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liugly shut not their eyes! I remain studious of your common peace and liberty,
Mr. Roger Williams, for the promulgation of his noble sentiments, had this sentence passed upon him—".Whereas Mr. Roger Williams, one of the elders of the Church of Salem, hath broached and divulged divers new and dangerous opinions against the authority of magistrates, has also written letters of defamation both at the magistrates and churches here, and that before any conviction, and yet maintaineth the same without retraction—it is therefore ordered that the said Mr. Williams shall depart out of this jurisdiction within six weeks now next ensuing, which if he neglect to perform, it shall be lawful for the governor and two of the magistrates, to send him to some place out of this jurisdiction, not to return any more without licence from the court." Massachusetts Records, 1635.
The character of Mr. Williams was not understood. Even Neale, in his History of New England, reproaches him with maintaining, among other singular opinions, "that there should be a general and unlimited toleration for All Religions, and to punish men for matters of conscience was PerSecution;" adding, "that he would have been esteemed a great and useful man had he never dabbled in divinity."
This silly remark has been made of The IllusTrious Priestley, who, whatever were his errors, exhibited a pattern of puritanical integrity and died a truly placid death—driven, like his great predecessor, Williams, the victim of Persecution, into the wilderness of America. Talent and science, benevolence and piety, are alike trodden down beneath the brutal and unfeeling hoof of bigotry! Accursed in its origin and in its effects, it is pregnant with the most mischievous consequences to society. It is altogether estranged from the mild and unoffending spirit of scriptural Christianity.
To do justice, however, to Mr. Neal, it is curious to observe, that in his Dedication of this work, in which he brands a general and unlimited toleration as "a singular opinion," he has the following paragraph, making universal love the basis of his eulogy! He is addressing the Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New England, 1720, not fifty years after the decease of Roger Williams—
"Oppression and persecution here, the greatest vices men can be guilty of, gave birth to New England at first, and liberty among you, the most public blessing has yielded nourishment to it ever since, and will always keep it vigorous and healthy, though oppression and persecution, by an unhappy return among us, should make no accession to your wealth and numbers. It is but a little while since several here had their eyes towards you, and when they had reason to apprehend they should not be able to live much longer in their own country, blessed God! they had a sanctuary in yours. And though the Protestant accession has delivered us from those fears, yet it will be a noble design, and worthy of men in your stations to preserve .new England a pleasant habitation to its present possessors, and a blessed retreat for oppressed Protestants in all parts of the world. If Europe should encrease in vice and luxury proportionably to what it has done of late, and you, who have now the character of a religious people, should advance proportionably in piety and virtue, as these parts of the world will certainly decline in wealth and power, so you are the most likely to acquire them. You now glory in an universal loyalty to the best of kings, in a becoming zeal for the sacred truths of the Reformation, and an Universal Love, Charity, and ForBearance of each other in your differing sentiments. As long as you can preserve this boasting, New England will be indeed the glory of the churches, and a praise in the whole earth! May you long maintain these principles, which are not only essential to The Christian Religion, but the very foundation of the peace and happiness of society*!"
Mr. Williams' book, entitled, "The Bloody
• The History of New England, in Two Volumes, by Daniel Neal, author of the excellent History of the Puritans. The former is a valuable work, replete with information respecting that portion of the western world. The witchcraft scene is a most singular instance of credulity; which for a time, like a pestilence, pervaded all classes. The return of good sense at length (many lives having been sacrificed), put an end to an infatuation which threatened the extinction of the community.
Tenet of Persecution, for the sake of Conscience," of which specimens have been given, was animadverted upon by the Rev. Mr. Cotton, of Boston, in America, in a work called, " The Bloody Tenet washed and made White in the Blood of the Lamb." Mr. Williams made a reply, with this appropriate title, "The Bloody Tenet, yet more Bloody, by Mr. Cotton's endeavour to wash it White!"
Mr. Williams (says Mr. Backus) had argued that Mr. Cotton's doctrine tended to the setting up of a Spanish Inquisition in all parts of the world, and to frustrate the great design of Christ's coming. He denies it, and accuses Mr. Williams of rather promoting the principal end of the Spanish Inquisition, " by proclaiming impunity to all their whorish and wolvish emissaries. Nor is it, says he, a frustrating of the sweet end of Christ's coming which was to save souls, but rather a direct advancing of it to destroy, if need be, the bodies of those wolves who seek to destroy the souls of those for whom Christ died." Mr. Williams replies—" I cannot without great horror observe, what is this but to give a woful occasion at least to all civil powers in the world to persecute Christ in his poor saints and servants? Yea, if Master Cotton and his friends of his conscience should be cast by God's Providence (whose wheels turn about in the depth of his councils wonderfully), I say> should they be cast under the reach of opposite swords, will they not produce Master Cotton's own bloody tenet and doc- trine to warrant them (according to their consciences) to deal with him as a wolf, an idolatrous heretic, and as dangerous an emissary and seducer as any whom Master Cotton so accuseth? Master Cotton hath no reason to charge the discusser with indulgence or partiality towards Romish and wolvish emissaries— his judgment and practice is known so far different, that for departing too far from them (as is pretended) he suffers the brands, and bears the marks of one of
i Christ's poor persecuted heretics to this day! All
; that he pleaded for is an impartial liberty to their
i consciences in worshipping God, as well as con
isciences and worships of other their fellow sub
Thus Extracts have been transcribed from his chief publications, which will enable the reader to form his own judgment on the subject.
Even Dr. Robertson, the historian, though he designates Mr. Williams as being " in high estimation," yet deeming him a fanatic, he was not apprized of his worth. Speaking of Massachusetts' Bay, he remarks,—" Williams, a minister of Salem, in high estimation, having conceived an antipathy to the cross of St. George, in the standard of England, declaimed against it with so much vehemence, as a relic of superstition and idolatry, which ought not to be retained among a people so pure and sanctified, that Endicott, one of the members of the Court of Assistants, in a transport of zeal, publickly cut out the cross from the ensign displayed before the governor's gate! This frivolous matter