In his “Discourse of Ecclesiastical Polity” Samuel Parker
decried religious toleration as unfriendly to social order, and attempted
to blacken the character of the Nonconformists. Owen was chosen to reply
to Parker, which he did in one of the noblest controversial treatises that
were ever penned by him. The mind of Owen seems to have been whetted by his
deep sense of wrong, and he writes with a remarkable clearness and force of
argument; while he indulges at times in a style of irony that is perhaps
justified by the baseness and wickedness of Parker’s sentiments.