This letter was sent to the English Churchman after reading an ill-informed letter of Dr. Alan Clifford defending certain sixteenth and seventeenth century schisms from the English Reformed Church. 

     Sir: Dr Clifford’s habit of ridiculing sound arguments (see Issue 7710) as ‘vendettas’ and ‘pompous’ and contradicting them with fiction, half-truths and wishful-thinking merely fosters division. His astonishment at Robert Law’s views concerning Seceders arises from his insufficient knowledge of our Reformers and pre-Commonwealth Puritans who were strictly against Secession. The Dutch, Swiss, German, Italian, French, Hungarian and Polish Reformed churches viewed the English Church as exemplary as witnessed later at Dort. This was especially the position of England’s major Continental advisers, Bullinger, Gualter, Beza and Calvin. The break-up of the Church of England was not through the desires of her Reformed/Puritan members of Calvin’s day but through the tyrannical outlawing of the Church a century later by military usurpers who denounced the rule of the Church by the Church (Convocation) and made their ‘Model Church’ a puppet of their ‘Model Parliament’. This reversed the Reformation and started the never-ending trail of denominational multiplicity. Clifford imagines that what Calvin wrote in his commentary on Timothy about bishops was a criticism of the Reformed Church of England, which he takes as a recommendation for schism. However, Calvin here is expressing the very views of the Reformed Church of England as taught by Bradford, Bucer, Bullinger, Fulke, Grindal, Hooper, Hutchinson, Jewel, Tyndale, and Whitaker. Presbyterian Separatists at the time were striving for a seven-tier Rome-like hierarchy. Zürich and Geneva criticised the English Church briefly when misinformed by English Separatist rebels who had been given asylum in their homes. After discovering the deceit, they denounced the Separatists, helping them to re-conform. Calvin and Beza had their books, including Knox’s and Goodman’s, banned from Geneva. Calvin strove to set up Edwardian and Elizabethan reforms in Geneva but lacked the backing of his church. Disappointed with Calvin, English Hyper-Calvinist radicals such as Traheron broke with him. When Knox strove to create a schism amongst the exiled British, they patiently convinced Knox how wrong Separatism was. Thus, when London’s first schismatic church was founded, Knox rebuked them, calling their schism sinful. The Swiss, French and English Reformers joined in condemning the More-Calvinist-than-Calvin schism at Heidelberg which backed Cartwright and other would-be British Seceders who happily also conformed. The historical fact is that none of the denominations which seceded from the Church of England has ever reached the purity of faith and practice that was the glory of the Edwardian and Elizabethan Church. Sadly, we cannot put the clock back, but we can, I trust, learn from our mistakes.