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of religious rites, during his absence ; and, as SECT. I. governour Winthrop, deputy-governour Dud. 1631. ley, and elder Nowell, in his opinion, were best qualified to lead the devotions and supply the instructions of the congregation, so he in a manner consecrated them to the temporary execution of pastoral duties. He sailed from Salem, 1 April, and arrived in London, the 29th of the same month. But his place was soon after supplied by Rev. Mr. Eliot.
Although the founders of Massachusetts and of our church forsook their native country with the express design of enjoying perfect liberty of conscience ; and, although doubtless it was the original intention to preserve ecclesiastical affairs distinct from those of the state, yet these interests became immediately blended.
The church at Salem had called Mr. Roger · Williams to the office of teacher. It had been
said of this man, that he refused communion with the church in Boston, because its members would not make a publick declaration of their repentance for having continued their connexion with the episcopal church, whilst they remained in England. He had also taught, that the magistrate ought not to punish breaches of the sabbath, nor any offence against those laws of God, which relate solely to his worship. Alarmed at this degree of liberality, the magistrates immediately signified to Mr. Endicott their dissatisfaction with the proceedings of the Salem church; and even notified to Mr. Williams himself their pleasure,
SECT. I. that he would not suffer the union to be consum1631. mated, until their permission should be known.
In the exercise of the same power, derived partly from their civil capacity, and partly from their standing in the church, the governour, deputy-governour, and elder went to Watertown to inquire into an opinion maintained in that church, that the church of Rome was right. After the matter was debated before numbers of both congregations, the opinion of the Watertown elder, whose name was Brown, with the general approbation, was condemned as erroneous.
The difficulty did not here terminate. Elder Brown persisted in his errour. The Court was applied to, interfered, and wrote to the First Church to consider the propriety of his continuance in office. The Church answered, that if the Court would prove the allegations, she would silence the offender. At length, Messieurs Winthrop, Dudley, and Nowell repaired to Watertown, where the congregation was divided on the subject in question. The governour said, “We have come to you, as peacemakers. You may choose, whether we shall enter upon the investiga. tion of the controversy in the character of magis. trates, as members of a neighbouring congrega. tion, or as referees, not satisfied with the notice, you have taken of our previous advice.” Mr. Phillips, the pastor, desired them to act as mem. bers of a neighbouring congregation only. On this condition a hearing was had, in which both
parties complained, relented, and promised the SECT. I. adoption of conciliatory measures.
1632. The affairs of the church as well, as of the 26 May. plantation, were prosperous ; though occasions were not wanting of debate among individuals and in the community. Instances of political interferences with ecclesiastical concerns were often taking place. No church could be gathered without permission from the magistrates ; and none could be a magistrate, nor even vote for a magistrate, unless he was member of a church thus politically gathered. In this politico-religious condition, questions would frequently arise respecting the nature, qualifications, and power of various offices. They were at a loss, for exam ple, whether the same person, at the same time, might be a civil magistrate and a ruling elder. If not, which should he lay down, what should be done? Might there be divers pastors in the same church ? These questions the church pro. posed to the consideration of her sister churches in Plymouth and in Salem.
The first question was answered unanimously in the negative; and thenceforth Mr. Nowell relinquished his office in the church, and devoted himself entirely to the duties of a civilian. .
The second received a doubtful answer; beeause the answer to the first involved an experi. ment, the results of which were not known.
To the third was given the same kind of reply; because the respondents did not wish to deprive the church of any means of improvement she
SECT. I. could fairly enjoy ; and, at the same time, they 1632. were not ignorant of the rivalry and feuds, which
are the natural, though not unavoidable, conse-
As the season grew late, and the weather severe, those members of the congregation, who belonged to Charlestown, found it troublesome to worship in Boston. Accordingly they signified their desire to constitute a new society on the north side of the river. The 11 October was set apart for seeking direction of God ; and, on the 14th, thirty-three persons were peaceably dismissed from their relation to the church. They then elected Mr. James their teacher, and formed what is now the congregational church in Charlestown.*
The congregation now fixed their eyes, for a teacher, on Mr. John Eliot, who had arrived the
* “ And now upon this separation I find the number of males in the church of Boston (after nigh two years continuance here, in which time doubtless additions were made to it,) amounted but to about 70 or 80, the body of the inhabitants.” [Foxcroft’s Cent. Serm.]
preceding year, and had officiated, for the most SECT. I. part, during Mr. Wilson's absence, and who af. 1632. terwards immortalized his name by his apostleship among the Indians. But he had already determined on a settlement at Roxbury, and would not be persuaded to alter his resolution.
The 22 November was solemnized, as a fast, on which Mr. Wilson, hitherto the teacher, was ordained the pastor of the church. At the same time were elected Mr. Oliver a ruling elder, and two deacons, on all of whom hånds were imposed, as a sign of consecration.
One hundred and thirty men, and nine. 1633. ty women had now become members of the 6 Aug. church. But, besides the loss of the Charles. town members, several had died, several others had removed to Salem, and a few had returned to England. Probably the church did not now number more, than a hundred communicants. Four children were baptized in the first year, eleven in the second, three in the third, and four in that part of the fourth, which elapsed before Mr. Cotton's ordination. Of these twenty-two there were eleven of each sex.