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In his A Brief Discoverie of the False Church (1590), Henry Barrow attacks the ministry of England for limiting the exercise of "prophesying": "Very hard it were," Barrow writes, "that that heavenly and most blessed exercise of prophecie which was instituted of God for the singular comfort and general inlightning of the whole church, should through the pride and arrogancie of a few, be turned to the utter subversion of the faith of the whole church ... For what part can there be pure, where the doctrine is not sound? Or what can be more miserable than to see with others men's eies, to beleeve with other men's hearts?" The ministers of the Church of England, by restricting the practice of the exercises to the clergy, deny the faithful their opportunity to hear or speak, and "shut it up amongst a few of them ... making it like Osyris mysteries." "What can be more manifest and direct than these places," Barrow continues (citing Paul's declaration in I Corinthians 14 that "you may all one by one, everie one of you, prophecie, that all may learne and all may be comforted"), "that this exercise of prophecie belongeth to the whoole church, and that everie faithful man hath here freedome and power both to be present and to speake also as need requireth, and God revealeth unto him?"1 Barrow's impassioned defense of the role prophesying plays in the creation of a priesthood of all believers makes clear what was at stake in the controversy over these exercises in the late Elizabethan and early Stuart church. Prophesyings, conducted in England as early as the accession of Elizabeth, were an important component of the institutional church, whereby ministers could come together, train local clergy and develop a godly ministry. But as they evolved in the sixteenth and seventeenth century, from ministerial exercises to public conferences conducted in English to "lectures by combination" and were adopted by Barrowists, Brownists and others, they provided an opportunity for godly parishioners to participate in the life of the church, to discuss and debate Scripture, and to speak as God moved them.2

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The prophesyings on the continent also played a role, along with sermons and catechisms, in bringing biblical exposition to lay audiences. As early as 1525, Zurich ministers expounded scripture before their congregations.23 In Hesse, Francois Lambert opened weekly meetings to all church members in order to allow them to ask questions about sermons.24 John à Lasco established the prophesyings in his Calvinist church in the Low Countries as a way for the congregation to respond to ministers and, perhaps more importantly, as a component in Lasco's broader attempt to limit clerical domination.25 Among English exiles during Mary's reign, a church order at Frankfurt called for "Prophesy to be used every fortnight in the English tongue, for the exercise of the said Students, and edifying of the Congregation."26 The Genevan Service Book drawn up by John Knox in 1556 included this passage on "Prophecy or Interpretation of Scriptures":

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The Elizabethan prophesyings were conducted in English, and many of them were open to the public. The letters to Grindal reveal a strong interest in the impact these exercises had on the auditory - on what might be called the "performance of interpretation" - both upon the ministers and on the laity. "Yt were shame for the ministers being so gathered," John Walker, Archdeacon of Essex, writes, "to buyld Godes church and fede his flock to lett the people go away frustrate of theyre expectation and not make them partakers of Godes benefites and fruytes of their studies. So dyd never Christ send the people away unfed." Gilbert Berkeley, Bishop of Bath and Wells argued that public conferences steer ministers away from sin and force them to their books, thus checking lay criticism and simultaneously spurring unlearned men to study and reflection.33 Edward Gaston noted that the prophesyings at Norwich were begun by preachers for "their better exercise and the education of the people."34

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As Collinson has shown, the support the prophesyings received from influential laymen paradoxically spelled their doom.46 When absorbed within the structures of diocesan episcopacy, they flourished; but when they split allegiances and created rivalries, the Queen quickly acted to suppress them. Thomas Cooper, Bishop of Lincoln, recommended the prophesyings for the development of a learned ministry, but he worried about their potential for generating factions. He feared "theie should be made means to publishe phantasticall opinions and innovations," which, he quickly assures the Archbishop, has not occurred in his own diocese. Cooper believes the people should be excluded, not just to prevent outbursts by young men who will "speake rawlie," but more importantly, "to staie the phantasticall affection that many have to such conferences more than to preching, for it is seen some places not far from me that gentlemen and gentlewomen will come in good ... 6 or 7 miles to a conference, that will hardlie come to a learned mans sermon."47 A letter written ca.1582 to the Privy Council, arguing for their re-establishment, also acknowledged the troubles generated by people flocking to this or that prophesying in the years before the Queen's suppression.48

Conservatives believed the godly used the prophesyings to separate from their ordinary congregations, and phrases such as "secret conventicles" or "disorderly and unlawfull conventicles" crept into the language of those hostile to their continuation.49 Even those defending their practice had to meet accusations of schism and separation. Walker assured Grindal that the people assemble not in "secret conventicles as the papistes and sectaries do," but in the church, where "all may com and hear and bear wittnes."50 The Queen's letter to Whitgift in 1577 is filled with warnings of the division caused by these conferences. All good subjects, the Queen wrote, "become hearers of their disputations and new divisid opinions upon pointes of divinitie in these prophesyings farre unmeete for vulgar people. Which maner of proceeding they in some places tearme prophesyenges, and in some other exercises, by which maner of assembles great nombre of people, specially of the vulgar sort are brought to idelnes and also in maner schismatically divided amonges them selfes into sondry sondry dangerous opynions, not onley in townes and parisshes but also in some familyes, and manifestly therby incouraged disregard of our lawes, and to the breaches of common ordre, and tendeth to the offence of all our other quyet subjectes that desire desire to serve God according to the uniforme ordres establishedestablished, whereof the sequele cannot be but over dangerousdangerous."51 For the Queen, public disputation on the rites and ceremonies of the church was a violation of the order established by the settlement of 1559, and with puritans pushing for reforms in one Parliamentary session after another, her decision to silence the exercises is understandable.52

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Separatists like Jacob believed the only true godly community could be found in a gathering of "spirituall perfect Corporation of Believers," as he put it in his 1604-5 catechism. This body was constituted "By a free mutuall consent of Believers joyning & covenanting to live as Members of a holy Society togeather."68 Prophesying was central to this covenant. Within this "free congregation of saints" "any understanding man" could engage in the "sober, discreet, orderly and well governed exercise of expounding and applying the scripture."69 The prophesyings continued to play a central role in the formation of this "holy Society" in Separatist groups in England, in Holland and beyond. A letter by Hugo Bromhead, written about 1606, describes Anabaptist congregational practices, where prophesying plays a central role: "The order of the worshippe and government of oure church is 1. We begynne with A prayer, after reade some one or tow sic chapters of the bible give the sence thereof, and conferr upon the same, that done we lay aside our bookes, and after a solemne prayer made by the 1 speaker, he propoundeth some text out of the Scripture, and prophecieth out of the same, by the space of one hour or thre Quarters of an hour. After him standeth up A .2. speaker and prophecieth owt of the said text the like tyme and space. Some tyme more some tyme lesse."70 Prophesyings also went on to play an important part in the worship of the congregational churches of the Plymouth fathers.71

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The metaphor of the voyage is of course common in the tradition of dialogue, but for Clapham, this metaphor resonates with his own personal journey ("First into the Low-countries I went," he writes in a biographical note in Antidoton, "Afterwards into Scotland: And againe into Netherland, &. Sometimes haled by this faction, sometimes pulled by that faction").87 Further, the search for a covenanted community outside of the national church is, for Clapham, Separatism's greatest danger. Metaphors of the labyrinth, of wandering, of being carried away, of being entangled and lost in dark corners and by-ways, are used throughout his books. Separatists provoke people to search "without the church, in Woods, Milles, by-Stables, Barnes, and Hay-loftes; whereupon, all the speech now is, Goe out, goe out of Babel, come into the secret places" (Right Hand, A2r). And in an allusion to the Chaderton pamphlet attacked by Rogers at the Bury exercise, Flyer condemns the secretive nature of Separatist conferences, which he calls "Conventicles, where your privat Disciples might privately applaud you. And if you remember he tells Malcontent at the beginning of their talk, I was one of your Classis, when in Cambridge you (in secret) chattred out that Sermon upon Rom. 12. Which afterwardes was published without name" (Right Hand, 3).

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By participating in Malcontent's discovery of his identity as a "True Visible Christian," and by studying how he negotiates with pro-Separatist and anti-Separatist positions, Clapham's Christian Reader learns to refute error and discover salvation within the English Church. The dialogues demonstrate not just how to defend and protect oneself against the persuasive rhetoric of heresy, but how to cut through the dissimulation and disguise that plagues the internal battles of the Christian Church. As John Joope's dedicatory letter to Clapham's True Visible Christian (1599) makes clear, false Christians are potentially even more dangerous than open enemies: "More More heed is to be had of rendinge Wolves clad in sheepish conversation, as in skynnes: rather then of open Beares, Lyons, and Leopards sittinge in the midst of the temple and Catholike wheatfielde I meane the Church."88 Separatists come "in Sheepe-like conversation," Clapham writes in the note to the reader in Errour on the Right Hand, "and by such sheepish outward moralitie, labour to cover their Wolvish, pricking, Schismaticall Doctrine" (A3v).89 Clapham's dialogue creates a cacophony of these widely divergent voices - be they Familist, Papist, Anabaptist - in order to rise above them; Clapham points to an authority above and beyond these spurious claims of prophesy. The figure of "Mediocritie" provides a middle way of peace and salvation, guiding Separatists out of their labyrinth and back to the established church in order to reconcile what are non-essential controversies over discipline. As Mediocritie puts it, claims of voluntary association or individual biblical interpretation will lead to nothing but political and social unrest: "For privat conceits, as you may have yours, & I may have mine, a third, may have a third, and so on without end; must these be causes why every one of us must exclaime one upon another: and all of us agree in one to disturbe the Church? So there shall never be communion, never any order, & so consequently not any peace" (Right Hand, A3r).

Clapham equates the Separatists' desire for independence on matters of discipline with their irreverence towards all constituted authority: "And so, when they have separated from all, condemned all (good and bad ... condeming sic the substance of faith and manners all they must every head beginne a new field, a new Church, and all new. And because all are not of one mind, therefore every one begins a Church (spicke and span new) of a sundry fashion."90 Clapham defends the Church of England, by contrast, as a source of political and social order. Yes, the external church may have its faults. Yes, parishes might be filled with corrupt preachers and parishioners consumed with sin and error. But is this enough, he asks, to abandon the English church? Just as the visible government of the church does not guarantee a community of perfect christians, corruption within that same church does not condemn the entire government or community as Anti-Christian.91 Clapham denounces, as does King James, the extremes of Puritanism on one hand and popish error on the other, arguing instead for a mean between these radical positions in a true Christian "Catholicity."92

Clapham's dialogues employ the self-condemning speech, a technique as old as Plato and Lucian and used widely in Reformation and Counter-Reformation dialogue.93 This notion of a religious identity formed through language is crucial in Clapham's attacks on Separatist extremism. These voices, he tells us, have become nothing but a "multiple & variable noyse of language" (Right Hand, 74). Clapham knows there is nothing as damning or as funny as the intemperate speech of schismatics to bring their own arguments down: "by that forme of introducting sic them that is, in dialogue form in their mutuall brablings, wherein, as sometimes one of them confuteth another, so, much of their extravagant speech is so absurd ut recitare, idem est quod refutare. As the bare repetition is a sufficient refutation" (Left Hand, A5r-A6v). Like Ben Jonson's satiric treatment of Anabaptists and Puritans in his plays, Clapham's characters are filled with words, words and more words. "We We that have travailled externall Regions," Libertine says in a tremendous understatement, "delight in discourse" (Left Hand, 19). These characters are consumed with a precise language of their own devising, and obsessed with definition and usage. The Legatine-Arian, for example, becomes caught up in his own fastidiousness when he tells Flyer he will use the word "substantially" instead of "essentially" when describing qualities of the true Christ. When Flyer warns him that these words are tainted with the Latin of papal Rome, the Legatine-Arian announces this cannot be helped, for language is marked by the intersection of social, religious and political forces: "as the Apostle could not sayle thorow the Seas, but in the Shippe whose badge was the prophaine Castor and Pollux; so, neither can wee sayle thorow these Discourses, but in wordes stamped with the image of the Beast" (Right Hand, 42-4).

Dialogue also allows Clapham to dramatize the more serious issue of how these "English factors" employ dissimulation through speech (a topic of great concern in the wake of the Gunpowder Plot and the controversies involving the Oath of Allegiance of 1606). With their claims of prophecy, their assurances of "true" Christian religion, and their pronunciations of a perfect belief separate from the established Church, these voices of Separatism cultivate insurrection and treachery. James made the same argument in his defense of the Oath that diversity in belief was nothing but a cloak for rebellion; in the language of the Oath, the subject acknowledges the authority of the king "in all his dominions," and he must declare that his conscience is free from any mental reservation. Clapham's Separatists are great dissemblers and equivocators, breaking oaths and re-defining their identity within institutional discourse in a strategy to survive within an hostile English society. The Libertine's and the Romaniste's arguments for equivocation and mental reservation are Clapham's examples of a Separatist identity constituted within what has been called the "realm of discursive privacy," that is, a self-contained religious identity detached from the legal, political and religious constraints surrounding it.94 Clapham wants to show how Separatists twist conventional meanings of language into contingency and instability.95 Clapham also ridicules the Separatists' lack of university training as another reason for their ignorance and their inability to lead the church. The Legatine-Arian and the Anabaptist proudly announce that they "care not a straw for Hebrew, Greeke, or Latin" and that they "hate this prophane learning and language" (Right Hand, 33).96 The rejection of these traditions cuts them free from the authority controlled by the magistrate and sustained by the ordinances of the Church.

There is a tension, however, between Clapham's delight in the dialogue and his uneasiness with the form's potential for giving "voice" to dissent in these "Dialogicall Prosopopiea" as he calls them. Clapham apologizes for putting the views of these "schismatikes" into print ("I grant that somethings be much unworthy," he confesses at the beginning of one dialogue, "both my writing & many their hearing" Left Hand, A2v). He also asks the reader to forgive the comic energy he devotes to his parody of Separatist voices: "consider it is but the naturall character of that spirit: and that it is but as a feeling of that spirites pulse, without any commemoration or dwelling upon it" (Right Hand, A3r). He repeatedly justifies his use of the dialogue as a weapon of religious controversy: "If thou canst well relish the Matter, but not the Maner of handling," he writes in the note to the reader in Errour on the Left Hand, "I then referre thee to my Antidoton, my New Jerusalem, my Manuall of the Bibles doctrine, together with divers of the heades, sparsed in my Bibles briefe, in my poeme Aelohim, and five parts of my labours of Salamons Song" (A5v-A5r).

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At the center of Clapham's broader polemical strategy in these dialogues is to explore moments of true and false conversion. Conversion narratives have been an important component of dialogues from their classical origins, for conversion is at the core of the dialogue form's fundamentally pedagogic and therapeutic strategy. Sixteenth-century protestant dialogues often dramatize the fact that godly identity is achieved through interrogation, and the path toward spiritual regeneration involves the peeling away of false identities.98 Separatist autobiography shares with mainstream puritan autobiography the centrality of moments of conversion. Barrow was transformed from a puritan to a Separatist position after his encounter with a book written by Browne and by further debate with Separatist leaders.99 Johnson's "conversion" to Separatism is another well-known example. Johnson, no friend of Separatism at the time, was ordered to burn one of Barrow's books in 1591 while he was a minister in Middelburg. Johnson saved two copies of the book from the flames, ostensibly so "that he might see their errors," but he was so impressed by their arguments that he sailed to London to confer with Barrow and Greenwood in prison, "after which conference he was so satisfied and confirmed in the truth," he stayed in London and was elected pastor of a Barrowist congregation in 1592.100 There are moments of true conversion in Clapham's dialogues; indeed, the general movement of both texts is the re-integration of Malcontent and Flyer back into the fold of the English Church through their final dialogic encounters with Mediocritie. Malcontent is told "for by thy conversion God will have his mercy made glorious; and therefore being converted, see thou also do help to strengthen thy brethren" (Left Hand, 66).

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Where most protestant polemical dialogues include one central conversion usually occuring in the final pages,101 Clapham's dialogues contain examples of multiple conversions, one after another, to dramatize the lightly held faith of these radicals. Engaging in dialogue (or "Dialoguizing" as one of his characters puts it) is crucial in the formation of a godly identity, but in Clapham's texts it can also mislead a wavering will. In every dialogic exchange in Clapham, there is a lingering uncertainty, a sense that godly identity is in continual flux, shaped easily by orthodoxy at one moment and heresy at another. Clapham wants to satirize claims by leading Separatists like John Robinson, who believed that just as "the inward, and invisible hand of the Spirit must seize, and take hold of the heart ... so must the Lord's outward, and visible hand, his Word, seize, and take hold of the outward man, at the least, and be effectual visibly and externally."102 Clapham instead shows how this self-possession urged by Separatists literally separates one's identity from oneself (in an opening monologue, Malcontent admits he is "divided in my selfe" Left Hand, 4) and how these false identities are formed through a language unhinged by zeal. In an earlier work, Clapham describes his own fall into Separatist thought as a series of misleading conversations, each pushing him into further and further stages of heresy,103 and within the fiction of his dialogues, Clapham shows how easily men and women can be fooled by those skilled in debate and disputation. Flyer, after talking a few minutes with Anabaptist, tells him he is ashamed of his previous religious associations, and declares "I firmely betake my selfe to your Fayth, till death us depart" (26). He declares the truth has suddenly burned into his heart, and he wants to jump into a "passage-Cart, and prophecie Fire upon England and all English Sectaries" (Right Hand, 27). A few pages later, however, after Flyer has listened to the Legatine-Arian/Anabaptist dialogue, he explains how in the course of "discoursing with the Anabaptist about Religion, I verily resolved to joyne with him and his Congregation. But perceiving by your Dialoguizing with him, that al is meere foolerie, to beleeve, that either Hee, or Brownist, or Mal-content, is of any true Church" (Right Hand, 36).

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Objections: Answered, a dialogue between "Christian" (Murton's representative), "Antichristian" (the voice of the Church of England), and "Indifferent Man" (an ambivalent figure who is of course persuaded by Christian's argument in the course of their talk), dramatizes how open, free debate on controversial issues leads to the discovery of truth. This extends to the broader issue of persecution: "And instead of disputing and writing by the word and Spirit of Christ against their adversaries," Christian comments, "the King's magistrates will cruelly persecute and fight by fire and sword" (47-8). Christian regrets the impact that forced exile has had upon his brotherhood. When the leading lights of reform fly to Holland, he remarks sadly, they "deprive many poor ignorant souls in their own nation of their information, and of their conversation amongst them" (176 - emphasis added). Dialogue for Murton is a model of spiritual self-examination, a part of those exercises of teaching, reading and debate crucial in the development of a community of godly believers.

Murton tells us he chose to write his work "dialogue-wise" because "first, for the understanding of the simple, to whom especially God's mysteries appertain, more than to the wise and prudent of the world. Secondly, because all the objections that we have met with, might be set down, and the plainlier answered."112 The use of dialogue as a way of instructing the young or the "simple" is a common justification in dialogues of this period;113 what is interesting here is Murton's claim that the inclusion of opposing arguments is the best method of answering them once and for all, a common sentiment in many Separatist writings, and, as we have seen, an important element in the exercise of prophesy. Murton also chooses the dialogue form because it can literally enact the mutual coming together so important to separatists.114 Smyth, Helwys, Murton and their followers broke from an older Separatism which held that the church was a covenant of the elect, to a more radical view that believer's baptism, as a sign of voluntary conversion, was the true sign of this covenant. The narrative movement of Murton's dialogue reflects this fellowship as the foundation of the church. By contrast, in the government's catechism-like dialogue, God and the King, the movement of the talk is the Pupil's ("Philalethes") acquisition of a higher knowledge (theological and political) embodied by the figure of the Teacher ("Theodidactus"). The Proclamation announcing the publication of this text explains that the dialogue is "fit for the capacitie of Youth, whereby in their tender yeeres, the trueth of that Doctrine may be bred and setled in them, and thereby they the better armed, and prepared to withstand any perswasions, which in their riper yeeres may bee offered and used towards them, for the corrupting of them, in their duetie and Allegiance."115 (I pity the Scottish schoolchildren who were commanded to memorize this tedious tract.) God and the King interweaves royal discourse into its own argument (like Murton's dialogue, it too includes the full text of the Oath of Allegiance), and it also emphasizes how dialogue or "conference" can clarify complicated political and religious issues. In the course of explicating the language of the Oath and its application to the conscience, there are moments of insight from the Pupil: "I confesse I do conceive the principal contents of the oath more clearly than before" (30), Philalethes says at one point. "And so at length," Theodidactus says at the close, " I have proved unto you that nothing can free subjects from their fidelity and allegiance unto their prince" (84). Throughout this "conference" the two figures work out the state-as-household metaphor ("as the husband is the head of the wife, so is the Prince of his subjects," Theodidactus intones in the opening pages 2-3; 19) and the rest of the work develops the implications of this formula: the King's absolute prerogative in spiritual and ecclesiastical affairs and the subject's duty to the prince.116

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Religious identity in Objections: Answered is something joined to the State through political, and not religious, affiliation. As Murton explains in the Epistle, only God is the "lawgiver to the soul" (100). True religion, Christian insists, is activated "by the hearing of the word of God" and not the compulsion of any earthly authority. The Oath requires only civil, and not spiritual, obedience (135). While Christian acknowledges the authority of the King's "earthly magistrates," should those same magistrates compel him to attend church services, he would only bring his body, and not his "willing mind" (113). When Antichristian answers that treason will follow if freedom of religion is granted, Christian answers in a twofold way: first, those who practice reform in religion come in peace, and not in treachery; and second, he repeats his position that treason in fact is generated by religious compulsion. Christian pushes this idea further in a remarkable passage where he claims that if Catholics were given freedom of religion, they would in fact become obedient subjects. Look to other nations, he tells Antichristian, "where no such compulsion is used; for if papists might have freedom in their religion unto their faithful allegiance to the king, the fear of the king's laws would make them live more inoffensively in that respect" (114). In contrast to the positions put forward in God and the King, where the subjects' relation to his prince is one of subjugation and obedience in a hierarchy of royal power and control, in Objections: Answered, this relationship is seen as more cooperative, at least in the realm of religious conscience. Just as subjects must be faithful and obedient unto their prince, Christian argues, so should princes be "just and equal" to all their subjects; for his lord bishops to excommunicate and punish for religion is to become just like the Pope and his "bloody" practices (116-17).

It would be a mistake to characterize these early baptist calls for religious toleration as evidence of the forces unleashed by the Reformation and Christian Humanism, forces that in turn led to advances in liberal thought, climaxing with expressions of religious freedom in seventeeth-century New England, as historians have often done.128 Separatist and Anabaptist codes of tolerance and religious liberty were hardly expansive or inclusionary in the modern sense.129 As a recent collection of essays published by Cambridge University Press a few years ago demonstrated, early modern claims of toleration must be considered in their political and social contexts. Demands for pluralism of religious practice or liberty of conscience are invoked more often than not for pragmatic, and not higher philosophic, reasons. As Andrew Pettegree argues in his essay on the Dutch Republic in that book, the call for toleration "was likely to be the party cry of the disappointed or the dispossessed."130

Murton's dialogue surely fits into this category. In his Epistle he writes of laying in "filthy prisons, in hunger, cold, idleness, divided from wife, family, calling, left in continual miseries" (97). One of the scholars of the dissenting tradition in England has written that the publication of Objections: Answered probably made little impression, as English Anabaptists were generally perceived as a splinter group of no real importance in the threat to conformity.131 "Mainstream" puritans (including those in Amsterdam like the non-separatist English Reformed Church based in Begijnhof) increased their hostility to separatists because of their potential for tearing apart the community of the godly. And intercenine battles within the various Separatist congregations raged in pamphlet wars for all to read. By Murton's death in 1626, the movement had seriously lost momentum in England.132 This is not to call into question Murton's high principles. There is an intensity to this dialogue's message, and unlike the separatist tracts of Henry Jacob or Robinson or Busher, Murton's argument for a wide-ranging religious liberty is strong and made without concessions to the civil powers. But as he wrote Objections: Answered in prison, Murton must have realized a full dialogue with the King and his bishops would be an impossibility. James' rejection of nonconformity at the Hampton Court and his equally strong dismissal of concerns about "Christian liberty" (a phrase he said "smelt very rankly of anabaptism") made the crown's hostility to more vigorous reform quite clear.133 Still, Murton writes his dialogue as a way of imagining consensus on the liberty of the conscience, and by extension, a foundation for communicating with the King. The consensus reached by his fictional characters is thus a strategy of legitimization; for Murton, the possibility of dialogue is the pre-condition both he and the King must acknowledge if dialogue can take place at all.

I have used the intersection of the tradition of the prophesyings and the deployment of dialogue as a literary form in the polemical literature as an heuristic device to explore issues of godly identity and liberty of conscience given voice in the controversies over Separatism in the early Stuart Church. As we have seen, Clapham and Murton choose the dialogue form for different reasons when they engaged with these issues. For Clapham, dialogue allows him to mock the voices of Separatist extremists who claim "gifts" of prophesy; it also allows him to dramatize the spiritual journey of an individual who disentangles himself from the lures of Separatism and who seeks the broader circle of believers found in the English Church. Holland is a world of shifting identities in Clapham's dialogues, where lost souls are consumed by a heresy shaped through language: "All the time was there taken up," Flyer tells Mediocritie, "the matter of the Tongue ... I am sure, that a man can not passe there by the by-way, but he shall be assaulted with one transformed spirit or another" (Left Hand, 57). Flyer prays that the wandering souls he has encountered will become, one day, "as one flocke, under that one great Archbishoppe of our soules, Christ Jesus" (Left Hand, 63). As Clapham notes to the reader, Mediocritie embodies this force for unification and peace, "a Meane; which held and kept according to knowledge may keepe our people from flying out into extreames" (Left Hand, A6v). The point is pushed further when the dialogue of Error on the Left Hand changes to monologue in the final pages, where Clapham's voice joins with the authoritative voice of the Church of England. For Murton, the literary form works on two levels: Dialogue illustrates how open debate can lead to truth (especially on issues of religious freedom and individual conscience), and it also dramatizes the mutual coming together so important to Separatist worship. Murton sees his dialogue as progressive, in that words are redefined, objections are answered, and an eventual consensus by his "faithful subjects" is reached. But this is a consensus only possible without the threat of persecution. Like the prophesyings, Clapham's and Murton's dialogues value disputation as a defense of truth and as a weapon in the confutation of error; like the prophesyings, they engage in systematic and comparative analysis of a wide variety of texts to defend their positions; like the prophesyings, both foreground the process of debate and conference as a method of instruction and assent - to the auditory in the case of the preaching exercises, and to the reader in the case of the printed works. In his letter to Grindal, William Bradbridge, Bishop of Exeter, believed that the public performance of the prophesyings, as a method of instruction, were more powerful than even the sermon: "The dyversitye of translacions conferred together, the interpretacion of the tonges and the severall gyftes that men have in the utterance, do the more delighte the auditorye and pierceth depelier more deeply the sences then the spech of one mouthe at one tyme."134 Clapham and Murton could make the same claims of the persuasive power of their own texts. The invocation of dialogue by both writers is a polemical strategy in the effort to establish authority, an authority conceived as univocal and united with the Word of God.

1 Henry Barrow, A Briefe Discoverie of the False Church (The Writings of Henry Barrow 1587-1590. Leland H. Carlson, ed. Elizabethan Nonconformist Texts, Vol. III. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1962), 524-25.

2 For Elizabethan prophesyings, see Strype, Annals of the Reformation (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1824), II:i 133-40; II:ii 612-13; III:i 476-79; A. F. Scott Pearson, Thomas Cartwright and Elizabethan Puritanism (Cambridge UP, 1925), 155-57; M. M. Knappen, Tudor Puritanism (Chicago and London: Chicago UP, 1965), 253-357; Irvonwy Morgan, The Godly Preachers of the Elizabethan Church (London: Epworth P, 1965), 68-101; and Patrick Collinson, Elizabethan Puritan Movement (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California P, 1967), 168 ff. For an example of an exercise as conducted by a puritan faction at Norwich, which included "the parity of all brethren" and where the proceedings were open to all "whom God should move," see Elizabethan Puritan Movement, 213.

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7 William Burton, Seven Dialogues, pithie and profitable London, 1606 STC 10457, A3r.

8 Collinson, "Lectures by Combination," 497; see also John Spurr, English Puritanism: 1603-1689 (London: Macmillan P, 1998), 68-9.

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13 "For if anie such guiftes spring up in any," Robert Harrison writes in A Treatise of the Church, "for want of stiring up of such guiftes & practicing it is quenched as the talent hidden in the ground, so that their parishioners are not by these guiftes & callinges joyned together as felow members, or knit by tehse as by the sinews & bandes of the Church" (The Writings of Harrison & Browne. Albert Peel and Leland H. Carlson, eds. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1953, 36).

14 "Likewise an order was agreed on ffor their meetinges together, ffor their exercises therin, as for praier, thanckes giving, reading of the scriptures, for exhortation and edifiing, ether by all men which had the guift, or by those which had a speciall charge before others. And for the lawefulnes off putting forth questions, to learne the trueth, as iff anie thing seemed doubtful & hard, to require some to shew it more plainly, or for anie to shew it him selfe & to cause th rest to understand it." See Champlin Burrage, The Early English Dissenters, 2 Vols. (New York: Russell & Russell, 1967), 1:98.

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16 This desire to remove all sense of repetition is made clear in Barrow's response to Bishop Aylmer and Lord Burghley in 1588/9, when he stated that prayer should not be "tied to any place, manner, time nor form"; "Prayer," he continued, "I take to be a confident demanding which faith maketh through the Holy Ghost according to the will of God" (quoted by Edward H. Bloomfield, in The Opposition to the English Separatists, 1570-1625 Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1981, 11-12).

17 Barrow, 526-27.

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19 Seconde Parte of a Register Albert Peel, ed. (Cambridge UP, 1915), 1:133-34. Grindal argues for the same humanist foundations of the prophesyings in his letter to the Queen: "Men Men must attaine to the knowledge of the Hebrewe, Greeke, and Latin tongues, &c., by travell and studie, God giving the increase. So must they also attaine by like meanes to the guift of expounding and interpreting the Scriptures. And amongst other helpes, nothing is so necessarie at those above-named exercises and conferences amongst the ministers of the church" (Lehmberg, 136-37).

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46 Elizabethan Puritan Movement, 193.

47 Lehmberg, 124.

48 "For For that the poore vulgar people, whome it was fitter to have bene at their labours and occupations, leaving their ordinarie parishes, resorted thither from places farre distant, to heare matters and points of divinite disputed and decided farre unfit for their capacitie, fearing least some Schisme growing hereby, thorough the diversitie of opinions should have a daungerous sequeale, to the disturbance of her Majesties most peaceable government" (Seconde Parte of a Register, I: 153).

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62 William Barlow, The Summe and Substance of the Conference London, 1604 (English Experience No. 711 (Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1975), 78-9. For the type of reforms Reynolds was proposing, involving provincial and national synods, see Frederick Shriver, "Hampton Court Re-visited: James I and the Puritans," Journal of Ecclesiastical History 33:1 (1982), 60. On James' proficiency at debate, see Barlow's passage, for example, on the ending of day one of the conference, where James is described as the greatest of scholars, able to "outstrip" any learned man present (20). See also Jenny Wormald, "James VI and I: Two Kings or One?" History 68 (1983), 188. See also James' well-known letter to Henry Howard, Earl of Northampton about the conference, where the King ridiculed the puritans' dialectical abilities: "if any of them had been in a college disputing with their scholars, if any of their disciplies had answered them in that sort, they would have fetched him up in a place of a reply; and so should the rod have plied upon the poor boys' buttocks" (Strype's Life of Whitgift III:407-8).

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78 Charles Odingsells, Prophesying, casting out of devils, and miracles: briefly discoursed in two sermons London, 1619, STC 18783 1620 reprint.

79 Prophesyings ..., A3r.

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82 See Smyth's Parallels, Censures, Observations (1609): "I do therefor Proclame you Richard Bernard unto the whole land to be one of the most fearful Apostates of the whole nation that excepting Thomas Whyte, & Clapham, you have no Superior nor equal that I know or remember" (cited in Burrage, 197 n2).

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91 Henoch Clapham, A Chronologicall Discourse touching, 1 The church. 2 Christ. etc. Collected about 10 or 11 yeares since (as may be gathered by an epistle but now digested into better order; and first published, by the author himselfe (London, 1609), STC 5336, B2v.

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