Tag Archives: liberty of conscience

67 – March – 08 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY


 

King George II
WHO OPENED THE NAILED DOORS OF THE CHURCH?
1680 –The Baptists in Boston quietly and cautiously built a new meetinghouse and began to assemble there on February 15, 1679. But the authorities soon found out and issued a law in May, 1679 to take the property from them if they continued to meet there. Under the threat of law, the Baptists ceased to occupy their own building.  However, King Charles II issued an edict to all authorities to allow freedom and liberty of conscience to all non-Catholics. He further stated they were not to be subjected to fines or forfeitures, or other hardships for the same. He stated, “…which is it a severity the more to be wondered at, whereas liberty of conscience was made one principle motive for your transportation into those parts.” Some friends of the Baptists in London notified the Baptists in Boston about the King’s decree, and the Baptists happily returned to meeting in their building. Shortly, the spiritual leadership was summoned before the Court of Assistants where is was demanded that they promise not to meet there again. They refused to promise and on March 8, 1680, an officer of the court nailed the doors to their building shut and posted the order thereon. The Baptists held their services in the yard, until one Sunday when they arrived, much to their surprise the doors were open. They did not know whether man or angel opened those doors, but they entered and held services and said, “The Court had done this illegally, we were denied a copy of the constable’s order and Marshall’s warrant, and we concluded to go into our house, it being our own, having a civil right to it.” Dr. Increase Mather published a pamphlet in London speaking against the Baptists’ character. John Russell wrote an answer to what Mather wrote. It was published in London and prefaced by some Baptist Ministers in England. They said, “It seems most strange that our Congregational brethren in New England, who with liberal estates, chose rather to depart from their native soil into a wilderness, than to be under the lash of those who upon religious pretenses took delight to smite their fellow servants, should exercise towards others the like severity that themselves at so great hazard and hardship sought to avoid; especially considering that it is against their brethren, who profess and appeal to the same rule with themselves for guidance in the worship of God, and the ordering of their whole conversation.”
Barbara Ketay from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson /, pp. 95-96.
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66 – March – 07 – THIS DAY IN BAPTIST HISTORY



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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