The pretext for this thesis was the notoriety which
both Eliot and Baxter received over the publication of political
treatises. Subsequent history has overlooked these facts and
remembered them for other achievements. Our task was to determine the idea of the Holy Commonwealth visualised by these eminent
Puritan divines. Accordingly, the method of treatment followed was:
1. To investigate the history of the two books which most concerned
us ana to state the relevant facts about the authors' lives and
contemporary history; 2. To make a detailed summary of the main
characteristics of the ideal commonwealths described in these
books; 3. To evaluate and compare these theories with the history
of political thought up to John Locke.
Eliot's pamphlet 'The Christian Commonwealth was republican in character and brought him into conflict with the authorities in Massachusetts immediately after the Restoration.
Baxter's A Holy Commonwealth appeared in 1659 and at once it
involved him in bitter controversy. Both authors revoked their
The main conclusions of the investigation are as
1. Eliot's contribution to Puritan political theory was most
Utopian, and like many theocracies assumed that the form of
organisation of the commonwealth was all-important. His Scripture government
deduced from the Old Testament revealed little knowledge
of political philosophy. However, it did reflect the optimism and
republican sentiments of the Puritans in New England.
2. Baxter was an able exponent of Natural Law and had great [page missing]