One of several letters to the English Churchman concerning Laudianism in the Commonwealth church.


Sir:

     Ewan Wilson’s opinions of Britain’s 16-17th century Church and myself are misconceived. Neither exonerating nor mitigating Laud’s failings and guilt, I criticise Laudian intolerance openly wherever it occurs and protest when Wilson attempts to deny Presbyterianism’s greater Laudianism. Mr Wilson fails to see the ambiguity of his original statement concerning ‘evidence of Laud’s satisfactory views on Sovereign Grace and Arminianism’. The word ‘satisfactory’ was Wilson’s (now withdrawn) and could never be mine. If Wilson did his own homework instead of demanding repeatedly that I do his, he would find strong supporters of Arminianism and Amyraldianism at the WA including Calamy, Seaman, Marshall and Vines.

     Wilson’s comparison of uncompromising Presbyterian Henderson with peace-loving Commonwealth critic Philip Henry is invalid. Henry wanted an end to the strife, persecution and slaughter which Henderson viewed as spiritual cleansing. Henry was for a solution to the Commonwealth crisis uniting both sides; Henderson, a chief instigator of the crisis, preached absolute totalitarian intolerance.                                         

     Wilson’s claim that Presbyterians were not consulted concerning union is false. Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and Charles II spent years seeking union with Presbyterianism, conceding far more than they demanded (See John Durie and Robert Leighton). However, Scottish Presbyterians stubbornly fought for a pan-British take-over with a structure of terror, discipline and order hitherto unknown within Reformed churches. Contemporary unionists Richard Sibbes, John Davenport, Samuel Ward, Richard Holdsworth, Philip Nye, John White, Cornelius Burgess, John Durie, Thomas Edwards, Thomas Goodwin, Daniel Featley, Joseph Hall, William Laud, George Abbot, Joseph Mead, Robert Leighton, John Bergius and the bulk of British scientists, educators, poets and writers, besides a majority of German, Dutch, Swiss, Polish, Romanian, Hungarian and Swedish Reformers, all refute Wilson.

     Wilson’s self-altered maxim concerning bishops and kings is also pointless as the Presbyterian slogan ‘no presbyters, no king’ was too similar. The Christian majority slogan was ‘Anglicans, Presbyterians, Independents and Baptists for the King!’

     In criticising the Stuart regime, patriot Wilson forgets that it was Scottish. Post-Reformation Scottish Presbyterian enforcement of their political covenant onto England stifled Laud’s efforts to preserve the Thirty-Nine Articles introduced by Knox to Scotland at the Estate Lords’ request to reform her. Knox denounced Presbyterian and Baptist separatism. Scottish Reformer and Knox’s co-pastor John Rough suffered martyrdom, confessing that the Reformed Prayer Book of 1552 agreed ‘in all points with the Word of God’. This was Scotland’s Reformed faith until Counter-Reformation Presbyterianism outlawed it ninety years later.