laws and constitutions of this commonwealth, to ad-
vance its peace, and not to suffer any attempt at making any change or alteration of the government contrary to its laws.”
One hundred and eighteen of ‘the commonalty’ took this oath; the few who refused were never ‘betrusted with any public charge or command.’
The old officers were again continued in office without change, but ‘the commons’ asserted their right of annually adding or removing members from the bench of magistrates.
And a law of still greater moment, pregnant with evil and with good, at the same time narrowed the elective franchise: ‘To the end this body of the commons may be preserved of honest and good men, it was ordered and agreed, that, for the time to come, no man shall be admitted to the freedom of this body politic, but such as are members of some of the churches within the limits of the same.’
Thus the polity became a theocracy; God himself was to govern his people; and the ‘saints by calling,’ whose names an immutable decree had registered from eternity as the objects of divine love, whose election had been visibly manifested by their conscious experience of religion in the heart, whose union was confirmed by the most solemn compact formed with Heaven and one another around the memorials of a crucified Redeemer, were, by the fundamental law of the colony, constituted the oracle of the divine will.
An aristocracy was founded—not of wealth, but of those who had been ransomed at too high a price to be ruled by polluting passions, and had received the seal of divinity in proof of their fitness to do ‘the noblest and godliest deeds.’
The servant, the bondman, might be a member of the church, and therefore a freeman of the company.
Other states have limited the possession of political rights to the opulent, to freeholders, to the firstborn;