This chapter offers a description on the freedom of common consent. For conformists, common consent could be recognized as the basis of government, but nevertheless be replaced by the authority of bishops and thereby omitted from the daily exercise of church government. Presbyterians did not discount congregational consent in their government. They did more than point to the Synod of Dort to illustrate the role of spiritual assemblies in making ecclesiastical judgments and in preserving true doctrine. The testimony of the English protestant tradition has expressed especial weight in both defending Presbyterianism and countering episcopacy. Despite the obvious cleavage between presbyterian and congregational thought on the nature of common consent, their differences on this subject became less marked than in other matters, which had an immediate bearing on the practice of congregational government and on their status in relation to the Church of England.
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