An incomplete Reformation had failed to settle the question of religion, and allowed the growth of Puritanism [4] and Catholicism, which threatened the established Church, and in a world of treatises advocating regicide with religio-political justification, the extremes of confessional extremities presented a dormant threat to the State. Traditionally, James I has been scathingly attacked as King of England. Only recently have historians begun to reappraise this distorted view and re-examine James' achievements and realise the hidden Elizabethan legacy of decay.

[4. Puritans: Strict English Protestants of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, though the term is ambiguous and its meaning changed according to circumstances. In general Puritans were pious in all aspects of daily life: family, work and society. The typical Puritan was a morally upstanding figure in society, austere and valuing censorship where views became offensive, especially religiously, and independent-minded. Puritans put great emphasis on the Bible - the value of reading the Word of God to embellish the individual understanding of divine will. Further Puritans stressed sermonising and family prayer. Puritanism has often been described as a lonely approach to religion, with its stress on individual efforts to reach a greater understanding of God. However there were strong bonds among Puritans - within the family and within the congregation. Puritans cannot be defined as English Calvinists as the Church of England was sufficiently Calvinist in its doctrines; rather the essential difference is to be found in beliefs about how the Church should be governed. Under Elizabeth I Puritans voiced their concerns that the Reformation was incomplete in England, particularly resentful of remnants of Roman Catholicism, in church ceremony and episcopal government. These, Puritans believed, had to be purged if the true religion was to emerge in England.

When the Puritans were ordered to conform to the established Church by bishops such as John Whitgift, they started to doubt the divinity of episcopacy. Thereafter many Puritans began to argue for Presbyterianism, with its foundations in the organisation of the early Christian Church as described in the Bible. Often 'Puritan' has been applied to describe those Protestants who were more radical than Presbyterians. This is particularly so of the mid-seventeenth century, when radical sects argued for the godly reformation of society, and a church that only encompassed a 'community of the elect'. The belief of the English as 'God's chosen people' was particularly strong during the Civil Wars. The Parliamentarians who adhered to such 'Puritan' outlooks turned to Providence as an indicator of the divinity of the 'good old cause'. Under the early Stuarts, Puritans were those who opposed the encroachment of Arminianism in the Church of England. However if Puritans were those who opposed Arminians within the Church, they were also opponents from without - the Presbyterians and Independents, and beyond, the radical religious sects. However the term somewhat looses it clarity and usefulness of application during the Civil Wars as radical Protestantism fragmented and diversified: opponents of the Anglican Westminster Assembly of Divines were labelled 'Dissenters', and the most radical groups known as 'sectaries'.]

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