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[371] clothing the great truth in its boldest and most general
Chap. IX.}
terms, he asserted that ‘the civil magistrate may not intermeddle even to stop a church from apostacy and heresy,’ ‘that his power extends only to the bodies and goods and outward estate of men.’1 With corresponding distinctness he foresaw the influence of his principles on society. The removal of the yoke of soul-oppression, ‘—to use the words in which, at a later ay, he confirmed his early view,’—‘as it will prove an act of mercy and righteousness to the enslaved nations, so it is of binding force to engage the whole and every interest and conscience to preserve the common liberty and peace.’2

The same magistrates who punished Eliot, the

1634 Nov. 27.
apostle of the Indian race, for censuring their measures, could not brook the independence of Williams; and the circumstances of the times seemed to them to justify their apprehensions. An intense jealousy was excited in England against Massachusetts; ‘members
1634 Dec.
of the Generall Court received intelligence of some episcopal and malignant practises against the country;’ and the magistrates on the one hand were scrupulously careful to avoid all unnecessary offence to the English government, on the other were sternly consolidating their own institutions, and even preparing for resistance. It was in this view that the Freeman's Oath was appointed; by which every freeman was obliged to pledge his allegiance, not to King Charles, but to Massachusetts. There was room for scruples on

1 I quote from a very rare tract of Roger Williams, which, after much search, I was so happy as to find in the hands of the aged Moses Brown, of Providence. It is ‘Mr. Cotton's Letter, lately printed, Examined and Answered. By Roger Williams, of Providence, in New England. London. Imprinted in the yeere 1644.’ Small 4 to. pp. 47. It is preceded by an address of two pages to the Impartial Reader.

2 R. Williams's Hireling Ministry, 29.

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