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"holy orders," and sustained the minis- | in this mistaken legislation, from all terial office as a clergyman of the that was dear in their native homes. establishment, had been constrained by From these resolutions, on board this the tyranny of archbishop Laud and floating vessel, which by subsequent king Charles the first, to seek for that acts became a permanent law, subjecting liberty of conscience which in his native every citizen, whatever was his religious country was denied. It was Roger belief, to support the ministry of the Williams, who, accompanied by his established church, and to pay all the affectionate wife, had abandoned the taxes which the dominant party might comforts and prospects of former days, impose, for their houses of worship, crossed the ocean, and, after a tempes- their ordinations, and all their ecclesituous voyage, landed in an unknown astical affairs, proceeded the great misregion in the depth of winter. Freedom take of the puritan fathers. And from to serve God according to the directions the same incipient measure grew all the of his word, and to profess the truth unrighteous tithes and taxes, the vexaunrestrictedly, was, however, so neces- tious and ruinous lawsuits, the imprisonsary to their happiness, and so pleasant ments and stripes of the multitudes to their hope, that for the sake of this who refused to support a system of they had willingly follow ed others who worship which they did not approve. had suffered from the same despotism
The provident foresight and as themselves, and had formed a settle- pious care of the puritan fathers, to ment in the wilderness. Eagerly, there provide by law for the support of relifore, they turned their steps to Boston, gion, that their ministers should not be anticipating a cordial welcome from left to the uncertain donations of their their congregational brethren. But flocks, have been the subject of comthese brethren had made arrangements mendation and eulogy by many of their a few months before of which the new descendants. The plan was indeed comers were not aware. On the 23rd specious in appearance, but could they of the previous August, on board the have foreseen all the evils which folship Arabella, the men who were fleeing lowed it through all the colonies—could from persecution at home, and seeking they have had a full view in their early for religious advantages in the new movements, of all the distress to indiworld, held the first meeting of what viduals and families, which their legal was called the Court of Assistants. policy for many generations occasioned, “ The first question propounded was, and of the frightful extremities to which How shall the ministers be maintained ? it soon conducted them, they must have It was ordered, that houses be built for shuddered at the prospect, and faltered them with convenient speed, at the in their course.” These being the public charge, and their salaries were principles and established practices of established. This,” says David Bene- the community, when Williams and his dict, was the viper in embryo ; here wife arrived, it was at once apparent to was an importation and establishment them that the freedom from ecclesiastiin the outset of the settlement, of the cal tyranny which they had crossed the odious doctrine of church and state, Atlantic to obtain, was not to be found which had thrown Europe into confu- at Boston. The church was wielding sion, had caused rivers of blood to be the sceptre of civil power, and heard shed, had crowded prisons with inno- with astonishment and indignation the cent victims, and had driven the pil- statement of the new comer, that in grims themselves, who were now engaged his judgment,"civil governments, being
constituted only for civil and secular his coercive power, as the matter shall ends, the magistrate had no right to require." Williams had consequently interfere in the affairs of conscience.” been obliged to leave Salem, and had “He seems at that time,” says Mr. continued about two years at Plymouth; Knowles, “to have fully matured the but the “ ruling elder” of the church truth, that a church established by civil there disliked his opinions, and feared law, cannot be, as to its outward order, that he would be successful in diffusing a true church of Christ ; that so far as them in that neighbourhood. He civil authority enforces religious duties, alarmed the church by expressing his so far the church which allows it be- fears that Williams would run the same comes a kingdom of this world, and not course of rigid separation and anabapthe spiritual empire of which Jesus tistry which John Smith had run at Christ is the only sovereign."
Amsterdam. Williams was not then a baptist; but then as now, a tendency to
anabaptism might be discerned by acute Four years and nine months after the observers, even where the climax of arrival of Roger Williams at Nantasket, anabaptistical heterodoxy had not been all the ministers of Massachusetts Bay reached. Anabaptism,” says Benewere summoned to meet at Salem. The dict,“ was a spectre which haunted the pastor of the independent church at imaginations of the early settlers. The Salem was to be tried before the civil word possessed a mysterious power of authorities of the whole district, and inspiring terror, and creating odium. the charges against him were of such a | It has, perhaps, been sometimes emnature that it was requisite that the ployed to justify measures which might ministers should be present. That else have wanted the appearance of juschurch had excited the suspicion of the tice and humanity.” The ruling elder ruling powers at its formation in 1629, of the church at Plymouth prevailed on as the governor of Plymouth and other the church to dismiss Williams, and the members of the church there, who had church at Salem inviting him to return been invited to attend the ceremony, to them, he went thither, accompanied were not permitted to give the right by some of his friends at Plymouth. hand of fellowship to the new church, So strong, however, was the feeling of till an explicit declaration had been the secular authorities against him, that made, that this service was not meant the town at Salem presenting a petition to indicate any right of interference or soon afterwards claiming some land in control. This church at Salem had also Marblehead, as belonging to the town, given offence a few weeks after Williams's the petition was refused a hearing, on arrival in New England, by inviting the ground that the church of Salem him to become assistant to their aged had chosen Mr. Williams her teacher, pastor. The civil authorities had then and by such choice had offered coninterfered, in accordance with a principle tempt to the magistrates. Now, he was which was afterwards laid down formally, cited to meet charges made against him, that, “ If any church, one or more, all the ministers of the district being shall grow schismatical, rending itself convened to assist in the solemn profrom the communion of other churches, ceedings,-those ministers having alor shall walk incorrigibly and obsti- ready determined at a previous hearing, nately in any corrupt way of their own, that "he who asserted that the civil contrary to the rule of the word, in magistrate ought not to interfere in case such case the magistrate is to put forth of heresy, apostacy, &c., ought to be
removed ; and that other churches, title to the lands of the Indians." ought to request the magistrate to Sentence was pronounced the followremove him.”
ing morning. He was to depart within There stands the accused. What evil / six weeks out of the jurisdiction of has he done? He has broached opinions Massachusetts. that must not be tolerated. James the January arrived, and he was not first, king of England, had made to the gone. He had received permission to settlers a grant of lands belonging to remain till spring, on condition that he the Indians of a certain region, without did not attempt to draw others to his the consent of those Indians. The opinions. Some of his friends had recolonists had taken possession of the sorted to him, and he had conversed on lands, and in virtue of them had claimed the topics which were most interesting civil and religious authority over all to him and to them. The governor and that dwelt in the district. Williams assistants, therefore, met in Boston to regarded the whole proceeding as unjust, consider his case; "for," says Winthorp, and the authority exercised as a usurp- “they were credibly informed, that he, ation. “The sin of the patents,” says notwithstanding the injunction laid Benedict,“ to use the language of the upon him (upon liberty granted him to times, or in other words, of the doctrine stay until spring) not to go about to that kings could dispose of the lands of draw others to his opinions, did use to the natives, without their consent, was entertain company in his house, and to one of the most offensive positions preach to them, even of such points as maintained by Mr. Williams. But the he had been sentenced for; and it was most obnoxious position, and indeed the agreed to send him into England by a heresy of all others the most dangerous ship then ready to depart. The reason and pestilential, in the estimation of was, he had drawn about twenty perthe puritan fathers, was, that the magis- sons to his opinions, and they were trate had no right to punish breaches of intending to erect a plantation about the first table ; or, to vary the expres- the Narraganset Bay, from whence the sion, to legislate in matters of conscience infection would easily spread into these and religion. Other complaints of churches; the people being, many of minor importance were brought against them, much taken with an apprehension him ; but these two formed the sub- of his godliness. Whereupon, a warrant stance of his indictment, and were the was sent to him to come presently to main points at issue before a tribunal, Boston to be shipped. He returned for secular in name, but in reality entirely answer, and divers of Salem came with under the influence of the ministers of it, that he could not, without hazard of religion, and swayed by the dictations his life. Whereupon, a pinnace was of the church.”
sent, with commission to captain UnderThe accused made his defence ; but hill, to apprehend him, and carry him it was not deemed satisfactory. “Mr. on board the ship which then rode at Hooker," says the historian, was ap- Nantasket. But when they came to his pointed to dispute with him ; but Mr. house, they found he had been gone Hooker's logic, seconded as it was by three days, but whither they could not the whole civil and ecclesiastical power learn." of Massachusetts, could not force him to recognize the right of the civil Other scenes in the life of this extramagistrate to punish heresy, or to admit ordinary man will be presented to the that the king's patent could give a just reader's view next month : the infor
mation from which the preceding have other parts of the world, by David been sketched, has been derived princi- Benedict, an enlarged edition of pally from “A General History of the which was published last year in New Baptist Denomination in America and York.
THE STATE OF RELIGION.
To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine. SIR, I have been favoured to read the Baptist Magazine from its commencement, and also the Baptist Register which preceded it. But my contributions to their pages, for various reasons, which I forbear to specify, have been short and few. For some time past it has pleased the great and wise Head of the church to lay me aside from all public labour, and to confine me to the chamber of pain and weakness. In this state I have been employing my pen on different subjects connected with personal godliness, and the prosperity of the church of our beloved Lord.
Some papers in your late Magazines have induced me to transcribe and send the subsequent observations which are at your service for insertion.
JAMES LISTER. 56 Falkner Street, Liverpool, November 21, 1848.
The state of true religion in the pre- | Africa, in Asia, and in various islands sent day may be viewed under two of the ocean. Their beneficial working aspects, the favourable symptoms, and at home, in our now many town the unfavourable.
missions and rural itinerancies, must Many are of opinion that personal not be overlooked. and vital religion is not only not declin- 4th. What can be more cheering than ing, but is on the increase ; and refer our Sunday schools, covering all parts to the following and similar evidences. of our country, and scarcely wanting in
1st. The British and Foreign Bible any locality, or absent from any place Society; the operations of which show of worship? the extent and power of religious prin-5th. Surely true religion must be on ciple, and furnish that great instrument the advance, say many, if proof can be by which the Spirit effects the conver- afforded by the rapid increase of sion and salvation of men. What an churches, chapels, and meeting houses amount of Christian love and energy is for public worship. brought into action by its agents, 6th. Does not the literature of the auxiliaries, associations, contributors, day bear testimony also to the fact ? which spread over so many portions of Within these few years a great change Christendom!
has occurred in the publications of every 2nd. The London Tract Society stands class and order. Formerly there was, next to it as an engine for the advance at least, a want of gospel truth and ment of Christianity.
Christian spirit in some leading peri3rd. Above all are Christian missions, odicals, while too many popular works which, like the two former, are of recent were constructed on principles which origin in our land, but are now found, were a grief to pious minds. I believe, in every department of the 7th. Infidelity, before the close of the Christian church. Look at their number, last century and at the beginning of their supporters, their agents, their this, was, at least, in a different position stations, on the continent of Europe, in from its present. Then, the higher and middle classes, and even royal person indicates the state of the heart towards ages, were to be found among its de- Christ and God. fenders, and patrons of its defenders. 3rd. The real state of Sunday school For some time it has lost such ascend- teachers. Can we fairly estimate all of ancy, and seems to have made its way them as having first devoted themselves more among the lower and lowest to the Saviour ? Far be it from me, classes. And does not such a change Mr. Editor, to put this down as a qualimanifest the progress and power of fication necessary to admit one to the gospel truth?
office. Churches and friends must often 8th. A new and widely extending do as they can. But we cannot expect organization, founded on the great the conversion of children when their principles of vital Christianity, "The teachers are unrenewed. Evangelical Alliance," to unite Chris- 4th. Candidates for the ministry. It tians in love and reciprocal avowal, and is very evident that in the present state in co-operation for the common cause, of British society, as impregnated widely is, perhaps with many, a most satisfac- with talents, and education, and science, tory fruit and test of the progress and among all orders, that candidates for power of true godliness in the present the sacred office should be generally day.
men eminent for gifts, piety, zeal, beA consideration of these and similar nevolence, and exemplary habits and cheering symptoms leads many to this conduct, from every rank of the Chrisconclusion. And it would be ungracious tian profession. Is such a just expectato submit these symptoms to a severe tion warranted by facts ? This is a and harsh examination, influenced by a very tender subject, and details could censorious or desponding spirit. Let do no good. But facts cannot be set them have their full weight. They did, aside. Is our ministry what it should and could only, originate, I am per- be? There are pastors throughout the suaded, in true Christian and philan- land, each in his own charge, whose thropic principles, and can only be heart and powers are with Christ ; who carried on or extended by them. read, study, speak, visit, and preach, for
But let us look to the symptoms of a Christ ; whose all of time, and of what different complexion.
can be spared of their income, is conse1st. Amidst the machinery at opera- crated to Christ and to his cause. tion, examine the results in conversions, Would that all were such ! * The Lord so far as they come before us in acces of the harvest send forth labourers into sions to the churches. Statistics of his harvest !" different denominations here, and in 5th. Examine the management of America, India, and Asia, have been secular business with professors. Few published ; and all concur in the de- of the highest ranks are called. Many pressing fact of decrease, at least not of of the lowest ranks are abandoned to increase. For some years past these indifference and incredulity. The authentic statements have been gradu- strength of the churches generally conally approaching (with exceptions) to sists of the intermediate links of the this painful conclusion.
social chain. Merchants, tradesmen, 2nd. Let spiritual experimental con- shopkeepers, professional men, artists, verse among professing Christians be workmen of all descriptions, are found viewed as another test. Talking about in our audiences, and among our combooks, schools, missions, ministers, can- municants. Compare their traffic and not be included in such communion as business with those of merelyworldly men.