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[450] a commonwealth, began to preach to a small audience
Chap X.} 1651. July 20.
in Lynn, he was seized by the civil officers. Being compelled to attend with the congregation, he expressed his aversion by a harmless indecorum, which would yet have been without excuse, had his presence been voluntary. He and his companions were tried, and condemned to pay a fine of twenty or thirty pounds; and Holmes, who refused to pay his fine, was whipped unmercifully.

Since a particular form of worship had become a part of the civil establishment, irreligion was now to be punished as a civil offence. The state was a model of Christ's kingdom on earth; treason against the civil government was treason against Christ; and reciprocally, as the gospel had the right paramount, bias phemy, or what a jury should call blasphemy, was the highest offence in the catalogue of crimes. To deny any book of the Old or New Testament to be the written and infallible word of God, was punishable by fine or by stripes, and, in case of obstinacy, by exile or death. Absence from ‘the ministry of the word’ was punished by a fine.

By degrees the spirit of the establishment began to

subvert the fundamental principles of Independency. The liberty of prophesying was refused, except the approbation of four elders, or of a county court, had been obtained. Remonstrance1 was useless. The union of church and state was fast corrupting both; it mingled base ambition with the former; it gave a false direction to the legislation of the latter. And at last the general court claimed for itself, for the council, and
for any two organic churches, the right of silencing

1 Felt's Salem, 188 and 533. III. Mass. Hist. Coll. i. 40.

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