Establishment or Tolerance?

Establishment or Tolerance?Many American colonies were founded by dissenting or establishment English religious sects that sought to practice their own traditions freely but were, in some cases, less lenient toward other sects. Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, founded by Roger Williams and William Penn, respectively, more readily affirmed free practice of religion. Although the framers of the Constitution repudiated the idea of an official established state religion, most considered the United States a Christian nation.

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The newcomers who settled the colonies along the east coast of America were European Christians, mostly Protestants. Some came for profit and adventure, but many came explicitly to seek the freedom to practice their religion. They hoped to establish enclaves of faith in the new world. These Christians in the new America encountered the challenge of religious difference first, and most sharply, amongst themselves. The question of whether there should be one “established” religion or whether there should be tolerance for religious “dissenters” was one of the first major issues each new colony faced.

The Pilgrims, a separatist reform group that had broken with the Church of England, landed in 1620 and established the Plymouth colony. A few years later, the Puritans—so named because of their intention not to separate from but to purify the Church of England—established what would become the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In 1630, on board the Arbella, the ship that brought the Puritans to the new world, John Winthrop gave a sermon on the new biblical society they wanted to create. The society would be based on a covenant of the common moral and religious understandings that bind people to God and one another. In describing their common enterprise he invoked a biblical image: “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” Winthrop’s vision of a Christian society rising in the new world was shared by many who made the voyage to America. The sense of mission and purpose evoked by his image of the city on a hill has inspired the vision and the rhetoric of American political leaders to this day.

In England, the Puritans were dissenters. But in New England, they became the Christian establishment, envisioning a new world in which Christianity would decisively shape a whole civilization. In Massachusetts they established a “Biblical Commonwealth,” The Massachusetts Bay Colony, in which church and state united to work together for the glory of God. The Cambridge Platform of 1648 detailed the shape of the orthodox Puritan establishment in early New England society. While it was not quite a theocracy, the civil authorities were to rule by what they considered to be the law of the Bible. “Idolatry, blasphemy, heresy, venting corrupt and pernicious opinions that destroy the foundation, open contempt of the Word preached, profanation of the Lord’s Day” were deemed punishable civil offenses. Religion—meaning Puritan Christianity—permeated every aspect of life.

There were early dissenters, including people of non-established churches and those who completely rejected the very idea of the “establishment” of religion. Roger Williams, originally a Puritan minister, insisted on what he called “soul liberty” as the indispensable condition of faith. He said that because faith is a disposition of the heart, it cannot be subject to the coercion of the state. The church must be a voluntary community. Williams challenged the Massachusetts Bay Colony at his trial, saying, “The state should give free and absolute permission of conscience to all men in what is spiritual alone. Ye have lost yourselves! Your breath blows out the candle of liberty in this land.” In the 1630s, banished from Massachusetts, he went on to found the colony of Rhode Island, pledging “full liberty in religious concernments.” Rhode Island had no established church and permitted freedom of conscience and worship for everyone, including Jews and Quakers. Roger Williams’ classic statement, “The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution,” set forth a strong Christian basis for rejecting any persecution in the name of religion or conscience.

Tried as a heretic in Massachusetts and then expelled from the Commonwealth, Anne Hutchison took refuge in Rhode Island in 1638. Her friend Mary Dyer, a Quaker, was also run out of the Bay Colony as a dissenter but refused to accept expulsion. She returned repeatedly to press for her own religious freedom until she was finally hung on Boston Common in 1660. Accusations of heresy escalated and, by the late 1600s, there were accusations of witchcraft as well. Before the Salem witch trials were over nineteen people, mostly women, were accused of being witches and hung or pressed to death.

The colony of Virginia, with its headquarters at Jamestown, was founded by Anglicans in 1607. Like the Puritans, they understood themselves to be acting “with God’s providence” and were intent on spreading Christianity. In the 1620s, the Virginia legislature took steps to ensure that the Church of England would be the only established and publicly funded church in Virginia. Within a few decades, around thirty Anglican parishes stretched across the Virginia landscape, and despite increasing numbers of Puritans and Quakers migrating there, the Church of England was the only legally protected institution. The “Declaration of Religious Toleration” was issued in England by King William and Queen Mary in 1689, but full religious toleration did not dawn in Virginia until the time of the American Revolution.

Maryland was founded in 1634 by a Catholic, Cecil Calvert. From the beginning, a large number of Catholic settlers flocked to this colony, along with a great many Protestants. The initial vision of Maryland as a place of toleration was a practical necessity. Nonetheless, Protestant-Catholic tensions were present from the beginning. In the 1650s, the Protestants gained control, banished the Jesuits from Maryland, and barred other Catholics from holding any office. In 1702, the Protestant Church of England was legally established as Maryland’s official church and harsh anti-Catholic laws appeared on the books, the most severe of which was the unambiguously titled 1704 law, “An Act to Prevent the Growth of Popery within this Province,” forbidding the public exercise of Catholic rites. Catholics were forced to practice their religion privately, even secretly.

New York also wrestled with religious diversity. In the 1620s, the Dutch laid claim to Manhattan, then called New Amsterdam, and the Dutch Reform Church received recognition from the Dutch West India Company as the colony’s official church. Religious diversity was accepted as long as it did not interfere with commerce and civic stability. But when Peter Stuyvesant rose to the position of director general of the colony in 1647, he was considerably less tolerant. Already disgruntled with the presence of Lutherans, Quakers, Presbyterians, and Catholics in New Amsterdam, Stuyvesant drew the line when a small group of Jews arrived in the port city in 1654. Though he pressured them to leave, they appealed to the Dutch West India Company, which reconsidered and gave them permission to travel, trade, and live in the colony. Thus the Jews of New Amsterdam developed into a small but sustained community, establishing America’s first synagogue, Congregation Shearith Israel, in 1729.

The Quakers were also the target of Stuyvesant’s intolerance: both Quakers and those who protected them were arrested and fined. In 1657, the inhabitants of Flushing drew up what has become a landmark document of religious freedom, the Flushing Remonstrance. It was a bold moment in colonial history, with citizens resisting the governor for trying to impose religious uniformity. Today the home of John Bowne, a central figure in this struggle, has become a “National Shrine to Religious Freedom.” Within half a mile of Bowne House, quite by chance, is now one of America’s most religiously diverse neighborhoods. Its Buddhist and Hindu temples, Muslim mosques, Sikh gurdwaras, Jewish synagogues, and wide variety of Christian churches, including Korean and Chinese speaking congregations, are living evidence of the heritage of this first stand for religious freedom.

Of all the colonial experiments, none was based on so wide and explicit a vision of religious liberty as Pennsylvania. William Penn first offered a place of refuge for Quakers facing persecution in England and Ireland, yet his vision did not stop there. He believed that religious conscience should be kept separate from civil matters and resisted any established religion. Even “toleration” was not enough: freedom of religious practice, he believed, should be actively protected. In 1662, he drafted a Frame of Government protecting all persons of religious faith, so long as they shared an acknowledgment of God as the creator. Freedom to worship, minister, and affiliate with particular sects was granted to all; the right to compel an individual to practice a particular faith granted to none.

Penn’s open door policy allowed a strong Quaker community to form not far from where Quakers were routinely fined, silenced, or hanged. As the years unfolded, Pennsylvania also became home to German Lutherans and Calvinists, Mennonites and Amish. Free black Methodists, Jews, and Irish Catholics began to form small communities that flourished in the 19th century. It is a fitting coincidence that, at the end of the 20th century, one of America’s first large Hindu temples was built on a hilltop near Pittsburgh, the Sri Venkateswara Temple, dedicated in 1977.

Through trial and experiment, the colonial period provided different models of dealing with religious diversity, though largely within the Christian spectrum. When America became a new nation, those who framed the Constitution pointedly repudiated any establishment of religion. Even so, most citizens of the new republic were broadly Anglo-Protestant and no doubt thought of American society as Christian. The idea of a “Christian America” continued to be a powerful, although voluntary, proposal for foundational American identity. This can be seen in John Henry Barrows welcome to delegates to the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. Barrows, a Presbyterian minister, explained: “There is a true and noble sense in which America is a Christian nation, since Christianity is recognized…by general national acceptance and observance as the prevailing religion of our people.”

However, America’s growth came with a strong and diverse Jewish community and, more recently, substantial Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu minorities. The early colonial experiments in intra-Christian diversity made religious tolerance and religious freedom the watchwords of a new order. As America has become more and more religiously diverse, the visionary experiments of Roger Williams and William Penn have taken on new dimensions of meaning.

Additional Content

Excerpt from “A Modell of Christian Charity”

In this sermon (adapted here into modern English), preached in 1630 on shipboard as the Puritans crossed the sea to the new world, John Winthrop gives expression to what will become classic religious themes in American public life, especially the idea of society as a covenant, both with one another and with God.

l) For the persons, we are a company professing ourselves fellow members of Christ. In which respect only, though we were absent from each other many miles, and had our employments as far distant, yet we ought to account ourselves knit together by this bond of love, and live in exercise of it…

2) For the work we have in hand, it is by a mutual consent through a special overruling providence, and a more than ordinary approbation of the Churches of Christ, to seek out a place of cohabitation and consortship under a due form of government both civil and ecclesiastical. In such cases as this the care of the public must oversway all private respects, by which not only conscience, but mere civil policy doth bind us. For it is a rule that particular estates cannot subsist in the ruin of the public.

3) The end is to improve our lives to do more service to the Lord, the comfort and increase of the body of Christ, whereof we are members, that ourselves and posterity may be the better preserved from the common corruptions of this evil world, to serve the Lord and work out our salvation under the power and purity of his holy ordinances.

4) For the means whereby this must be effected, they are twofold: a conformity with the work and end we aim at–these we see are extraordinary; therefore, we must not content ourselves with usual ordinary means. Whatsoever we did or ought to have done when we lived in England, the same must we do, and more also, where we go: That which the most in their Churches maintain as a truth in profession only, we must bring into familiar and constant practice. As in this duty of love, we must love brotherly without dissimulation. We must love one another with a pure heart fervently; we must bear one another’s burdens; we must not look only on our own things, but also on the things of our brethren. Neither must we think that the Lord will bear with such failings at our hands as he doth from those among whom we have lived.

Thus stands the cause between God and us: we are entered into Covenant with him for this work, we have taken out a Commission. The Lord hath given us leave to draw our own Articles. We have professed to enterprise these actions upon these and these ends [and] we have hereupon besought him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath he ratified this Covenant and sealed our Commission [and] will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it. But if we shall neglect the observance of these Articles which are the ends we have propounded, and dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath against us [and] be revenged of such a perjured people and make us know the price of the breach of such a Covenant.

Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck and to provide for our posterity is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together in this work as one man, we must entertain each other in brotherly affection. We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of others’ necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work, our community as members of the same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God and delight to dwell among us, as his own people and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of his wisdom, power, goodness, and truth than formerly we have been acquainted with.

We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when he shall make us a praise and glory, that men shall say of succeeding plantations: the Lord make it like that of New England. For we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God and all professors for God’s sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God’s worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be consumed out of the good land whither we are going.

And to shut up this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful servant of the Lord in his last farewell to Israel (Deut. 30): Beloved, there is now set before us life and good, death and evil, in that we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one another, to walk in his ways and to keep his commandments and his ordinance, and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with him that we may live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced and worship…other Gods, our pleasures and profits, and serve them, it is propounded unto us this day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over this vast sea to possess it.

Therefore, let us choose life, that we and our seed may live,
By obeying his voice, and cleaving to him,
For he is our life and our prosperity.

[From John Winthrop, “A Modell of Christian Charity,” Winthrop Papers, Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 3rd ser., vol. 7 (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1838), 31-48.]

Excerpt from A Bloudy Tenant of Persecution, “For Cause of Consc

Written by Roger Williams in 1644. In his introduction, Williams states in twelve points his argument against any “persecution for cause of conscience.” He insists here that persecuting people because of their religion or their conscience goes against the very grain of Christianity.

The Argument

First, that the blood of so many hundred thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the Wars of present and former Ages, for their respective Consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.

Secondly, Pregnant Scriptures and Arguments are throughout the Work proposed against the Doctrine of persecution for cause of Conscience.

Thirdly, Satisfactory Answers are given to Scriptures, and objections produced by Mr. Calvin, Beza, Mr. Cotton, and the Ministers of the New English Churches and others former and later, tending to prove the Doctrine of persecution for cause of Conscience.

Fourthly, The Doctrine of persecution for cause of Conscience, is proved guilty of all the blood of the Souls crying for vengeance under the Altar.

Fifthly, All Civil States with their Officers of justice in their respective constitutions and administrations are proved essentially Civil, and therefore not Judges, Governors or Defenders of the Spiritual or Christian State and Worship.

Sixthly, It is the will and command of God, that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most Paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or Antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all Nations and Countries: and they are only to be fought against with that Sword which is only (in Soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the Sword of God’s Spirit, the Word of God.

Seventhly, The state of the Land of Israel, the Kings and people thereof in Peace and War, is proved figurative and ceremonial, and no pattern nor precedent for any Kingdom or civil state in the world to follow.

Eighthly, God requireth not an uniformity of Religion to be inacted and inforced in any civil state; which inforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil War, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.

Ninthly, In holding an inforced uniformity of Religion in a civil state, we must necessarily disclaim our desires and hopes of the Jews’ conversion to Christ.

Tenthly, An inforced uniformity of Religion throughout a Nation or civil state, confounds the Civil and Religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the Flesh.

Eleventhly, The permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth, only can (according to God) procure a firm and lasting peace, (good assurance being taken according to the wisdom of the civil state for uniformity of civil obedience from all sorts).

Twelfthly, lastly, true civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or Kingdom, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences, either of Jew or Gentile. . . .

[From Roger Williams, A Bloody Tenant of Persecution, Publications of the Narragansett Club, 1st ser., vol. 3 (Providence, Rhode Island, 1867), 3-4.]

Excerpt from the Trial of Anne Hutchinson

Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643) whom Governor John Winthrop called “a woman of ready wit and bold spirit,” was put on trial for heresy in 1637. She insisted that salvation was not earned, but a gift of God. The signs of God’s grace were inward, not necessarily the outward signs of good works. To those who charged her, this teaching undermined the moral order.  Further, she insisted that the Holy Spirit directly inspired her understanding of scripture, and she taught gatherings of women in her home, as well as gatherings of women and men.

The Examination of Anne Hutchinson

John Winthrop, Governor (JW): Mrs. Hutchinson (AH), you are called here as one of those that have troubled the peace of the commonwealth and the churches here; you are known to be a woman that hath had a great share in promoting and divulging of those opinions that are causes of this trouble, and to be nearly joined not only in affinity and affection with some of those the court had taken notice of and passed censure upon, but you have spoken diverse things (as we have been informed) very prejudicial to the honour of the churches and ministers thereof[.] [A]nd you have maintained a meeting and an assembly in your house that hath been condemned by the general assembly as a thing not tolerable nor comely in the sight of God nor fitting for your sex. . . .

AH: I am called here to answer before you, but I hear no things laid to my charge.

JW: I have told you some already and more I can tell you.

AH: Name one, Sir.

JW: Have I not named some already?

AH: What have I said or done?

JW: Why for your doings, this you did harbor and countenance those that are parties in this faction that you have heard of.

AH: That’s matter of conscience, Sir.

JW: Your conscience you must keep, or it must be kept for you. . .

AH: If you please to give me leave, I shall give you the ground of what I know to be true. Being much troubled to see the falseness of the constitution of the church of England, I had like to have turned separatist[.] [W]hereupon I kept a day of solemn humiliation and pondering, this scripture was brought unto me–he that denies Jesus Christ is the antichrist[.] This I considered of and in considering found that the papists did not deny him to be come in the flesh, nor we did not deny him: who then was antichrist? Was the Turk antichrist only? The Lord knows that I could not open scripture; he must by his prophetical office open it unto me. So after that being unsatisfied in the thing, the Lord was pleased to bring this scripture out of the Hebrews. He that denies the testament denies the testator, and in this did open unto me and give me to see that those which did not teach the new covenant had the spirit of antichrist, and upon this he did discover the ministry unto me; and, ever since, I bless the Lord, he hath let me see which was the clear ministry and which the wrong. Since that time I confess I have been more choice and he hath left me to distinguish between the voice of my beloved and the voice of Moses, the voice of John Baptist and the voice of antichrist, for all those voices are spoken of in scripture. Now if you do condemn me for speaking what in my conscience I know to be truth, I must commit myself unto the Lord.

Second Officer of the Court: How do you know that that was the spirit?

AH: How did Abraham know that it was God that bid him offer his son, being a breach of the sixth commandment?

Third Officer: By an immediate voice.

AH: So to me by an immediate revelation.

Third Officer: How! an immediate revelation.

AH: By the voice of his own spirit to my soul. I will give you another scripture, Jer. 46: 27, 28–out of which the Lord showed me what he would do for me and the rest of his servants. But after he was pleased to reveal himself to me I did presently like Abraham run to Hagar. And after that he did let me see the atheism of my own heart, for which I begged of the Lord that it might not remain in my heart, and being thus, he did show me this (a twelvemonth after) which I told you of before. . . . Therefore, I desire you to look to it, for you see this scripture fulfilled this day and therefore I desire you that as you tender the Lord and the church and commonwealth to consider and look what you do. You have power over my body but the Lord Jesus hath power over my body and soul; and assure yourselves thus much, you do as much as in you lies to put the Lord Jesus Christ from you, and if you go on in this course you begin, you will bring a curse upon you and your posterity, and the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

[From Thomas Hutchinson, The History of the Colony and Province of Massachusetts Bay, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1936), 366, 383-84.]

Persecution of Catholics

As Catholics and Protestants struggled in England, so too was this struggle enacted in the colonies. Virginia and Massachusetts passed anti-Catholic legislation (adapted here into modern English). In Maryland, the government of Lord Baltimore, a Catholic, had set in place a policy of religious toleration. Following Oliver Cromwell’s victory over the Catholic monarchy in England, however, the Puritans of Maryland overthrew Baltimore. The Puritan government was not tolerant and disenfranchised the Catholics in 1654.

Virginia’s Anti-Catholic Bill, 1642

Whereas it was enacted at an Assembly in January 1641, that according to a statute made in the third year of the reign of our sovereign Lord King James of blessed memory, that no popish recusants should at any time hereafter exercise the place or places of secret councilors, register, comiss: surveyors or sheriff, or any other public place, but be utterly disabled for the same, And further it was enacted that none should be admitted into any of the aforesaid offices or places before he or they had taken the oath of allegiance and supremacy…And that it should not be lawful under the penalty aforesaid for any popish priest that shall hereafter arrive to remain above five days after warning given for his departure by the Governor or commander of the place, where he or they shall be, if wind and weather hinder not his departure.

[From William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, vol. 1 (Richmond: Samuel Pleasants, Jr., 1809), 268.]

Massachusetts’ Anti-Catholic Bill, 1647

This Court, taking into consideration the great wars and combustions which are this day in Europe, and that the same are observed to be chiefly raised and fomented by the secret practices of those of the Jesuitical order, for the prevention of like evils amongst ourselves, its ordered, by the authorities of this Court, that no Jesuit or ecclesiastical person ordained by the authority of the pope shall henceforth come within our jurisdiction…

[From Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, ed., Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, vol. 3 (Boston: William White, 1854), 112.]

Maryland’s Anti-Catholic Bill, 1654

It is Enacted and Declared in the Name of his Highness the Lord Protector with the Consent and by the Authority of the present General Assembly That none who profess and Exercise the Popish Religion Commonly known by the Name of the Roman Catholic Religion can be protected in this Province by the Laws of England formerly Established and yet unrepealed. . . but are to be restrained from the Exercise thereof. Therefore all and Every person or persons Concerned in the Law aforesaid are required to take notice.

[From William Hand Browne, ed. Archives of Maryland, Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly of Maryland, January 1637/38-September 1664, vol. 1 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1883), 340-41.]

Persecution in Maryland, A Jesuit’s Report, 1656

In Maryland, during the year last past, our people have escaped grievous dangers, and have had to contend with great difficulties and straits, and have suffered many unpleasant things as well from enemies as from our own people. The English who inhabit Virginia had made an attack on the colonists, themselves Englishmen too; and safety being guarantied on certain conditions being treacherously violated, four of the captives, and three of them Catholics, were pierced with leaden balls. Rushing into our houses, they demanded for death the impostors, as they called them, intending inevitable slaughter to those who should be caught. But the fathers, by the protection of God, unknown to them, were carried from before their faces: their books, furniture, and whatever was in the house, fell a prey to the robbers. With almost the entire loss of their property, private and domestic, together with great peril of life, they were secretly carried into Virginia; and in the greatest want of necessaries, scarcely, and with difficulty, do they sustain life. They live in a mean hut, low and depressed, not much unlike a cistern, or even a tomb, in which that great defender of the faith, St. Athanasius, lay concealed for many years.

[From E.A. Dalrymple, ed., Narrative of a Voyage to Maryland by Father Andrew White, S. J. An Account of the Colony of the Lord Bron of Baltimore, Extracts from Different Letters of Missionaries from the Year 1635 to the Year 1677 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1874), 91-93.]

Remonstrance of the Inhabitants of the Town of Flushing To Gover

This is America’s first expression of public conviction on the matter of religious freedom. In response to Governor Stuyvesant’s public proclamation that all who housed Quakers in their homes were to be fined 50 florins, the townspeople of Flushing (Queens), New York met to prepare a protest. A “remonstrance” is a presentation of reasons to oppose a stated policy, a common form of expressing public opinion in Holland. The Flushing Remonstrance (adapted here into modern English) was read and approved by townspeople meeting at the home of Michael Milner on December 27, 1657.

Right Honorable,

You have been pleased to send up unto us a certain prohibition or command that we should not receive or entertain any of those people called Quakers because they are supposed to be by some, seducers of the people. For our part we cannot condemn them in this case, neither can we stretch out our hands against them, to punish, banish or persecute them, for out of Christ God is a consuming fire, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

We desire therefore in this case not to judge least we be judged, neither to condemn least we be condemned, but rather let every man stand and fall to his own Master. We are bound by the Law to do good unto all men, especially to those of the household of faith. And though for the present we seem to be insensible of the law and the Law giver, yet when death and the Law assault us, if we have our advocate to seek, who shall plead for us in this case of conscience betwixt God and our own souls; the powers of this world can neither attack us, neither excuse us, for if God justify who can condemn and if God condemn there is none can justify.

And for those jealousies and suspicions which some have of them, that they are destructive unto Magistracy and Ministry, that cannot be, for the magistrate hath the sword in his hand and the minister hath the sword in his hand, as witness those two great examples which all magistrates and ministers are to follow, Moses and Christ, whom God raised up maintained and defended against all the enemies both of flesh and spirit; and therefore that which is of God will stand, and that which is of man will come to nothing.  And as the Lord hath taught Moses or the civil power to give an outward liberty in the state by the law written in his heart designed for the good of all, and can truly judge who is good, who is civil, who is true and who is false, and can pass definitive sentence of life or death against that man which rises up against the fundamental law of the States General; so he hath made his ministers a savor of life unto life, and a savor of death unto death.

The law of love, peace and liberty in the states extending to Jews, Turks, and Egyptians, as they are considered the sons of Adam, which is the glory of the outward state of Holland, so love, peace and liberty, extending to all in Christ Jesus, condemns hatred, war and bondage.  And because our Savior saith it is impossible but that offenses will come, but woe unto him by whom they cometh, our desire is not to offend one of his little ones, in whatsoever form, name or title he appears in, whether Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist or Quaker, but shall be glad to see anything of God in any of them, desiring to do unto all men as we desire all men should do unto us, which is the true law both of Church and State; for our Savior saith this is the law and the prophets.

Therefore if any of these said persons come in love unto us, we cannot in conscience lay violent hands upon them, but give them free egress and regress unto our town, and houses, as God shall persuade our consciences.  And in this we are true subjects both of Church and State, for we are bound by the law of God and man to do good unto all men and evil to no man. And this is according to the patent and charter of our Town, given unto us in the name of the States General, which we are not willing to infringe, and violate, but shall hold to our patent and shall remain, your humble subjects, the inhabitants of Flushing.

Written this 27th day of December, in the year 1657, by me
Edward Hart, Clericus

[Distributed at Bowne House, 37-01 Bowne Street, Flushing, New York. Original manuscript in New York State Library, Albany, New York.]