« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
And there this eve some reasoning, I opine,
May not be deemed amiss. It was the first intention of the author to have drawn the materials of the conversation in the text from the controversy between Williams and Cotton; but, on examination, he was satisfied that it was not suited to a performance of this kind. This controversy originated as follows: A prisoner (one who was doubtless suffering for heretical opinions) addressed a letter to a Mr. Hall, in which he discussed and argued against the right of government to persecute for matters of conscience. Hall sent this letter to Mr. Cotton, who answered it. Hall, dissatisfied with the answer, transmitted it to Williams. In the hands of Williams it remained some time; for he was struggling with all the difficulties incident to his situation at Providence. He however composed a reply to Cotton's answer, which he entitied the Bloody Tenent. He says it was written whilst engaged at the hoe and oar, toiling for bread whilst attending on Parliament- in a change of rooms and places; in a variety of strange houses; sometimes in the field, in the midst of travel; where he had been forced to gather and scatter his loose thoughts and papers. And, certainly, considering the circumstances in which it was composed, it is a work calculated to increase our admiration of the man. The Bloody Tenent, together with Mr. Cotton's answer to the prisoner's letter, was published in London, at a time when his Puritan brethren in England were addressing him and others in Massachusetts, with most earnest remonstrances against their cruel persecutions of other denominations.
He, in his replies, had been endeavoring to extenuate and excuse the conduct of the civil government, and had taken particular care to exculpate himself. It is easy, therefore, to conceive what a shock this reverend dignitary must have suffered, when his answer to the prisoner's letter, which went in principle the full length of the most unsparing persecution, together with Williams' reply, was published and circulated among the brethren there. He instantly raised a cry, that Williams was persecuting him, by publishing his answer to the prisoner's let
ter, and commenting upon it. But he felt himself under the necessity of doing something more. His brethren in England would require some sort of justification, and one consistent with the sentiments he had already expressed in his letters to them. Hence the controversy between him and Williams, is, on the part of Cotton, a sophistical attempt to avoid the charge of persecuting for matters of conscience. We do not persecute consciences, says he, but we do punish those who commit violence on their own consciences. If the reader should be so curious as to inquire, how Mr. Cotton ascertained when a man committed violence on his own conscience, I will state his process as I understand it. When it was discovered that any member entertained opinions inconsistent with the fundamental doctrines of the order to which he belonged, he was in the first place called before the church, and admonished of his error. If he still persisted, he was summoned before the magistracy, where the charges were specified, and the magistracy determined whether he was or was not convinced in his own mind of his
His judges never failed to be satisfied that he was convinced. If the accused afterwards persisted in his opinions, he was considered as one committing violence on his own conscience, and treated as an incorrigible heretic and disturber of the peace, and as such banished, imprisoned, scourged, or hanged, as the enormity of his heretical opinions might require. I have necessarily given the conversation between Williams and the Plymouth elder a turn different from that of the controversy between him and Cotton; but have endeavored to preserve something of the tone of feeling which pervades the latter. I flatter myself, however, that the Plymouth elder is a more moderate man than Mr. Cotton. As a proof, hear Mr. Cotton in his own words set forth the advantages which a state derives from persecuting heretics, and the summary mode in which the civil magistrate may deal with them. To the question of Williams, What glory to God
what good to the souls and bodies of their subjects, did these princes bring in persecuting? Mr. Cotton thus replies: “The good that is brought to princes and subjects, by the due punishment of apostate seducers and idolaters and blasphemers, is manifold.
First; it putteth away evil from the people, and cutteth off a gangrene which would spread to further ungodliness.
Secondly; It driveth away wolves from worrying and scattering the sheep of Christ; (for false teachers be wolves.)
Thirdly; Such executions upon such evil doers causeth all the country to hear and fear, and do no more such wicked
Fourthly; The punishments, executed upon false prophets and seducing teachers, do bring down showers of God's blessings upon the civil state.
Fifthly; It is an honor to God's justice that such judgments are executed.”
“ If there be stones in the streets the magistrate need not fetch a sword from the smith's shop, nor a halter from the roper's, to punish a heretic.”
It will appear that time has made no improvement upon the leading principles of Williams, as gathered from different parts of his replies to Cotton. He says that “the people are the origin of all free power in government.” 6. That the people are not invested by Christ Jesus with power to rule his Church.” That they can give no such power to the magistrate. “That the kingdom of Christ is spiritual” – that to introduce the civil sword into this spiritual kingdom is “to confound Heaven and earth together, and lay all upon heaps of confusion to take Christ and make him king by force (John vi, 15) — to make his kingdom of this world — to set up a civil and temporal Israel — to bound out new earthy lands of Canaan; yea, and to set up a Spanish inquisition, in all parts of the world, to the speedy destruction of millions of souls,” &c.
Cotton says, “that when the kingdoms of this earth become the kingdoms of the Lord, it is not by making Christ a temporal king; but by making the temporal kingdoms nursing fathers to the Church ” — “that religion was not to be propagated by the sword; but protected and preserved by it."
Williams replies, “that the husbandman weeds his garden to increase his grain, and that consequently it is the object of the
and that destroys the heretic to make the Christian”. That the sword may make a nation of hypocrites, but not of Christians,” &c.
I have thrown together these few detached sentences, that the reader, who may have little inclination to peruse a controversy on a question which happily has no place in the present age,
may form some opinion of its character. The discussion occupies two considerable volumes.
Williams, he said, it is my thankless lot,
After Williams had built and planted at Seekonk, he was visited by a messenger from Plymouth with a letter from Winslow, then Governor. Professing his and others’ friendship for him, he lovingly advised Williams, since he had fallen into the edge of their bounds, and they were loath to displease the Bay, to remove but to the other side of the water, and there he had the country before him, and might be as free as themselves, and they should be loving neighbors together.-See Williams' letter to Mason. Mass. His. Col.
Thy purchase feigned was by the prophet shown
Williams, in his letter to Mason, says, that Governor Winthrop and some of the council of Massachusetts were disposed to recall him from banishment, and confer upon him some mark of distinguished favor for his services. " It is known,” says Williams, “who hindered—who never promoted the liberty of other men's consciences.” Mr. Davis, in a note to his edi. tion of the New England Memorial, conjectures that he alludes to Mr. Dudley. The reader will not consider me as doing violence to historical probability, by supposing that this man gave information to the magistrates of Plymouth that Williams had established himself within the limits of their patent, and re
quired his expulsion. He was the author of the following lines :
“Let men of God in courts and churches watch
O’er such as do a toleration hatch,
My epitaph 's I dy'd no libertine.” Yet we ought, perhaps, to blame the system, rather than the magistrate whose duty it was to carry into effect.
God gave James Stuart this, and James gave us. The patents of the companies which settled in this country granted them lands without any reference to the rights of the natives. But the companies never availed themselves of these grants to that extent. Whatever may have been their opinions, they acted under them as if they had only invested them with the right of pre-emption. Cotton Mather is the only historian, that I recollect, who makes a merit of paying the Indians for their lands, and of not expelling them immediately from the soil in virtue of these patents.
CANTO NINTH. .
Early that morn, beside the tranquil
And bade their lately blooming hopes adieu. I have represented Williams, throughout this narrative, as unaccompanied by any of his Salem friends. And such, I think, was the fact up to the time he left, or was about leaving, Seekonk. Indeed, there was no necessity for any of his friends to accompany him in his fight from Salem "in the winter's snow," They could render him no assistance in negotiations with the Indians. They could not alleviate his hardships by participat