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of that sect, which was organized at Charlestown, gave special offence by receiving to the communion persons who had been excommunicated by other churches. Its meetings were forbidden, but were not discontinued. Five of the members, being freemen, were accordingly disfranchised; and two, Thomas Gold and Thomas Osborn, were sent to prison, where they reloo, mained nearly a year." After their discharge, *** the meetings were resumed; and three leaders ‘ios were sentenced to be banished from the jurisdic** tion, under the penalty of imprisonment, should they venture to return.” A petition, with influential signatures, was presented against this measure; and, though it was not granted” no pains appear to have been taken to prosecute the offenders. Nothing further respecting the Baptists occurs in the records for twelve years, and in two years more the agents of the Colony in England had instructions to represent: “As for the Anabaptists, they are now subject to no other penal
1665. Oct. 11.
* According to Samuel Willard (Ne Sutor ultra Crepidam, 13), Gold had “used unbecoming gestures in the time of administration [of baptism), of which being asked the reason, he, before the congregation, acknowledged they were to cast disrespect upon it;" and Osborn, when his practices began, did “not so much as pretend any doubt about infant baptism.” (Ibid., 15.)
* Mass. Rec., IV. (ii) 290, 316, 373; comp. Mather, Magnalia, VII. 26–30. — An indication of the feeling which prevailed is seen in the republication, this year, at Cambridge, of a translation of Guy de Brez's exciting book, then a hundred years old, on “The Rise, Spring, and Foundation of the Anabaptists.” — Had the Magistrates of Massachusetts known all that Lord
Clarendon knew, they might have
from the questions which were presented by the Baptists, occasioned at the same time a lively contention..... within the Congregational Church itself. Ac-specting barcording to the original scheme of that Church, * the proper subjects of baptism were such be-“ lievers, hitherto unbaptized, as desired admission into the church and to the Lord's Supper, and the infant children of church-members in full standing, — that is, of communicants. In the lapse of years, numbers, who had been baptized in infancy, but who were not ready for the tests of admission into the church, had now become heads of families. What was their ecclesiastical position ? Were they, through their baptism, in any sense members of the church 2 If so, were they not entitled to have their children baptized Or, if not so entitled already, might they not become so, by expressly assuming the engagements which at baptism had been made for them by their parents? These questions naturally led to others. Were not the terms of admission to the Lord's Supper, and to full membership in the church, too strict? Ought a relation of personal religious experience to be rigidly insisted on, as a condition? Had not all baptized persons of regular life a right to be received to the communiontable % Some went even further than this, and asked, whether all members of a congregation, who contributed to its support, had not a right to act in the election of its officers with those members of the church to whom hitherto that prerogative had exclusively belonged. The dispute first assumed form and practical importance in the church of Hartford. The Reverend Mr. Stone, whom the reader remembers as the chaplain of Captain Mason's party in the Pequot war, had done some act in relation to baptism or to the communion, which by Governor Webster, the Magistrates Whiting and Cullick, and several other members of his congregation, was regarded as of latitudinarian tendency. One council after controvery another was convoked, and vainly endeavored .." to compose the feud. Ministers and messen1854, 18% gers came from Massachusetts, but their efforts had no better success. The General Court of Connecticut appointed a committee of four leading men to confer with the ministers of the Colony, and, with their assistance, to prepare such a statement of the matters in debate as should be a basis for consulting the several governments of the Confederacy." It was drawn up and circulated accordingly, being digested in twenty-one questions. The General Court of Massachusetts advised that it should be submitted at Boston to a Synod of divines from the several Colonies, and appointed a delegation of fifteen distinguished jor ministers.” Connecticut accepted the proposal, ** and nominated on her part four ministers, of whom Mr. Stone was one.” Plymouth took no action in the matter. New Haven, attached to the old system, and fearful of the consequences of the present movement, refused to have a part in it, and sent a letter of warning, and a full answer to the questions, both prepared by Mr. Davenport.” The Synod met in Boston, and sat two or three weeks smoorcon. Its Result was embodied in full answers to the
* See Wol. I.463.
.." questions which had been proposed." It favored setts. some of the views which had been recently gainJune 4.
ing ground. In particular, as to the case of such baptized persons as, without being prepared to come to the Lord's Supper, were of fair character and would own for themselves their baptismal obligations, it decided that they ought to be allowed to present their children for baptism; and that, on the other hand, should they refuse, when called upon, to assume those obligations, they were properly liable to the censure of the church. It would seem naturally to follow, - though that consequence was not admitted,— that baptized adults of good character had a right to vote in the election of church officers, and in Massachusetts to be invested with the political franchise; for it would be unequal that participation in the liabilities of churchmembership should be disconnected from participation in its privileges. The decision of the Synod had no legal efficacy; no such efficacy was given to it by any General Court; and the dispute was imbittered rather than assuaged. The Hartford church, of which a majority adhered to Mr. Stone and approved the decision of the Synod, was proceeding to discipline its refractory members, when los. the General Court interposed in behalf of those ** magistrates who were imperilled, and commanded the church to desist, till measures of conciliation should be further attempted." They continued to be tried, to as little purpose as before. One ecclesiastical council after another was convened, but separated in disappointment and sorrow. Ministers came from Massachusetts, but could bring about no accommodation. The Federal Commissioners deprecated in vain “the sad effects and dreadful consequences of dissensions heightened and increased in a church of such eminence for light and love.”* Stone stood upon his right, and the right of his church, to regulate their own affairs by their own discretion, and to execute ecclesiastical judgments upon members of their ecclesiastical body with. out regard to the offenders being the highest Magistrates of Connecticut. He was too strong for his oppo.** ments. He died before the conflict was over, so. but not before his vigor had determined what its issue must be." Mr. Cullick had already removed to Boston, while Governor Webster and others sought a new settlement on the river, forty miles above Hartford. In this enterprise, they associated themselves with a minority of the church of Wethersfield, who entertained similar views. Mr. Russell, the minister of that town, left his congregation in consequence of differences between them on the pending questions, and went with the emigrants to become pastor of the new church. In Massachusetts, the tendency of opinion on the disputed question had become well ascertained in the progress of the discussion which had taken place. A greater comprehension and liberality were widely desired. At the same time the threatening prospect in England suggested the question, whether something did not need to be done to give the churches a more mature organization, such as should make them capable of co-operating with more energy for the common welfare. The Genion eral Court directed the churches within the juris** diction to meet at Boston, by their ministers and messengers, for the consideration of two questions; namely, “1. Who are the subjects of baptism; 2. Whether, according to the word of God, there ought to be a Consociation of churches, and what should be the manner of it.”” The Synod met accordingly. In respect to the sub
* Conn. Rec., I. 281.
by the kindness of a friend, have a
British Museum, among the Lansdowne
him information concerning the precise