FREEDOM EXISTED IN NAME ONLY
1638 – Conditions in the Massachusetts Bay Colony had become intolerable for any who held views that tended toward liberty of conscience or baptism for believers only. Isaac Backus stated that the Massachusetts Court ruled that if any group wanted to meet and establish a church they had to first have the approval of the magistrates and the other ministers in the area. If you did not get approval you were not admitted to the “freedom of the Commonwealth”. There was great controversy. The House of Deputies was dissolved and reappointed to suit the ministers. Pastors, men, women and children were banished from the colonies and others were put to death as heretics. Massachusetts made a law that everyone was taxed to pay for the support of religious ministers, even though they had no vote in choosing them. Under this terrible influence. John Clarke, the Baptist preacher, his brother Joseph, and many others moved away to Rhode Island. On March 7, 1638, they entered into a Covenant to incorporate themselves into a body politic, submitting everything to God and following His absolute laws as guide and judge. Backus stated, when they could not find laws to govern themselves in the New Testament, they returned to the laws of Moses and elected a Judge and three Elders to rule over them. On March 12, 1640, they changed their plan of government and elected a governor and four assistants until they came under a Charter from England at a later time. It becomes very clear that any government of men is as fallible as the men who govern, and that the trials and errors of the colonies, endeavoring to set up systems of government to guarantee order and yet give the people governed liberty of conscience, resulted in a Constitution and a Bill of Rights that brought the leaders as well as the people under the law. Our Constitution was not thrown together but was born after much travail by millions of people over hundreds of years of suffering. God bless America.
Barbara Ketay from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 94-95.
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