among all the English
could be formed’ for
asserting the common liberty.
For this purpose letters were written to the confederated states; but the want of concert defeated the plan.
The law which, nearly at the same time, threatened obstinate Anabaptists with exile, was not designed to be enforced.
‘Anabaptism,’ says Jeremy Taylor
in his famous argument for liberty, ‘is as much to be rooted out as any thing that is the greatest pest and nuisance to the public interest.’
The fathers of Massachusetts
reasoned more mildly.
The dangers apprehended from some wild and turbulent spirits, ‘whose conscience and religion seemed only to sett forth themselves and raise contentions in the country, did provoke us’—such was their language at the time—‘to provide for our safety by a law, that all such should take notice how unwelcome they should be unto us, either comeing or staying.
But for such as differ from us only in judgment, and live peaceably
amongst us, such have no cause to complain; for it hath never beene as yet putt in execution against any of them, although such are known to live amongst us.’1
Even two of the presidents of Harvard college were Anabaptists.
While dissenters were thus treated with an equivocal toleration, no concessions were made towards the government in England
It was the creed of even the most loyal deputy, that ‘if the king, or any party from him, should attempt any thing against this comnonwealth,’ it was the common duty ‘to spend estate, and life, and all, without scruple, in its defence;’ that ‘if the parliament itself should hereafter be of a malignant spirit, then, if the colony have strength sufficient, ’