This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 Thomas Hooker, who liberally bestrewed their path with impediments. Hebraist and theocrat though he professed to be, his Hebraic theocracy was grounded upon the people, and pointed straight towards the sovereignty of the individual congregation. “The Lord hath promised to take away the vail from all faces in the mountain” --and if the veil be removed and the people see, shall not the people judge concerning their own causes? In this faith Thomas Hooker lived and laboured, thereby proving his right to be numbered among the stewards of our American democracy. The fibre of the emigrant leaders had been toughened by conflict with old-world conservatism and turned radical by the long struggle with an arrogant toryism. By a natural selective process the stoutest-hearted had been driven overseas, and the well-known words of William Stoughton, “God sifted a whole Nation that he might send choice grain over into this wilderness,” 1 were the poetic expression of a bitter reality. But seated snugly in the new world, in control of church and state, the emigrant radicalism found its ardour cooling. The Synod of 1637 set a ban upon Antinomianism and other heretical innovations, and thereafter Massachusetts settled down to a rigid orthodoxy. The fathers had planted, was it not enough for the sons to water and tend the vine, and enjoy the fruit thereof? And so the spirit of conservatism took possession of the native generation, the measure of excellence being accounted the fidelity with which the husbandmen revered the work of the emigrant pioneers. Translated into modern terms, it means that the native ministers, having inherited a system of which they were the beneficiaries, discovered little inclination to question the title deeds to their inheritance, but were mainly bent on keeping them safe. To preserve what had been gained, and as far as possible to extend the Presbyterian principle, became their settled policy; and so in all the life of New England--in the world of Samuel Sewall, as well as in that of Cotton Mather — a harsh and illiberal dogmatism succeeded to the earlier enthusiasm. The indisputable leader of the second generation was
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.