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his settlement in 1634, and established Christianity, agreeably to the old common law, without allowing pre-eminence to any particular sect. This was wise and liberal; but Mr. Williams established his colony in 1636, two years afterwards, on the broad principle of unlimited religious freedom; and the Jew, the Mahometan or the Hindoo might have found a home in Rhode Island, and might have enjoyed his opinions unmolested, while he fulfilled his civil duties. The first law of Maryland, respecting religious liberty, was enacted in 1649. In 1647, at the first General Assembly held in Rhode Island, under the first charter, a code of laws was adopted, relating exclusively to civil concerns, and concluding with these words: “Otherwise than thus, what is herein forbidden, all men may walk as their consciences persuade them, every one in the name of his God. And let the lambs of the Most High walk in this colony without molestation, in the name of Jehovah their God, forever and ever.
This noble provision was a part of the code; and it was not only prior in date to the law of Maryland, but it was more liberal, and more consistent with the rights of conscience.
We must now return to Mr. Williams' book. A reply was written by Mr. Cotton, and published in London, in 1647. Its title was: “ The Bloody Tenet washed, and made white, in the Blood of the Lamb, being discussed and discharged of Blood-Guiltiness, by just Defence. Wherein the great Questions of this Time are handled, viz. How far Liberty of Conscience ought to be given to those that truly fear God, and how far restraint to turbulent and pestilent Persons, that not only rase the Foundation of Godliness, but disturb the civil Peace, where they live. Also, how far the Magistrates may proceed in the Duties of the first Table. And that all Magistrates ought to study the Word and Will of God, that they may frame their Government according to it. Discussed, as they are alleged, from divers Scriptures, out of the Old and New Testaments. Wherein also the Practice of Princes is debated, together with the Judgment of ancient and late Writers, of most precious Esteem. Whereunto is added, a Reply to Mr. Williams' Answer to Mr. Cotton's Letter. By John
* 2 Mass. His. Col. viii. p. 79.
Cotton, Bachelor in Divinity, and Teacher of the Church of Christ, at Boston, in New England. London, printed by Matthew Symmons, for Hannah Allen, at the Crown, in Pope's-Head Alley. 1647.” The book is a small quarto, of 339 pages. It is able and learned, but it maintains the right of the magistrate to interfere, for the promotion of truth, and the suppression of error.
Mr. Williams again took up his pen, and published a rejoinder, entitled, “ The Bloody Tenet yet more Bloody, by Mr. Cotton's Endeavor to wash it white in the Blood of the Lamb. Of whose precious Blood, spilt in the Blood of his Servants, and of the Blood of Millions spilt in former and later Wars for Conscience Sake, that most bloody Tenet of Persecution for Cause of Conscience, upon a second Trial, is found now more apparently and more notoriously guilty. In this Rejoinder to Mr. Cotton, are principally, Ī. The Nature of Persecution. II. The Power of the civil Sword in Spirituals, examined. III. The Parliament's Permission of Dissenting Consciences justified. Also, (as a Testimony to Mr. Clarke's Narrative) is added, a Letter to Mr. Endicott, Governor of the Massachusetts, in New-England. By R. Williams, of Providence, in NewEngland. London, printed for Giles Calvert, and are to be sold at the Black-Spread-Eagle, at the West End of Paul's, 1652.” It is a small quarto, of 302 pages.
This book discusses the same topics, as its predecessor, with additional arguments. Though the controversy was maintained with spirit, yet the tone of the book is courteous. Mr. Williams says :
“ The Most Holy and All-Seeing knows, how bitterly I resent [lament] the least difference with Mr. Cotton, yea with the least of the followers of Jesus, of what conscience or worship soever.” He calls his book, “ An Examination of the worthily honored and beloved Mr. Cotton's Reply.". It would be well if all disputants cherished the same kind spirit.
The book contains an “Address to the High Court of Parliament,” in which the author prays them to favor toleration, and to secure their personal salvation.
* There is a thin book, in the Library of Harvard College, which purports to be a copy of this work, but it contains only the Preface and Dedicatory, Epistles.
There are also two addresses, the one“ to the several respective General Courts, especially that of the Massachusetts, in New-England,” and the other “To the Merciful and Compassionate Reader."
The body of the work is written, like the Bloody Tenet, in the form of a “Conference between Truth and Peace," and is divided into chapters, in each of which, for the most part, a corresponding chapter of Mr. Cotton's book is examined.
At the close of the examination, is a letter to Governor Endicott, of Massachusetts, in which Mr. Williams expresses great affection for him, alludes to former days, and exhibitions of a different spirit, intimates that the love of honor had affected the Governor, beseeches him to adopt and practise the principles of toleration, and assures him, that if he should follow out his principles he must proceed to bloodshed. This prediction was soon after fulfilled in the execution of the Quakers.
In an appendix, is an address “To the Clergy of the four great Parties (professing the name of Christ Jesus) in England, Scotland and Ireland, viz. the Popish, Prelatical, Presbyterian and Independent.” It is mild and respectful, though it accuses them all of persecuting each other, when they possessed the power. He says: “Just like two men, whom I have known break out to blows and wrestling, so have the Protestant Bishops wrestled with the Popish, and the Popish with the Protestant, the Presbyterian with the Independent, and the Independent with the Presbyterian. And our chronicles and experiences have told this nation and the world, how he whose turn it is to be brought under, hath ever felt a heavy, wrathful hand of an unbrotherly and unchristian persecution,” (p. 316.) He says, that they all pleaded for freedom when they were persecuted, and adds, “What excellent subscriptions to this soul freedom are interwoven in many passages of the late King's book (if his.)”*
* Alluding to the “ Eikon Basilike," a book, which purported to have been written by Charles I. and which, it is thought, contributed to the restoration of his son. It was, however, an imposition, Dr. Gauden being the real author. Mr. Williams, it seems had sagacity enough to doubt its authenticity. Milton assailed it with his «Eiconoclastes."
He alludes to the ejected clergy, and makes the following appeal, which is very honorable to his feelings :—“I make another humble plea (and that, I believe, with all the reason and justice in the world) that such who are ejected, undone, impoverished, might, some way, from the state or you, receive relief and succor ; considering that the very nation's constitution hath occasioned parents to train up, and persons to give themselves to studies (though, in truth, but in a way of trading and bargaining before God) yet it is according to the custom of the nation, who ought, therefore, to share also in the fault of such parents and ministers, who, in all changes, are ejected.” Ilow different is this language from that of a rash, proscriptive reformer, who, in his zeal for what he esteems right, disregards every consideration of justice or humanity! The clergy whom Mr. Williams had especially in view were the Episcopal ministers, who had been expelled from their benefices. He did not believe them, in general, to be fit to preach, but he wished them to be treated with kindness and liberality.
Hireling Ministry none of Christ's—the ministry-controversy with
George Fox-other writings~character as a writer-his general character.
In the same year, 1652, in which the last mentioned book was published, Mr. Williams printed a pamphlet, with the title, "The Hireling Ministry none of Christ's, or a Discourse touching the Propagating the Gospel of Christ Jesus. Humbly presented to such pious and honorable hands, whom the present debate thereof concerns. By Roger Williams, of Providence, in New-England. London. Printed in the second month.” It is a small quarto, of thirtysix pages.
No copy is known to the writer to exist in this country, except in the Library of the American Antiquarian Society, in Worcester, which contains a duplicate. One of the copies was loaned to the author, by the politeness of the Librarian.
This pamphlet is valuable, because it contains a more clear exposition of Mr. Williams' views respecting the ministry, than any other of his works. It begins with an “Epistle Dedicatory, to all such honorable and pious hands, whom the present debate touching the propagating of Christ's Gospel concerns; and to all such gentle Bereans, who, with ingenious civility, desire to search, whether what's presented concerning Christ Jesus be so or not." In this epistle, the author says, “I have not been altogether a stranger to the learning of the Egyptians, and have trod the hopefullest paths to worldly preferment, which, for Christ's sake, I have forsaken. I know what it is to study, to preach, to be an elder, to be applauded, and yet also what it is to tug at the oar, to dig with the spade and plough, and to labor and travel day and night, amongst English, amongst barbarians.”
The chief purpose of the work is, to oppose a legal establishment of religion, and the compulsory support of the clergy
The principal points maintained are three: 1. There is