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FOUNDED BY JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER
THE CONTEST FOR LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE
A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE FACULTY OF THE GRADUATE
OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
(DEPARTMENT OF CHURCH HISTORY)
WALLACE ST. JOHN
Tbe University of Chicago Press
168323 COT ?! D145 •SAR
This work was undertaken in connection with a course of study in the Department of Church History in the University of Chicago. My first task was to examine the original sources to be found in the libraries of Chicago. Though the number of these was not large, the general result was of such a nature as to produce in me a great desire to continue my researches. Early in the year 1899 I journeyed to London, and there began work in the British Museum. In the great library there search brought to light many important documents bearing upon the subject. The Williams Library furnished a few additional sources.
While the number of writings that have been made use of in the preparation of this treatise is large, and every reasonable effort has been put forth to obtain everything that has any important bearing upon the discussion, I can make no claim of having exhausted the subject. I am confident, however, that if important documents should be discovered to contradict the general trend of the history as here set forth, they will be found to be exceptions.
By way of acknowledgment let me say that to Dean Eri B. Hulbert is due credit for fostering the spirit of investigation which has made it possible for me to do work of this nature. Further, he has encouraged me in and advised about this work to such an extent as to lay me under the greatest obligation to him.
To the officers of the Newberry Library of Chicago, in which I did much work and was shown every possible courtesy, I wish to express my highest appreciation.
In like manner the resources of the library of the British Museum and the Williams Library were placed at my disposal. In them I was afforded unexcelled opportunities, and by their officers was treated with unvarying kindness.
A MIGHTY and prolonged contest for religious liberty is one of the marked characteristics of modern history. From it has resulted the most important attainment of recent centuries. In this treatise I purpose to study so much of this contest as belongs to England. The minds of men have ever been in a state of doubt and uncertainty concerning this phase of the general Reformation movement. It would almost seem that in some conspicuous instances historians have been led to their conclusions concerning it by denominational pride, rather than by evidence.
There is much conflict of statement. John M. Baxter, in his “Church History of England," has stated that
Whatsoever merit Independency may claim for advocating the rights of conscience, it is certain that the first clear and argumentative assertion of those rights proceeded from the pen of a suffering churchman, sequestered for no greater offense than that of loyalty, Jeremy Taylor (p. 607).
Henry Martin Dexter, the author of "Congregationalism as Seen in its Literature,” declares :
Robert Browne, I must think, is entitled to the proud preëminence of having been the first writer clearly to state and defend in the English tongue the true — and now accepted — doctrine of the relation of the magistrate to the Church (p. 101). Robert Browne, the founder of the sect known as “Brownists," was also the father of Independency, using the word in its narrower sense. Thus the leading historian of the Congregationalists claims for his denomination the glory of having begun the contest for religious liberty.
David Masson, in his “Life and Times of Milton," makes a still different statement:
Not to the Church of England, however, nor to English Puritanism at large, does the honour of the first perception of the full principle of Liberty of Conscience, and its assertion in English, belong. That honor has to be assigned, I believe, to the Independents generally, and the Baptists in particular. (Vol. III, p. 987.)