great distinguishing principles of the reformation, as
well of justification by faith alone, as of the equality of all believers; and it was sure to be one day ac-1631.
cepted by the whole Protestant world.
But it placed the young emigrant in direct opposition to the system of the founders of Massachusetts
, who were bent on making the state a united body of believers.
On landing in Boston
, Roger Williams
found himself unable to join its church.
He had separated from the establishment in England
, which wronged conscience by disregarding its scruples; they were ‘an unseparated people,’ who refused to renounce communion with their persecutors; he would not suffer the magistrate to assume jurisdiction over the soul by punishing what was no more than a breach of the first table, an error of conscience or belief; they were willing to put the whole decalogue under the guardianship of the civil authority.
The thought of employing him as a minister was therefore abandoned, and the church of Boston
was, in Wilson
's absence, commended to ‘the exercise of prophecy.’
The death of Higginson
had left Salem
in want of a teacher; and in April it called Williams
to that office.
and the assistants ‘marvelled’ at the precipitate choice; and by a letter to Endicott
, they desired the church to forbear.
The warning was heeded, and Roger Williams
quietly withdrew to Plymouth
The government was still more careful to protect the privileges of the colony against ‘episcopal and malignant practices,’ of which a warning had been received from England
For that purpose, at the general court convened in May, after ‘the corn was set,’ an oath of fidelity was offered to the freemen, binding them “to be obedient and conformable to the ”