Testimony to the Truth of Jesus Christ

Does anybody know much about this pamphlet?  It was published at the end of 1646 and inspired a number of responses.  It had the subscription of fifty-odd London ministers, including two press licensers, and later gained the support of many more ministers around the country.  John Goodwin and Henry Hammond both published pamphlets vindicating themselves from charges made against them in the pamphlet.  The Testimony supported the Covenant and reads a little like a cleaned up version of Gangraena.  I know that Anne Hughes talks about it a bit in her book on Edwards, so I’ll be looking there, but I’ve never seen other references to it.

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3 responses to “Testimony to the Truth of Jesus Christ

  1. Elliot Vernon

    The London Testimony was subscribed at the end of 1647, and published in early 1648, not 1646. As such it appeared after the Army had effectively neutered political Presbyterianism in both Parliament and the City (i.e. the events of July-August 1647), leaving only the London Presbyterian clergy with the ‘privileged space’ to be able to openly publish in favour of a religious settlement based on the Solemn League and Covenant.

    The Testimony was written and subscribed by the Presbyterian ministers meeting within the Province of London (i.e. the area Parliament had designated by statute for Presbyterian government within the London region). John Goodwin mocked these ministers with the title ‘the Sion College Conclave’ because they met in Sion College, a clerical club located in the parish of St Alphage, London Wall.

    The Testimony was part of the London ministers campaign against heresy and for Presbyterian government. By detailing examples of the heresies that covenant-engagers were bound to ‘extirpate’ under the second clause of the SL&C, it called on the early modern casuistry associated oath takers obligations to fulfil the terms of their covenants. The Testimony can be linked to Thomas Edwards’ Gangraena campaign (which originated as a series of lectures at Christchurch, Newgate Street, funded by the London Presbyterian ministers who subscribed the Testimony) and to the London ministers later anti-regicide tracts.

    The London minister’s Testimony was the first in what must have been a co-ordinated campaign of similar ‘testimonies’ from fellow Presbyterian ministers in the counties and is an example of the way in which militant religious Presbyterians (unsuccessfully) agitated for a Presbyterian settlement of the Church of England.

    • gilbertmabbott

      Thanks so much. I knew some of that, but this was very helpful. I think 1646 was a typo. FYI, I’ve noticed that the publisher Thomas Underhill seemed to stay involved with some of the signatories of the Testimony and some of the responses to it, which does suggest a coordinated campaign. Thanks again.

  2. Elliot Vernon

    Thomas Underhill was one of the leading publishers of London Presbyterian material throughout the period along with Christopher Meredith, George Latham, Samuel Gellibrand, John Rothwell, Luke Fawne and John Bellamie. Underhill, like many of the above publishers, was involved in the London Presbyterian movement, being elected a ruling (i.e. lay) elder at his parish of St Benet Paul’s Wharf in 1646 and was delegated to both the first London classis and the London Provincial Assembly.

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