Every political opinion, every philosophica
tenet, assumed in those days a theological form: with the doctrine of justification by faith alone, they derided the formality of the established religion; and by asserting that the Holy Spirit
dwells in every believer, that the revelation of the Spirit is superior ‘to the ministry of the word,’2
they sustained with intense fanaticism the paramount authority of private judgment.
The founder of this party was Anne Hutchinson
, a woman of such admirable, understanding ‘and profitable and sober carriage,’3
that her enemies could never speak of her without acknowledging her eloquence and her ability.4
She was encouraged by John Wheelwright
, a silenced minister, who had married her husband's sister, and by Henry Vane
, the governor of the colony; while a majority of the people of Boston
sustained her in her rebellion against the clergy.
Scholars and men of learning, members of the magistracy and the general court adopted her opinions.5
The public mind seemed hastening towards an insurrection against spiritual authority; and she was denounced as ‘weakening the hands and hearts of the people towards the ministers,’6
as being ‘like Roger Williams
The subject possessed the highest political importance.
Nearly all the clergy, except Cotton, in whose house Vane
was an inmate,8
in defence of their influence, and in opposition to Vane
; and Wheelwright
, who, in a fast-day's sermon, had
strenuously maintained the truth of his opinions, and