we humbly submit this and all our other actions, concerning our calling, to the judgement of our most venerable mother the Church of England, from whose sacred rule, we vow that we have not swerved, nor any whit impeached her discipline, or authorized doctrine, either abroad or at home.Attestation of the English delegates at Dort
Cambridge and the King
The delegates returned from Dort with a commemorative gold medal and, no doubt, high hopes of preferment. Just how much more they had to show for their efforts is a moot point. The King made it quite clear that Ward, Davenant and the rest were not expected to bring back new certainties and definitions in their baggage. Ward had already been repeatedly reminded of the dangers of prying into ‘high mysteries’. John Young, the Dean of Winchester, had written to him at Dort, ‘I am sorry to hear that this contention about these abstruse points suld come there to be talked of so openly even by the vulgar of both sides.’
Young, like the King, thought the secrets of God should be discussed only in the school or, ‘but sparingly’, in the pulpit. Ward had also had to endure a lecture from Arthur Lake, Bishop of Bath and Wells, on the importance of pragmatism and had been warned of the dangers of speculation: ‘if you insert any problems that may be canvassed Pro and Con you do but sow the seeds of contention’.
Whatever insights the English delegates at Dort had gained they were reminded that they saw but in a glass, darkly.
The men and women who brooded over the divine decrees were now in a difficult position. On the one hand, the King was telling them that what they thought was certain was, in truth, just speculation, and on the other, he was saying that speculation was improper. The point was made over and over again. In 1616 James issued a new set of Directions for the better control of preaching. The university inevitably responded with a display of frantic loyalty, seizing its chance when poor Ralph Brownrigg unwittingly offered himself as a sacrificial victim. Early in 1618 Brownrigg, a young fellow of Pembroke, had got into conversation, in his college room, with David Owen, Robert Byng and Humphrey Henchman, all fellows of Clare.