28 INTRODUCTION. pinion. Having made application to certain persons of distinguished eminence, the business was laid before the parliament ; and during this year, six bills were brought into the house ofcommons, to promote a Maher reformation of the church. They were warmly supported by many eminent statesmen, and one of them passed the house ; but coming up to the lords, it met with some opposition ; and by the superior power and influence of the bishops, it was cast out.,. Through the heavy oppressions of the prelates, many .of the puritans, both ministers and others, withdrew from the national church, and set up their separate assemblies. They laid aside the ecclesiastical ceremonies and the Book of Common Prayer,. and worshipped God in a way which to - them appeared more agreeable to the word of God. The reason assigned for their separation was, " that the ceremo- nies of antichrist were so tied to the service of God, that no one might preach, -or administer the sacraments without them, being compelled to observe these things by law." If the use of the habits and certain ceremonies had been left discretionary, both ministers and people would no doubt have been easy. This being denied, they entered into a serious consultation, when they came to this conclusion : " That, since they could not hive the word of God preached, nor the sacraments administered, without idola- trous ;ear; and since there had been a separate congre- gation in London, and another at Geneva, in Queen Mary's time, which used abook and order of preaching, adminis- tration of the sacraments and discipline, which the great Mr. Calvin approved of, and which was freed from the superstitions of the English service : that therefore it was their duty in their present circumstances, to break off from the public churches, and to assemble as they had opportu- nity in private houses, or elsewhere, to worship God in a manner that might not offend their consciences."+ This was about the year 1566, and was the sera of that SEPA- nArrrox from the church of England which continues to this day. The chief leaders of the separation were Messrs. Cole- man, Button, lialingham, Benson, and Hawkins, all, ac- cording to Fuller, active and zealous nonconformists, beneficed within the diocese of London.t. Notwithstanding 4. MS. Remarks, p. 463. + Parte of a Register, p. 25.-Strype's Parker, p.241,242. I: Fuller's Church Hist. b. ix. p. 81.