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which controlled their decisions were so deeply seated in the character of their party, that the doctrine and discipline established at Salem remained the rule of Puritan New England.” i
It was not to be expected, in so mixed a body of colonists, that this doctrine and discipline would secure perfect conformity. There were those who were favourers of Prelacy, and were sincerely attached to “the Common Prayer worship.” These naturally took umbrage at what they regarded as an unwarrantable invasion of their liberty. “You are Separatists,” they said to their fellowcolonists, “and you will shortly be Anabaptists.” separate,” was the answer, “not from the Church of England, but from its corruptions. We came away from the Common Prayer and ceremonies in our native land, where we suffered much for nonconformity; in this place of liberty we cannot, we will not use them. Their imposition would be a sinful violation of the worship of God.” The stronger party proceeded by force to suppress the convictions of the weaker,—thus showing how, in their zeal for freedom, men may be recreant to the very genius of freedom,—and they seized upon the two leaders of the episcopal section, and at the instance of Endicott, who told them that New England was no place for such as they,” shipped them off to England by the first returning vessel. They were banished from Salem because they were Churchmen.
For such summary retaliation no defence can be offered.?
1 Bancroft's History of the United States, vol. i. p. 262; in revised edition, pp. 271-272, in which the phraseology is slightly altered.
2 Yet Dr. Palfrey, in his History of New England, vol. i. pp. 299, 300, does essay to defend it. “The right of the Governor and Com
the first upcropping of the persecuting spirit in New England.
The Fathers of New Plymouth Puritans and Separatists.—A very sharp line of distinction is sometimes drawn between the religious, or, speaking more strictly, the ecclesiastical position of the early colonists of Massachusetts and the Pilgrim Fathers of Plymouth. It is maintained that the inclusion among the former of Episcopalians and Presbyterians and Conpany of Massachusetts Bay to exclude at their pleasure dangerous or disagreeable persons from their domain they never regarded as questionable, any more than a householder doubts his right to determine who shall be the inmates of his home. No civilised man had a right to come or to be within their chartered limits except themselves and such others as they, in the exercise of an absolute discretion, saw fit to harbour. . . . Religious intolerance, like every other public restraint, is criminal wherever it is not needful for the public safety; it is simply self-defence whenever tolerance would be public ruin." True, but who will maintain that the safety of the colony was endangered by the presence of “one, two, or more surpliced priests conducting worship in accordance with the Book of Common Prayer"? It is probably quite true that behind the surpliced priest the colonists saw the intolerance of Laud and the despotism of the Court of High Commission ; but seeing that the surpliced priest had no power to threaten them with either the one or the other, they might just as well have left him alone. It is not pretended that these men were guilty of insubordination or of not being “conformable to the government.” Had that been any ground of accusation against them, they should have been dealt with, not as Churchmen, but as rebels. As Churchmen (Dr. Palfrey's specious pleading notwithstanding) justice and religious toleration required they should be protected, and the rulers of the colony could well have afforded to extend toleration to them. “Master, we saw one casting out devils in Thy name, and we forbade him, because he followeth not with us." Will Dr. Palfrey say that this exorcist was a dangerous or disagreeable person, whom the disciples had a perfect right to "exclude," or interdict? The Master had a very different opinion.
formists parts them by a deep and wide gulf from the uncompromising Separatists who had come over in the Mayflower. The distinction certainly needs to be borne in mind, but in our judgment it is not of that vital importance which is sometimes claimed for it. It does not seem to us that much is gained by contending that the Pilgrim Fathers were not Puritans, but Separatists. We know no valid or sufficient reason for refusing them their right of inheritance in the great name and traditions of Puritanism. They were both Puritans and Separatists. It were as unreasonable to deny their right to be called Protestants. The Separatists in the Puritan party were only extreme Puritans; they were the vanguard of the Puritan host, that is to say, they carried their zeal for reform and purity of doctrine and worship to its implied and, as they believed, necessary conse
1 See pamphlet entitled, The Pilgrim Fathers neither Puritans nor Persecutors. A Lecture delivered at the Friends Institute, London, on the 18th January 1866. Reprinted in 1891, with Preface, by the late Benjamin Scott, Esq., F.R.A.S., Chamberlain of the City of London. Third edition. (Elliot Stock.) Mr. Scott makes much of the hostility existing between Puritan and Separatist—the fact that the former was sometimes more bitter against Separatism than against Prelacy or Popery-as an evidence of the marked and radical difference between them, but this by no means sustains his contention. It is unhappily only too common for those who are members of the same household of faith, whether in politics or in religion, to regard each other with inveterate dislike. The feeling which the Whig sometimes has for the Radical and the Radical for the Whig, the feeling which the general Baptist sometimes has for the strict Baptist, and the strict Baptist for the general, not to speak of numerous other instances, should have led him, we think, to suspect the conclusiveness of such evidence. The old classification of “moderate” Puritans and “rigid " Puritans (see Fletcher's History of Independency, vol. iii. p. 28), or Puritans and Puritan Separatists, seems on every ground to be preferred to that of Puritans and Separatists.
quence. To borrow a political illustration, the Whigs may be said to compose the right, and the Radicals the left wing of the Liberal party, but the right of both to be designated Liberals is allowed and recognised. In the same way there is no reason to deviate from traditional usage in regarding those who were zealous for separation from the Church of England as members of the great Puritan party.
But there are other reasons why this distinction should not be pressed, and not the least influential is that derived from the character of New Plymouth Independency, as impressed upon it by Robinson. Quoting once more from the memorable address: “Another thing he commanded to us that we should use all means to avoid and shake off the name of Brownist, being a mere nickname and brand to make religion odious and the professors of it odious to the Christian world. For," said he, “there will be no difference between the unconformable ministers and you when they come to the practice of ordinances out of the kingdom.” This prediction was literally fulfilled. Separatists and conforming Puritans, as they were called, found no difficulty in composing their differences on the free soil of New England. The fact
1 « The English Reformation was brought about, as every other great change is brought about, by the co-operation of two classes of men, who are, on the whole, content with the principles by which they have hitherto guided their lives, though they think some changes ought to be made in matters of detail ; and those who start upon an entirely new principle, and who strive to realise an ideal society which commends itself to their own minds. They answer, in short, to the Whigs and Radicals of modern political life, whilst the Conservatives are represented by a third class, averse to all change whatever.”—Gardiner's Puritan Revolution, p. 1.
that there was no Church to dissent from was an effectual guarantee that this apple of discord would not be introduced among them. The seed of liberty soon found a congenial nidus in the prolific soil of New England. Its growth could not be checked. The Conformists soon found themselves making common cause with the Separatists; not only did scruples and differences begin to melt away, but they found themselves also, by a spontaneous and rapid process, assimilating the extreme principles of the latter.1
The Puritans in England were amazed as well as alarmed at the boldness of their brethren in Massachusetts, and the correspondence that passed between them-expostulation on the one side and self-defence on the other—is instructive and entertaining. It shows that no sooner had Endicott and the Puritans who came with him begun to breathe the air of the free wilderness, than they began to lose the antipathy of their party against Separatism, and to see that the theory of the Pilgrims concerning “the outward form of God's worship” was “ warranted by the evidence of truth.” In the Utopia of New England there was no room for the
1 The ease with which rigid Puritanism drifted into Separatism in New England, is signally illustrated in the case of John Cotton, formerly rector of St. Botolph's Church in Boston, Lincolnshire. “As long as he abode in England, in all his opposition to the episcopal corruptions, went not beyond Cartwright and the Presbyterians. So soon as he did taste of the New English air he fell into so passionate an affection with the religion he found there, that, incontinent, he began to persuade it with a great deal more zeal and success than before he had opposed it.”—Palfrey's History of New England, vol. ii. p. 84, note.
2 See Hanbury's Historical Memorials, vol. ii. chap. xxxv., entitled, “Nine positions sent to New England—Answers-Reply."