The Cambridge Platform and the Westminster Assembly

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
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I've been doing a bit of research lately on the Cambridge Platform. The majority of the New England colonies were founded by Puritan Congregationalists less than a generation before the Assembly met. These congregationalists had an eschatological vision for the reform of the Churches along the lines of what they had instituted in New England and they saw their "New England Way" as a successful demonstration and "template" for the Church in England as Puritans ascended to power during the English Civil War and during the period of the Westminster Divines as they debated/prepared the Confession for the English Church. These New Englanders still thought of themselves as Englishmen and there was much back and forth between the colonies and England and many American-educated men returned to England to serve there. The luminaries that remained in New England not only prayed for the reformation of the Church but wrote many treatises arguing for the "New England way" as a defense/polemic for Congregationalism over and against Presbyterianism and Episcopalianism. There was also a bit of argument, it seemed, to protect their way of organization in effect stating: "...we agree with all your doctrinal formulations but simply take exception to the form of government you're prescribing...."

The Declaration, prepared during the time of the Westminster Assembly, and published after its conclusion, was focused narrowly on the issue of Church government. My reading has told me that the arguments were not successful among the Presbyterians and, in fact, may have exacerbated debates.

So what I'm wondering (for those who have studied the period and specifically the minutes of the Assembly) was how often the "New England Way" was sort of held up by Congregationalists as sort of "... hey, guys, this is working and you ought to adopt our form of government that we've been arguing for...." Were the arguments made by these New England Puritans present on the floor of the Assembly?
 

NaphtaliPress

Administrator
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That the Independents at the assembly had an interest in the New England writers I think is clear. Cotton's Keys of the Kingdom was published by Goodwin and Nye with their preface, and other works were published, and of course there were plenty of anti presbyterian pieces in the press. But in the assembly itself, Cotton is cited more by the Presbyterians than the Independents; and the Assembly cite Cotton while Goodwin, Nye et al do not in the Grand Debate. I would 'guess' that it would have factored a great deal more in the assembly if the Independents had not consistently refused to detail the form of government they wanted rather than playing obstructionists for time until the political winds simply gave them a toleration for whatever they wanted whatever it was.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Perhaps the index of "Grand Debate" under John Cotton is the best place to start. There is also Richard Mather. The point of interest is the proof of synods from Acts 15. These had been developed in New England in a quasi-presbyterian direction, whereas the English Independents had not made any progress along these lines, and had been well known for contentions among themselves. The English preface by two of the dissenting brethren is cited as proof for synods, which then leads the dissenting brethren to have to explain themselves as best they can.
 

NaphtaliPress

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Matthew explains it; the assembly cites Mather in Grand Debate but the Independents do not. Mather was not cited in the Assembly (going by the index in Van Dixhoorn; he has a table of works cited and by whom in volume 1; and Mather does not show in the name index in vol. 5). I had wondered if in fact that the five brethren were not in agreement if that was another factor they were mute on a system.
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I had wondered if in fact that the five brethren were not in agreement if that was another factor they were mute on a system.

From what I can tell there were a number of tensions when it came to the point of a settlement. But then again, the so-called "English Presbyterians" were probably not that far behind them. The experience with the prelates made them all very wary of "imposition." At the same time the concern over sectarians probably pushed the "English Presbyterians" to be more decisive.
 
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