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An Excerpt from Smoke in the Temple - by John Saltmarsh (d. 1647)

The Era of the Puritans (1559-1662, or thereabouts)

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Presbytery, Independency, Salvation, and a few other quotes.

From John Saltmarsh, Smoke in the Temple (1646)[b]

[Principles Of The Parties][c]

Presbytery so called: what it is, and what they hold

The Presbytery is set up by an alleged pattern of the eldership and presbytery of the Apostles and Elders in the first churches of the Gospel, strengthened by such scriptures as are in the margin,[1] and by allusion to the Jewish government and to appeals in nature. Their churches are parochial, or parishes, as they are divided at first by the Romish prelates and the statute-laws of the state. Which parishes and congregations are made up of such believers as were made Christians first by baptism in infancy, and not by the Word; and all the parishes or congregations are under them as they are a classical, provincial, and national Presbytery. And over those parishes they do exercise all church power and government[2] which may be called the Power of the Keys.

Independency so called: what it is, and what they hold

The people of God are only a church[3] when called by the Word and Spirit into consent or covenant and [when] Saints by profession, and all church-power is laid here and given out from hence into pastorship and elders, &c.; and a just distribution of interest betwixt elders and people.[4] All spiritual government is here and not in any power foreign or extrinsical to the congregation, or authoritative. Their children are made Christians first by infant baptism and after by the Word; and they are baptized by a federal or covenant-holiness, or birth-privileges as under the Law.[1] They may enjoy all ordinances in this estate, and some may prophesy.[2]

Anabaptism so called: what it is, and what they hold

The Church of Christ are a company of baptized believers,[3] and whatsoever disciple can teach the Word or make out Christ, may baptize or administer other ordinances.[4] That the church or body, though but of two or three, yet may enjoy the Word and ordinances by way of an administrator, or one deputed to administer, though no pastor.[5] That none are to be baptized but believers.[6] That those commonly called church-officers as pastors, &c., are such as the church or body may be without.[7] That none are to be called brethren but baptized believers. All administration of ordinances were given to the Apostles as disciples; not so under the notion of church-power as is pretended.[8] That none ought to communicate in the ordinances of Christ till first baptized.[9]

Seeking or Seekers so called: what their way is, and what they hold

That there is no church nor ordinances yet. That if they did not end with the primitive or Apostles’ times, yet they are to begin as in the primitive times with gifts and miracles,[10] and that there is as much reason for the like gifts to make out the truth of any of the Gospel now to an Antichristian estate, as formerly to a Jewish or heathenish. That such a believer as can dispense ordinances must be qualified as the believers in Mark 16, and as the former disciples were.[11] That there is a time and fulness for the Spirit[12] and for the later pure spiritual dispensations, as there was formerly for the first dispensations. And [they query] whether this shall be while the Angels are but pouring out their vials or not, or when Babylon is fallen; and whether there is not as much need for new tongues[1] to reveal the pure original to us, it being conveyed with corruptions and additionals in translations, by which truth may be more purely discovered and the waters of life that now run muddily may flow more clear and crystal-like from the throne of God.[2]

A Way Of Peace Or A Design Of Reconciliation[a]

Liberty for printing and speaking

Let there be liberty of the press for printing, to those that are not allowed pulpits for preaching. Let that light come in at the window which cannot come in at the door, that all may speak and write one way, that cannot another. Let the waters of the sanctuary have issue and spring up valleys as well as mountains.

Let all that preach or print affix their names that we may know from whom. The contrary is a kind of unwarrantable modesty at the best. If it be truth they write, why do they not own it? If untruth, why do they write? Some such must either suppress themselves for shame or fear, and they that dare not own what they do, they suspect the magistrate or themselves.

Let all that teach or print be accountable, yet in a several way. If it be matter of immediate disturbance and trouble to the state, let them account for it to the magistrate under whom we are to live a peaceable and quiet life (1 Tim. 2. 2); if matter of doctrine, &c., let them be accountable to the believers and brethren who are offended, by conference, where there may be mutual conviction and satisfaction (Gal. 2. 11).

Free debates and open conferences

Let there be free debates and open conferences and communication, for all and of all sorts that will, concerning difference in spirituals;[b] still allowing the state to secure all tumults or disturbances.[c] Where doors are not shut, there will be no breaking them open. So where debates are free there is a way of vent and evacuation, the stopping of which hath caused more troubles in states than anything; for where there is much new wine in old bottles the working will be such as the parable speaks on.

No assuming infallibility over each other

Let us not, being under no further degree of the revelation of truth and coming out of Babylon, assume any power of infallibility to each other, so as to soar up all to our light or degree of knowing or practising; for there lies as much on one side for compulsion as on another, respectively to one another, for another’s evidence is as dark to me as mine to him, and mine to him as his to me, till the Lord enlighten us both for discerning alike. So[a] when there is no power in us to make that appear to another which appears to us, there can be no reasonable equity for any enforcing or compelling in spirituals. The first great rent betwixt the Eastern and Western kingdoms began when the Bishop of Rome would needs excommunicate the East for not believing as they believed.

No civil power drawn into advantages

Let not those believers who have the advantage of the magistrate strive to make any unwarrantable use of it one against another, because scripture principles are not so clear for it; and because they know not the revolution of Providence, and we are to do as we would be done to.

No despising for too much learning, or too little

Let not one despise another for gifts, parts, learning. Let the Spirit be heard speak in the meanest; let not the scribe or disputer of the law despise the fishermen, nor they despise them because scribes and disputers. The Spirit is in Paul as well as Peter, in both as well as one.

We may be in one Christ, though divers

Consider that we may be one in one Christ though we think diversely, and we may be friends though not brethren, and let us attain to union though not to unity.

The spiritual persecution to be forborne

Consider there is a twofold persecution; there is a spiritual or that of believers, and a mixed persecution or civilly ecclesiastical. The spiritual persecution is that of the spirit merely, and this kind of persecution little thought on and studied. This is when we cannot bear one another’s several opinions or soul-belief[s] in the same spiritual society or fellowship, but [they] must either be of us or out of us; and surely this kind of persecution is as unreasonable as any other. For what is this but soul-compulsion, when another must only believe as we believe and not wait till the Lord reveal even this. This kind of spiritual compulsion will in time break and dissolve the visible communion of Saints and body of Christ exceedingly, if taken up or continued, and it will be amongst Christians as amongst the Antichristians, where they divide and subdivide and some cast themselves into a monkery from all the rest. Jerusalem and Antioch were not of this way to cast out one another upon such grounds, but to meet, reason and counsel, and hear. And surely the churches can ill complain of a mixed persecution from without if they persecute one another from within. The magistrate may as justly whip them both as they whip one another; such grudgings, complainings, dissolvings, spiritual enforcings, gives hint to the civil power to compel while it beholds them, but a little more spiritually, compelling one another. Let all church-rights, privileges, bound-days, be reformed, all heresy and schism by the rule rebuked, but in all spiritual meekness and wisdom, and [let us] not call heretic and schismatic too suddenly neither. See we do not so.

Spiritual Principles Drawn Forth[a]

Gospel Truth is One and the Same

That which is only in some parts of it warrantable by the Word is not purely nor in a scripture way warrantable. For there is not any will-worship but it hath something from the pattern of the true. But truth must be all one and the same and homogeneal; not in parts so, but all so. There is but one Lord, one faith, &c.

Prudence and Consequences are the great Engines of Will-Worship

Things of prudence merely are not to be admitted into the spiritual way and gospel design. Prelacy had its prudence for every new additional in worship and government. And once let prudence open a door and then will more of man crowd in than the law of God can keep out. Nor is that to be admitted which is so received a maxim, ‘though not directly, yet not repugnant to the Word.’ Christ’s rule is not such; he opposes any tradition [added] to the commandments of God. Not direct from scripture is indirect and repugnant, though not to the very letter of such words, yet to the form and analogy of truth, to the general scripture law, viz., the will of God that nothing shall be added nor diminished. Nothing but God’s power and will can make a thing truth. His power creates it, and his will creates it such a truth. Nothing is agreeable to the will of Christ but the very will of Christ. The will of Christ is the only legislative power in the Gospel. And everything is repugnant to his will but what he wills. And whatsoever is devised by prudence, though upon scripture materials, yet being not the work of this will nor having the stamp or image upon it, is none of Christ’s, but as repugnant as any other tradition or invention of men.

The People are Brethren and Saints in Christ’s Church, but in Antichrist’s, Parishioners and Servants

What kind of government is marked out in scriptures for sitting on the waters or people? Christ governs by the people ministerially, not over the people authoritatively only; and the people being once in his church way, lose their old capacity for a new, and are raised up from people to brethren, to churches. The interest of the people in Christ’s kingdom is not only an interest of compliancy and obedience and submission, but of consultation, of debating, counselling, prophesying, voting, &c. And let us stand fast in that liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.

None to be forced under Christ’s Kingdom as in the Kingdoms of the World

In a spiritual government the ignorance of people which some would have for expedition that they may practically know it, is no scripture way of knowing. In practical godliness things must be known before practically known, and practice is to begin from faith, and faith from knowledge; else the obedience can be but blind, mixed, and popish. Indeed in things civil or moral, practice may bring in knowledge: habits may be acquired and gotten by acts; a man may grow temperate by practising temperance, and civilly obedient by practising civil obedience. But it is not so in spirituals: there habits go before acts, spiritual infusions before practices.

Indeed the laws of states and kingdoms and civil policy teach men best by ruling them practically, but it is not so in the church. Men are not to be forced into Christ’s kingdom as into the kingdoms of the world. The kings of the nations exercise their dominion; it shall not be so among you.

The Power of a Formal Reformation in a Government makes it not Christ’s Government

A government, though not purely Christ’s, may be made up of such scripture and prudential materials as may much reform the outward man, even as a mere prudential civil government may do if severely executed. In many civil states, merely from their wholesome policy and administration, excellent and precious flowers spring up, many moral virtues, as prudence, temperance, obedience, meekness, love, justice, fortitude. Yet all this makes not a government to be Christ’s, but only that which is merely the discipline of Christ, and policy of Christ.

The National and Congregational Church-covenant, both lawful, or both unlawful

But covenants in their right nature were a dispensation more of the Old Testament strain. A national church had a covenant to gather them up into their national way of worship, and were under the laws of an external pedagogy, and now the spiritual dispensation being come, even the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a fulness of spirit let out upon the Saints and people of God which gather[s] them up more closely, spiritually, and cordially than the power of any former dispensation could. The very covenant of God himself, of which the former were typical and prophetical, comes in nakedly upon the spirits of his [people] and draws them in, and is a law upon their inward parts, sweetly compelling in the consciences with power and yet not with force, with compulsion and yet with consent. And surely where this covenant of God hath its kindly and spiritual operation there would need no such external supplement as before; but because of the hardness of our hearts it is thus. From the beginning it was not so; the Spirit tied up thousands together then.

Let states then have any prudential security, any design of sound wisdom to consonate people together, but let the church only be gathered up by a law of a more glorious and transcendent nature, by the pure covenant of God himself with the souls of his.

All Covenanters are bound to contribute to religion as well as state

The liberty of the subject is that of soul as well as body, and that of soul more dear, precious, glorious: the liberty wherein Christ hath made us free. Be not ye then the servants of men in the things of God.


[1] Matt. 18:15; Acts 15:19, 28, 31; Acts 16:4; 1 Tim. 4:14; Tit. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:2; Tit. 1:6; Acts 13:1; 1 Cor. 12:17.

[2] Acts 6:6; 2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Tim. 4:14; Eph. 4:11-12; Heb. 13:17; Acts 20:28-9; Rev. 2:14, 20.

[3] 1 Pet. 2:5; 1 Cor. 1:2, 9; Col. 1:2; 2 Cor. 6:16-17; Acts 2:41-2; Rev. 3:1, 17; Acts 9:26.

[4] Matt. 18:15-20; Matt. 16:18-19; 1 Cor. 12:28; Eph. 4:11; Acts 6:3, 5; Acts 15:22; 1 Tim. 3:15.

[1] 1 Cor. 7:14; Acts 2:39; Rom. 11:16.

[2] Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 14:22, 6, 11, 4.

[3] Heb. 12:22; Acts 10:48; Acts 2:41; Acts 16:32-3.

[4] Matt. 10:1 compared with Matt. 28:18; John 4:1; John 8:31; Isa. 1:16; Acts 9:10; Acts 1:15.

[5] 1 Cor. 12:5.

[6] Acts 2:38; Acts 10:48; Matt. 28:18; Mark 16:16; Acts 8:37.

[7] Acts 1:15; Acts 2:42.

[8] Matt. 10:1 compared with Matt. 28:18; Isa. 8:16; Acts 9:10.

[9] Acts 2:41-2, and Acts 16:31.

[10] Matt. 10:1; Mark 16:16; 1 Cor. 12.

[11] Acts 8:6, and Acts 9:17.

[12] Rev. 15:8, and Rev. 18:1.

[1] Acts 2:4; Mark 16:17; Acts 19:6; 1 Cor. 14:22, 39.

[2] Rev. 22:1.

[179. (b)]The Smoke In The Temple. Wherein Is A Designe For Peace And Reconciliation Of Believers Of The Several Opinions Of These Times: By John Saltmarsh…London, Printed by Ruth Raworth for G. Calvert. 1646 [Jan.16];

[(c)] pp:9-19: scripture references transferred to footnotes.

[181. (a)] pp:3-6: marginal references omitted;

[(b-c)] tr from end of paragraph.

[182. (a)] + as.

[183. (a)] pp:59-68.

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