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[373] or as the exclusive devotedness to one pursuit,
Chap. IX.} 1635
politics for instance, or money, brushes away from conduct and character the agreeable varieties of light and shade. It is a very ancient remark, that folly has its corner in the brain of every wise man; and certain It is, that not the poets only, like Tasso, but the clearest minds, Sir Isaac Newton, Pascal, Spinoza, have been deeply tinged with insanity. Perhaps Williams pursued his sublime principles with too scrupulous minuteness; it was at least natural for Bradford and his contemporaries, while they acknowledged his power as a preacher, to esteem him ‘unsettled in judgment.’

The court at Boston remained as yet undecided; when the church of Salem,—those who were best acquainted with Williams,—taking no notice of the recent investigations, elected him to the office of their teacher. Immediately the evils inseparable on a religious establishment began to be displayed. The ministers got together and declared any one worthy of banishment, who should obstinately assert, that ‘the civil magistrate might not intermeddle even to stop a church from apostasy and heresy;’ the magistrates delayed action, only that a committee of divines might have time to repair to Salem and deal with him and with

July 8
the church in a church way. Meantime, the people of Salem were blamed for their choice of a religious guide; and a tract of land, to which they had a claim, was withheld from them as a punishment.

The breach was therefore widened. To the ministers Williams frankly, but temperately, explained his doctrines; and he was armed at all points for their defence. As his townsmen had lost their lands in consequence of their attachment to him, it would have been cowardice on his part to have abandoned them;

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