The story of the many attempts made in the interval by " forward " or advanced Puritans to secure vital religious fellowship within the queen's Church, and of the few cases in which these shaded off into practical Separatism, is still wrapped in some obscurity.
After the execution of Greenwood, Barrow and the ex-Puritan Penry (a recent recruit to Separatism), in the spring of 1593, it seemed to some that Separatism was " in effect extinguished."
Separatism was now passing into Congregationalism, 2 both in sentiment and in language.
This comes out in the writings both of Robinson and of Henry Jacob, both of whom passed gradually from Puritanism to Separatism at a time when the silencing of some 300 Puritan clergy by the Canons of 1604, and the exercise of the royal supremacy under Archbishop Bancroft, brought these " brethren of the Second Separation " into closer relations with the earlier Separatists.
He found their religious life too formal, external and worldly; and they could not sanction his comparative indifference to doctrinal correctness and his incurable tendency to separatism in church life.
Separatism was non-existent, for the cogent reason that there was no point toward which a new irredenta could gravitate: the Habsburg cause had no adherents, save a few discredited traitors who congregated in Graz and Vienna: and communism, which was quite alien to an agrarian and peasant-owned State, owed its passing success to the aftermath of war and the blunders of the middle class rather than to its own attractions.
Richman, Rhode Island: Its Making and Meaning, 1636-1683 (2 vols., 1902), and Rhode Island: A Study in Separatism (Boston and New York, 1905).
Brigham, in Field, III., pp. 65181; and Richman, in A Study in Separatism, pp. 353-85.
He held fast to the great idea of the catholicity of the English Church, to that conception of it which regards it as a branch of the whole Christian church, and emphasizes its historical continuity and identity from the time of the apostles, but here again his policy was at fault; for his despotic administration not only excited and exaggerated the tendencies to separatism and independentism which finally prevailed, but excluded large bodies of faithful churchmen from communion with their church and from their country.