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[372] the subject; and an English lawyer would have ques-
Chap. IX.}
tioned the legality of the measure. The liberty of conscience for which Williams contended denied the right of a compulsory imposition of an oath:1 when he
1635 Mar. 30.
was summoned before the court, he could not renounce his belief; and his influence was such that the government was forced to desist from that proceeding. To the magistrates he seemed the a ly of a civil faction; to himself he appeared only to make a frank avowal of the truth. In all his intercourse with the tribunals, he spoke with the distinctness of settled convictions. He was fond of discussion; but he was never betrayed into angry remonstrance. If he was charged with pride, it was only for the novelty of his opinions.

The scholar who is accustomed to the pursuits of abstract philosophy, lives in a region of thought far different from that by which he is surrounded. The range of his understanding is remote from the paths of common minds, and he is often the victim of the contrast. It is not unusual for the world to reject the voice of truth, because its tones are strange; to declare doctrines unsound, only because they are new; and even to charge obliquity or derangement on the man who brings forward principles which the selfish repudiate. Such has ever been the way of the world; and Socrates, and St. Paul, and Luther, and others of the most acute dialecticians, have been ridiculed as drivellers and madmen. The extraordinary development of one faculty may sometimes injure the balance of the mind; just as the constant exercise of one member of the body injures the beauty of its proportions;

1 See his opinions, fully reduced to the form of a law, at Providence, in 1647, in II. Mass. Hist. Coll VII. 96.

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