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3. That particular churches, their respective elders and members, ought to have a reverential regard to their judgment so given, and not dissent therefrom without apparent grounds from the word of God.

VII.-OF OUR DEMEANOUR TOWARDS THE Civil MagistrATE. 1. We do reckon ourselves obliged continually to pray for God's protection, guidance, and blessing upon the rulers set over us.

2. That we ought to yield unto them not only subjection in the Lord, but support according to our station and abilities.

3. That if at any time it shall be their pleasure to call together any number of us, to require any account of our affairs, and the state of our congregations, we shall most readily express all dutiful regard to them herein.

VIII.-OF A CONFESSION OF Faith. As to what appertains to soundness of judgment in matters of faith, we esteem it sufficient, that a church acknowledge the Scriptures to be the word of God, the perfect and only rule of faith and practice; and own either the doctrinal part of those commonly called the Articles of the Church of England, or the Confession, or Catechisms, Shorter or Larger, compiled by the Assembly at Westminster, or the Confession agreed on at the Savoy, to be agreeable to the said rule.



1. We judge it our duty to bear a Christian respect to all Christians, according to their several ranks and stations, that are not of our persuasion or communion.

2. As for such as may be ignorant of the principles of the Christian religion, or of vicious conversation, we shall, in our respective places, as they give us opportunity, endeavour to explain to them the doctrine of life and salvation, and, to our uttermost, persuade them to be reconciled to God.

3. That (as to] such who appear to have the essential requisites to church communion, we shall willingly receive them in the Lord, not troubling them with disputes about lesser matters.

As we assent to the forementioned Heads of Agreement, so we unanimously resolve, as the Lord shall enable us, to practise according to them.

The Presbyterians who could actively promote and cordially concur in such an Agreement as this, must have been a very different race from the rigid sticklers for the unmitigated Scottish discipline of an earlier period. To adopt the language of Messrs. Bogue and Bennett, “Of the intolerance of the Scotch Presbyterians their history is full. The English Presbyterians, in the days of their power, have no praise due to them for liberality of sentiment, or for showing equal regard to the rights of other men's consciences as of their own ..... Whatever desire any of this body might display before the Restoration, to establish an effective Presbyterian government, none was discovered after the Revolution. As the old generation were .... gathered to their fathers, their successors discovered no symptoms of wishing to act upon the Presbyterian system, and retained the name only, and not the thing. Their principles became far more tolerant and liberal...... When the Revolution brought with it the enjoyment of quietness and freedom from oppression, the minds of the Dissenters [of this denomination) naturally took a wider range, and surveyed their distinguishing sentiments respecting church government."*

Messrs. Bogue and Bennett, in their account of Dissenters from the Revolution to the death of Queen Anne, thus write : · Numerous associations of churches were, during this period, instituted among the Dissenters. He who thinks that a church should be insulated and unconnected with every other, has much yet to learn ; for what is association among Christians and Christian churches, but their union to advance the cause of Christ? There is a period in the Dissenting annals, when association, in most parts of the country, was almost extinct ; and it must be said of it, that it was a time of coldness and of death, in which but little was done for the advancement of religion. In the happier days of dissent, the principle of asssociation was active.

.... As soon as the Revolution enabled the Dissenters to appear in public, a spirit of association began to be displayed. The elder ministers, remembering with pleasure their classes and other public meetings during the interregnum, were anxious that they should be resumed in a shape which their altered circumstances would permit. In order to form as broad a basis as possible, it was proposed by the London ministers to establish a Union between the Presbyterians and Independents, that both in the metropolis and in the country, the ministers might hold their assemblies together for the general benefit. With this view, in 1690 (1691) a writing was drawn up, comprising such common principles as both parties could agree to subscribe ; and it was to be considered as the bond of their union. The object was accomplished; and it was resolved, that the ministers of the two denominations should henceforth go by the name of the United Ministers.' This document shows in how many things two of the principal denominations were agreed, and served as the basis of their union.”+

That the country cordially and unanimously concurred in this movement, or to use words adopted by Mr. Conder in his Analytical and Comparative View of all Religions, p. 404, “that the auspicious

* History of Dissenters, 1808, vol. i. pp. 279, 280.

+ Second Edit. 1833, vol. i. pp. 380—382. A copy of the Heads of Agreement follows.

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event was hailed with a unanimous response of grateful joy by ministers of both denominations in all parts of the country,” will appear from the language employed by Mr. Samuel Chandler, anthor of two discourses, before an assembly of ministers in the county of Southampton, published under the title, “The Country's Concurrence with the London United Ministers in their late Heads of Agreement, showing the nature and advantages of a General Union among Protestants." The preface contains these words : “The late happy Union between two prevailing parties among us, is a fit subject of joy and thankfulness. That differences which have been managed with too much heat for 80 many years, should now be so happily composed, and the contending parties should mutually condescend and concur together in so fair an Agreement, is a blessing we have reason gratefully to acknowledge; that the country should so readily and unanimously agree with their brethren in the city on the same terms, and throughout THE WHOLE NATION there should be such a willing consent to lay aside those distinguishing names and terms which have hitherto so miserably divided us; these things afford sufficient matter for praise to that God, who rules the hearts of men, and stills the ragings of the people."*

The fervent hope and devout wish of the pious John Flavel were thus fulfilled, and the last effort of his life was crowned with success. That man of God “was even transported with joy, when by a letter from a reverend minister in London, he received the good news of the happy Agreement of the ministers in that city, who in some lesser points were of different apprehensions and went under different denominations, hoping that it would have a good influence upon the whole kingdom, who having so fair a copy given them, would endeavour to write after it. He did frequently bless the Lord for that mercy both in public and in private, and even melted into tears of joy at the mentioning of it, saying, 'God had herein answered the prayers that his people had been putting up to him these many years. When he saw the Heads of Agreement which had been assented to and subscribed by the London ministers, he told a friend that he could now take up the words of old Simeon, 'Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.'”+

After referring to what had been done by the London ministers, in the discourse prepared to be preached at Taunton, Mr. Flavel says, “And now, brethren, they wait, yea, give me leave to say, Christ waits, as well as they, for our explicit consent and cheerful suffrages."I That

* Historical Inquiry, pp. 65, 66.

+ Ibid. p. 71. # Dr. Calamy says, "The Heads of Agreement were assented to by the body of the United Ministers in and about the city, and in the several parts of the country."Life of Howe, 1724, p. 181. Messrs. Bogue and Bennett say, “The dispute about Dr. Crisp's works disturbed the harmony of the meeting in London ; but it does not appear to have had any effect on the country associations."—History of Dissenters, Second Edition, vol. i. p. 387.

explicit consent, and those cheerful suffrages, were promptly given in all parts of England.

The ministers of Devon and Cornwall, at a general meeting of which Mr. Flavel was moderator, declared their full satisfaction with the Heads of Agreement.* In the north they were adopted with great cordiality. “The Cheshire ministers subscribed their assent to them at a meeting held at Macclesfield in March, 1691, Mr. Samuel Angier being the moderator. In the summer of that year, the ministers in Nottinghamshire assented, as did also the ministers in the parts of Lancashire about Manchester.”+ In Cheshire the ministers of the two denominations determined to hold half-yearly general meetings, which continued till 1716, and for many years after. At these meetings, “the ministers consulted together about the affairs of their several congregations, the admission of any to church-membership, &c., and advice was given how to proceed, but not as authoritatively binding the conscience of any particular person, minister or other; and God was pleased to make these their consultations a means of preserving and promoting love, peace, and order amongst them.”I

The Lancashire ministers formed a more general union in 1693, according to the pious example of the United Brethren in London," and general meetings were held twice every year, which were continued till 1700, and indeed for many years after.

In 1691, “Mr. Sharp, the Presbyterian minister at Leeds, and Mr. Whitaker, the Independent minister, both moderate men, wrote to Mr. Oliver Heywood, telling him that the work [in Yorkshire) depended upon him.” Mr. H. fixed upon Wakefield as the place where a meeting of the West Riding ministers should be held September 2nd, the day

* " In the beginning of the year 1691, the assembly of the ministers of Devon and Cornwall was revived. There was a second meeting in the same year, at which Mr. Flavel was moderator, and preached. The principal business was to introduce the Heads of Agreement by the London ministers into the west, and unite the Presbyterians and Independents of Devon and Cornwall as one body in their assembly. The object was happily attained. It was one of the last acts of Mr. Flavel's life ; and he expressed the liveliest satisfaction on account of its success. In the articles of concord, they agreed that they should not intermeddle with politics, nor the affairs of civil government, nor pretend to exercise church censures, but only to assist, advise, and counsel each other in the propagation of truth and holiness, and in the preservation of their churches from illiterate ministers, and profane and scandalous communicants. A friendly intercourse was by this means maintained among the ministers and congregations in the two associated counties. When any persons offered themselves to the work of the ministry, the assembly examined their testimonials, assigned a subject for a thesis to the candidates, and appointed the ministers who were to ordain them." —History of Dissenters by Messrs. Bogue and Bennett, 1809, vol. ii. p. 139. The Exeter Assembly still exists.

† Life of Oliver Heywood by the Rev. Joseph Hunter, p. 373.
| Historical Inquiry, pp. 119, 120, 122. $ Ibid, pp. 120, 121.


when a lecture was usually preached there. Mr. Ward of York was invited to preach, but he, as well as Messrs. Sharp and Whitaker, having declined that service, it devolved upon Mr. Heywood himself. The deliberative assembly was held after the other service had been concluded. Mr. Frankland, the tutor, having recommended the work on which they were met to the blessing of God in prayer, Mr. H. took the Heads of Agreement and read them over deliberately, pausing at the close of each paragraph, to give any of the ministers present liberty and opportunity to object. No objection was made by any person present, except Mr. Frankland to a few of the articles, and his objections were overruled.'

Mr. Heywood's manuscript Remains contain brief accounts of the proceedings at nine subsequent meetings, that is, till a year or two before his death ; but these periodical united meetings of the Pædobaptist ministers in the West Riding were continued for many years after, and “there were similar assemblies in every other part of the kingdom, which were technically called “Meetings of Ministers.””+

In 1777, the Rev. Thomas Harmer, of Wattesfield, Suffolk, author of “Observations on Various Passages of Scripture," published “Remarks on the Ancient and Present State of the Congregational Churches of Norfolk and Suffolk, with some Strictures on the Account given of the Churches of this Denomination in general, in the Ecclesiastical History of Mosheim,” from which it appears that the Heads of Agreement were adopted and acted upon in those counties.

Mr. Harmer states in his preface, that “ a very great part of the churches of the Protestant Dissenters in Suffolk and Norfolk were founded on Congregational principles.” He then refers to “the Plan of Discipline annexed to the Savoy Confession of Faith, drawn up by the deputies of the old Congregational churches," and adds, “It is certain, the Congregational churches of our times, and for a good while past, do not exactly follow that plan ; nor is this merely a want of conforming themselves to what they think right, and should be practised, which

* Mr. Ralph Thoresby, the celebrated Leeds antiquary, who was present at this meeting, gives the following account of it :-“ Heard the lecture sermon; Mr. Heywood preached well and suitably to the convention, from Zeck. xiv. 9, ‘In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one.' Afterwards that good man (itinerant preacher or apostle of these parts) read each of the Heads of Agreement of the Uuited Ministers in and about London. Most were unanimously assented unto by the brethren of both persuasions ; others modestly discussed and explained, and which, I rejoiced to observe, without the least passionate expression. The truly reverend Mr. Frankland and Mr. Sharp in their arguments showed abundance of learning as well as piety, and were unanswered, even in what was not readily assented to by some juniors about synods and re-ordination. Had the pleasing society of many excellent ministers from all parts of the West Riding.”—Historical Inquiry, p. 123.

† Hunter's Life of Oliver Heywood, pp. 373–375.

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