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264 Losses of the Colonists by the ttrar>
twelve or thirteen towns had been utterly destroy* <ed, and others greatly damaged. About <30G buildings, chiefly dwelling houses, had been burned % a large debt had been contracted, and vast quantities of goods, cattle, and other property had been destroyed. About every eleventh family had been burned out, and an eleventh part of the militia through New England, had been slain in the war.*" So costly is the inheritance we have received from our valiant forefathers. The land we sow has been stained with their blood.
Siijferings of the Colonists, Synods of Nexu
.BOUT this time, the colonists were afflicted with various and great calamities. While they were contending in a bloody war with the natives, for their lives and their property, complaints were making in England, which struck at the powers of government. An inquiry now commenced which issued in the loss of the charter. At the same time Great Britain and Ireland were suffering under a prince hostile to civil and religious liberty; and connected, as New England was, with the mother country, she could not but share A Synod convened. 265
in a greater or less degree, in the evils of such a government. Add to these, the small pox spread through the country, and uncommon losses had been sustained by sea, during the wars which were about this time carrying on against the French and Dutch.
In this state of things, a synod was convened by order of the general court, in May, 1679. The first synod of New England was held in Newtown, (now Cambridge) 1637. Never were any communities . in more alarming danger, than the churches of Massachusetts, and seldom have any measures, to allay a public frenzy, been more successful, than those now adopted. The darkness, which covered the heavens was dispelled; the light shone forth, with only here and there an angry cloud hovering around. The cause of these evils was as singular, as the effefts were alarming, A "Mrs. Hutchinson, a member of the Boston church, a woman of a ready wit, and bold spirit, "* had adopted two remarkable opinions. 1. That the person of the Holy Ghost dwells in a justified person. 2. That san&ification is no evidence of justification. From these two, spread numerous branches, viz. that our union with the Holy Ghost is such, that we are dead to every spiritual a£tion, having no gifts nor graces more than hypocrites, no san&ification, but the Holy Ghost y
266 Controversy concerning
himself, &c. Mr. Wheelwright, her brother, a silenced minister from England, joined with her.
The news of these things spreading, the ministers, who attended the general court in Odober, 1636, made it an objeft to converse with Mr. Wheelwright and others, who had adopted these opinions, when they appeared accommodating.* Soon after, some of the Boston church, who had adopted the new opinions, moved it in public to have Mr. Wheelwright called to be their teacher; this fanned the coals of opposition.
The new opinions rapidly spread; the governor, Mr. Vane, and Mr. Cotton, the pastor of the church, adopted them. Her converts were generally among the first class of people. In December, the general court called the ministers of the churches to advise with them respecting the divisions existing. As their passions grew warmer with constant disputation, they became more sanguine in their belief, bolder in their expressions, .and multiplied their novelties. On public occa« sions it was now said that the Holy Ghost dwelt in believers, as he is in heaven; that a man is justified before he believes, that faith is no cause of justification, that the letter of scripture holds forth nothing but a covenant of works, and that the covenant of grace was the spirit of the scripture, *vhich was known only to believers; that this cov
Mrs, Hutchinson'}s Opinions. 267
enant of works was given by Moses in the tenth commandment; that there was-a seed, viz. Abram's carnal seedr went along in this, and there was a spirit and life in it, by virtue of which, a man might attain to any san£tification in gifts, and graces, and might have special communion with Christ, and yet be damned; that faith before justification was only passive, an empty vessel; that the ground of all, was assurance by immediate revelation.
This jumble of nonsense and impiety, tedious to read, was thought vastly important and good; all the congregation of Boston, except four or five,, closed with these opinions, or the most of them* At the next Jeleftion, it was agreed to put off all le&ures for three weeks, that they might bring things to an issue. Previous to which, a general fast had been kept in all the churches ; the occasion was, beside other things, " the dissensions in our churches." The differences still increased; the ministers spoke very freely of these opinions, "and all men's mouths were full of them." When the court began, they were found to be divided on the subject, but a majority were i( sound." Mr. Wheelwright was arraigned before the house, for preaching sedition in Boston at the fast. Nearly all the church of Boston, presented a petition to the court for two things, that as freemen they might be present in cases of judicature, and that the court would declare, whether: 268 Hutchinsonian Controversy.
they might deal in cases of conscience before the church. The court considered this as a reflection on them, and replied, that their proceedings had always been open, excepting for consultation, and the preparation of causes, and that this right they should maintain. Wheelwright was accused .of calling those antichristian, who believe san&ification to be an evidence of justification, and of stirring up the people against them with bitterness and vehemence, He justified himself. The ministers were called, and asked, if they walked in such a way ? they all declared they did. The court adjudged him guilty of sedition, and also contempt for employing the fast, which had been appointed as a mean of reconciliation, for the purpose of inflaming the minds of the people. The governor had not then the power of a negative, but he and a few others offered their protest, which was rejected. The church of Boston also petitioned in his behalf, justifying his sermon. The declaration of his sentence was postponed to the next court.
By this time, the contention was so warm, that there was a motion made for the general court to remove from Boston to Cambridge. Vane, the governor, refused to put the vote. Winthrop, the deputy governor, was unwilling, being an inhabitant cf Boston, and loath to offend his neighbours; Endicott, of Salem, put the vote, which was earned. In the spring, the ele&ion was accordingly