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MEMORABLE EVENTS AND DATES

The Commonwealth in England .
George Fox began his public preaching

1649-1660

1648

CONTENTS OF CHAPTER VI

Spirit of Intolerance, Cromwell on-Measures against Anabaptistry -Clarke, Crandall, and Holmes--Imprisonment, fines, and whipping -Baptist Church in Charlestown-Cessation of persecutionBaptism and Anabaptism-Law-abiding Baptists protected—Quakers persecuted, imprisoned, banished, scourged, mutilated, put to death-Indignation provoked by these cruelties, Rhode Island refused to persecute, nevertheless suffered for its lenity-Quakerism provoked Roger Williams--Ranters not Quakers--Gross excessesError of rulers, Lodge and Lowell on-Massachusetts specially chargeable with intolerance, Goldwin Smith on-Roger Williams banished, not for religion but for political reasons-Puritan leaders intolerant, Endicott, Cotton, Ward, Winthrop, Dudley-Sir H.Vane's hatred of Intolerance-Popular feeling in Massachusetts against oppression-Massachusetts increased in tolerance as with strengthThe Pilgrim Fathers not persecutors–Sewel's blunder-Growth of tolerance in New Plymouth--Puritans and Puritans-DoyleSaturday Review.

CHAPTER VI

THE GROWTH OF INTOLERANCE IN NEW ENGLAND

It would be an obvious and, indeed, inexcusable omission in a history professing even in barest outline, to exhibit the growth of the Puritan theocracy in New England, did it contain no allusion to the spirit of exclusiveness which gradually became grafted upon it, and culminated at length in active and bitter persecution. We have already seen one or two portentous manifestations of this spirit. We have seen how two of the early emigrants were banished from Salem because they were Churchmen, and how Massachusetts cast out Roger Williams, Mrs. Hutchinson, and others because their opinions had become too extreme to be tolerated. We shall find, as we investigate the matter further, fresh and melancholy confirmation of what has been often observed in connection with struggling religious parties, that those who have themselves suffered the evil and misery of oppression, are nothing loth in the day of their power to inflict like suffering upon others. “Every sect saith, 'Oh, give me liberty!' But give it to him, and (to his power) he will not yield it to anybody else. Is it ingenuous to ask liberty and not to give it? What greater hypocrisy than for those who were oppressed by

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the bishops to become the greatest oppressors themselves so soon as their yoke was removed ?1

We do not propose to attempt anything like a descrịption of the ecclesiastical controversies which at successive periods during the seventeenth century agitated the Church life of New England. There are two, however, which we must not pass over, not only because of their importance, but because they were the occasion of much heart-burning, and have done more to excite prejudice against the Fathers of New England than all the other “ evil and uncomfortable occurrents” (to use Cotton Mather's phrase) which were so rife during that century. These were the Baptist and the Quaker controversy.

Persecution of Baptists. —. The first Baptist Church in America was founded, as we have seen, by Roger Williams; but independently of Williams it is manifest, from the nature of the soil, that among such a plentiful crop of heresies as Rhode Island got the credit of producing, “Anabaptistry” was not likely to be wanting. It was inevitable, too, that the seed should be carried into the colony of Massachusetts, if it did not spring there independently on its own account. Anyhow, the seed was sown there also, for in 1644 we find Winthrop writing : “Anabaptistry increased and spread in the country, which occasioned the magistrates at the last Court to draw up an order 2 for banishing such as continued obstinate after due conviction.” The austere and intolerant Endicott was then governor of the

1 Cromwell's Letters and Speeches.
2 Palfrey's History of New England, vol. ii. p. 346.

colony. Some years after the passing of this order, John Clarke, who had been educated as a physician, and was now the pastor of the first Baptist Church in Newport, accompanied by two friends, Crandall and Holmes, went on a visit to the house of an old friend and fellowBaptist at Lynn, ten miles from Boston. The sequel proved that this was indeed putting their head into the lion's den, or rather, into the lion's mouth. The next day being Sunday, they agreed to have a religious service among themselves, and while Clarke was speaking, two constables entered the house and arrested them. They were hauled off to the meeting-house of the town, and when the service was over, Clarke rose and asked leave to “propose a few things to the congregation.” This was, of course, forbidden. Next morning they were all brought before the magistrate, and sentenced to be iinprisoned in the jail at Boston. The day after, they were brought before Governor Endicott, who reviled them with being Anabaptists, their answer to which was summarily cut short, and they were each of them fined, Clarke £20, Holmes £30, and Crandall £5, and in default of payment, “ each was to be well whipped.” A friend came forward to pay the fine on behalf of Clarke; but Holmes, refusing to avail himself of help so little to his mind, was subjected to the humiliation of being whipped. It does not appear that any further penalty of the like kind was inflicted upon persons embracing and professing Baptist views For years the law against Baptists remained practically a dead letter. In 1665, however, a Baptist Church was organised in Charlestown, which ultimately became the first Baptist Church of Boston,

and its action in receiving to its communion those who had been excommunicated by other Churches appears to have led the authorities to deal with it in very summary fashion. Five of its members were disfranchised, and two were sent to prison, where they remained for nearly a year.

Three of the leaders were sentenced to be banished. No further proceedings appear to have been instituted against the members of this sect, for two years after we have the testimony of the agents of the colony in England to the effect: “As for the Anabaptists, they are now subject to no other penal statutes than those of the Congregational way.” 1

It is not at first sight easy to explain why, for holding the apparently harmless opinion that infants are not fit subjects for baptism (the question of immersion does not seem to have figured in the controversy), Christian men should have been subjected to persecution or suffering. It seems to exhibit the spirit of intolerance in its very worst form. But it must be borne in mind that to the Puritans of that day baptism was not the innocuous seeming creed which it is to us. It was identified with Anabaptism, and Anabaptism had a history behind it full of terrorising significance. In the sixteenth century Baptism or Anabaptism (for practically there was no attempt to discriminate between them) gave the name to one of the wildest and fiercest sects ever bred within the pale of the Christian Church."

The mem

2

1 Palfrey's History, vol. ii. p. 486.

2 “Anabaptism," says Jeremy Taylor, in his famous argument for liberty, “is as much to be rooted out as anything that is the greatest pest and nuisance to the public interest.”

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