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ought not to punish breaches of the Sabbath, or any disturbance of the worship of God; and that there should be a public toleration of all religions. For these things, which occasioned great commotion, he was banished as a disturber of the Church and commonwealth. He afterwards formed a settlement at Providence in Rhode Island, renounced his baptism, was rebaptized by Mr. Ezekiel Holyman, then proceeded to rebaptize him, and ten others, and thus formed the first Baptist Church in New-England.
But a far greater source of trouble was a married woman, by the name of Ann Hutchinson, a violent Antinomian. She maintained among other things, “ That the person of the Holy Ghost dwells in a justified person; that no degrees of sanctification furnish any evidence of justification; that all the ministèrs, but Mr. Cotton, preached the covenant of works, and that they could not preach the covenant of grace, because they had not the seal of the spirit.” She gave public lectures, had a crowded audience, and gained many proselytes. The whole colony was agitated and thrown into two parties, which styled each other Antinomians and Legalists. Such was the extent of the controversy, that a Synod was called at Cambridge in 1637, consisting of all the ministers in the country, and of messengers from the Churches. The Rev. Peter Bulkley, of Concord, and the Rev. Thomas Hooker, of Hartford, were chosen moderators, and the Synod sat three weeks. Eighty-two opinions were condemned as erroneous, with considerable unanimity; and, by the general court at their next session, Mrs. H. was banished from the jurisdiction. The sentence made her wild and fanatical, and she was excommunicated from the Church and removed to Rhode Island; but it was long before the effects of the controversy ceased. These things broke down in some degree vital piety; but the wars with the Indians did more, for they took the people away from the means of grace and excited a spirit of revenge, and cruelty, and conquest.
In 1642, Mr. Cotton of Boston, Mr. Hooker of Hartford, and Mr. Davenport of New Haven, received an invitation to sit in the assembly of Divines, at Westminster, England, convened to settle the faith of the Church, but they declined attending.
The next year several persons arrived at Boston, and endeavored to establish the Presbyterian government under the authority of that assembly; but the ministers and
Churches were too firm for them in their principles of independency.
Several Anabaptists spread in Massachusetts, and contemned the civil and ecclesiastical authorities. A severe law was passed against them in 1644. An adherence to their principles was punished by banishment. So little did the Puritans understand the rights, for which they themselves had contended.
Hitherto, nothing had been done towards settling an uniform scheme of ecclesiastical discipline, and as the Churches were fast increasing, and errors in faith and practice began to multiply, the general court of Massachusetts called a Synod, which met at Cambridge, 1646, to attend to this business. Many objected to this step, fearing that it would lead to persecution. But it was generally agreed to, and a full representation was made of the Churches of New-England. The Synod protracted its sessions by adjournments for two years, when it adopted the platform of Church discipline, called the Cambridge Platform, and recommended it with the Westminster confession of faith to the Churches. This platform recognized the distinction between pastor and teacher, and the existence in the Church of ruling elders; it declared the visible Church to consist of saints and the children of such as were holy; required of every communicant repentance towards God, and faith in Christ; directed every Church to ordain its own officers, and to ordain them by imposition of the hands of brethren, if no elders or ministers could be procured, and required all to pursue a course of rigid separation from all excommunicated persons. It referred to synods and councils, controversies of faith and practice, but gave them no disciplinary power. With the ecclesiastical laws, it formed the religious constitution of the colonies. About thirty years after, it was confirmed by another Synod at Boston. The Churches of Connecticut made it their religious constitution for sixty years, until the adoption of the Saybrook Platform.
The Churches had felt themselves disturbed by the Anabaptists, but they were much more so afterwards by the Quakers. George Fox had come to Rhode Island and published his sentiments. Numbers also arrived in Boston. They became “ open seducers from the Trinity; from the holy scriptures as a rule of life, and open enemies to the government as established in the hands of any, but men of their own principles.” They were guilty of many outrageous practices and much disturbance of public worship. A quaker woman went through the streets of Salem naked, as a sign. Another woman went naked into the meeting house at Newbury, pretending that the Lord had moved her. Numbers were seized and banished, and a penalty of £100 was laid upon any master of a vessel who should bring any quaker to the country.
The fathers of New England were jealous for all that was dear to them and their children. They persecuted the Quakers not so much for their peculiar vicws of religion, as for being disturbers of civil society. Such indecencies were not to be borne with, though offered under the most pious pretences. “Every other government but their own was a tree that must be cut down.” And what could they expect from every other government but to be cut down themselves? But the infliction upon them of the penalty of death was altogether inexcusable.
While the first ministers and settlers of Connecticut remained, their Churches had great peace and harmony. But when they were removed, a generation arose with very different sentiments relating to Church membership. A dispute arose in Hartford soon after the death of the excellent Hooker, between Mr. Stone and Elder Goodwin, upon "some nice points of Congregationalism,” which threw the whole colony into a flame. The worldly and unprincipled took advantage of the convulsed state of things to bring forward their complaints against the rigidity of the Churches. They thought it unreasonable that persons of regular lives should be excluded from the communion, though they gave no evidence of experimental religion, and from the privilege of having their children baptized if they acknowledged their covenant. They also viewed it as a grievance that Church members alone should have a vote in the choice of pastors. These points were argued throughout Connecticut with great warmth. Some were actuated in their support by worldly principles. According to the constitution of Church and State, they were, while out of the Church, entirely excluded from all the honors and offices in the state, even from the freedom of election, and to be free, they must either join the Church or alter the prevalent system. Others were actuated by a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. These were chiefly among the aged. They saw their grand children growing up without baptism. Their children were men of sober, regular lives; but made no pretensions to per
sonal piety. These they viewed as members of the visible Church, in consequence of their baptism, and these they thought might, with propriety, own their covenant and have their children baptized, that so the Church might be perpetuated. But many viewed it as highly dangerous thus to bring the world into the Church, and violently opposed the innovation.
A number of councils sat in vain upon the disputed subject. At length, in 1657; all the difficulties were referred to a council composed of the principal ministers of New-England, at Boston. These presented answers to twenty-one questions. They declared, " That it was the duty of those come to years of discretion, baptized in their infancy, to own the covenant; that it is the duty of the Church to call them to this; that if they refuse, or are scandalous in any other way, they may be censured by the Church. If they understand the grounds of religion and are not scandalous, and solemnly own the covenant, giving up themselves and their children to the Lord, baptism may not be denied to their children." This decision introduced into the Churches what has since been termed the half way covenant, and constituted such as had been baptized in infancy, voters in the election of a pastor. Such was the result of the mistaken attempt to amalgamate the Church and the world.
But the Churches in Connecticut were not quieted. Many viewed the decision as destructive to the interests of religion, and a violation of the fundamental principles of Congregationalism. The ferment in the Church at Hartford, was also high. In 1659, a council composed of elders and messengers from Boston and its vicinity met there, and labored a long time to conciliate the parties. But the conflict only ceased with the removal and death of some of the principal actors. It was indeed terrible. “ From the fire of the altar," said Mather, " there issued thunderings and lightnings, and earthquakes, through the whole colony."
In Massachusetts, a Synod was called to consider the decision of the Boston council. It was warmly opposed by several leading ministers, especially by President Chauncey and Mr. Increase Mather, but the controversy had assumed a political character. A large body of the people were cut off from all honors and offices, and the privileges of freemen, and such was the clamor from them, that a majority of the Synod confirmed the decision. This Synod also gave their opinion in favor of a consociation of the Churches, but nothing was done to establish it.
The Churches in Massachusetts generally adopted the practice recommended, and one of the results of it was, that viewing unconverted men who entered into an external covenant with God, as fit to bring their children to baptism, many pastors viewed them as fit to come to the Lord's table. This was the case especially with the Rev. Solomon Stoddard, of Northampton, who contended with great zeal that the supper was a converting ordinance, and that a moral life and not a change of heart, was essential to admittance to it. His influence was very extensive.
But the pious part of the community in Connecticut were so opposed to it, that the Legislature passed an act endeavöring to enforce it, and convened another council in 1667, to sanction it. It was not adopted by a single Church, for thirty-nine years after, i. e. until almost a whole generation had passed away. The Church at Hartford first introduced it, in 1696. The covenant was signed by most of the young people in the congregation. Other Churches gradually came into the same practice. It was wholly discontinued in the state about the close of the 18th century.
The ministers and Churches of New Haven colony were unanimous in opposition to it.
Both the Connecticut and New Haven Churches continued their former strict practice of admitting members to their communion, and would not suffer any but Church members to vote in the choice of pastors. The Churches throughout New England were also very strict in their examination of candidates for the ministry; requiring of them a knowledge of the three learned languages, a knowledge of doctrinal and practical theology, and ability to defend them, and satisfactory evidence of personal piety.
In 1672, a Synod assembled at Boston, called the Reforming Synod. The colonies had been greatly distressed with various calamities, and the pious community were anxious to know their sins and duties. The results of the Synod were very happy in unfolding the provoking sins of the age, and leading the people to repentance.
The first settlers of Plymouth had adopted, while in Holland, the doctrinal articles of the Church of England, and the confession of the French reformed Churches, which was the confession of Calvin; and the Synod of 1648 had recommended to the Churches the Westminster confession of faith; but it was thought advisable for the Churches publicly and solemnly to adopt one as their own. Accordingly,