Who governs the church, Jesus Christ or the state? In practical terms, what determines the doctrine and practice of the church? Is it the Bible or is it public opinion? Throughout the long history of the church, Christians have had to face and answer such questions. Once again they have been thrown up by the debate about the nature and character of marriage. It is good to be able to consider the way in which our fathers approached such issues. The record of the legislation of 1660-1662 and its aftermath provides us with such an opportunity. The year 2012 was the 350th anniversary of what has become known as the ‘Great Ejection’, when almost 2000 Puritan pastors and their flocks were forced out of the Church of England because they were unable to submit to unbiblical conditions of service. The theses included acceptance of the divine right and authority of diocesan bishops and an allegiance to the Prayer Book in terms which could only be given to the Bible. Hundreds of men, unable to bow to parliament’s decisions on these issues, were deprived of their charges and compelled to accept the prospect of poverty in a social and political wilderness. Gary Brady has given us a fine account of these events. He explains the issues and discusses the reasons why Puritans, who had only recently seemed so secure in their ministries, were suddenly plunged into a crisis of conscience after 1660. The story moves from the high politics of Charles II’s reign to the very human story of the sacrifices and triumphs of hundreds of Christian people. Lists of excluded ministers are included and may be useful for reference purposes, but the great value is the inspiring way in which the experiences of local churches and their members and ministers are described. This inspiring record should be widely read and studied by Christians today. It is very highly recommended.
Robert W. Oliver