IV. Dr. John Clarke; the Portsmouth Compact


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry



Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 26, 2018


Dr. John Clarke

Another leader instrumental in the formation of the government of the Rhode Island colony was Dr. John Clarke, a physician from England. Dr. Clarke moved to Boston in November of 1637. He proposed to some friends “for peace sake, and to enjoy the freedom of their consciences, to remove out of that jurisdiction.”[1] Their motion was granted & Dr. Clarke and eighteen families went to New Hampshire, which proved too cold for their liking. They left and stopped in Rhode Island, intending to go to Long Island or Delaware Bay. There Dr. Clarke met Roger Williams. The two “immediately became fast friends and associates, working together in a most harmonious manner, both socially and politically, throughout the remainder of Clarke’s life.”[2] With the help of Mr. Williams, they settled in that colony at Aquidneck. “The first settlement on the Island was called Pocasset; after the founding of Newport, it was renamed Portsmouth.”[3]

Isaac Backus found it to be very extraordinary that he could find from any author or record no reflection cast upon Dr. Clarke by any one.[4] Dr. Clarke left as spotless a character as any man [Isaac Backus] knew of, that ever acted in any public station in this country.[5] “The Massachusetts writers have been so watchful and careful, to publish whatever they could find, which might seem to countenance the severities, they used towards dissenters from their way, that [Mr. Backus] expected to find something of that nature against Mr. Clarke.”[6]

Portsmouth Compact

The first government of note in history that was to have complete freedom of conscience and religious liberty also declared that the government was to be under the Lord Jesus Christ. Signed on March 7, 1638, the Portsmouth Compact read:

  • “We whose names are underwritten do swear solemnly, in the presence of Jehovah, to incorporate ourselves into a body politic, and as he shall help us, will submit our persons, lives and estates, unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, and to all those most perfect and absolute laws of his, given us in his holy word of truth, to be guided and judged thereby.” [7] [19 signatures followed: Thomas Savage, William Dyre, William Freeborne, Philip Sherman, John Walker, Richard Carder, William Baulstone, Edward Hutchinson, Sen., Henry Bull, Randal Holden, William Coddington, John Clarke, William Hutchinson, John Coggshall, William Aspinwall, Samuel Wilbore, John Porter, Edward Hutchinson, Jun., and John Sanford.].
  • Three passages were marked in support of the compact: Exodus 24.3, 4; II Chronicles 11.3; and II Kings 11.17.

The chief architect of this concise and powerful piece of political history was either William Aspinwall or Dr. John Clarke, probably Dr. Clarke.[8] This compact placed Rhode Island under the one true God, the Lord Jesus Christ and his principles and laws given in the Bible. That Dr. Clarke “sought to help establish a government free of all religious restriction, one which in no way infringed upon the freedom of any religious conscience” is “evident from his remarks to the leaders of the established colonies upon his first arrival in Boston and by his subsequent activities throughout New England.”[9] A Gentile civil government under Jesus Christ with freedom of religion is consistent with Biblical principles.

Isaac Backus commented on this compact:

“This was doubtless in their view a better plan than any of the others had laid, as they were to be governed by the perfect laws of Christ. But the question is, how a civil polity could be so governed, when he never erected any such state under the gospel?”[10]

Mr. Backus asked a good question. Too bad America’s founding fathers did not find and apply the answer. On the same day the Portsmouth Compact was signed, “[n]ineteen men incorporated into a body politic, and chose Mr. Coddington to be their judge or chief magistrate.”[11] The first General Meeting of the Portsmouth government convened on May 13, 1638. “The apportionment of land, a mutual defense of territory, and provision for a ‘Meeting House’ were ordered.” [12] Soon, a civil government was formed which invested power in the freemen, none of whom were to be “accounted delinquents for doctrine,” “provided it be not directly repugnant to or laws established.”[13]


Endnotes

[1] Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 71. See also John Clarke, Ill News from New-England or A Narative of New-Englands Persecution (Paris, Ark.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., Reprint: 1st printed in 1652), pp. 22-25.

[2] Louis Franklin Asher, John Clarke (1609-1676): Pioneer in American Medicine, Democratic Ideals, and Champion of Religious Liberty (Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.), p. 27; John Clarke, Ill News from New-England or A Narative of New-Englands Persecution (Paris, Ark.: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc., Reprint: 1st printed in 1652).

[3] Louis Franklin Asher, John Clarke (1609-1676): Pioneer in American Medicine, Democratic Ideals, and Champion of Religious Liberty (Paris, Arkansas: The Baptist Standard Bearer, Inc.), p. 29; Clarke.

[4] Backus, Volume 1, p. 349.

[5] Ibid., p. 348.

[6] Ibid., p. 349.

[7] Ibid., pp. 77, 427. On p. 427 is the exact copy from Rhode Island records. In the margin are citations to Exodus 34.3, 4; 2 Chr. 11.3, and 2 K. 11, 17.

[8] Asher, p. 23; James R. Beller, America in Crimson Red: The Baptist History of America (Arnold, Missouri: Prairie Fire Press, 2004), p. 24. Mr. Beller states that the author was John Clarke. Mr. Asher asserts that Clarke was probably the writer since the passages referenced in support of the agreement were marked in Dr. Clarke’s Bible.

[9] Asher, p. 27.

[10] Backus, Volume 1, p. 78.

[11] Ibid., p. 72; Asher, p. 27.

[12] Asher, p. 29.

[13] Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), pp. xxvii-xxviii.

III. Roger Williams Flees Massachusetts; His Contributions to Religious Liberty


A Publication of Separation of Church and State Law Ministry.



Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 26, 2018


After the Massachusetts court banished Roger Williams from the colony and ordered him to board ship for England, he went instead, in the dead of winter, to what was to become Rhode Island. There he was supported by the Indians whom he, throughout his long life, unceasingly tried to benefit and befriend.[1] He bought land from the Indians and founded the town of Providence where persecution has never “sullied its annals.”[2] “[T]he harsh treatment and cruel exile of Mr. Williams seem designed by his brethren for the same evil end [as that of the brethren of Joseph when they sold him into slavery], but was, by the goodness of the same overruling hand [of divine providence] turned to the most beneficent purposes.”[3] In 1638, “[m]any Massachusetts Christians who had adopted Baptist views, and finding themselves subjected to persecution on that account, moved to Providence.”[4]

“[W]hat human heart can be unaffected with the thought that a people who had been sorely persecuted in their own country, so as to flee three thousand miles into a wilderness for religious liberty, yet should have that imposing temper cleaving so fast to them, as not to be willing to let a godly minister, who testified against it, stay even in any neighboring part of this wilderness, but it moved them to attempt to take him by force, to send him back into the land of their persecutors!”[5]

Thirty-five years later Mr. Williams wrote, “Here, all over this colony, a great number of weak and distressed souls, scattered, are flying hither from Old and New England, the Most High and Only Wise hath, in his infinite wisdom, provided this country and this corner as a shelter for the poor and persecuted, according to their several persuasions.”[6] By 1838 in Rhode Island, there were no less than thirty-two distinct societies or worshipping assemblies of Christians of varying denominations, including eight of the Quaker persuasion, eight Baptist churches, four Episcopal, and three Presbyterian or Congregationalist.[7]

Notable historians have praised Roger Williams for his contributions in the quest for religious freedom. For example:

  • Isaac Backus wrote that Rhode Island “was laid upon such principles as no other civil government had ever been, as we know of, since antichrist’s first appearance; “and ROGER WILLIAMS justly claims the honor of having been the first legislator in the world, in its latter ages, that fully and effectually provided for and established a free, full and absolute LIBERTY OF CONSCIENCE.”[8]
  • “We cannot forbear to add the oft-quoted tribute paid to Roger Williams by the historian Bancroft:—‘He was the first person in modern Christendom to assert in its plentitude the doctrine of liberty of conscience, the equality of opinions before the law; and in its defence he was the harbinger of Milton, the precursor and the superior of Jeremy Taylor. For Taylor limited his toleration to a few Christian sects; the philanthropy of Williams compassed the earth. Taylor favored partial reform, commended lenity, argued for forbearance, and entered a special plea in behalf of each tolerable sect; Williams would permit persecution of no opinion, of no religion, leaving heresy unharmed by law, and orthodoxy unprotected by the terrors of penal statutes…. If Copernicus is held in perpetual reverence, because, on his deathbed, he published to the world that the sun is the centre of our system; if the name of Kepler is preserved in the annals of human excellence for his sagacity in detecting the laws of the planetary motion; if the genius of Newton has been almost adored for dissecting a ray of light, and weighing heavenly bodies in a balance,—let there be for the name of Roger Williams, at least some humble place among those who have advanced moral science and made themselves the benefactors of mankind.’”[9]

In 1638, others driven from Massachusetts by the ruling clerical power settled in Rhode Island. Massachusetts had such great hate for Rhode Island that it passed a law prohibiting the inhabitants of Providence from coming within its bounds.


Endnotes

[1] Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), p. xxiii.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 59.

[4] John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, Volume II, (Texarkana, Ark.-Tex.: Bogard Press, 1922), p p. 370-371, citing Winthrop, A History of New England, I. 269.

[5] Backus, Volume 1, p. 56.

[6] Williams and Underhill, p. xxv, citing in fn. 5: Letter to Mason. Knowles, p. 398.

[7] John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838), pp. 121-122.

[8] Backus, Volume 1, pp. 75-76.

[9] Ibid., p. 76, fn. 1; Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volumes 2 (Springfield, Mo.: Baptist Bible College, 1977 Reprint), p. 644; Christian, Volume I, p. 377. Christian also includes comments of Judge Story, Straus, and the German Philosopher Gervinus.

I. Introduction and Comments on Calvinist Revisionism of the History of Rhode Island.

 


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry



Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 26, 2018


Heresy cannot be the friend of a Bible believing Christian.

As pointed out by John Callender in 1838:

“Bishop Sanderson says [] that ‘the Rev. Archbishop Whitgift, and learned Hooker, men of great judgment, and famous in their times, did long since foresee and declare their fear, that if ever Puritanism should prevail among us, it would soon draw in Anabaptism after it.—This Cartwright and the Disciplinarians denied, and were offended at.—But these good men judged right; they considered, only as prudent men, that Anabaptism had its rise from the same principles the Puritans held, and its growth from the same course they took; together with the natural tendency of their principles and practices toward it especially that ONE PRINCIPLE, as it was then by them misunderstood that the scripture was adequate agendorum regula, so as nothing might be lawfully done, without express warrant, either from some command or example therein contained….”[1]

History certainly proves that to have been the case in the English colonies, as shown by the establishment of Rhode Island. Biblical disagreement with Puritan theology was the force behind the creation of the first government in history of any lasting significance with religious freedom, the government of the colony of Rhode Island.

“Mr. R[oger] Williams and Mr. J[ohn] Clark[e], two fathers of [Rhode Island], appear among the first who publicly avowed that Jesus Christ is king in his own kingdom, and that no others had authority over his subjects, in the affairs of conscience and eternal salvation.”[2] “Roger Williams was the first person in modern Christendom to maintain the doctrine of religious liberty and unlimited toleration.”[3]

Although America owes its present form of government to Roger Williams, along with Dr. John Clarke, as much or more than to any men, Mr. Williams is vilified and Dr. Clarke is generally ignored by Calvinist historic revisionists Peter Marshall and David Manuel, who laughably assert that the “Puritans were the people who, more than any other, made possible America’s foundation as a Christian nation.”[4] Because Roger Williams disagreed with those in the established church in Massachusetts, Marshall and Manuel condemn him as a hopeless heretic. For example, Marshall and Manuel, in condemning and lying about Williams, reveal that Christian Revisionists condemn, in a way that praises their own views, anyone who disagrees with their contorted interpretation of Scripture. They also justify the intervention of the civil government, at the behest of the established church, into spiritual matters. Marshall and Manuel sharply criticize Williams for his views and for refusing to change his views because those views were contrary to those of the established church in Massachusetts:

  • “Williams insistence upon absolute purity in the church, beyond all normal extremes, grew out of his own personal obsession with having to be right—in doctrine, in conduct, in church associations—in short, in every area of life. This need to be right colored everything he did or thought; indeed, it drove him into one untenable position after another. For the alternative—facing up to one’s self-righteousness and repenting of it on a continuing basis—was more than he could bring himself to accept.
  • “For Williams, then, Christianity became so super-spiritualized that it was removed from all contact with the sinful realities of daily living. In his view, the saints of New England belonged to a spiritual Israel, in the same way as did all Christians everywhere. But there should be no talk of any attempt on God’s part to build his Kingdom on earth through imperfect human beings. For Winthrop and the others to even suggest that God might be creating a new Israel in this Promised Land of America was to ‘… pull God and Christ and Spirit out of Heaven, and subject them unto natural, sinful, inconstant men….’”[5]

Actually, Williams was driven by his determination not to betray his Lord, not by his desire to be right. He believed the Bible and acted according to what the Bible said. As has been pointed out, public access to the Bible set in motion forces which could not be restrained in the colonies. Men began to expose the Puritan philosophized interpretations of the Bible and to act accordingly.

A book of lies, deceit, and historic revisionism.

Revisionists Peter Marshall and Daniel Manuel glorified the Puritans for disagreeing with the Church of England, but condemned Roger Williams for disagreeing with the Puritans. They applauded the Puritans for persecuting Roger Williams and other dissenters, but condemned the Church of England for persecuting the Puritans and Pilgrims.

For more on the revisionism of Marshall and Manual, see Appendix to “I. Introduction and Comments on Calvinist Revisionism of the History of Rhode Islan”: More on Calvinist Revisionism of the History of Rhode Island. Calvinists have always revised in their attempts to promote their goals and their false religion. For more on Calvinist revisionism, see the resource linked to in [6]. A good example is seen in The Great Works of Christ in America, Volumes 1 and 2[7] by Cotton Mather.[8]


Endnotes

[1] John Callender, The Civil and Religious Affairs of the Colony of Rhode-Island (Providence: Knowles, Vose & Company, 1838), pp. 113-114.

[2] Ibid., p. 70.

[3] Ibid., Appendix IV, p. 190.

[4] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 146. What is a Christian nation? No such thing is mentioned in the Bible which talks only of Gentile nations and the theocratic nation Israel. Only individuals can be “Christian” (Ac. 11.26).Certainly, the Constitution does not so much as mention Jesus Christ. America is a Gentile nation. Of course, a Gentile nation can honor God as discussed in other parts of this book. See, e.g., pp. 83, 95-96.

[5] Ibid., p. 193.

[6] The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/Christian Revisionism on Trial.

[7] Cotton Mather, The Great Works of Christ in America: Magnalia Christi Americana (Hartford, Connecticut: Silas Andrus and Son, 1853). First published in 1702.

[8] Cotton Mather (February 12, 1663 – February 13, 1728; A.B. 1678, Harvard College; A.M. 1681, honorary doctorate 1710, University of Glasgow) was a socially and politically influential New England Puritan minister, prolific author, and pamphleteer.

II. Roger Williams Flees English Tyranny and Comes to Massachusetts; His Banishment by the Massachusetts Court


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry



Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 26, 2018


Roger Williams, like the Puritans, fled tyranny over thought and conscience and sought refuge for conscience amid the wilds of America. He arrived in Boston on February 5, 1631. He was highly educated and well acquainted with the classics and original languages of the Scriptures, and had been in charge of a parish in England. In England, he had attended the preaching of Samuel Howe, a Baptist minister in London who practiced immersion. He was very intimate with Baptists in London; they uniformly pleaded liberty of conscience. By the time he arrived in Massachusetts, “[i]t is probable that Williams already believed in immersion and rejected infant baptism,” and, in “1633 he was ‘already inclined to the opinions of the Anabaptists.’”[1] “He was sorely persecuted by Archbishop Laud, and on that account he fled to America.”[2]

Upon arrival, he was invited to become pastor of the church in Boston but declined because he found that it was “an unseparated church,” and he “durst not officiate to” it.[3] Mr. Williams, not being a man who could hide his views and principles, declared, “the magistrate might not punish a breach of the Sabbath, nor any other offence, as it was a breach of the first table.”[4] He also, contrary to the practice of the church at Boston, hesitated to hold communion with any church who held communion with the Church of England. “He could not regard the cruelties and severities, and oppression, exercised by the Church of England, with any feelings but those of indignation.”[5]

BanishedFleesMr. Williams remained at odds with the established church and government ministers in Massachusetts. He was accepted by the church at Salem, but that was blocked by the General Court of the Colony. Plymouth warmly received him into the ministry where he labored two years. Exercising their right under congregational governance, the church at Salem called him, over the objections of the magistrates and ministers, to be their settled teacher. At Salem, he filled the place with principles of rigid separation tending to anabaptism.[6] In spite of the fact that “Mr. Williams appears, by the whole course and tenor of his life and conduct [], to have been one of the most disinterested men that ever lived, a most pious and heavenly minded soul,”[7] the Court soon summoned him “for teaching publicly ‘against the king’s patent, and our great sin in claiming right thereby to this country’” by taking the land of the natives without payment;[8] “and for terming the churches of England antichristian.”[9] Charges were brought. “He was accused of maintaining:

  1. “That the magistrate ought not to punish the breach of the first table of the law, otherwise in such cases as did disturb the civil peace.
  2. “That he ought not to tender an oath to an unregenerate man.
  3. “That a man ought not to pray with the unregenerate, though wife or child.
  4. “That a man ought not to give thanks after the sacrament nor after meat.”[10]

The ministers of the Court, when Mr. Williams appeared before them, “had already decided ‘that any one was worthy of banishment who should obstinately assert, that the civil magistrate might not intermeddle even to stop a church from apostasy and heresy.’”[11] The “grand difficulty they had with Mr. Williams was, his denying the civil magistrate’s right to govern in ecclesiastical affairs.”[12] The court banished him from the colony and ordered him to board a ship for England. He did not obey the order, but went to Rhode Island—the subject of the next lesson.


Endnotes

[1] John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, Volume II, (Texarkana, Ark.-Tex.: Bogard Press, 1922), p. 360; see also Christian, Volume II, pp. 28-45.

[2] Ibid., p. 370.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 41; Williams and Underhill, p. ix, noting in fn. 1, “Such is Governor Winthrop’s testimony. Knowles, p. 46.”

[5] Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), p. x.

[6] Backus, A History of New England, Volume 1, p. 44.

[7] Callender, p. 72.

[8] Backus, A History of New England, Volume 1, pp. 44-46. Williams and Underhill, p. xiii. The colonies held their land under the royal patent. Under the royal right of patent, Christian kings (so called) were given the right to take and give away the lands and countries of other men. Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2, pp. 638-639.

[9] Williams and Underhill, pp. xiii-xiv.

[10] Ibid, p. xiv; Callender, p. 72; Backus, A History of New England…, Volume I, p. 53 (Backus adds item 2, as, according to footnote 1, p. 53, his is from Governor Winthrop’s Journal, Vol. 1, pp. [162, 163]).

[11] Williams and Underhill, pp. xv, 387-389.

[12] Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, p. 53; Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 2, pp. 627-640.

Appendix to “I. Introduction and Comments on Calvinist Revisionism of the History of Rhode Island”: More on Calvinist Revisionism of the History of Rhode Island


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry



Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 26, 2018


A book of lies, deceit, and historic revisionism.

The Calvinist revisionist account of Williams does not chronicle the facts. Instead, it is a distortion of facts. Williams did not super-spiritualize Christianity. He pointed out that the Bible teaches that a church and a Gentile nation are to operate under different rules than did Judaism and the nation Israel. He did not remove Christianity from all contact with the sinful realities of daily living. He correctly argued that the church deals with those realities in a manner differing from that of Judaism and the nation Israel in the theocracy. He believed that man should have freedom of conscience in all things spiritual, a concept diametrically opposed to the theology of the established church of Massachusetts. He believed that penal laws should deal only with man’s relationship with his fellow man. He believed, contrary to Puritan theology, that the church should not merge with the state for any reason, and that the state should enforce only those commandments dealing with man’s relationship with man (the last six of the Commandments), not the first four of the Commandments which deal with man’s relationship to God. He condemned the king’s patent and taught that it was wrong to take the land of the natives without payment.

Marshall and Manuel continue their distortions and inaccuracies. They define liberty of conscience as meaning, “Nobody is going to tell me what I should do or believe.”[1] As to the issue of “liberty of conscience,” they state:

“Liberty of conscience is indeed a vital part of Christianity—as long as it is in balance with all the other parts. But taken out of balance and pursued to its extremes (which is where Williams, ever the purist, invariably pursued everything), it becomes a license to disregard all authority with which we do not happen to agree at the time. This was the boat which Williams was rowing when he landed at Boston. Since, at its extreme, liberty of conscience stressed freedom from any commitment to corporate unity, Williams was not about to hear God through Winthrop or anyone else. (And tragically, he never did.)”[2]

Williams did not believe that liberty of conscience becomes a license to disregard all authority with which we do not happen to agree. He correctly believed that the laws of a civil government should protect freedom of conscience, and that God limited the jurisdiction of every Gentile civil government to certain actions by citizens against other citizens—to the Second Table of the Ten Commandments.

Williams believed that both church and state were to be under God. He wrote and taught concerning the jurisdiction of civil government and the church. Here is one example:

  • “I acknowledge [the civil magistrate] ought to cherish, as a foster-father, the Lord Jesus, in his truth, in his saints, to cleave unto them himself, and to countenance them even to the death, yea, also, to break the teeth of the lions, who offer civil violence and injury to them.
  • “But to see all his subjects Christians, to keep such church or Christians in the purity of worship, and see them do their duty, this belongs to the head of the body, Christ Jesus, and [to] such spiritual officers as he hath to this purpose deputed, whose right it is, according to the true pattern. Abimelech, Saul, Adonijah, Athalia, were but usurpers: David, Solomon, Joash, &c., they were the true heirs and types of Christ Jesus, in his true power and authority in his kingdom.”[3]

Marshall and Manuel attribute the qualities of the leaders of the established church in Massachusetts to Roger Williams instead. They assert that he “desperately needed to come into reality and see his sin—how arrogant and judgmental and self-righteous he was.”[4] They assert that he could have been “a great general in Christ’s army” since “he was tremendously gifted: in intellect, preaching, personality, and leadership ability.”[5] However, he had one tragic flaw: he believed in freedom of conscience, held other views contrary to that of the established church, and could not be persuaded otherwise, or, as Marshall and Manuel put it:

“[H]e would not see his wrongness, and he was so bound up in his intellect that no one could get close to the man, because he was forever hammering home points on ‘the truth.’ Trying to relate to him on a personal level was like trying to relate to cold steel—highly polished and refined.”[6]

On the other hand, Marshall and Manuel have nothing but praise for the Puritans. Every page of The Light and the Glory dealing with the Puritans and their leaders is filled with praise and notations as to how the providence of God was opening the door for the right people, at the right time, in the right place to correct all the errors of Christendom. For example, they write:

  • “Since God’s will was made known to them [the Puritans] through His inspired word in the Bible, they naturally wanted to get as close to a Scriptural order of worship as possible. Indeed, what they ultimately wanted was to bring the Church back to something approximating New Testament Christianity.
  • “The Puritan dilemma was similar to that of many newly regenerate Christians of our time. They faced a difficult choice: should they leave their seemingly lifeless churches to join or start a live one, or should they stay where they were, to be used as that one small candle to which William Bradford referred?
  • “God was bringing the Puritans into compassion and humility.
  • “As historian Perry Miller would say, ‘Winthrop and his colleagues believed … that their errand was not a mere scouting expedition: it was an essential maneuver in the drama of Christendom. The [Massachusetts] Bay Company was not a battered remnant of suffering Separatists thrown up on a rocky shore; it was an organized task force of Christians, executing a flank attack on the corruptions of Christendom. These Puritans did not flee to America; they went in order to work out that complete reformation which was not yet accomplished in England and Europe.’”[7]

The Puritans grew into such compassion and humility that they horribly persecuted Christians and others who did not agree with the unbiblical doctrines which they proudly believed to be inerrant.

Marshall and Manuel follow the example of prior Puritan Revisionists such as John Quincy Adams who stated, “in the annals of religious persecution is there to be found a martyr more gently dealt with by those against whom he began the war of intolerance.”[8] Few accept this verdict. The facts are clear: they banished him because of his religious opinions. “Charles Francis Adams states the case thus:

“The trouble with the historical writers who have taken upon themselves the defense of the founders of Massachusetts is that they have tried to sophisticate away the facts…. In Spain it was the dungeon, the rack and the fagot; in Massachusetts, it was banishment, the whip and the gibbet. In neither case can the records be obliterated. Between them it is only a question of degree—one may be in color a dark drab, while the other is unmistakably a jetty black. The difficulty is with those who, expatiating with great force of language on the sooty aspect of the one, turn and twist the other in the light, and then solemnly asseverate its resemblance to driven snow. Unfortunately, for those who advocate this view of the Old and New World records, the facts do not justify it.”[9]

Williams, in his relationship to the religious leaders of Massachusetts, was a lot like the Lord Jesus and the apostles in their relationship to the religious Jews. The religious leaders of Massachusetts made a mistake—they did not call upon the civil government (which was at their disposal) to kill Williams as they did with some other dissenters. Had they done so, we might not have our present form of civil government. They only banished him, to them a tragic error of highest proportions as it turned out.

As to the issue of persecution by the established church, Marshall and Manuel are hypocrites. They condemn the persecution of the Separatists (later called Pilgrims) and the Puritans in England, but glorify the Puritans when they were persecuted and when they persecuted those dissenters such as the Baptists and Quakers who did not conform to their theology in the New World. They complain that the Separatists:

  • “were hounded, bullied, forced to pay assessments to the Church of England, clapped into prison on trumped-up charges, and driven underground. They met in private homes, to which they came at staggered intervals and by different routes, because they were constantly being spied upon. In the little Midlands town of Scrooby, persecution finally reached the point where the congregation to which Bradford belonged elected to follow those other Separatists who had already sought religious asylum in Holland.”[10]
  • As to the Puritans … they write, “[The Puritans accepted the pressure of the mounting persecution] with grace and, as persecution often does, it served to rapidly deepen and mature the movement, bonding them together in common cause and making them more determined than ever to live as God had called them…. For a number of Puritans, [the marking of the Puritans for suppression by Charles I] was a watershed. It appeared no longer possible to reform the Church of England from within.”[11]

Under the theology of Marshall and Manuel, and those of like mind, the government of Rhode Island—which provided a model for the First Amendment—would not have existed nor would the United States exist in its present form. America would have no First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the amendment written and adopted to provide for freedom of religion and conscience. Men would still be forced to accept infant baptism, pay taxes to support the established church, attend the established church, proclaim allegiance to the established church, etc. Dissenters would still be persecuted. The church would still be working with the state to build a “city set upon a hill.” Fittingly, the Puritan experiment was already falling apart by 1660 as is shown in The Results of Puritan Theology in Massachusetts Soon Came to Fruition. The Puritans, like all prior and future combinations of church and state brought corruption to Massachusetts, to the church, and to the people. True to form, Calvinism, being spiritually dead, killed the Puritan churches.


Endnotes

[1] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977), p. 146.

[2] Ibid., p. 194.

[3] Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), pp. 100-101. In this book, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered, Williams addresses the arguments presented by Covenant Theologians.

[4] Marshall and Manuel, The Light and the Glory, p.194.

[5] Ibid., pp. 194-195.

[6] Ibid., p. 195.

[7] Ibid., pp. 150, 151, 152, 159.

[8] John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, Volume II, (Texarkana, Ark.-Tex.: Bogard Press, 1922), p. 33.

[9] Ibid., p. 33, citing Adams, Massachusetts: Its Historians and Its History, 34, 1893.

[10] Marshall and Manuel, The Light and the Glory, pp. 108-109.

[11] Ibid., p. 152.

The Baptists in Rhode Island

I. Introduction and Comments on Calvinist Revisionism of the History of Rhode Island.
Ia. Appendix to “I. Introduction and Comments on Calvinist Revisionism of the History of Rhode Island”: More on Calvinist Revisionism of the History of Rhode Island
II. Roger Williams Flees English Tyranny and Comes to Massachusetts; His Banishment by the Massachusetts Court
III. Roger Williams Flees Massachusetts; His Contributions to Religious Liberty
IV. Dr. John Clarke; the Portsmouth Compact
V. Roger Williams and the Providence Compact
VI. Roger Williams Secures the 1644 Rhode Island Charter; Dissemination of Knowledge: The Bloudy Tenet of Persecution for Conscious Sake
VII. Dr. Clarke’s Leadership in Rhode Island; Puritan Persecution of Obadiah Holmes
VIII. Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke Go to England to Promote the Interests of Rhode Island; Dr. Clarke’s Book, Ill News from New England
IX. 1663 Rhode Island Charter; Treatment of Quakers in Rhode Island; Influence of Rhode Island on Religious Liberty