A Holy Commonwealth was written in 1659 by the Puritan minister
Richard Baxter (1615-91), and proved to be the most controversial
of all his works. He publicly repudiated it in 1670, and in 1683
the Oxford University authorities ordered it to be part of a
book-burning that included the works of Hobbes and Milton. The
scandal that surrounded it has obscured its merits as the most
candid of confessions as to why a conservative Puritan fought for
Parliament in the Civil War and gave his support to the Cromwells.
The views it expresses are at variance with the cautious
explanations given in Baxter's later memoirs (now seen as a less
reliable source than past commentators have presumed). This edition
of A Holy Commonwealth makes available to modern readers a work
which offers a unique perspective on the relation between church
and magistrate and the origins of the English Civil War.
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