "it was an indispensable part of being a puritan that one's life displayed the fruits of a saving faith, and that this life was open to the scrutiny and admiration of other godly individuals, that it was a constant reproach to the profane, and a living tribute to God. But such a life was not possible independently of the brethren. . . ." 9 The puritans of the Elizabethan era asked that the forms of the church be reformed so as to allow God's transforming grace to flow to those of the elect not yet born anew, and God's sustaining grace to flow freely to the saints, drawing them together in sacramental union unsullied by the participation of evil-doers. In England and in New England the challenge for puritans would be to create means of nurturing the faith of the visible saints, while reaching out to a broader community in which saints as yet invisible mingled with those who were non-elect. 10 Some of the tactics adopted would involve clergy reaching out to individuals, but others would be designed to heighten a sense of Christian community.

'Spiritual families' as models for local churches

Elizabethan reformers for the most part did not believe that it was necessary to abandon the national church nor even the episcopal system in order to achieve the creation of true Christian communities. Emphasis on the importance of fostering saintly communion was one of the continuities in puritanism; ideas as to how this was to be achieved fall within the story of discontinuities in the puritan tradition. It is worth remembering that the experience of the communion of saints which sustained the founders of New England and which they wished to nurture in the new world, was something they had achieved in the Church of England! Many of the clergy had first been introduced to Christian communion in the colleges of Cambridge (and Oxford), where they had engaged in spiritual conferences and prayer sessions based on Pauline models. Many of them then spent time in household seminaries, where they shared an experience as godly brothers under the mentorship of a spiritual father such as Alexander Richardson or John Cotton. These spiritual families became templates for the type of Christian family life they would later urge on the saints, and the Christian family became one model for the shaping of the Christian congregation. 11 After such seasoning, the young clergyman typically took up a parochial living. And in some cases they succeeded so well that their communities—Elizabethan Colchester, for example—became known as "Cities on a Hill."

Too often our perspective as students of New England puritanism leads us to ignore this fact, that the puritans once hoped to achieve all they sought within the Church of England. After all, Winthrop himself said that the goal of the New Englanders was to put into practice that which was a matter of profession only in the churches of England. And yet we should not assume that William Laud's church of the 1630s was the Reformation Church of England. Indeed, one of the most useful contributions of the new English Reformation scholarship is the demonstration of how much the Church of England had changed in Caroline times from what it was in the reign of Elizabeth. 12 And in that earlier period it was possible for puritans to envision a truly reformed national church. Indeed, Patrick Collinson has written that "in Elizabethan and Jacobean Suffolk there may have been a closer approximation to the type of a godly commonwealth than in any part of England at any time." 13 I would like to expand on that point and in the process discuss the puritan agenda by looking at a part of that world. The work I have been doing on the Winthrop Papers has combined with my reading of recent works on popular religion in England by Judith Maltby and Christopher Marsh to make me ever more aware of the degree to which Elizabethan puritans were committed to seeking their salvation within the Church of England. 14 In areas such as the Stour Valley on the Suffolk-Essex border, where reformers had the freedom to create true Christian communities in their parishes and to form ties with like communities in the region, there seems to have been little opposition to the structures of the Church. . . . 15

Word and Sacrament were 'all one in substance'

Having been called to God's grace, the puritan sought to interact with other godly men and women. And while "the household was the basic building block of the puritan community," they sought to reach out to form a broader fellowship that "seemed little more than a larger form of the household." 18 The means of this bonding could be found in the parish church through the proper administration of the sacraments. Too often students of the puritans focus their attention on the reformers' insistence on the importance of the sermon to the neglect of their sacramental concerns. But as William Perkins put it, "the preaching of the word, and the administration of the Sacrament, are all one in substance, for in the one the will of God is seen, in the other heard." 19 Historian Stephen Foster has discussed the fellowship of the saints as "Communion in the sacramental sense," and has stated that the saints' "Love was a kind of socialized Eucharist." 20 And it was best manifested in the actual sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Tom Webster has pointed this out in his study of Caroline puritanism, explaining that the godly perspective on communion focused on "the spread of unity and the bond of love among the communicants, the universal communion of Christians with Christ, and with one another in Christ." For Thomas Goodwin the first purpose of the sacrament was a greater union with God, the second was to be "a communion, the highest outward pledge, ratification and testimony of love and amity among the members themselves . . . a love feast, in that they eat and drinke together at one and the same table." 21 Recently Mark Peterson has reminded us of the importance of the Eucharist in the worship of the New England puritans. 22 To achieve this goal in Elizabethan England, the puritans wanted the clergy to exercise their power to exclude notorious sinners and those in conflict with their neighbors from the table, and they placed great emphasis on the placement of the table centrally, thus making clear the social aspect of the sacrament. Both of these objectives were achievable in regions like the Stour Valley.

But communion was expected to extend beyond the parish church. As the seventeenth-century author Samuel Clarke described one region's puritans, "though living ten or twelve miles asunder, [they] were as intimate and familiar as if they had all been of one household." 23 Such community was developed by common attendance at public lectures, sermon "gadding" (which had a lot of the sociability found before the Reformation on pilgrimages), coordinated fasts, pulpit exchanges, and private conferences of a group of covenanted believers. 24 The latter type of gathering was recommended by Richard Rogers in his Seven Treatises and practiced by many, including John Winthrop, who describes in his spiritual diary how on the 13th of September in 1613 he and "his company," which included five local laymen and their wives as well as the Revs. Knewstub, Sandes and Joseph Byrd (William's son and successor at Boxford), gathered at Sandes' house, communed together, and "appointed to meete again the next yere on that frydaye which should be nearest the 17th of September, and in the meane tyme every of us each fryday in the weeke to be mindfull one of another." 25

All of these forms of sociability were accepted, at least initially, as having a place within the Church of England. And so too, at first, were clerical conferences, whether in the form of symbolically rich common meals joined in by the members of a combination lecture after one had delivered the week's sermon, or conferences that were purely for clerical consultation with no public sermon attached. The best recorded example of the latter variety was the so-called Dedham Classis of the 1580s, which met in the Stour Valley, occasionally in Boxford. Similar to and connected with other such groups, this was a regular gathering of like-minded clerical reformers to discuss common problems they faced in shepherding the godly in their charge and reaching out to the rest of their parish flocks. Such gatherings are often discussed as part of a national "Presbyterian" movement, but such a conclusion is misleading, or at least in need of refinement. The debates of the 1640s and later identified supra-congregational authority as a defining characteristic of Presbyterianism, and that was certainly true of Presbyterianism as it was recognized in Scotland in the 16th century. But evaluated by that criteria the classis or conference movement of Elizabeth's reign was not a Presbyterian movement. This is very important because Perry Miller's judgment that non-separating Congregationalism represented a break from a Presbyterian norm of English puritanism was based on a misunderstanding of what English puritanism was all about. Neither the Dedham conference nor, as far as we know, any of its counterparts, exerted a supra-congregational authority over the clergy who were its members nor over the churches that they ministered to. And while some leaders of the movement might have hoped for some such authority, the most commonly recognized leaders of the so-called "Presbyterian movement" did not.

Thomas Cartwright, an English Elizabethan Presbyterian if there ever was one, wrote that "no particular church has power over another, yet every particular church of the same resort, meeting and counsel ought to obey the opinion of more churches with whom they communicate." 26 Conferences and the like should have moral influence over member churches, but no power over them. Walter Travers, another Presbyterian paragon, "allowed conferences and synods wide powers to issue authoritative statements for the good of the church, but undermined this centralization by making the decisions of synods 'void and of no effect if they be not such as in the last resort wherein the people have to rule and govern.'" 27 And Robert Parker, the father of New England's famed Presbyterian Thomas Parker, "called for 'consociations' which he defined as meetings of two or more particular congregations, mutually agreed to consider problems that could not be solved on the local level. Their authority derived from the particular congregations and ultimately stayed with them. A synod could not 'obtrude anything upon churches unwillingly.'" 28 The various congregations of saints were to form a communion, not a hierarchical battalion.

What made these Elizabethans known as presbyterian were two things. In the first place they did have a strong sense of the power of the congregational presbytery—the minister and elders within the congregation—which power they believed was jure divino. And, secondly, members of the church establishment feared that they were seeking to replace England's episcopal structure with the Scottish system. But there is no evidence of such an intent. In the Stour Valley puritans had managed to structure a system of lived faith which provided nourishment for the saints and inspiration to others. And they did so within the structures of the Church of England. The archdeacon of Sudbury was John Still, who was a close friend of Sandes and Knewstub and the brother of Adam Winthrop's deceased first wife. Still would be John Winthrop's godfather and would later become Bishop of Bath and Wells. Like Archbishop Grindal and other Elizabethan church leaders, he encouraged clerical conferences and was looked to for help by the clergy of the Dedham conference. For those puritans who lived in his archdeaconry the idea of a reformed episcopate nurturing and shepherding a national church was not out of the question. Nor should this come as a surprise. Historians such as George Yule have long pointed to the fact that prior to the calling of the Westminster Assembly, most English puritans were not deeply engaged in arguments over church government. Most of you have probably read many times the quote of Richard Baxter that prior to 1641 "I never thought what Presbytery or Independency was nor ever spoke with a man who seemed to know it." 29

When John Winthrop was born in 1588 and during the first few decades of his life, most puritans hoped for a reformed national church and pointed to areas like the Stour Valley as an example of what could be achieved with sympathetic bishops and church leaders who sought to teach and encourage rather than throw their weight around. While some believed that there was a scripturally preferred form of church government, it was seen as desirable, not necessary. Dedham's John Rogers wrote that "[t]hat company that hath the Doctrine of the Prophets and the Apostles soundly preached in all substantial Points, and the Sacraments for substance according to Christ's institution, is a true Church of God, though there be blemishes therein." 30 Because it was possible to nourish a company of the saints in true communion within their parishes, ministers like Rogers, John Cotton, and John Davenport held on to their livings.

All of this changed with the ascension to power of archbishops like Whitgift, Bancroft and later Laud, all of whom were enemies of puritanism, and with the coming to the throne of James I and especially Charles I, both of whom sought to replace the laissez-faire tolerance of puritan practices with a new emphasis on conformity. By the 1620s it was harder to nourish communities of saints in the parish churches of England. New canons and more precise visitation articles led to the elimination of many of the preaching lectureships such as that in Boxford. The conference movement had already been suppressed. Clerical gatherings that replaced the conferences, like the one Thomas Hooker presided over in Essex, were branded conventicles and proscribed. Official fasts were reduced and private fasts frowned upon. The symbolism of the eucharistic meal was undercut with the orders to restore and rail in altars. In short the practices that had served to convert and unite were no longer available for the puritan clergy. In the process, the godly communities were marginalized and the gulf between the saints and their fellow parishioners widened. Non-puritans were encouraged by the shift in official policies to stigmatize the puritans. And so John Winthrop, whose father had been comfortable as a leader of lay puritanism in the Stour Valley and who numbered clergy like Knewstub and Sandes as close friends, came to write that "all experience tells me, that in this way [puritanism] there is least companie and that those which doe walke openly in this way shalbe despised, pointed at, hated of the world, made a byworde, reviled, called Puritans, nice fooles, hipocrites, hairbrainde fellowes, rashe, indiscreet, vainglorious, [and] all that is nought." 31 Such were the changing times and such was the climate that drove puritans such as Goodwin and Ames to the Netherlands, and led to the Great Migration to New England. But even as Winthrop and his followers left England, they insisted that they recognized the parish churches of their homeland as true churches.

Shift toward congregationalism

Two important things happened in the 1630s. On the one hand, as Stephen Foster has pointed out, in New England "there was a discernible drift—or rush—toward purity, toward a definition of the church that gave first thought to the calling of the saints and deduced the terms of the puritan mission from their needs and privileges. As the enthusiasm for the pure church rose in New England, the failings of the English churches seemed progressively more serious." 32 To which I would add that in the 1630s the situation of the churches in England became relatively worse not only in comparison to the new developments in Massachusetts, but in comparison to what the churches in England had been like before 1630! William Laud's appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury accelerated the well-developed attack on puritanism. 33

The result was an accentuation of congregationalism which was a departure from the practices of the puritan clergy when they had been in England. As noted before, there had been no call among mainstream English puritans for governing synods or authoritative assemblies. The power of the local church was accepted by the vast majority of English puritans, including men like Cartwright, Ames, and Travers. But puritans in England had maintained—implicitly if not explicitly—the power of the congregational presbytery (the minister and elders) within that local church. That made sense in parish churches where the saints were usually a minority. Vesting power in the hands of the ministers and godly elders was a way of ensuring the progress of the Reformation. In Massachusetts, where circumstances were different, new forms for nurturing godly communities were explored. Sharing power with the covenanted saints seemed logical in communities where few could be categorized as ungodly, and sharing power even enhanced the sense of community among the saints. (And sharing this power was safe in the early decades of New England since the saints invariably followed the advice of the elders, thus producing a de facto congregational presbyterianism in the early decades.) The church practices that evolved (to be spelled out in the Cambridge Platform) were seen as the way of fostering the experience of membership in the communion of saints most suited to New England's circumstances. Polity was an expression of spiritual experience. But what was obvious in the circumstances of the new England was not necessarily understood in the old. The so-called "Presbyterian" complaints about New England practice sent to the colonists in the 1630s and 1640s were not complaints about the autonomy of New England congregations, for none of the complaints mentioned governing synods, but about the distribution of authority within particular congregations. English clergymen such as Thomas Ball were disturbed by the fact that the colonial churches gave too much of a say to ordinary believers. 34 This was something that could not be done in the mixed parish communities of the Church of England.

Drawn into communion with lay believers

I have suggested elsewhere that those clergy whose social experiences in England and America drew them into communion not only with their clerical peers but with lay believers—such as those who had been part of lay-clerical conferences such as that described by Winthrop—were more likely to move in the direction of congregational polity, while those whose parish experiences distanced them from the laity and led them to find comfort primarily from other clergy would be more distrustful of lay authority and were, in essence, proto-presbyterians. Certainly in the 1630s and 1640s, the experience of congregational communion, of ties of love that bound together all of the covenanted members of the church, pushed New Englanders towards shared authority within the community of faith. In the 1640s many of those in England who had thought little of forms of church government were threatened by the rise of radical sects and were drawn towards the promise of control that the Scottish Presbyterian system seemed to offer. Just as congregationalism was an expression of what was possible in New England and had its greatest success there, English presbyterianism was largely shaped by the very different experiences of many puritans in England faced by the turmoil of the Civil Wars.

Articulating the New England Way seemed necessary in the 1640s for two reasons, and the result was the Cambridge Platform. The first reason was to provide a formal model for the reform of the Church of England, reinforcing the message of the treatises prepared and sent to England by clergy such as Cotton, Davenport, Hooker, Norton, Shepard and Allin. And the other reason was to formalize the colonial system so that it would be less likely to be undermined or overthrown by presbyterian or sectarian influences spreading westward across the Atlantic from Civil War England. But underlying both these reasons was the colonists' conviction that they had found a church polity that sustained the Christian experience of faith. Yet despite their assertion of their own discipline, puritan congregationalists of the mid- and later seventeenth century were remarkably conciliatory towards orthodox believers who differed from them on matters of church formation. They still acknowledged that salvation and membership in the catholic church—the communion of saints dead, living and to come—could be found in churches organized on different principles. David Hall has pointed out that the Cambridge Platform itself contained conciliatory gestures towards presbyterianism. 35 In the countryside of England both before and after the Restoration of 1660, it was common for Congregationalists, Presbyterians and Baptists to labor together in efforts to nurture and protect piety and Christian sociability. And it is a sign of this that many prominent English puritan clergy of the post-Restoration era are claimed by more than one denominational tradition.

Religion as they lived it

And so, to fully and truly understand the puritans, and thus the meaning of the Cambridge Platform, we need to go beyond statements of doctrine and polity, to religion as they lived it. John Cotton wrote much on theology and polity, but what he was most concerned with was the nurturing of faith. He wrote, in Christ the Fountain of Life (1651), that "the breath of . . . Christians is like bellows, to blow up sparkes one in another, and so in the end, they breathe forth many savoury and sweet expressions of the hearts, and edifie themselves by that mutuall fellowship one with another." 36 The purpose of church forms was to kindle such faith and nurture its sharing. Experience and migration had led the New Englanders to find new forms of church polity that they found peculiarly suited to nurturing communities of faith. And so long as the Cambridge Platform provides a framework for churches in which such faith can be nourished, it lives as the puritans wished it to live.

Dr. Francis J. Bremer is Professor of History, Millersville University of Pennsylvania, and Editor of The Winthrop Papers (for the Massachusetts Historical Society). This paper is reprinted with the kind permission of the Bulletin of the Congregational Library at


1. John Spurr, English Puritanism 1603-1689 (London, 1998), 6.

2. Francis J. Bremer, Congregational Communion: Clerical Friendship in the Anglo-American Puritan Community, 1610-1692 (Boston, 1994), 8; but see also Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, c. 1400-c. 1580 (New Haven, 1992), 92 and Christopher Marsh, Popular Religion in Sixteenth-Century England (London, 1998), 112-118.

3. Paul Baynes quoted in Paul Seaver, Wallington's World: A Puritan Artisan in Seventeenth Century London (Stanford, 1985), 131.

4. Richard Sibbes quoted in Sears McGee, The Godly Man in Stuart England (New Haven, 1976), 195.

5. I have discussed this theme in more depth in "To Live Exemplary Lives: Puritans and Puritan Communities as Lofty Lights," The Seventeenth Century (1992).

6. John Winthrop, "Model of Christian Charity" in Winthrop Papers: Volume II, 1623-1630 (Boston, 1931), 282-294.

7. John Winthrop to Sir William Spring, 8 February 1630, Winthrop Papers, II, 203-206.

8. Thomas Brooks, Heaven on Earth (London, 1654, reprint Edinburgh, 1961), 248-249.

9. Spurr, English Puritanism, 187.

10. David Hall has recently made this point in reference to New England practice, pointing out that while "officially a 'gathered' body, each congregation was de factor something more akin to an inclusive parish" because of the expectation that it serve as a means of grace to the entire population of the town. Hall, "Narrating Puritanism," in Harry S. Stout and D. G. Hart, eds., New Directions in American Religious History (New York, 1997), 52.

11. See Bremer, Congregational Communion, and Tom Webster, Godly Clergy in Early Stuart England: The Caroline Puritan Movement, c. 1620-1643 (Cambridge, Eng., 1997), esp. the first chapter.

12. Studies that discuss the evolving character of English Protestantism are too numerous to cite; those who have contributed most to the subject include Patrick Collinson, Peter Lake, Nicholas Tyacke, Diarmaid MacCulloch, John Morrill, Kenneth Fincham, and Tom Webster.

13. Patrick Collinson, Godly People: Essays on English Protestantism and Puritanism (London, 1983), 448.

14. Judth Maltby, Prayer Book and People in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England (Cambridge, Eng.; 1998) and Christopher Marsh, Popular Religion in Sixteenth Century England (London, 1998). 15 I have dealt with this in greater detail in "The Heritage of John Winthrop: Religion along the Stour Valley, 1548-1630," New England Quarterly, LX (December 1997), 515-547.

16. Francis Bremer and Martin Wood, "The Boxford Lecture in 1620," Suffolk Review (1998).

17. Sandes' concern for catechizing is revealed in the records of the Dedham classis and one of Adam Winthrop's commonplace books has an excerpt from a catechism that may have been one used by Sandes. This excerpt will be published in the forthcoming volume of Winthrop Papers: Religious Manuscripts. For a comprehensive study of catechizing see Ian Green, The Christian's ABC: Catechisms and Catechizing in England, c. 1530-1740 (Oxford, 1996).

18. Spurr, English Puritanism, 192.

19. Perkins quoted in Webster, Godly Clergy, 113.

20. Foster quoted in Bremer, Congregational Communion, 8.

21. Webster, Godly Clergy, 117.

22. Mark Peterson, The Price of Redemption: The Spiritual Economy of Puritan New England (Stanford, 1997).

23. Clarke quoted in Spurr. English Puritanism, 192.

24. Marsh, Popular Religion, 119 draws attention to the parallel between pilgrimages and sermon gadding and cites some contemporary sources who made the same connection.

25. Winthrop, Winthrop Papers, Vol. I (Boston, 1929), "Experiencia," 169.

26. Cartwright quoted in Webster, Godly Clergy, 289.

27. Webster, Godly Clergy, 289-290.

28. Webster, Godly Clergy, 292.

29. Baxter quoted in Webster, Godly Clergy, 287.

30. Rogers quoted in Webster, Godly Clergy, 294.

31. Winthrop, "Experiencia," 196. One of the effects of this new climate was to segregate puritans more from their neighbors. Seeking to redouble their efforts so as to turn the tide yet again, they adopted strategies of hyper-piety that aggravated their isolation. But in the process the communion between the saints became even stronger. To a degree, of course, this intensification was due to their growing alienation from the patterns of culture imposed by the establishment. When the eminent English Marxist historian Christopher Hill first reviewed a draft of my Congregational Communion, this struck him and he wrote to me that "The whole atmosphere you are describing reminded me of my young days in the British Communist Party only we would have spoken of 'comradeship' rather than friendship. But it was very exhilarating." Private letter 9 July 1991.

32. Foster quoted in Webster, Godly Clergy, 298.

33. But it should be pointed out that despite the changes of the 1630s many who gathered at the Westminster Assembly would have welcomed a reformed episcopacy along the lines that Archbishop Ussher had shaped in Ireland, but the moderate bishops invited declined, leaving the floor to the Scots and the English Congregationalists.

34. Webster has a good discussion of this in Chapter Seventeen of Godly Clergy. 35. Hall, "Narrating Puritanism," 65.

36. John Cotton, Christ the Fountain of Life (1651), 148.