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   Chapter 6 — THE ANABAPTISTS.

The Emancipation of Massachusetts By Brooks Adams Characters: 33691

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


The Rev. Thomas Shepard, pastor of Charlestown, was such an example, "in word, in conversation, in civility, in spirit, in faith, in purity, that he did let no man despise his youth;" [Footnote: Magnalia, bk. 4, ch. ix. Section 6.] and yet, preaching an election sermon before the governor and magistrates, he told them that "anabaptisme ... hath ever been lookt at by the godly leaders of this people as a scab." [Footnote: Eye Salve, p. 24.] While the Rev. Samuel Willard, president of Harvard, declared that "such a rough thing as a New England Anabaptist is not to be handled over tenderly." [Footnote: Ne Sutor, p. 10.]

So early as 1644, therefore, the General Court "Ordered and agreed, yt if any person or persons within ye iurisdiction shall either openly condemne or oppose ye baptizing of infants, or go about secretly to seduce others from ye app'bation or use thereof, or shall purposely depart ye congregation at ye administration of ye ordinance, ... and shall appear to ye Co't willfully and obstinately to continue therein after due time and meanes of conviction, every such person or persons shallbe sentenced to banishment." [Footnote: Mass. Rec. ii. 85. 13 November, 1644.]

The legislation, however, was unpopular, for Winthrop relates that in October, 1645, divers merchants and others petitioned to have the act repealed, because of the offense taken thereat by the godly in England, and the court seemed inclined to accede, "but many of the elders ... entreated that the law might continue still in force, and the execution of it not suspended, though they disliked not that all lenity and patience should be used for convincing and reclaiming such erroneous persons. Whereupon the court refused to make any further order." [Footnote: Winthrop, ii. 251.] And Edward Winslow assured Parliament in 1646, when sent to England to represent the colony, that, some mitigation being desired, "it was answered in my hearing. 'T is true we have a severe law, but wee never did or will execute the rigor of it upon any.... But the reason wherefore wee are loath either to repeale or alter the law is, because wee would have it ... to beare witnesse against their judgment, ... which we conceive ... to bee erroneous." [Footnote: Hypocrisie Unmasked, 101.]

Unquestionably, at that time no one had been banished; but in 1644 "one Painter, for refusing to let his child be baptized, ... was brought before the court, where he declared their baptism to be anti-Christian. He was sentenced to be whipped, which he bore without flinching, and boasted that God had assisted him." [Footnote: Hutch. Hist. i. 208, note.] Nor was his a solitary instance of severity. Yet, notwithstanding the scorn and hatred which the orthodox divines felt for these sectaries, many very eminent Puritans fell into the errors of that persuasion. Roger Williams was a Baptist, and Henry Dunster, for the same heresy, was removed from the presidency of Harvard, and found it prudent to end his days within the Plymouth jurisdiction. Even that great champion of infant baptism, Jonathan Mitchell, when thrown into intimate relations with Dunster, had doubts.

"That day ... after I came from him I had a strange experience; I found hurrying and pressing suggestions against P?dobaptism, and injected scruples and thoughts whether the other way might not be right, and infant baptism an invention of men; and whether I might with good conscience baptize children and the like. And these thoughts were darted in with some impression, and left a strange confusion and sickliness upon my spirit. Yet, methought, it was not hard to discern that they were from the Evil One; ... And it made me fearful to go needlessly to Mr. D.; for methought I found a venom and poison in his insinuations and discourses against P?dobaptism." [Footnote: Magnalia, bk. 4, ch. iv. Section 10.]

Henry Dunster was an uncommon man. Famed for piety in an age of fanaticism, learned, modest, and brave, by the unremitting toil of thirteen years he raised Harvard from a school to the position which it has since held; and though very poor, and starving on a wretched and ill-paid pittance, he gave his beloved college one hundred acres of land at the moment of its sorest need. [Footnote: Quincy's History of Harvard, i. 15.] Yet he was a criminal, for he would not baptize infants, and he met with the "lenity and patience" which the elders were not unwilling should be used toward the erring.

He was indicted and convicted of disturbing church ordinances, and deprived of his office in October, 1654. He asked for leave to stay in the house he had built for a few months, and his petition in November ought to be read to understand how heretics were made to suffer:-

"1st. The time of the year is unseasonable, being now very near the shortest day, and the depth of winter.

"2d. The place unto which I go is unknown to me and my family, and the ways and means of subsistance....

"3d. The place from which I go hath fire, fuel, and all provisions for man and beast, laid in for the winter.... The house I have builded upon very damageful conditions to myself, out of love for the college, taking country pay in lieu of bills of exchange on England, or the house would not have been built....

"4th. The persons, all beside myself, are women and children, on whom little help, now their minds lie under the actual stroke of affliction and grief. My wife is sick, and my youngest child extremely so, and hath been for months, so that we dare not carry him out of doors, yet much worse now than before.... Myself will willingly bow my neck to any yoke of personal denial, for I know for what and for whom, by grace I suffer." [Footnote: History of Harvard, i. 18.]

He had before asked Winthrop to cause the government to pay him what it owed, and he ended his prayer in these words: "Considering the poverty of the country, I am willing to descend to the lowest step; and if nothing can comfortably be allowed, I sit still appeased; desiring nothing more than to supply me and mine with food and raiment." [Footnote: Idem, i. 20.] He received that mercy which the church has ever shown to those who wander from her fold; he was given till March, and then, with dues unpaid, was driven forth a broken man, to die in poverty and neglect.

But Jonathan Mitchell, pondering deeply upon the wages he saw paid at his very hearthstone, to the sin of his miserable old friend, snatched his own soul from Satan's jaws. And thenceforward his path lay in pleasant places, and he prospered exceedingly in the world, so that "of extream lean he grew extream fat; and at last, in an extream hot season, a fever arrested him, just after he had been preaching.... Wonderful were the lamentations which this deplorable death fill'd the churches of New England withal.... Yea ... all New England shook when that pillar fell to the ground." [Footnote: Magnalia, bk. 4, ch. iv. Section 16.]

Notwithstanding, therefore, clerical promises of gentleness, Massachusetts was not a comfortable place of residence for Baptists, who, for the most part, went to Rhode Island; and John Clark [Footnote: For sketch of Clark's life see Allen's Biographical Dictionary.] became the pastor of the church which they formed at Newport about 1644. He had been born about 1610, and had been educated in London as a physician. In 1637 he landed at Boston, where he seems to have become embroiled in the Antinomian controversy; at all events, he fared so ill that, with several others, he left Massachusetts 'resolving, through the help of Christ, to get clear of all [chartered companies] and be of ourselves.' In the course of their wanderings they fell in with Williams, and settled near him.

Clark was perhaps the most prominent man in the Plantations, filled many public offices, and was the commissioner who afterward secured for the colony the famous charter that served as the State Constitution till 1842.

Obediah Holmes, who succeeded him as Baptist minister of Newport, is less well known. He was educated at Oxford, and when he emigrated he settled at Salem; from thence he went to Seaconk, where he joined the church under Mr. Newman. Here he soon fell into trouble for resisting what he maintained was an "unrighteous act" of his pastor's; in consequence he and several more renounced the communion, and began to worship by themselves; they were baptized and thereafter they were excommunicated; the inevitable indictment followed, and they, too, took refuge in Rhode Island. [Footnote: Holmes's Narrative, Backus, i. 213.]

William Witter [Footnote: For the following events, see "Ill Newes from New England" Mass. Hist. Coll. fourth series, vol. ii.] of Lynn was an aged Baptist, who had already been prosecuted, but, in 1651, being blind and infirm, he asked the Newport church to send some of the brethren to him, to administer the communion, for he found himself alone in Massachusetts. [Footnote: Backus, i. 215.] Accordingly Clark undertook the mission, with Obediah Holmes and John Crandall.

They reached Lynn on Saturday, July 19, 1651, and on Sunday stayed within doors in order not to disturb the congregation. A few friends were present, and Clark was in the midst of a sermon, when the house was entered by two constables with a warrant signed by Robert Bridges, commanding them to arrest certain "erroneous persons being strangers." The travellers were at once seized and carried to the tavern, and after dinner they were told that they must go to church.

Gorton, like many another, had to go through this ordeal, and he speaks of his Sundays with much feeling: "Only some part of those dayes they brought us forth into their congregations, to hear their sermons ... which was meat to be digested, but only by the heart or stomacke of an ostrich." [Footnote: Simplicitie's Defence, p. 57.]

The unfortunate Baptists remonstrated, saying that were they forced into the meeting-house, they should be obliged to dissent from the service, but this, the constable said, was nothing to him, and so he carried them away. On entering, during the prayer, the prisoners took off their hats, but presently put them on again and began reading in their seats. Whereupon Bridges ordered the officers to uncover their heads, which was done, and the service was then quietly finished. When all was over, Clark asked leave to speak, which, after some hesitation, was granted, on condition he would not discuss what he had heard. He began to explain how he had put on his hat because he could not judge that they were gathered according to the visible order of the Lord; but here he was silenced, and the three were committed to custody for the night. On Tuesday they were taken to Boston, and on the 31st were brought before Governor Endicott. Their trial was of the kind reserved by priests for heretics. No jury was impanelled, no indictment was read, no evidence was heard, but the prisoners were reviled by the bench as Anabaptists, and when they repudiated the name were asked if they did not deny infant baptism. The theological argument which followed was cut short by a recommitment to await sentence.

That afternoon John Cotton exhorted the judges from the pulpit. He expounded the law, and commanded them to do their duty; he told them that the rejection of infant baptism would overthrow the church; that this was a capital crime, and therefore the captives were "foul murtherers." [Footnote: Ill Newes, p. 56.] Thus inspired, the court came in toward evening.

The record recites a number of misdemeanors, such as wearing the hat in church, administering the communion to the excommunicated, and the like, but no attempt was made to prove a single charge. [Footnote: Ill Newes, pp. 31-44.] The reason is obvious: the only penalty provided by statute for the offence of being a Baptist was banishment, hence the only legal course would have been to dismiss the accused. Endicott condemned them to fines of twenty, thirty, and five pounds, respectively, or to be whipped. Clark understood his position perfectly, and from the first had demanded to be shown the law under which he was being tried. He now, after sentence, renewed the request. Endicott well knew that in acting as the mouthpiece of the clergy he was violating alike justice, his oath of office, and his honor as a judge; and, being goaded to fury, he broke out: You have deserved death; I will not have such trash brought into our jurisdiction. [Footnote: Idem, p. 33.] Holmes tells the rest: "As I went from the bar, I exprest myself in these words,-I blesse God I am counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus; whereupon John Wilson (their pastor, as they call him) strook me before the judgement seat, and cursed me, saying, The curse of God ... goe with thee; so we were carried to the prison." [Footnote: Idem, p. 47.]

All the convicts maintained that their liberty as English subjects had been violated, and they refused to pay their fines. Clark's friends, however, alarmed for his safety, settled his for him, and he was discharged.

Crandall was admitted to bail, but being misinformed as to the time of surrender, he did not appear, his bond was forfeited, and on his return to Boston he found himself free.

Thus Holmes was left to face his punishment alone. Actuated apparently by a deep sense of duty toward himself and his God, he refused the help of friends, and steadfastly awaited his fate. As he lay in prison he suffered keenly as he thought of his birth and breeding, his name, his worldly credit, and the humiliation which must come to his wife and children from his public shame; then, too, he began to fear lest he might not be able to bear the lash, might flinch or shed tears, and bring contempt on himself and his religion. Yet when the morning came he was calm and resolute; refusing food and drink, that he might not be said to be sustained by liquor, he betook himself to prayer, and when his keeper called him, with his Bible in his hand, he walked cheerfully to the post. He would have spoken a few words, but the magistrate ordered the executioner to do his office quickly, for this fellow would delude the people; then he was seized and stripped, and as he cried, "Lord, lay not this sin unto their charge," he received the first blow. [Footnote: Ill Newes, pp. 48, 56.]

They gave him thirty lashes with a three-thonged whip, of such horrible severity that it was many days before he could endure to have his lacerated body touch the bed, and he rested propped upon his hands and knees. [Footnote: Backus, i. 237, note. MS. of Gov. Jos. Jencks.] Yet, in spite of his torture, he stood firm and calm, showing neither pain nor fear, breaking out at intervals into praise to God; and his dignity and courage so impressed the people that, in spite of the danger, numbers flocked about him when he was set free, in sympathy and admiration. John Spur, being inwardly affected by what he saw and heard, took him by the hand, and, with a joyful countenance, said: "Praised be the Lord," and so went back with him. That same day Spur was arrested, charged with the crime of succoring a heretic. Then said the undaunted Spur: "Obediah Holmes I do look upon as a godly man: and do affirm that he carried himself as did become a Christian, under so sad an affliction." "We will deal with you as we have dealt with him," said Endicott. "I am in the hands of God," answered Spur; and then his keeper took him to his prison. [Footnote: Ill Newes, p. 57.]

Perhaps no persecutor ever lived who was actuated by a single motive: Saint Dominic probably had some trace of worldliness; Henry VIII. some touch of bigotry; and this was preeminently true of the Massachusetts elders. Doubtless there were among them men like Norton, whose fanaticism was so fierce that they would have destroyed the heretic like the wild beast, as a child of the devil, and an abomination to God. But with the majority worldly motives predominated: they were always protesting that they did not constrain men's consciences, but only enforced orderly living. Increase Mather declared: in "the same church there have been Presbyterians, Independents, Episcopalians, and Antip?dobaptists, all welcome to the same table of the Lord when they have manifested to the judgment of Christian charity a work of regeneration in their souls." [Footnote: Vindication of New Eng. p. 19.] And Winslow solemnly assured Parliament, "Nay, some in our churches" are "of that judgment, and as long as they [Baptists] carry themselves peaceably as hitherto they doe, wee will leave them to God." [Footnote: Hypocrisie Unmasked, p. 101. A. D. 1646.]

Such statements, although intended to convey a false impression, contained this much truth: provided a man conformed to all the regulations of the chur

ch, paid his taxes, and held his tongue, he would not, in ordinary circumstances, have been molested under the Puritan Commonwealth. But the moment he refused implicit obedience, or, above all, if he withdrew from his congregation, he was shown no mercy, because such acts tended to shake the temporal power. John Wilson, pastor of Boston, was a good example of the average of his order. On his death-bed he was asked to declare what he thought to be the worst sins of the country. "'I have long feared several sins, whereof one,' he said, 'was Corahism: that is, when people rise up as Corah against their ministers, as if they took too much upon them, when indeed they do but rule for Christ, and according to Christ.'" [Footnote: Magnalia, bk. 3, ch. iii. Section 17.] Permeated with this love of power, and possessed of a superb organization, the clergy never failed to act on public opinion with decisive effect whenever they saw their worldly interests endangered. Childe has described the attack which overwhelmed him, and Gorton gives a striking account of their process of inciting a crusade:-

"These things concluded to be heresies and blasphemies.... The ministers did zealously preach unto the people the great danger of such things, and the guilt such lay under that held them, stirring the people up to labour to find such persons out and to execute death upon them, making persons so execrable in the eyes of the people, whom they intimated should hold such things, yea some of them naming some of us in their pulpits, that the people that had not seen us thought us to be worse by far in any respect then those barbarous Indians are in the country.... Whereupon we heard a rumor that the Massachusets was sending out an army of men to cut us off." [Footnote: Simplicitie's Defence, p. 32.]

The persecution of the Baptists lays bare this selfish clerical policy. The theory of the suppression of heresy as a sacred duty breaks down when it is conceded that the heretic may be admitted to the orthodox communion without sin; therefore the motives for cruelty were sordid. The ministers felt instinctively that an open toleration would impair their power; not only because the congregations would divide, but because these sectaries listened to "John Russell the shoemaker." [Footnote: Ne Sutor, p. 26.] Obviously, were cobblers to usurp the sacerdotal functions, the superstitious reverence of the people for the priestly office would not long endure: and it was his crime in upholding this sacrilegious practice which made the Rev. Thomas Cobbett cry out in his pulpit "against Gorton, that arch-heretick, who would have al men to be preachers." [Footnote: Simplicities Defence, p. 32. See Ne Sutor, p. 26.]

Therefore, though Winslow solemnly protested before the Commissioners at London that Baptists who lived peaceably would be left unmolested, yet such of them as listened to "foul-murtherers" [Footnote: "Ill Newes," Mass. Hist. Coll. fourth series, vol. ii. p. 56.] were denounced by the divines as dangerous fanatics who threatened to overthrow the government, and were hunted through the country like wolves.

Thomas Gould was an esteemed citizen of Charles-town, but, unfortunately for himself, he had long felt doubt concerning infant baptism; so when, in 1655, a child was born to him, he "durst not" have it christened. "The elder pressed the church to lay me under admonition, which the church was backward to do. Afterward I went out at the sprinkling of children, which was a great trouble to some honest hearts, and they told me of it. But I told them I could not stay, for I lookt upon it as no ordinance of Christ. They told me that now I had made known my judgment I might stay.... So I stayed and sat down in my seat when they were at prayer and administring the service to infants. Then they dealt with me for my unreverent carriage." [Footnote: Gould's Narrative, Backus, i. 364-366.] That is to say, his pastor, Mr. Symmes, caused him to be admonished and excluded from the communion. In October, 1656, he was presented to the county court for "denying baptism to his child," convicted, admonished, and given till the next term to consider of his error; and gradually his position at Charlestown became so unpleasant that he went to church at Cambridge, which was a cause of fresh offence to Mr. Symmes. [Footnote: History of Charlestown, Frothingham, p. 164.]

From this time forward for several years, though no actual punishment seems to have been inflicted, Gould was subjected to perpetual annoyance, and was repeatedly summoned and admonished, both by the courts and the church, until at length he brought matters to a crisis by withdrawing, and with eight others forming a church, on May 28, 1665.

He thus tells his story: "We sought the Lord to direct us, and taking counsel of other friends who dwelt among us, who were able and godly, they gave us counsel to congregate ourselves together; and so we did, ... to walk in the order of the gospel according to the rule of Christ, yet knowing it was a breach of the law of this country.... After we had been called into one or two courts, the church understanding that we were gathered into church order, they sent three messengers from the church to me, telling me the church required me to come before them the next Lord's day." [Footnote: Gould's Narrative, Backus, i. 369.] That Sunday he could not go, but he promised to attend on the one following; [Footnote: Gould's Narrative, Backus, i. 371.] and his wife relates what was then done: "The word was carried to the elder, that if they were alive and well they would come the next day, yet they were so hot upon it that they could not stay, but master Sims, when he was laying out the sins of these men, before he had propounded it to the church, to know their mind, the church having no liberty to speak, he wound it up in his discourse, and delivered them up to Satan, to the amazement of the people, that ever such an ordinance of Christ should be so abused, that many of the people went out; and these were the excommunicated persons." [Footnote: Mrs. Gould's Answer, Backus, i. 384.] The sequence is complete: so long as Gould confined his heresy to pure speculation upon dogma he was little heeded; when he withheld his child from baptism and went out during the ceremony he was admonished, denied the sacrament, and treated as a social outcast; but when he separated, he was excommunicated and given to the magistrate to be crushed.

Passing from one tribunal to another the sectaries came before the General Court in October, 1665: such as were freemen were disfranchised, and all were sentenced, upon conviction before a single magistrate of continued schism, to be imprisoned until further order. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 291.] The following April they were fined four pounds and put in confinement, where they lay till the 11th of September, when the legislature, after a hearing, ordered them to be discharged upon payment of fines and costs. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 316.]

How many Baptists were prosecuted, and what they suffered, is not known, as only an imperfect record remains of the fortunes of even the leaders of the movement; this much, however, is certain, they not only continued contumacious, but persecution added to their numbers. So at length the clergy decided to try what effect a public refutation of these heretics would have on popular opinion. Accordingly the governor and council, actuated by "Christian candor," ordered the Baptists to appear at the meeting-house, at nine o'clock in the morning, on the 14th of April, 1668; and six ministers were deputed to conduct the disputation. [Footnote: Backus, i. 375.]

During the immolation of Dunster the Rev. Mr. Mitchell had made up his mind that he "would have an argument able to remove a mountain" before he would swerve from his orthodoxy; he had since confirmed his faith by preaching "more than half a score ungainsayable sermons" "in defence of this comfortable truth," and he was now prepared to maintain it against all comers. Accordingly this "worthy man was he who did most service in this disputation; whereof the effect was, that although the erring brethren, as is usual in such cases, made this their last answer to the arguments which had cast them into much confusion: 'Say what you will we will hold our mind.' Yet others were happily established in the right ways of the Lord." [Footnote: Magnalia, bk. 4, ch. iv. Section 10.]

Such is the account of Cotton Mather: but the story of the Baptists presents a somewhat different view of the proceedings. "It is true there were seven elders appointed to discourse with them.... and when they were met, there was a long speech made by one of them of what vile persons they were, and how they acted against the churches and government here, and stood condemned by the court. The others desiring liberty to speak, they would not suffer them, but told them they stood there as delinquents and ought not to have liberty to speak.... Two days were spent to little purpose; in the close, master Jonathan Mitchel pronounced that dreadful sentence against them in Deut. xvii. 8, to the end of the 12th, and this was the way they took to convince them, and you may see what a good effect it had." [Footnote: Mrs. Gould's Answer, Backus, i. 384, 385.]

The sentence pronounced by Mitchell was this: "And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel." [Footnote: Deut. xvii. 12.]

On the 27th of May, 1668, Gould, Turner, and Farnum, "obstinate & turbulent Annabaptists," were banished under pain of perpetual imprisonment. [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. ii, pp. 373-375.] They determined to stay and face their fate: afterward they wrote to the magistrates:-

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HONOURED SIRS: ... After the tenders of our service according to Christ, his command to your selves and the country, wee thought it our duty and concernment to present your honours with these few lines to put you in remembrance of our bonds: and this being the twelfth week of our imprisonment, wee should be glad if it might be thought to stand with the honour and safety of the country, and the present government thereof, to be now at liberty. For wee doe hereby seriously profess, that as farre as wee are sensible or know anything of our own hearts, wee do prefer their peace and safety above our own, however wee have been resented otherwise: and wherein wee differ in point of judgment wee humbly beeseech you, let there be a bearing with us, till god shal reveale otherwise to us; for there is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding, therefore if wee are in the dark, wee dare not say that wee doe see or understand, till the Lord shall cleare things up to us. And to him wee can appeale to cleare up our innocency as touching the government, both in your civil and church affaires. That it never was in our hearts to thinke of doing the least wrong to either: but have and wee hope, by your assistance, shal alwaies indeavour to keepe a conscience void of offence towards god and men. And if it shal be thought meete to afforde us our liberty, that wee may take that care, as becomes us, for our families, wee shal engage ourselves to be alwayes in a readines to resigne up our persons to your pleasure. Hoping your honours will be pleased seriously to consider our condition, wee shall commend both you and it to the wise disposing and blessing of the Almighty, and remaine your honours faithful servants in what we may.

THO: GOLD WILL: TURNER JOHN FARNUM. [Footnote: Mass. Archives, x. 220.]

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Such were the men whom the clergy daily warned their congregations "would certainly undermine the churches, ruine order, destroy piety, and introduce prophaneness." [Footnote: Ne Sutor, p. 11.] And when they appealed to their spotless lives and their patience under affliction, they were told "that the vilest hereticks and grossest blasphemers have resolutely and cheerfully (at least sullenly and boastingly) suffered as well as the people of God." [Footnote: Ne Sutor, p. 9.]

The feeling of indignation and of sympathy was, notwithstanding, strong; and in spite of the danger of succoring heretics, sixty-six inhabitants, among whom were some of the most respected citizens of Charlestown, petitioned the legislature for mercy: "They being aged and weakly men; ... the sense of this their ... most deplorable and afflicted condition hath sadly affected the hearts of many ... Christians, and such as neither approve of their judgment or practice; especially considering that the men are reputed godly, and of a blameless conversation.... We therefore most humbly beseech this honored court, in their Christian mercy and bowels of compassion, to pity and relieve these poor prisoners." [Footnote: Backus, i. 380, 381.] On November 7, 1668, the petition was voted "scandalous & reproachful," the two chief promoters were censured, admonished, and fined ten and five pounds respectively; the others were made, under their own hands, to express their sorrow, "for giving the court such just ground of offence." [Footnote: Mass. Rec. vol. iv. pt. 2, p. 413.]

The shock was felt even in England. In March, 1669, thirteen of the most influential dissenting ministers wrote from London earnestly begging for moderation lest they should be made to suffer from retaliation; but their remonstrance was disregarded. [Footnote: Backus, i. 395.] What followed is not exactly known; the convicts would seem to have lain in jail about a year, and they are next mentioned in a letter to Clark written in November, 1670, in which he was told that Turner had been again arrested, but that Gould had eluded the officers, who were waiting for him in Boston; and was on Noddle's Island. Subsequently all were taken and treated with the extremest rigor; for in June, 1672, Russell was so reduced that it was supposed he could not live, and he was reported to have died in prison. Six months before Gould and Turner had been thought past hope; their sufferings had brought them all to the brink of the grave. [Footnote: Backus, i. 398-404, 405.] But relief was at hand: the victory for freedom had been won by the blood of heretics, as devoted, as fearless, but even unhappier than they; and the election of Leverett, in 1673, who was opposed to persecution, marks the moment when the hierarchy admitted their defeat. During his administration the sectaries usually met in private undisturbed; and soon every energy of the theocracy became concentrated on the effort to repulse the ever contracting circle of enemies who encompassed it.

During the next few years events moved fast. In 1678 the ecclesiastical power was so shattered that the Baptists felt strong enough to build a church; but the old despotic spirit lived even in the throes of death, and the legislature passed an act forbidding the erection of unlicensed meeting-houses under penalty of confiscation. Nevertheless it was finished, but on the Sunday on which it was to have been opened the marshal nailed the doors fast and posted notices forbidding all persons to enter, by order of the court. After a time the doors were broken open, and services were held; a number of the congregation were summoned before the court, admonished, and forbidden to meet in any public place; [Footnote: June 11, 1680. Mass. Rec. v. 271.] but the handwriting was now glowing on the wall, priestly threats had lost their terror; the order was disregarded; and now for almost two hundred years Massachusetts has been foremost in defending the equal rights of men before the law.

The old world was passing away, a new era was opening, and a few words are due to that singular aristocracy which so long ruled New England. For two centuries Increase Mather has been extolled as an eminent example of the abilities and virtues which then adorned his order. In 1681, when all was over, he published a solemn statement of the attitude the clergy had held toward the Baptists, and from his words posterity may judge of their standard of morality and of truth.

"The Annabaptists in New England have in their narrative lately published, endeavoured to ... make themselves the innocent persons and the Lord's servants here no better than persecutors.... I have been a poor labourer in the Lord's Vineyard in this place upward of twenty years; and it is more than I know, if in all that time, any of those that scruple infant baptism, have met with molestation from the magistrate merely on account of their opinion." [Footnote: Preface to Ne Sutor.]

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