country, gave to the measure an air of magnanimous
defiance; it was almost a proclamation of independence.
As an act of intolerance, it found in Vane
an inflexible opponent, and, using the language of the times, he left a memorial of his dissent.
‘Scribes and Pharisees, and such as are confirmed in any way of error,’—these are the remarkable words of the man, who soon embarked for England
, where he afterwards pleaded in parliament for the liberties of Catholics
and Dissenters,—‘all such are not to be denyed cohabitation, but are to be pitied and reformed.
Ishmael shall dwell in the presence of his brethren.’
The friends of Wheelwright
could not brook the censure of their leader; but they justified their indignant remonstrances by the language of fanaticism.
‘A new rule of practice by immediate revelations,’ was now to be the guide of their conduct; not that they expected a revelation ‘1
in the way of a miracle;’ such an idea Anne Hutchinson
rejected ‘as a delusion;’2
they only slighted the censures of the ministers and the court, and avowed their determination to follow the impulses of conscience.
But individual conscience is often the dupe of interest, and often but a more honorable name for self-will.
The government feared, or pretended to fear, a disturbance of the
public peace, a wild insurrection of lawless fanatics.
A synod of the ministers of New England
was therefore assembled, to accomplish the difficult task of settling the true faith.
Numerous opinions were harmoniously condemned; and vagueness of language, so often the parent of furious controversy, performed the office of a peace-maker.
Now that Vane