said Hubbard, “it was observed that many of the freemen grew to be very jealous of their liberties.” He was more concerned with experimental religion than with theology, more the pastor than the teacher. Nevertheless, when the Massachusetts leaders were troubled by attacks of old-world Presbyterians directed against “the New-England way,” they drafted Hooker to write a defence. This was the origin of his Survey of the Summe of Church discipline, a knotty book vigorous in thought and phrase, the most important contribution of New England Congregationalism to the great disputes of the time. The old champion went straight to the heart of the matter, seizing upon the political principles involved:
If the Presbyterianizing party found the path they were treading thorny and rough, it was due in no small part to
But whether all Ecclesiasticall power be . . . rightly taken in to the Presbytery alone: Or that the people of the Particular Churches should come in for a share . . . This is left as the subject of the inquiry of this age, and that which occasions great thought of heart of all hands: Great thoughts of hearts in the Presbytery, as being very 10th to part with that so chief priviledge, and of which they have taken possession so many years. Great thoughts of heart amongst the churches, how they may clear their right, and claim it in such pious sobriety and moderation, as becomes the Saints: being unwilling to loose their cause and comfort, meerly upon a nihil dicit: or forever to be deprived of so precious a legacy, as they conceive this is, though it hath been withheld from them, by the tyranny of the Pope, and prescription of times. Nor can they conceive it lesse, then a heedlesse betraying of their speciall liberties . . . by a carelesse silence, when the course of providence, as the juncture of things now present themselves, allows them a writt Ad melius inquirendum. . . . These are the times when people shall be fitted for such priviledges, fit I say to obtain them, and fit to use them. . . . And whereas it hath been charged upon the people, that through their ignorance and unskilfulnesse, they are not able to wield such priviledges, and therefore not fit to share in any such power, The Lord hath promised: To take away the vail from all faces in the mountain, the weak shall be as David, and David as an Angel of God.Introd.