and inforced in any civill state; which inforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civill Warre, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypcrisie and destruction of millions of souls.'4
Colonial conditions rather than abstract principles stimulated two similar experiments. After the forces of parliament and Puritanism had gained the upper hand in England's Civil War, Maryland's Catholic leaders passed an Act of Toleration in i649 in the hope of preserving a space to practise their faith. Although it was soon repealed, Maryland's declaration marked a new stage in the conception of civil peace. In Pennsylvania, William Penn followed his Quaker convictions to a startling conclusion. In such works as The Great Case of Liberty of Conscience (1670), he extended the Quaker sense of individual religious competence into an argument against state mandates for religion. As Penn put these principles to work in New Jersey and, especially, Pennsylvania, he established what was, after Rhode Island, the most tolerant civil government in the Christian world. In the European colonies of the seventeenth century, toleration was mostly an experiment. Yet as with other spheres of practical Christianity in the new world, the experiment was also a harbinger.
The effort by New England Puritans to create a purer Christian civilization than they had known in England represented North America's most comprehensive and influential religious experiment. The English Puritans, who attempted in old England to reform the lives of individuals, the practice of the national English church, and the structures of their society, were frustrated first by royal opposition and then by the ambiguities of their own temporary success in the Civil War. In the new world, by contrast, Puritan colonists were able actually to implement the principles for which they had long struggled.
Led by unusually capable minister-theologians like John Cotton (1594-1652) and Thomas Shepard (1605-49) in Massachusetts, Thomas Hooker (1586-1647) in Connecticut, and John Davenport (1597-1670) in New Haven - as well as by laymen like Gov. William Bradford (1589^-1657) of Plymouth and Gov. John Winthrop (1588-1649) of Massachusetts - the 'Puritan way' became a laboratory fortesting whethertheir conception of Christianity couldflourish in an environment with external enemies removed. (Disease had greatly reduced the Native American population, and New England contained too few natural resources for it to attract intervention by other European mercantile powers.) Bradford phrased starkly the challenge that faced the Plymouth pilgrims in the autumn of 1620: 'they had now no friends to welcome them nor inns to
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