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The oppressions of Laud, ope- Hitherto the character of Mr. rating on a vigorous mind, like Williams has been drawn by his that of Mr. Williams, must of enemies, rather than by his friends. course produce an effect the re- The reason is obvious; the presverse of what the archbishop in byterians of New England estatended. The sentence of the gene- blished colleges, and cultivated ral court of Massachussetts, ap- literature, more than an hundred proved by the ministers as well as years ago. The baptists have but the magistrates, could not be ex- lately established an university, pected to alter sentiments of such and began to cultivate literature; a man as Mr. Williams: rather so that the American writers and than retract his opinions, he chose men of education were, till of to go into exile. Thus it appears late, mostly on the side of the from the history of his life, that presbyterians. Notwithstanding the origin of those principles, the cavils of his enemies, I may which it is the glory of Mr. venture to assert, that among
all Williams to have advocated, and the eminent men, which this kingto have been the first to reduce dom has sent forth to adorn and to practice, as soon as it was in cultivate the western wilderness, his power in America, was de- hardly one can be named who is rived from the principality of equal to Mr. Williams; unless, Wales. The pure ideas of liberty indeed, William Penn, the founder were his birthright, inherited from of the great and opulent state of his ancestors, those intrepid Pennsylvania, be excepted. In mountaineers, who defied the comparing Williams with Penn, yoke, which the Roman emperors we find the same degree of learnin vain sought, for hundreds of ing and discernment, which enyears, to impose on them. Those abled them to investigate the truth, principles were fostered and the same undaunted spirit which brought to maturity by the learn- prompted them to defend it, the ing and religion derived from the
same enthusiastic love of liberty; alma mater of Oxford. The Lau- Williams, however, preceded Penn dian persecution of England, and by many years. Penn, with suthe not less fiery persecution of perior advantages of wealth and the presbyterians of Massachus- influence, went to America about setts-bay, might have shaken the fifty years after Williams : he apfirmness of an ordinary man: a pears to have emulated his predetimid spirit, in all probability, cessor in the liberality of his prinwould have yielded to such fiery ciples. He settled in a milder trials; but thanks to the unshaken climate, with a much greater exconstancy of Mr. Williams, he tent of territory and more fruitful persevered in defending his doc- soil. Posterity has been more trine, and finally established it. grateful to Penn; the state still To his wisdom in conceiving, and retaining his name. Williams has hardiness in executing, the United shared the fate of Columbus. When States owe the grand principle he founded an asylum for men which characterizes their govern- persecuted for conscience sake, ment, viz. that no man shall be mor he intended the states should have lested on account of his religion. been called Providence, but it is
Justum, et tenacem propositi virum called Rhode Island, Providence Non civium ardor prava jubentium, being the name of one town only Non vultus instantis tyranni
in the state. Whatever may be Mente quatit solidå.
“ si monu
their comparative merit, the names them with my truly honoured and of Williams and Penn will be re- beloved adversary, Mr. Cotton.” spectfully remembered by the After his settlement in Prolatest posterity, while the san- vidence, he complains much of guinary monsters, who, under the streightness of his time,“ being mask of liberty, have disgraced constantly drunk up by necessary this age by their crimes, will be labours, for bread for many deforgotten, or recalled to mind with pending on one, the discharge of abhorrence. It seems to be a engagements, and wanting helps species of impiety, to wish the of transcribing.” These streights destruction of institutions, origin of time were such, as prevented ally derived from this nation, and him from publishing his papers. established with so much diffi- This extraordinary man died at culty in the western world. Happy the age of eighty-four; his body will it be for them, if they keep was buried at Providence, the themselves uncontaminated by the town which he founded, by the pernicious influence of French po- side of his daughter Patience Ashlitics and French morality. ton. Though no monument has
Mr. Williams was well acquaint- been erected to his memory, yet his ed with the manners, customs, merits will not soon be forgotten. and languages of the Indians, and His posterity may say, was strenuous in his endeavours | mentum quæris, circumspice.” to convert and civilize them. In However, an ingenuous mind their wars with the white people, may wish to draw a veil over the when his persecutors were hardly foibles of eminent men, yet the pressed, Mr. Williams, who had stern muse of history forbids, and great influence over the Indians, demands, that strict and impartial restrained them, and rescued his justice be done. Whoever is persecutors from the effects of elevated above the common level their vindictive spirit; in this, as of mankind, must expect that his in other things, proving himself to motives and actions will be scruhave possessed a truly Christian tinized; and, as the best of men spirit, which commands us to have their weak sides, it follows overcome evil with good. of necessity, that eminence will
By some writers, Mr. Williams ever be attended with some exis called “a rigid Brownist, pre- posure of foibles or weakness. cise, uncharitable, and of most It is objected to him, that he turbulent and boisterous passions;" founded several churches, and by others he is denominated “a afterwards ceased to walk with godly and zealous preacher:" Let them: the reason is not assigned, us hear him speak for himself. In but it is easy to infer, that his his address to the clergy of Old own ideas of the perfection of a and New England, Scotland, and Christian church were far from Ireland, p. 319, he says, “What being realized. His book against I have suffered in my estate, body, Mr. Fox has been quoted, as name, spirit, I hope, through shewing a want of charity towards help from Christ, and for his sake, the Friends. Why he should write I have desired to bear with a spi- against that respectable denomirit of patience and of respect and nation of Christians, it is not easy love, even to my persecutors. As to say; especially as they had to particulars, I have and must never injured him. (if God so will further debate Mr. Williams, during his life,
was hardly and unjustly dealt science is the birth-right of man, with; and, since his death, much and granted it to those who difodium has been cast upon his fered from him in opinion. An memory; but the day is not far apology may be made for the distant, when the liberal doctrines vehemence of his delivery, and which he advocated in religion, want of requisite caution in de will be more generally acknow- claring his sentiments. ledged: then will it be discovered, very natural for a man who, though late, that the soundest in England, had been compelled ecclesiastical polity, is that which to keep silence, when he arrived secures freedom of conscience, in America, to exceed the bounds Libertas quæ sero, tamen respexit inertem, of prudence; and it was mean in Respexittamen, et longo post tempore venit. the general court of Massachus
Much has been said with respect setts, to take advantage of the to the obligations America is un- ingenuous frankness of Mr. Wilder to Britain, but Britain is also liams. under obligations to America. The
PHILELEUTHERUS. nature of those benefits, which the two nations have reciprocally conferred on each other, it is not A VIEW OF THEWISDOM OF GOD, my
intention here to discuss fully. As manifested in those arrangements I shall but barely touch upon the of providence, which paved the way subject. If the doctrine of reli- for that unexampled support, by which gious freedom originated in Great
the British and Foreign Bible SoBritain, it was not reduced to
ciety has been distinguished. practice in this kingdom. Here it remained a dead letter; but to To the Editor of the Baptist Magazine, America, the world is indebted We live, Mr. Editor, in peculiarfor reducing this great principle ly eventful times, in which, while to practice. If the abstract pro- we behold, on the one hand, much position, that freedom of consci- to fill us with alarm, and to rouse ence is the soundest church policy, every feeling which is capable of was borrowed from England, the being affected by the melancholy demonstration of the proposition details of suffering humanity; we comes from America. Mr. Wil- are also called to contemplate on liams could not reduce his refined the other, scenes fitted to diffuse ideas of religious liberty to prac- the purest joy through the breast tice in this kingdom; here he was of every man who receives the not even allowed to divulge his scriptures as containing a revelasentiments : he sought a sanctuary tion of mercy to our guilty world. in the solitude of the western wil. Of this description, particularly, derness, where his speculative are the numerous Bible Societies ideas were subjected to the test which have lately been formed in of experiment. His trials, it must every county, and almost in every be confessed, were the experi- town, in the kingdom, the acmentum crucis, and fully esta- counts of which have occupied blished the truth of his principles. the pages of almost every provinHe denied, that Christ had ap- cial newspaper, while more expointed the civil sword against tended reports of their proceedings false teachers; and he is the first have issued from the press in a governor on record, who ever separate form, many of them maintained, that liberty of con- containing some of the most splendid displays of eloquence which nage, by which that unhappy our language can boast.
country was so long and so deeply There is, however, one re-afflicted. Here, then, the grand markable feature in the history of enemy of human happiness apBible Societies which, though it peared to have gained a signal cannot fail to strike the attention triumph. A great nation, in the of the most careless observer, I centre of Europe, whose example am not aware that it has been was likely to be extensively imiparticularly noticed in any of the tated, distinguished by the celeperiodical publications of the day; brity of its literary characters, I mean, the way in which they who were the avowed patrons of have received the countenance of infidelity, seemed prepared effecpersons, of all descriptions, and in tually to banish the influence of many cases, even of those who, revelation; nay, to blot out the without breach of charity, we have Christian name from the face of reason to conclude, do not live the earth. But, what was the under the practical influence of result? “He that sitteth in heaven that book, on which they have did laugh: the Lord held them in heard so many fine eulogiums derision.” Not only were the mapronounced, and which they chinations of the wicked defeated, professedly wish to disseminate. but defeated by the very weapons This fact is notorious to all: but which they themselves had preit may be useful to contemplate pared. those events in the history of the It was soon seen, that if the times which have led to it. We influence of moral obligation be have, I think, in this part of the destroyed, the security of life and history of Providence, a luminous property is gone, and human sodisplay of the wisdom of God in ciety could be expected to present bringing good out of evil
, and in nothing but one unvaried scene taking the wicked in their own of misery and horror. . But it was devices.
also found, that there was no solid In attempting to illustrate this basis for moral obligation but the point, permit me, Mr. Editor, to revealed will of God; the autholead back your attention to the rity of Him, in whose hand our commencement of the French re- breath is, and whose are all our volution, or, rather, to one of the ways; and who both can, and features in the history of that'na- assuredly will, call us at last betion, which was intimately con- fore his tribunal, to give an acnected with this event. This, it count of the deeds done in the is well known, was the prevalence body, whether these have been of an infidel philosophy in France: good or bad. that philosophy which denied the Hence, many who felt merely existence of a First Cause: which an interest in the present life; who taught that death was an eternal wished to enjoy their houses and sleep: which made all human ac- lands in safety; who trembled at tions merely a calculation of expe- the thought of the midnight asdiency; which pot only poured saşsin, felt their present security contempt on the authority of reve- and happiness intimately con: lation, but confounded all moral nected with the diffusion of that distinctions, and thus prepared system which teaches men to look the public mind for those scenes forward to a judgments to come. } of plunder, barbarity, and car- From this quarter, then, arose a powerful recoil against the prin- admission of the value of that ciples of infidelity in the minds of book, from the principles of which many, merely on account of the such important practical consepernicious influence of such prin- quences flow. Is not this, too, ciples on social order; nay, I calculated to strike all who will may say, on account of their ob- reflect upon the subject, as furvious tendency, to destroy that nishing one powerful argument in mutual confidence on which the support of the divine origin of the safety and comfort of civil life is Bible? Was ever error, was ever suspended. How wonderful are a deep laid scheme of deceit and the ways. of Providence! Here imposture, found to produce efwe may, indeed, see the finger of fects so eminently conducive to God, in bringing good out of evil: human happiness? in counteracting the designs of the But, to conclude, Mr. Editor, grand enemy of human happiness, though we cannot take the comand of his emissaries, among men; fort of thinking, that all who have and in turning their most malig- come forward in support of Bible nant machinations into foolish- Societies, are influenced by enness; nay, in making the most lightened views of the value of the unblushing avowal of the most Word of God, we may
derive horrid impiety, and of the rankest some consolation from the hope; atheism and infidelity, ultimately that where men thus publicly instrumental in promoting the dis- commit themselves as the avowed semination of the revelation of patrons of the Bible, they may be mercy. In contemplating such a struck with the inconsistency of wonderful revolution, how justly their conduct if they be found, in may we exclaim, “ O, the depth their personal habits, strangers to of the riches both of the wisdom its practical influence. They may and knowledge of God! how un- thus be led to examine, with sesearchable are his judgments, and rious attention, that book, which, his way is past finding out!" according to their own public ac
But while some, we have reason knowledgment, produces effects to fear, are influenced by no so transcendently beneficial, and other motives in supporting Bible with which the best interests of Institutions, than because it is ob-human society are so intimately vious, that the diffusion of reli- connected. gion among the lower orders, is
W. INNES. intimately connected with the pre- Edinburgh, March 15. . sent safety of society; thousands, we believe, have a far higher aim, and rejoice in such institutions, as Such are the scarcity of Bibles the means of opening up to mil- in some of the counties in Ireland, lions the road that leads to eternal and the anxiety of the people to life. Let it, however, be recol- read them, that a poor man has lected, that even those who are been in the habit of giving the influenced only by the inferior sexton of the parish, in which he motive just mentioned, indirectly resides, three days' labour, in the give their testimony to the excel- harvest season, (the busiest time lence of the Word of God. Even of the year,) for the privilege of this inferior, 'worldly, and selfish admission to the church, in order motive cannot exist without an to peruse the Sacred Scriptures.
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