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[44] weighing times and occasions. The kernel of his radicalism was the ideal of a democratic church in a democratic society. The more closely we scrutinize the thought of the great Separatist, the more clearly we perceive that the master principle of his career was Christian--the desire to embody in his life the social as well as the spiritual teachings of Christ. He put aside tradition and went back to the foundation and original of the gospel, discovering anew the profoundly revolutionary conceptions that underlie the philosophy of Jesus. He learned to conceive of men literally as the children of God and brothers in Christ, and out of this primary conception he developed his democratic philosophy. It was to set up no Hebraic absolutism that he came to America; it was to establish a free commonwealth of Christ in which the lowest and meanest of God's children should share equally with the greatest. But before there could be a free commonwealth there must be free churches; the hand of neither bishop nor presbytery must lie upon the conscience of the individual Christian; and so Roger Williams threw himself into the work of spreading the propaganda of Separatism. Not only did he protest in New England against the tyranny of the magistrates, but he flung at the heads of all enemies of freedom the notable book on toleration in which he struck at the root of the matter by arguing that “conscience be permitted (though erroneous) to be free.”

In an earlier age he would have become a disciple of St. Francis; but in the days when the religious movement was passing over into a political movement, when it was being talked openly that both in church and state “the Originall of all free Power and Government” lies in the people, he threw in his lot with the levellers to further the democratic movement. As early as x644 he had formulated his main principles:

From this Grant I infer . . . that the Soveraigne, originall, and foundation of civill power lies in the people . . . And if so, that a People may erect and establish what forme of Government seemes to them most meete for their civill condition: It is evident that such Governments as are by them erected and established, have no more power, nor for no longer time, then the civill power or people consenting and agreeing shall betrust them with. This is cleere not only in Reason, but in the experience of all commonweales, where

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