sun is the centre of our system; if the name of Kepler
is preserved in the annals of human excellence for his sagacity in detecting the laws ofthe planetary motion; if the genius of Newton
has been almost adored for dissecting a ray of light, and weighing heavenly bodies as in a balance,—let there be for the name of Roger Williams
at least some humble place among those who have advanced moral science, and made themselves the benefactors of mankind.
But if the opinion of posterity is no longer divided,
the members of the general court of that day pronounced against him the sentence of exile;1
yet not by a very numerous majority.
Some, who consented to his banishment, would never have yielded but for the persuasions of Cotton; and the judgment was vindicated, not as a punishment for opinion, or as a restraint on freedom of conscience, but because the application of the new doctrine to the construction of the patent, to the discipline of the churches, and to the ‘oaths for making tryall of the fidelity of the people,’ seemed about ‘to subvert the fundamental state and government of the country.’
Winter was at hand; Williams
succeeded in obtaining permission to remain till spring; intending then to begin a plantation in Narragansett Bay
But the affections of the people of Salem
revived, and could not be restrained; they thronged to his house to hear him whom they were so soon to lose forever; it began to be rumored, that he could not safely be allowed to found a new state in the vicinity; ‘many of tile people were much taken with the apprehension of his godliness;’ his opinions were contagious; the