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Ancient and reformed?: Thomas Bell and Jacobean conformist thought.

One of the themes explored in Paul Christianson's Reformers and Babylon is the use of an apocalyptic vision to recast the history of Christianity. (1) English reformers who opposed the modes of rites and governance of the established Church regarded themselves as living in those latter days in which God, angered by the sins of His people, brought down judgement upon them for disregarding the iure divino status of His Church. Christianson's reconstruction of the apocalyptic tradition is set within the context of a deteriorating post-Reformation, in which the years preceding the Civil Wars witnessed a Protestant schism over the doctrine and discipline of the Church. This interpretation not only helped to explain the rhetoric that suffused the religious literature of the period, but also furnishes one of the more credible accounts of the role of religion in the causes of the Civil War. Christianson's work on John Selden, on the other hand, has helped us to better understand something of the "high" intellectual culture of early Stuart England, and particularly the role of discourses of history as funds of precept useful to legal, political, and ecclesiastical debates. (2)

This essay defines another tradition of historical reinterpretation, and situates it within the complex printed debates on the post-Reformation English Church. (3) Briefly, one of the driving forces of English religious controversy was a debate in which writers either sought to establish or attack the Church of England's claims to an "ancient" status. (4) For in order for the Church to be legitimate, it had to be shown that it was not separated from the Church left on earth by Christ, but rather partook in the history of that first institution. Antiquity in turn related to how the rites and mode of governance of the Church were defined, defended, and criticized: was there an historical pedigree for bishops and the slate of ceremonies enjoined by the Canons of 1604, or were all matters of rites and governance to be found in scripture, itself the record of the "first institution"? Moreover, the English Church was "by law established," having had its birth in statute in 1559, and subsequently governed by Crown in parliament. J. G. A. Pocock has remarked that the Church so conceived may have been doomed from the start, and that its history after 1559 is one of disruption. (5) To the reader familiar with the vast literature of controversy on the early Stuart Church, the patterns of this disruption readily emerge. (6) This is because the English Church had to contend with a number of articulate critics, and to justify itself as both a legitimate spiritual association--a church of Christ--as well as a political association--a church of the English. History and printed religious debates were central to this process, and it is with this in mind that I set out to examine the work of Thomas Bell. (7)

In 1610, Bodley's librarian, Thomas James, published the first of a series of tracts which called for new editions of the works of the Church Fathers. They were necessary, he argued, in order to "shew the corruptions of the printed copies of either Papists or Protestant editions." (8) What James envisioned was an authoritative set of texts that would form the core of a controversial arsenal to be used by divines in the course of printed religious debates. Yet he aimed at something more complex, for he realized that in order for the Church of England to be defended against its Roman and Protestant critics, links would have to be drawn between it and the "ancient" Church. At stake was nothing less than the legitimacy of the Church of England, and this legitimacy demanded that something like an official "history" be compiled. James's emphasis on the textual tradition of Christianity provides us with an important insight into the burden facing English conformists during the post Reformation. Put simply, they had to demonstrate that the Church of England was a "true" Church, that is, that it took part in the spiritual association which had been established by Christ and had continued to exist on earth from then onward. The Church was to be the embodiment of Christ, and true Christians had to partake in that body in order to receive the gift of salvation. (9) For Protestants generally, the Church was seen to have continued in the Word, and it was this continuity that they offered in response to Romanist claims that the papacy represented a sounder link with Christ. However, English Protestant conformists had a further problem, for their Church, overseen by the sovereign and a clerical hierarchy, was open to the charge of not being sufficiently reformed.

The conformist response to these tensions was predicated upon a complex intermingling of history, doctrine, and law. This strand of ideas is normally associated with the giants of English ecclesiology, whether Richard Hooker or John Jewel; yet the theme is also evident in the work of Thomas Bell (fl. 1573-1610), priest, scholar, and most crucially, a Catholic apostate. (10) It might seem that Bell was an unlikely defender of the historical pedigree of the English Church, until one reflects that both Roman and English confessions laid claim to the same textual tradition, that is, the same Fathers of the Church and the same Councils, all of which testified to the "notes" of the true church. Hence, the Jesuit Robert Persons could argue that the "Holy fathers" testified to the legitimacy and succession of the "Catholicke, ancient, and true Church which was left and established by Christ as the true pillar and stay of truth." (11) The same year, 1603, Persons published his Treatise of the Three Conversions, in which he argued that the writings of English Protestants substituted a tradition of heresy for sound doctrine and the "tradition of the greatest and most ancient Church." (12) Similarly, Matthew Kellision, Professor of Divinity, and from 1613 head of the English College at Douai, challenged English Protestants to "Shew us the origin of their Churches, let them unfolde the order of their bishops which successors, so runneth on from the beginning to the Apostles or apostolical men which lived in the Apostles time." (13) Indeed, the opening years of the reign of James I were defined by debates that addressed precisely these themes. (14)

Bell was a participant in these early controversies. In 1593 he published an account of his conversion, which he defended on historical grounds. The Roman Church, argued Bell, was merely a Church "in error," having been propped up by scholars who misrepresented the testimonies of Fathers and Councils. Bell argued that the reformation in England was, in reality, a restoration of the doctrine and governance that had defined the ancient church: "The religion this day established by Godly laws in this realme of England, is the ancient Christian, catholicke and apostolic doctrine, which was taught by Christ [and] practiced in the primitive Church." (15) The Motives therefore established the method that would shape the remainder of Bell's work; he engaged with the textual authorities held up by the Roman Church as evidence of the legitimacy and antiquity of that institution, and furnished his own translations in order to demonstrate the depth of Roman corruption. Indeed, Bell argued that Protestant theologians treated the tradition with greater respect: "The Protestants, speaking of the wiser and discreeter sort, do highly reverence the holy fathers and ancient writers, dilligently reade their works, and gladly use them as ordinary helpes and ordinary meanes under God: for and concerning the exact explication of Holy Writ." (16) In other words, Protestant theologians used the Fathers to interpret and draw out the message of scripture, whereas their Roman opponents supplanted the Word with a corrupt scholarly tradition.

One of the key Roman corruptions identified by Bell was the argument that the succession of Popes beginning with the Apostle Peter was a principal "note" of the antiquity of the church. (17) Emphasizing a history of disruption, Bell maintained that the schisms experienced in the church had long since broken the line of direct succession, which meant that a more certain badge of antiquity had to be found. Like a good Protestant, he suggested that the "Church doth not consist in men" but in the Word, and offered the concurring testimony of Augustine and Dionysus Areopagatica--himself purportedly converted by Paul [Acts 17]. (18) Yet the Word needed an interpreter, and so Bell put forward an argument that would later be developed by Thomas Hobbes: the "Christian Emperor" was sovereign over his Church, and a mark of this sovereignty was the interpretation of scripture. (19) The argument which Bell employed looked back to the tradition of Christian princes--of whom Constantine was the pioneering exemplar--and argued that this office was far older than the Papacy. Examples of biblical figures like David, Solomon, and Hezekiah were offered as evidence that God sought to establish "nursing fathers" for His Church, and this point allowed Bell to suggest that the hierarchical organization of the English Church was ordained by scripture, as were those measures needed to combat problems of religious plurality. The argument was fleshed out with a passing reference to Luther's attack on the three "walls" of Romanism, and principally that policy whereby temporal princes were prevented from calling Councils.
 When any controversies shall arise to the disturbance of the Peace
 of the Church, then every absolute and Independent Magistrate,
 must command his Archbishop, Bishops, and other learned
 Ministers within his territories and dominions, to come together,
 and celebrate a National council or synod, and then there to debate,
 discuss, and decide the controversie in religion.... This done, the
 one civil Independent Magistrate, must call together his wise and
 grave councellors, and after mature deliberation had with them,
 confirme whatsoever shall tend to the advancement of God's glory,
 and the peace of His Church. And withall, he must publishe sharpe
 penall statutes against all such, as shall with disloyal contumacy
 violate and transgresse the same. (20)


Here, Bell's task was less to discredit the Roman Church than to demonstrate the ways in which the English Church enjoyed the sovereignty transmitted through its "national" synods. Also note that Bell did not distinguish between Protestant and Catholic critics of the Crown's ecclesiastical policy--a uniformity of confession and the "peace" of the Church were matters enjoined by scripture and carried out by the magistrate.

Indeed, Bell's attacks on the Roman confession were not simply academic exercises intended to justify his own conversion; instead, they represented part of a larger process of controversy in which English writers sought to develop a history of their Church that accounted for the rise of Rome, and the subsequent "eclipse" of the true church. For Bell, the English Church represented the re-emergence of that eclipsed church, a point which allowed him to downplay the novelty of the reformation, and instead to depict it as a process which restored the true church. In his Downefall of Poperie, Bell furnished the reader with a chronology of the rise of the papacy in order to show that the popes had once been subservient to emperors, themselves established by God to preserve His "law and rule." (21) In other words, Bell contended that it was God's will that popes and other "bishops," should remain subordinate to supreme civil rulers, a point which drew a quick response from the Jesuit Richard Smith:
 The true difference therefore betwixt Catholiques and English
 Protestants ... would not be whether the prince or Pope or
 Ministers ought to be head of the Church, wherein I appeale to any
 indifferent mans judgement, whether it be more agreeable to God's
 word, that the successor of S. Peter, upon whom Christ built his
 Church ... should be head of the Church, or they who are successors
 to none but beginners of them selves who (as S. Ciprian
 writeth) no man enacting them Bishops, made themselves
 Bishops. (22)


Smith's argument exemplified the Catholic position: the scriptures gave firm and irrefutable evidence that the "true" Church descended from Peter, having been "established" in the first instance by Christ. Hence, the Roman Church best represented the "first institution"--the act of God (iure divino) rather than the establishment of men (iure humano). A further response to Bell's Downefall condemned the author for a corruption of the textual tradition of the Roman Church, and particularly his use of Roman theologians to undermine the premises of the Roman confession: "what treacherous tricks also he practiseth concerning Doctors and Fathers, Councells and Scripture." (23) Common to both responses was an attack on Bell's scholarly method, and the suggestion that the claims of the English Church to legitimacy could only be maintained by a deliberate falsification of the textual tradition.

Clearly the tide of the argument turned on the problem of scholarship. In response to his Jesuit critics, Bell tried a new strategy in the Woefull Crie of Rome (1605), where he sought to reverse the charge that the Church of England was iure humano by pointing out that the Roman Church was itself founded upon a corruption of the textual tradition. Bell employed two sorts of evidence--the history of the early church, and the textual tradition--in order to isolate that point in history at which the popes claimed an overwhelming supremacy. Hence the examples of Gregory "the Great" (c. 540-604) and the Greek Church served as evidence of the subordination of popes to political rulers, and the corrupt doctrines of Roman theologians were exposed as manufactured props for the papal supremacy: "Legists and Canonists, doe now and then so wrest and writhe the holy scriptures, to that sense which themselves like best." (24) The rise of the papacy entailed a departure from the foundations of the church left on earth by Christ, and this process was abetted by the "invention" of new "unwritten" traditions for the Church--that is, traditions not sanctioned by the standard textual authorities. Hence, Roman theologians "cannot defend and maintaine their poperie by the authoritie of Scripture, but by some other way and meanes. Viz. By mans forged inventions, and Popish unwritten vanities, which they term the Churches traditions." (25) By 1606, therefore, Bell was able summarize his position against the Roman confession as a vast corruption of the scholarly tradition, at the expense of man-made traditions "which the Pope and his Romish schoolemen have brought into the Church." (26)

It was the articulation of the historical and doctrinal identity of the church with which Bell's Regiment of the Church was concerned. This work was in many ways the culmination of Bell's controversial career, and it was the first systematic defence of the English confession to appear since Hooker's Lawes of Ecclesiastical Politie. While brief in comparison--the Regiment ran to 225 pages--it was considerably denser and confined in its interests. Chief among these was a defence of the Church of England in a year in which it was beginning to come under vigorous attack from those who argued that English doctrine had no sound historical pedigree. Yet it differed from Bell's previous works in that it was not directed at Catholic critics of English orthodoxy, but rather at those Protestants who argued that the terms of the Jacobean settlement did not meet the standard which the Crown, in a proclamation of October 1603, was anxious to promote. Indeed, Bell dedicated the work to Richard Bancroft, then Archbishop of Canterbury, and pointed out that his purpose was to defend the Church from its Protestant critics: "They beare the simple people in hand, that our Temples are prophaned; our Doctrine corrupt, our Sacraments impure, our Byshops anti-Christian, and our kind of Church-government repugnant to that Sacred form and order, which our LORD JESUS prescribed in his holie worde." (27)

Bell began by discussing aspects of civil and ecclesiastical governance, employing the Aristotelian doctrine of the "normal commonwealth" to account for the virtues of the public good. This was essentially an argument against faction, and one which was rooted firmly within that tradition that sought to analyze the smooth workings of political structures: "If the common good be sought and intended, the government is godly; but if private gain or pleasure be either wholly or principally intended, the government is wicked." However, Bell sought to apply this wisdom to all members of the commonwealth, and thus furnished a caution to those civil rulers who sought "private lucre,"; whoever did so, became "a flat tyrant" and his government "changed into plaine tyrrannie." Similarly, the best form of ecclesiastical polity was grounded on the universal obedience of all subjects to the public confession, at the centre of which stood the figure of the magistrate whose legitimacy lay in the complete exercise of sovereignty over the church:
 We reprove in like manner all those, who yeeld and give
 authoritie in religion unto Magistrates, onely in capital matters
 touching death, whilest they denie them authoritie to call
 Synods and consult of religion, to reforme Churches, and to
 appoint out of God's word, the things that pertaine to the salvation
 of their subjects: and will only have them to be the mere
 exequtors of those things, which the Bishops doe decree. (28)


Bell firmly supported the freedom of the Crown's prerogative from the influence of the bishops--this would become a crucial issue in the Jacobean church.

Yet this does not mean that Bell saw no place in the church for the episcopal office, and instead sought to map the historical pedigree of an hierarchical system of ecclesiastical governance. Against the attacks of those who argued that bishops were condemned by the reformed tradition, Bell offered the example of Calvin's account of the Council of Nicaea (325): "Thus writeth Maister Calvin of the antiquitie of degrees and superioritie, amongst the Ministers of the Church." The purpose of the hierarchy was to ensure the "preservation of discipline," and the textual tradition lent "consent" to a church distinguished by degrees of ministers, and hence to the idea that superior ministers retained the power to censure their inferiors. This was precisely the issue raised by Bancroft's policy of clerical subscription, a measure designed to ensure conformity to the Canons of 1604, which resulted in the deprivation of some eighty-five non-conforming ministers. (29) The opponents of this process argued that such episcopal jurisdiction was an innovation and a "politique" device, having no ancient history and thus no legitimacy. Hence, part of Bell's purpose was to defend the antiquity of the office: "our Archbishops and Metropolitans in the English Church, have no new Ministrie, nor other authoritie, then was had and practised by the holy Fathers in ancient time, even in the primitive Church." (30)

Moreover, the question that emerged in the debates over episcopacy concerned the civil jurisdiction of ecclesiastical officers--clerical livings fell into the category of "property," and hence were protected by common law. (31) Reformists depicted the deprivation of beneficed ministers as a violation of English common law and the provisions of Magna Carta, therefore Bell sought out authorities that predated sources of legal precedent. Citing church Fathers such as Hermas, Eusebius, and St. Callistus, Bell argued that "Noah, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and others, did rule over those who were committed to their charge, as well in ecclesiasticall as civil causes [and] God himself made a general law [that] the priests and the civil magistrate should jointly determine, judge, and decide all controversies." (32) In Bell's view, the English common law did not extend to the Church, and so the message which he sought to extract from the older tradition was a simple one: the Crown and bishops were sovereign over the affairs of the Church, and this sovereignty was more ancient than the common law.

This last point allowed Bell to proceed to the question of ceremonies, for part of Richard Bancroft's program of subscription included ceremonies that to some smacked of "popery" and were thus ill suited to a "reformed" church. Bell's response to this problem was to become a hallmark of the conformist position: the Church, he argued, had the power to enjoin observance to ceremonies that were in themselves adiaphora, or "indifferent": "The Church may make decrees, Lawes, ordinances and constitutions, in all Things Adiaphorus, which are of their own nature indifferent; so the same tend to edification, comliness or peaceable government of the Church." (33) The concept signalled one of the deepest rifts in post-Reformation English Protestantism. Briefly, reformists argued that there was no difference in kind between the ceremonies practised by the church and the divine warrant of scripture: hence the rites of the church were strictly confined to the example and teaching of Christ and could not blend these divine precedents with any elements of human invention. Conformists argued that in addition to those things warranted by the scripture, there were the accrued "traditions" and "customs" of the early church; so long as these were "helps" to edification, and did not lean toward the idolatrous practice of the Roman Church, then all subjects were bound to obey them as they would any decree of the supreme magistrate.

This leads us to a further aspect of the conformist position developed by Bell--the elision of religious uniformity and political obedience. This assumption informed Bell's position on the disputed ceremonies of the Jacobean settlement:
 If our bretheren would seriously ponder, and duly weigh this
 golden advise of this Holy Father [St. Ambrose], they would
 abandon all contentions doubtlesse, about the sign of the
 Cross, the Surplesse, and such like Indifferent Things, and for
 that dutie which they owe unto the Magistrate, whom they are
 bound to obey in all lawfull things, even for conscience sake;
 they would conform themselves to his lawes and their
 bretheren, and not to scandalise the whole Church as they do.


Part of Bell's purpose in citing the testimony of Ambrose was to answer the reformist complaint that the argument for "things indifferent" was simply a device to skirt the charge that the prescribed ceremonies were iure humano, of human invention. Bell countered by arguing that in the absence of a specific scriptural rule, there remained a "general rule" which offered a certain latitude to churches in the ordering of their ceremonies: "For we knowe, that every Church hath her freedom and Libertie, to institute and ordaine such a kind of policie (and discipline) as shall be thought meet and profitable for the same; because our Lord prescribed no certain rule therein." (34) Ceremonies in general were a "support" to worship and an aid to "increase reverence"; taken singly, they conveyed no grace and presumably had no role in the process of salvation. However, Bell argued that they should be enjoined nevertheless: "It is therefore most prudently and right Christianly provided in the Canons of Anno. 1604 that none shall be permitted to preach without licence," for "it is not every private man's part to define, decide, and appoint what is order and comlinesse in things indifferent, and the externall government of the Church." (35)

From the elision of uniformity and obedience, Bell proceeded to the matter of conformity and clerical subscription, and their relation to the reformed "tradition." Indeed, Bell posited a further elision between tradition and reformation, in order to show how the current orthodoxy of the Church of England could be reconciled with tradition (and hence, antiquity), as well as the judgement of reformed divines. Bell cited the Calvinist theologian Girolamo Zanchi (1516-90): "Let this therefore be the summe and conclusion, that such traditions as agree with the word of God, and serve for the Churches use, and to stirre up mens mindes to pietie and true worship of God, may this day be still retained and used, so it be done without superstition and opinion of merite." (36) The endorsement of this reformed divine served Bell's purpose by answering the reforming charge that old ceremonies must necessarily be idolatrous, and this allowed him to then argue that the Church had the power to preserve the uniformity of its doctrine via the "election" of ministers. Here Bell cited examples drawn from scripture (Matthew 10; Luke 10; Acts 1, 6, 14; 1 Timothy 5; Titus 1), the Council of Laodicea, and Calvin's Institutes in order to argue that the election of ministers was not based on the "consent" of the people. (37) Instead, Bell continued, "the Church may change the manner of election, and consequently, that no one certain kind of election, is de iure divino, decreed by God's law to be perpetual." Hence, like the settling of rites, the ordaining of ministers was a mark of the sovereignty of the Church. (38)

The concept of the sovereignty of the Church was a crucial aspect of English conformist thought, for it was used to account for not only deprivations but the existence of an office of superior clergy whose task it was to ensure a uniformity of doctrine and discipline. During the Jacobean period this power would come to be challenged by divines writing in support of the Scottish Kirk as when, in 1618, the Crown ordered the imposition of English ceremonies in Scotland, and defended the policy by appealing to the sovereign "Church of Great Britain." Likewise, Bell argued that a Presbyterian mode of government consisting of pastors, deacons, and elders "is not compatible with a Christian Monarchie; but must perforce despoyle her, and bereave her of her royall soveraigntie. I prove it, because the said Presbyterie challengeth unto her selfe, all authoritie in causes ecclesiasticall; the supreme over-sight of which causes, pertaineth to the civill Magistrate." Bell clearly recognised the problem that ensued from competing modes of governance within a single church; here he found an ally in Heinrich Bullinger (1504-75), Swiss reformer and an active opponent of Anabaptism. One aspect of Bullinger's doctrine that aided Bell's cause was the suggestion that there was no difference in kind between the Christian State and the Christian Church; hence Bell could speak of the "whole Church" and the mode of governance appropriate to it: "it is most apparent and cleare, that all power is granted unto the whole Church, who to avoyde confusion and for order sake, committeth her authoritie to certaine chosen persons. Which persons are the Bishops and Prelates of the Church, say I, and all antiquitie will confesse the same with me." (39)

Bell brought the work to a close with a lengthy discussion on the "Discipline of the Church," whose purpose was to account for the Church as a political association. Again Bell employed the elision between political obedience and religious uniformity. A frequently cited scripture which captured this idea--and appeared on Bell's title page--was 1 Corinthians 14: 40, "Let all things be done decently, and in order." In fact, the verse was employed in defence of two propositions: "decency" was a synonym for the use of those ceremonies defined as "indifferent" and signalled that they were employed for edification. The second proposition concerned the unity of true faith and the implications of this condition for the body politic of the church; dissent and schism were examples of disorder, and a violation of the warrant of scripture. When combined, these propositions furnished the foundation of a theory of the sovereignty of the Church:
 Againe, if the Church had not power to displace, suspend, and
 prohibit Ministers from Preaching, as their demeanours, and
 circumstances of times, places and persons shall require; then
 doubtlesse would the Church abounde with schismes, confusion,
 and all ataxia contrarie to the Apostolic canon, which
 prescribeth all things to be done decently, and in order. (40)


Hence the peace and order of the Church, as well as the means to ensure their promotion, were warranted by the scripture, and were therefore iure divino: "whoever rejecteth such lawes and ordinances of the Church, contemneth the authoritie of God and not of men." The cement of this theory of order was "conscience," and the concluding section of the work considered the damage that could be done to the Church by "malefactors"--that is, critics of the sovereignty of the Church and its foundation in the laws of God. In a political sense, the argument turned on the concept of "jurisdiction":
 the Church hath authoritie to impose every lawful ordinance
 and constitution, which she deemeth profitable for the Church,
 upon every person subject to her jurisdiction ... if it be
 Adiaphora, a thing of its own nature indifferent, then it is likewise
 in the power and libertie of the Church, to impose the
 same uppon every member within her jurisdiction. (41)


Protestant critics of the Church argued that an ordinance not derived from scripture could not be passed off as "indifferent." The challenge in subsequent debates was to close the gap between the express law of scripture and the accumulated traditions of the Church. It emerges that the literature of religious controversy published in England between 1603 and 1625 is dominated by debates on clerical subscription, episcopacy, and ceremonies, all of which reveal deep tensions between doctrine and law, belief and practice. Conformists were obliged to furnish sound doctrinal and historical defences for the rites and governance of the Church, and hence works such as Bell's formed the foundation of the conformist position.

We are now in a position to assemble the various elements that comprised the vision of the "regiment" of the Church espoused by Bell, and thus to establish the outlines of Jacobean conformist thought. This position was maintained by two propositions, each of which were defended with reference to scripture, the Fathers, and the broader textual tradition of the Christian Church. First, the Church of England was a legally "established" Church, founded in law and within the jurisdiction of the English Crown, its "ancient" governor. This meant that the English Church was a political association defined by a public mode of worship to which all English subjects were required to conform; indeed, "conformity" also meant "obedience," for one of the burdens of maintaining a uniform faith was to ensure that the religious ends of the state matched those of its subjects. Those Protestants and Catholics who did not subscribe to these ends were perceived to have withdrawn their loyalty from the political association which the English Reformation had established. The second proposition portrayed this reformation as a restoration of the spiritual association that defined the Church established by Christ and descended through the Apostles. This restoration represented the re-emergence of the "true" Church after a period during which it had been eclipsed by the errors of Rome. Moreover, the English Church was taken to be an exemplar of the "reformed" churches, a spiritual and political Church militant. One of the burdens of defending a national church that had been established by law was that English conformists were obliged to distinguish between points of doctrine and practice enjoined by scripture, and those left to the judgement of the Church; both in turn had to be reconciled with the ancient and reformed traditions. Moreover, the notion that the Church could "judge" for itself entailed also that it could define what was heresy, and this furnished a justification for all measures designed to promote a uniform confession. The English Church was thus defined by conformists in terms of antiquity, hierarchy, and sovereignty: it was descended from Christ and the Apostles, possessed of an hierarchy of clerical officers surmounted by a supreme governor, whose ultimate power could be used to impose sanctions on those who disagreed with one or more of its tenets.

(1) Paul Christianson, Reformers and Babylon: English Apocalyptic Visions from the Reformation to the Eve of the Civil War (Toronto, 1978).

(2) Paul Christianson, Discourse on History, Law, and Governance in the Public Career of John Selden, 1610-1635 (Toronto, 1996).

(3) For a fully developed treatment of the themes presented here, see Charles W. A. Prior, "'The Regiment of the Church': Doctrine, Discipline, and History in Jacobean Ecclesiology, 1603-1625," (Ph.D diss., Queen's University, June 2003), and Charles W.A. Prior, "'Then Leave Complaints': Mandeville, Anti-Catholicism, and English Orthodoxy," in Charles W.A. Prior (ed.), Mandeville and Augustan Ideas: New Essays, English Literary Studies Monograph Series, No. 83 (Victoria, 2000), pp. 51-70.

(4) See Anthony Milton, "The Church of England, Rome and the True Church: The Demise of a Jacobean Consensus," in Kenneth Fincham (ed.), The Early Stuart Church, 1603-1642 (Stanford, 1993), pp. 187-210; Milton, Catholic and Reformed." The Roman and Protestant Churches in English Protestant Thought, 1600-1640 (Cambridge, 1995).

(5) See J.G.A. Pocock, "Within the Margins: The Definitions of Orthodoxy," in Roger Lund (ed.), The Margins of Orthodoxy: Heterodox Writing and Cultural Response, 1660-1750 (Cambridge, 1995), pp. 33-53, at p. 37.

(6) It is therefore puzzling that those studies which set out to examine denominational or doctrinal conflict have not probed into the literature in which these topics were debated. See especially essays in Peter Lake and Michael Questier (eds.), Conformity and Orthodoxy in the Early Stuart Church, c. 1560-1660 (London, 2000).

(7) For a bibliography of this literature, see Peter Milward, Religious Controversies of the Jacobean Age: A Survey of Printed Sources (London, 1978).

(8) Thomas James, The Humble Supplication of Thomas James Student in Divinity, and keeper of the publicke Librarie at Oxford, for reformation of the ancient Fathers Workes, by Papists sundrie ways depraved (London). The broadside gives no indication of the date of publication. Anthony Wood reports that James (1573-1629) graduated D.D. in 1614, so he would have been, as he says himself, a student in or about 1610. This, combined with evidence supplied by a later work [James, A Treatise of the Corruption of Scripture, Councels and Fathers ... (Oxford, 1612)] is the basis of my attribution. See Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxoniensis, 2 volumes (London, 1691-92), II, 464.

(9) For discussions of this problem, see Richard Wilmer, The Doctrine of the Church in the English Reformation (Evanston, Illinois, 1952); H. F. Woodhouse, The Doctrine of the Church in Anglican Theology, 1547-1603 (London, 1954).

(10) We know little of Bell, save that while marooned in Yorkshire in 1610 and needing to write a response to a critic, he was lent books by Toby Matthew, who sent them on his own charge. See Wood, Athenae Oxoniensis, p. 800; Kenneth Fincham, Prelate as Pastor (Oxford, 1991), pp. 262-63.

(11) Robert Persons, A Briefe and Clear Confutation of a Challenge made by O. E. ("Imprinted with Licence," 1603), p. 4. Persons (1546-1610), Jesuit missionary and controversialist. Educated at St. Mary's Hall, 1564, and Balliol College, Oxford. BA, 1568; MA, 1572; dismissed in 1574; ordained, 1578.

(12) Robert Persons, A Treatise of the Three Conversions of England (St. Omer, 1603), p. 127,

(13) Matthew Kellison, A Survey of the New Religion, Detecting Many Gross Absurdities which It Implieth ("Printed at Doway, 1603"), p. 9. Kellison (1560?-1642), theologian; professor of Theology at Rheims, 1589; President of English College at Douai, 1613.

(14) For details, see Milward, Religious Controversies, pp. 137-227.

(15) Thomas Bell, Thomas Bell's Motives: Concerning Romish Faith and Religion, second edn. (Cambridge, 1605), p. 9. The 1605 edition was a slightly corrected and enlarged version of the original. Bell (fl. 1573-1610), seminary priest, arrested and recanted in 1592. Incorporated MA (Cambridge) in 1607.

(16) Bell, Motives, p. 126.

(17) Anthony Milton has argued that, in debates between Roman and Protestant controversialists, the central issue was "not the question of antiquity, but that of succession." This misses the point that Roman controversialists believed that the succession of the Popes was indeed a mark of the antiquity of their church--the two were not separate categories. See Catholic and Reformed, p. 277.

(18) Thomas Bell, The Golden Balance of Tryall ... by what Rule all Controversies in Religion, are to be Examined (London: John Windet, 1603), pp. 6, 9, 28. The printer of Bell's tract, John Windet, held a royal patent, and was the printer also for Bodley's Librarian, Thomas James.

(19) "For, whosover hath a lawful power over any Writing, to make it Law, hath the power also to approve, or disapprove the interpretation of the same." Hobbes (C.B. Macpherson, ed.), Leviathan, (London, 1985), p. 427.

(20) Bell, The Golden Balance of Tryall, pp. 37-38.

(21) Thomas Bell, The Downefall of Poperie (London, 1604), p. 53.

(22) Richard Smith, An Answer to T. Bell's Late Challenge, Named By Him the Downfall of Popery (Douai, 1605), p. 14. Smith (1566-1655), bishop of Chalcedon; educated at Trinity College, Oxford, 1583; converted and journeyed to Rome, 1586. Professor at English College.

(23) Philip Woodward, The Fore-runner of Bels Downefall (n.p., 1605), p. 20. See also pp. 23-24. Woodward (1557-1610), seminary priest and Professor at English College, Douai, 1606-07.

(24) Thomas Bell, The Woefull Crie of Rome. Containing a defiance to Popery (London, 1605), p. 5.

(25) Bell, The Woefull Crie, p. 6.

(26) Thomas Bell, The Popes Funerall: containing an Exact and pithy reply, to a pretended answer of a shamelesse and foolish libel, called. The Forerunner of Bell's Downfall (London, 1606), sig. [F.sup.r].

(27) Thomas Bell, The Regiment of the Church: As it is Agreeable with Scriptures. all Antiquities of the Fathers, and modern Writers, from the Apostles themselves, unto this present age (London, 1606), sig. [A.sup.3r].

(28) Bell, The Regiment, pp. 1, 2, 13.

(29) See Stuart Barton Babbage, Puritanism and Richard Bancroft (London, 1962), pp. 103-23, 147-219; Kenneth Fincham, Prelate as Pastor: The episcopate of James I, (Oxford, 1990), Appendix VI: "The Deprivation of Beneficed Nonconformist Clergy, 1604-1609," pp. 323-26.

(30) Bell, The Regiment, p. 40.

(31) For examples of this argument, see William Bradshaw, A Protestation of the King's Supremacie. Made in the Name of the Aflicted Ministers, and Opposed to the Shameful Calumnations of the Prelates (n.p., 1605).

(32) Bell, The Regiment, p. 44.

(33) Ibid., pp. 56-57.

(34) Ibid., pp. 58, 60.

(35) Ibid., pp. 89, 92. Bell conceived of the Church of England as a corporate entity, and hence part of his conception of orthodoxy included an argument for the virtue of public profession over "private fancy": "[Those who] either through ignorance of the practice of the ancient Churches, and for want of knowledge in the ecclesiastical histories and Councils; or else (which is farre worse) upon a simple Philautia, and fond admiration of their own fancies and conciets; doe most arrogantly and rashly censure and condemne all others, both old and modern writers, which will not embrace their phantasticall imaginations." (p. 97)

(36) Bell, The Regiment, p. 101.

(37) A little further along, Bell offered a clearer statement on the accountability of ministers: "For albeit in the preaching of the Word and administration of the Sacraments, the chosen minister hath only the charge and authority to execute them; nevertheless, God's annointed Prince hath the Supreme charge and sovereigne authoritie, to command the execution thereof; as also to correct and punish the Minister, for the neglect of his dutie in that behalfe." (p. 139)

(38) Bell, The Regiment, pp. 106-107.

(39) Ibid., p. 132.

(40) Ibid., p. 165.

(41) Ibid., pp. 200, 201.

Charles W. A. Prior

Queen's Univeristy at Kingston
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