Thomas Edwards (1646) Gangraena (Second edition) on Sectarians in the 1640s
And I desire to commend to the reader's serious and sad consideration, three particulars concerning the errors and sects of this time; and the rather, because they were not so common to the sects in the ages before, at least not the two first. That among all these sorts of sects and sectaries, there are hardly now to be found in England (for to this Kingdom, and to these four last years do I confine myself all along in this discourse) any sect that's simple and pure, and not mixed and compounded; that is, any sect, among them all, which holds only the opinions and principles of its own way, without interfering and mingling with the errors of other sects; as for example, where can a man find a Church of simple Anabaptists, or simple Antinomians, or simple pure Independents, each of them keeping to their own principles, as Anabaptists to Anabaptism, Independents to Independency, and holding no other?
But rather do we not see by experience, that both the several kinds of sects, and most persons of each kind, are compounded of many, yea, some of all: one and the same society of persons in our times, being both Anabaptistical, Antinomian, Manifestarian, Libertine, Socinian, Millenary, Independent, Enthusiastical? Yea, among the Independents, who are of all the rest accounted best, where can any man show me an Independent Church strictly so called, or a man of them hardly, who symbolizes not with the other sects, holding beside Independency, neither the opinions of the Chiliasts, nor of the Libertines, nor other strange opinions! The Army that is so much spoken of upon all occasions in the newsbooks, pulpits, conferences, to be Independent (though I conceive upon good information, that upon a true muster of the whole, commanders and common soldiers, there would not be found above one in six of that way); yet of that Army, called by the sectaries, Independent, and of that part of it which truly is so, I do not think there are 50 pure Independents, but higher flown, more seraphical (as a chaplain, who knows well the state of that Army, expressed it) made up and compounded of Anabaptism, Antinomianism, Enthusiasm, Arminianism, Familism; all these errors and more too sometimes meeting in the same persons, strange monsters, having their heads of Enthusiasm, their bodies of Antinomianism, their thighs of Familism, their legs and feet of Anabaptism, their hands of Arminianism, and Libertinism as the great vein going through the whole; in one word, the great religion of that sort of men in the Army, is liberty of conscience, and liberty of preaching. . .
Now for the particular practices of the sectaries, they are many,
and [re oy l~selr ro setmem aown;] indeed, I hardly know any strange
practice that hath reference to their ways, but some or other
of them are guilty in one kind or another. Most of their practices
and ways may be referred to these ten heads
1. To looseness and liberty in life and conversation.
2. To covetousness, ambition and selfseeking.
3. To policies and subtlety.
4. To activeness, sedulity and nimbleness in the prosecution of their way.
5. To tumultuousness, disorder and confusion.
6. To the disturbance and overthrow of economical, ecclesiastical and political relations and government.
7. To insolencies, pride and arrogancy.
8. To acts of immodesty and incivility.
9. To power and will, carrying all before them, and throwing down all that stands in their way.
10. To hypocrisy under pretences of piety and holiness.
They use to ascribe and attribute all the success of things, all that's done in [the] field, at leaguers, all victories, brave actions, to their party, crying them up in pulpits, newsbooks, conferences, calling them the saviours of the kingdoms and for this purpose they have certain men that are criers and trumpeters between the army, city and country, who trumpet forth their praises, giving them titles of terrible etc.; a large book would not contain the relation of all the victories, glorious actions, exploits [that] have been given to the Army called Independ
They give out and boast their party to be more and greater than they are; some of them will speak in all places as if all were theirs, all for them; they have given out as if Parliament, armies, city of London, country, all the godly, wise, judicious, understanding men were theirs, and will be theirs . . .
They appropriate to themselves the name of the godly and wellaffected party, the title of Saints, calling themselves the Saints; that they only preachJesus Christ; and though they be Anabaptists, Seekers etc., yet they are the Saints. This is common in printed books, petitions, sermons, discourses; what, speak against the Saints? Be against a toleration for the Saints? meaning themselves only.
They pretend one thing, when they intend quite another, and 'tis usual for them to pretend the public good, the benefit of the state, when'tis evident they intend their own interest, and strengthening of their party; they will pretend peace, love, forbearing of all names of difference, to make the Presbyterians secure, negligent, and to forbear all means of settling things; and yet at the same time go quite contrary, usine all means and ways for promoting their own party...