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[287] truth in the word of God. The reformation had be-
Chap VIII.}
gun in England with the monarch; had extended among the nobility; had been developed under the guidance of a hierarchy; and had but slowly penetrated the masses. The party of the Independents was plebeian in its origin, and carried the principle of intellectual enfranchisement from authority into the houses of the common people. Its adherents were ‘neither gentry nor beggars.’ The most noisy advocate of the new opinion was Brown, a man of rashness, possessing neither true courage nor constancy; zealous, but fickle; dogmatical, but shallow. He has acquired historical notoriety, because his hot-headed indiscretion urged him to undertake the defence of separation.
He suffered much oppression; he was often imprisoned; he was finally compelled to go into exile. The congregation which he had gathered, and which banished itself with him, was composed of persons hasty and unstable like himself; it was soon dispersed by its own dissensions. Brown eventually purchased a living in the English church by conformity.1 He could sac rifice his own reputation; ‘he forsook the Lord, so the Lord forsook him.’2 The principles of which the intrepid assertion had alone given him distinction, lay deeply rooted in the public mind; and, as they had not derived life from his support, they did not suffer from his apostasy.

From this time there was a division among the op-

ponents of the church of England. The Puritans acknowledged its merits, but desired its reform; the

1 Fuller's Church History, b. IX. 167, 168, 169. Neal's Puritans, i. 376—378.

2 John Robinson's Justification of Separation, 54-a tract of great merit, containing doctrines which necessarily led to the assertion of the freedom of conscience. I use the copy which once belonged to William Bradford, and which is now in the library of Robinson's church.

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