Imágenes de páginas

less banished “as unfit for our society.” So there was driven out of the city she had adopted the most remarkable intellect Boston has ever made historic by misunderstanding.

Roger Williams was another great and good man of whom the city founded by Winthrop soon proved itself unworthy. Just here seems as good a place as any to attempt some explanation of the change that had come about in Winthrop's character. His letters to his wife show him to have been tender and gentle, but he was certainly relentless in his attitude towards Mrs. Hutchinson, though all the time more than half persuaded that what she said was true. The fact is that Winthrop's very amiability made him subject to men of inflexible will. His dream had been to create on earth a commonwealth of saints whose joy should be to walk in the ways of God. But in practice he had to deal with the strongest of human passions and become himself intolerant for the sake of leading an intolerant party. The exigencies of life in America seem to have made him more and more narrow as the years went by, but he appears to have repented, at the last, of his tendency towards intolerance; for, being requested on his death-bed to sign an order for the banishment of some person

[graphic][subsumed][merged small]



for heterodoxy, he waved the paper away, saying, “I have done too much of that work already."

Williams, though, was one whom he persecuted with a will. He had been glad to have him come to Boston and he recorded his arrival — in the Journal of February, 1631 - as that of “ a godly minister.” But he did not then know what startling doctrines the new arrival was to set forth or how iconoclastic to the state would prove this clergyman's earnest conviction that, in all matters of religious belief and worship, man was responsible to God alone. Scarcely had Williams set foot in Boston when things began to happen. In the first place, he was thoroughly convinced that the Puritans had done wrong in holding communion with Church of England folk, whose power and resources were constantly employed in crushing the spirit of true piety. So he refused to join with the church at Boston until its congregation had declared repentance for having had communion with the churches in England.

His chief offence against the state, however, was in immediately promulgating the principle for which he all his life contended, i.e. that the magistrates had no right whatever to impose

civil penalties upon those who had broken only church rules. From the point of view of Bostonians of that day any man holding this opinion was by that very fact unfitted for the office of a minister among them. Consequently, the magistrates opposed with all the authority at their command the settling of Williams in the Salem pulpit to which he had now been called. His history from this time on does not properly belong to a book about Boston; but it is worth noting that he was persecuted for being, among other things, a believer in adult baptism and that against the Anabaptists, as they were called, were directed some of the most cruel persecutions ever waged in the Saint Bo tolph's Town of New England.

One can scarcely believe the records as one follows the story of the way President Dunster of Harvard College was treated for the crime of believing in adult baptism. Because he would not baptize infants he was deprived of his office (in October, 1654), and when he asked leave to stay for a few months in the house he had built, on the ground that

" 1st. The time of the year is unseasonable, being now very near the shortest day and the depth of winter.

2nd. The place into which I go is unknown

« AnteriorContinuar »