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44 Civil and Religious Lib Erty

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44. CIVIL AND RELIGIOUS LIB ERTY. The euphony and familiarity of this title must be broken so as to read, °Religious and Civil Liberty in America," if we study the subject in its logical chronological order, for civil liberty follows and is the product of religious liberty. A hierarchy implies an aris tocracy; an aristocracy a monarchy. The stu dent can do no better than to group his studies around the names of Roger Williams (q.v.) and Thomas Jefferson (q.v.). The birth of the one preceded that of the other by 136 years. The pivotal date of the first is the founding of the Providence Plantation by the exiled Roger Wil liams, 1636; and the pivotal date of the other is the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. These two events are separated by a period of 140 years. The story of these two men is told elsewhere in these volumes, but the story of civil and religious liberty in America cannot be separated from their lives; still less can its purchase price be understood or appre ciated apart from their story. Says John Fiske: Within five years from the settlement of Massachusetts this — the learned, quick-witted. pugnacious Welshman, Roger Williams, had announced the true princi ples of religious liberty with a clearness of insight quite remarkable in that age.

There is good history back of the pleasantry 'that the Puritans sought the western shore in order that they might enjoy the privilege of worshiping God according to the dictates of their own conscience and the further privilege of making all others worship in the same way. Governor Winthrop, one of the most liberal of the Boston colony, wrote: We believe it to be important that the members of a Christian commonwealth should all hold the same opinions regarding essentials,• and of course it is for us to determine what is essential. 'If people who have come here with us hold different views, they have made a great mistake and had better go back to England. But if, holding different views, they still wish to remain in America, let them leave to in peace and, going elsewhere, found communities accord ing to their conscience of what is best. We do not wish to quarrel with them, but we will tell them plainly that they cannot stay here.

This is literally the program carried out in the case of Roger Williams. From the begin ning he denied the power of civil magistrates to punish for violations of °the first tablet of the law," the table of piety, dealing with man's re lations to his God. He declined the call to en

ter upon his chosen work with the settlement on Massachusetts Bay because they were not °separated,* as the Pilgrims were who settled at Plymouth; they were simply non-conforming members of the Episcopal Church, and as such they claimed the right to discipline for spiritual as well as civic misdemeanors. A few months later he accepted the opportunity to work with and for the Pilgrim Fathers of Plymouth. Here he worked for two years, supporting himself by manual toil during the week and teaching on Sunday. But his ecclesiastical independence and his persistent teaching of the principles of soul-liberty filled Elder Brewster with anxiety, and when a call was given the young radical from the Salem Church, the good.elder advised the. Plymouth Church to demit him. In the latter controversy John Cotton, the belligerent ecclesiastic of Boston, remembered that °Elder Brewster warned the whole church of the dan ger of his spirit.° When in 1633 the young minister ventured again within the jurisdiction of the Bay and took up the work of a religious teacher at Salem, the Boston ministers protested and ob jected to his coming among them at the minis ters' meetings held from house to house. Two years later he was summoned to Boston to answer charges before the General Court. He was accused of teaching that magistrates ought not to punish a breach of the "first table° except when it was also a disturbance of the civil peace; that the church had no right to impose an oath on an unbeliever, and that prayer at the sacrament or after meat must not be enforced by the magistrates. Williams' defense was that "none of his teachingg led to a breach of holy or civil peace, of which I have desired to be unfeignedly tender.° Governor Winthrop, of whom Williams wrote years afterward "Though he was carried with the stream for my punishment, he tenderly loved me to his last breath,° recorded in his diary: ' Rev. Mr. Hooker, who was chosen to dispute with him could not reduce him from any of his errors, so the next morning the Court sentenced him to depart out of our jurisdiction within six weeks. all the ministers save one approving the sentence.

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