Inspirational Readings for Your Daily Walk with God:

Christian Mediation

 "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11

"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2 Timothy 2:15

7b. The Controversy and Debate Between Roger Williams and John Cotton


Mr. Cotton affirmed to Mr. Williams: "‘The sentence of your civil banishment ... by the magistrates . . . was neither done by my counsel nor consent.’"

Mr. Williams answered: "He publicly taught ... that body-killing, soul-killing, and state-killing doctrine of not permitting [tolerating] but persecuting all other consciences and ways of worship but his own in the civil state, and so consequently in the whole world, if the power or empire thereof were in his hand." Moreover, said Williams, "Some that did consent [to his banishment] have solemnly testified, and with tears since to myself confessed, that they could not in their souls have been brought to have consented to the sentence, had not Mr. Cotton in private given them advice and counsel, proving it just and warrantable to their consciences. I desire to be as charitable as charity would have me, and therefore would hope that either his memory failed him, or that else he meant, that in the very time of sentence passing he neither counseled nor consented."

The particular charge that Mr. Cotton brought against Mr. Williams at the Salem trial preceding his banishment, was that Williams taught "‘that the civil magistrate’s power extends only to the bodies, and goods, and outward state of men,’" and did not pertain to "offenses against God and religion." This doctrine Mr. Cotton called "damnable heresy." Upon this charge, the court found Mr. Williams guilty, and pronounced him worthy of banishment. Mr. Cotton affirmed, though the magistrates rendered the judgment without his "counsel nor consent," "I dare not deny the sentence passed to be righteous in the eyes of God, who hath said, that he that withholdeth the corn, which is the staff of life, from the people, the multitude shall curse him. Prov. 11:26.’"

Mr. Williams replied that "the selling or withholding of spiritual corn, are both of a spiritual nature, and therefore must necessarily in a true parallel bear relation to a spiritual curse," and could not possibly apply to "any temporal death or banishment."

Mr. Cotton claimed that he was acting in Christ’s stead: "Against your corrupt doctrines it pleased the Lord Jesus to fight against you, with the sword of His mouth.’" Mr. Williams replied to this charge: "I commit my cause to Him that judgeth righteously, and yet resolve to pray against their evils." "He casts dishonor upon the name of God, to make Him the author of such cruel mercy."

Mr. Williams quoted Isaiah 2:4, together with Micah 4:3, "They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and Isaiah 11:9, "There shall none hurt or destroy in all the mountain of My holiness," as proof that the Christian church was not to use carnal weapons or persecute.

Mr. Cotton replied "that these predictions ... do not forbid them to drive ravenous wolves from the sheepfold, and to restrain them from devouring the sheep of Christ.’"

Mr. Williams replied: "I desire, in the fear and holy presence of God, it may be inquired into, whether in all the will or testament of Christ there be any such word of Christ, by way of command, promise, or example, countenancing the governors of the civil state to meddle with these wolves, if in civil things peaceable and obedient." "I ask, whether or no such as may hold forth other worships or religions, Jews, Turks, or anti-Christians, may not be peaceable and quiet subjects, loving and helpful neighbours, fair and just dealers, true and loyal to the civil government? It is clear they may, from all reason and experience in many flourishing cities and kingdoms of the world, and so offend not against the civil state and peace, nor incur the punishment of the civil sword, notwithstanding that in spiritual and mystical account they are ravenous and greedy wolves."

"I know that civil magistrates, in some places," said Williams, "have declined the name of head of the church, and ecclesiastical judge; yet can they not with good conscience decline the name if they do the work, and perform the office of determining and punishing a merely spiritual wolf.

"They must be sufficiently also able to judge in all spiritual causes," "who are spiritual sheep, what is their food, what their poison, what their properties, who their keepers.... who are wolves, what their properties, their haunts, their assaults, the manner of taking, etc., spiritually:—and this beside the care and study of the civil laws, and the discerning of his own proper civil sheep, obedient sheep, etc.: as also wolfish oppressors, etc.,. whom he is bound to punish and suppress.... And if this be not so, to wit, that magistrates must not be spiritual judges, as some decline it in the title supreme head and governor, why is Gallio wont to be exclaimed against for refusing to be a judge in such matters as concerned the Jewish worship and religion? How is he censured for a profane person, without conscience, etc., in that he would be no judge or head? for that is all one in point of government."

Mr. Williams reminded Mr. Cotton that "the Father who gave, and the Son who keeps the sheep," are greater than all. "Who can pluck these sheep, the elect, out of His hand?" He further reminded Mr. Cotton that the New Testament makes it clear that "every ordinary shepherd of a flock of Christ had ability sufficient to defend the flock from spiritual and mystical wolves, without the help of the civil magistrate."

"By this unmerciful . . . most bloody doctrine, viz., the wolves (heretics) are to be driven away, their brains knocked out, and killed," that "the poor sheep to be preserved, for whom Christ died, etc. Is not this to take Christ Jesus, and make Him a temporal king by force? John 6:15.

Is not this to make His kingdom of this world, to set up a civil and temporal Israel, to bound out new earthly, holy lands of Canaan, yea, and to set up a Spanish Inquisition in all parts of the world, to the speedy destruction of thousands, yea, of millions of souls, and the frustrating of the sweet end of the coming of the Lord Jesus, to wit, to save men’s souls (and to that end not to destroy their bodies) by His own blood?"

Roger Williams quoted 2 Corinthians 10:4 against persecution: "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; and having in a readiness to avenge all disobedience."

In interpreting this text Mr. Cotton said: "‘When Paul saith, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual," he denieth not civil weapons of justice to the civil magistrate (Romans 13), but only to church officers. And yet the weapons of church officers he acknowledgeth to be such, as though they be spiritual, yet are ready to take vengeance on all disobedience (2 Cor. 10:6), which hath reference, amongst other ordinances, to the censures of the church against scandalous offenders.’"

Mr. Williams replied: "I must ask, why he here affirmeth the apostle denies not civil weapons of justice to the civil magistrate? of which there is no question, unless that, according to his scope of proving persecution for conscience, he intends withal that the apostle denies not civil weapons of justice to the civil magistrate in spiritual and religious causes: the contrary whereunto, —the Lord assisting, I shall evince, both from this very scripture and his own observation, and lastly by that thirteenth of the Romans, by himself quoted.

"First, then, from this scripture and his own observation. The weapons of church officers, saith he, are such, which though they be spiritual, are ready to take vengeance on all disobedience; which hath reference, saith he, amongst other ordinances, to the censures of the church against scandalous offenders.

"I hence observe [according to Mr. Cotton’s view], that there being in this scripture held forth a twofold state, a civil state and a spiritual, civil officers and spiritual, civil weapons and spiritual weapons, civil vengeance and punishment and a spiritual vengeance and punishment; although the Spirit speaks not here expressly of civil magistrates and their civil weapons, yet, these states being of different natures and considerations, ass far differing as spirit from flesh, I first observe that civil weapons are most improper and unfitting in matters of the spiritual state and kingdom, though in the civil state most proper and suitable.

"To keep to the similitude which the Spirit useth, for instance—to batter down a stronghold, high wall, fort, tower, or castle, men bring not a first or second admonition, and, after obstinacy, excommunication, which are spiritual weapons, concerning them that be in the church: nor exhortations to repent and be baptized, to believe in the Lord Jesus, etc., which are proper weapons to them that be without [the church], etc.; but to take a stronghold, men bring cannons, culverins, saker, bullets, powder, muskets, swords, pikes, etc., and these to this end are weapons effectual and proportionable. On the other side, to batter down idolatry, false worship, heresy, schism, blindness, hardness, out of the soul and spirit, it is vain, improper, and unsuitable to bring those weapons which are used by persecutors, stocks, whips, prisons, swords, gibbets, stakes, . . . but against these spiritual strongholds in the souls of men, spiritual artillery and weapons are proper, which are mighty through God to subdue and bring under the very thought to obedience....

"I observe that as civil weapons are improper in this business, and never able to effect aught in the soul: so although they were proper, yet they are unnecessary. . . . Will the Lord Jesus (did He ever in His own person practice, or did He appoint to) join to His breastplate of righteousness, the breastplate of iron and steel? to the helmet of righteousness and salvation in Christ, a helmet and crest of iron, brass, or steel? a target of wood to His shield of faith? [to] His two-edged sword, coming forth of the mouth of Jesus, the material sword, the work of smiths and cutlers? or a girdle of shoe leather to the girdle of truth? ...

"Now, in the second place, concerning that scripture, Romans 13, which it pleased the answerer [Mr. Cotton] to quote, and himself, and so many excellent servants of God have insisted upon to prove such persecution for conscience:—how have both he and they wrested this scripture, not as Peter writes of the wicked, to their eternal, yet to their own and other’s temporal destruction, by civil wars and combustions in the world? ...

"First, then, upon the serious examination of this whole scripture, it will appear, that from the ninth verse of the twelfth chapter to the end of this whole thirteenth chapter, the Spirit handles the duties of the saints in the careful observation of the second table [of the decalogue] in their civil conversation, or walking towards men, and speaks not at all of any point or matter of the first table concerning the kingdom of the Lord Jesus....

"From the ninth verse [of the twelfth chapter of Romans] to the end of the thirteenth [chapter], he plainly discourseth of their civil conversation and walking one toward another, and with all men, from whence he hath fair occasion to speak largely concerning their subjection to magistrates in the thirteenth chapter.

"Hence it is, that [at] verse 7 of this thirteenth chapter, Paul exhorts to performance of love to all men, magistrates and subjects, verses 7, 8, ‘Render, therefore, to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to any man, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.’ .. .

"These words, ‘He that loveth hath fulfilled the law,’ concerneth not the whole law in the first table, that is, the worship and kingdom of God in Christ," but "of the second table....

"In the ninth verse, having discoursed of the fifth command in this point of superiors, he makes all the rest of the commandments of the second table, which concern our walking with men,—viz., ‘Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not steal; thou shalt not bear false witness; thou shalt not covet: and if there be any other commandment to be briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’

"And verse to, ‘Love worketh no ill to his neighbor, therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law;’ that is, as before, the law concerning our ‘civil conversation toward all men, magistrates or governors, and fellow subjects of all conditions."

John Cotton contended "that magistrates were keepers of the two tables, defenders of the faith against heretics.’" In answer to this argument, commands subjection and obedience to higher powers, even to the Roman emperors and all subordinate magistrates; and yet the emperors and governors under them were strangers from the life of God in Christ, yea, most averse and opposite, yea, cruel and bloody persecutors of the name and followers of Jesus: and yet unto these, is this subjection and obedience commanded. Now true it is,, that as the civil magistrate is apt not to content himself with the majesty of an earthly throne, crown, sword, scepter, but to seat himself in the throne of David in the church: so God’s people, and it may be in Paul’s time, . . . were apt to be much tempted to despise civil governors, especially such as were ignorant of the Son of God, and persecuted Him in His servants."

Mr. Williams contended that Paul, in the thirteenth of Romans, wrote not to the Roman governors to defend the truth and to punish heresies, because the Roman emperors and magistrates were in no way able to discern the truth, and if they were "to punish heretics, whom then also they must discern and judge, or else condemn them, as the Jews would have Pilate condemn the Lord Jesus, upon the sentence of others-I say, if Paul should have, in this scripture, put this work upon these Roman governors, and commanded the churches of Christ to have yielded subjection in any such matters, he must, in the judgment of all men, have put out the eye of faith, and reason, and sense, at once."

Mr. Williams further contended that Paul never requested the followers of Christ to submit their consciences to the Roman emperors "in spiritual things," but only "in civil things." Mr. Williams asked, if "any of the Roman governors, or the emperor himself, had been humbled and converted to Christianity by the preaching of Christ, were not they themselves bound to subject themselves unto the power of the Lord Jesus in the hands of the apostles and churches, and might not the apostles and churches have refused to have baptized, or washed them into the profession of Christ Jesus, upon the apprehension of their unworthiness?

"Or, if received into Christian fellowship, were they not to stand at the bar of the Lord Jesus in the church, concerning either their opinions or practices? were they not to be cast out and delivered unto Satan by the power of the Lord Jesus, if, after once and twice admonition, they persist obstinately, as faithfully and impartially as if they were the meanest in the empire? Yea, although the apostles, the churches, the elders, or governors thereof, were poor and mean, despised persons in civil respects, and were themselves bound to yield all faithful and loyal obedience to such emperors and governors in civil things.

"Were they not, if Christians, bound themselves to have submitted to those spiritual decrees of the apostles and elders, as well as the lowest and meanest members of Christ? Acts 1:6."

When Mr. Williams was asked, "Why then did Paul himself (Acts 25:11) appeal to Caesar," if Caesar was not "a fit judge" in spiritual matters? Mr. Williams replied, "I answer, if Paul, in this appeal to Caesar, had referred and submitted simply and properly the cause of Christ, his ministry and ministration, to the Roman emperor’s tribunal, ... if Paul had appealed to Caesar in spiritual respects, he had greatly profaned the holy name of God in holy things, in so improper and vain a prostitution of spiritual things to carnal and natural judgments, which are not able to comprehend spiritual matters, which are alone spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:4.

"And yet Caesar, as a civil, supreme magistrate, ought to defend Paul from civil violence, and slanderous accusations about sedition, mutiny, civil disobedience, etc. And in that sense, who doubts but God’s people may appeal to the Roman Caesar, an Egyptian Pharaoh, a Philistian Abimelech, an Assyrian Nebuchadnezzar, the great Mogul, Prester John, the great Turk, or an Indian Sachem?"

Mr. Cotton asserted, "‘What though the sword be of a material and civil nature? ... It can reach to punish not only the offenders in bodily life and civil liberties, but also the offenders against spiritual life and soul liberties.’"

Mr. Williams declared that the civil magistrate "hath a sword, which he bears not in vain, delivered to him, as I acknowledge, from God’s appointment in the free consent and choice of the subjects for common good.

"We must distinguish of swords. We find four sorts of swords mentioned in the New Testament. "First, the sword of persecution, which Herod stretched forth against James. Acts 12:1, 2. "Secondly, the sword of God’s Spirit, expressly said to be the word of God. Eph. 6:[17]....

"Thirdly, the great sword of war and destruction, given to him that rides that terrible red horse of war, so that he takes peace from the earth, and men kill one another....

"None of these three swords are intended in this scripture. [Rom. 13:4.]

"Therefore, fourthly, there is a civil sword, called the sword of civil justice, which being of a material, civil nature, for the defense of persons, estates, families, liberties of a city or civil state, and the suppressing of uncivil or injurious persons or actions, by such civil punishment, it cannot ... I say, cannot extend to spiritual and soul causes, spiritual and soul punishment, which belongs to that spiritual sword with two edges, the soul piercing—in soulsaving, or soul killing,—the word of God."

John Cotton asked: "‘If the sword of the judge or magistrate be the sword of the Lord, why may it not be drawn forth, as well to defend His subjects in true religion, as in civil peace?’"

Mr. Williams declared: "Since the magistrates of whom Paul wrote, were natural, ungodly, persecuting, and yet lawful magistrates, and to be obeyed in all lawful civil things: since all magistrates are God’s ministers, essentially civil, bounded to a civil work, with civil weapons, or instruments, and paid or rewarded with civil rewards: ... this scripture [Rom. 13:6] is generally mistaken, and wrested from the scope of God’s Spirit, and the nature of the place, and cannot truly be alleged by any for the power of the civil magistrate to be exercised in spiritual and soul matters."

Mr. Cotton contended that the kings of Israel meddled with religious matters and therefore the civil magistrates today could do the same. Said he: "‘What holy care of religion lay upon the kings of Israel in the Old Testament, the same lieth now upon Christian kings in the New Testament, to protect the same in their churches.’"

Mr. Williams declared that the kings of Israel as a general rule were "unrighteous and cruel," "fallacious," "persecuting," and "notorious evil doers," and poor examples to follow. Said he"

"As there is a fallacious conjoining and confounding together [of] persons of several kinds and natures, differing as much as spirit and flesh, heaven and earth, each from other: so is there a silent and implicit justification of all the unrighteous and cruel proceedings of Jews and Gentiles against all the prophets of God, the Lord Jesus Himself, and all His messengers and witnesses, whom their accusers have ever so coupled and mixed with notorious evildoers and scandalous livers."

Mr. Williams stated that the kings and rulers of both the Jewish and the Christian dispensation proved themselves incompetent to judge in spiritual matters. In their judgment, for example, said Williams: "Elijah was a troubler of the state; Jeremy weakened the hand of the people; yea, Moses made the people neglect their work; the Jews built the rebellious and bad city; the three worthies regarded not the command of the king; Christ Jesus deceived the people, was a conjurer and a traitor against Caesar in being king of the Jews—indeed He was so spiritually over the Jew, the Christian—therefore, He was numbered with notorious evildoers, and nailed to the gallows between two malefactors.

"Hence Paul and all true messengers of Jesus Christ, are esteemed seducing and seditious teachers and turners of the world upside down."

King James of England was quoted as saying:

"’that God’ never loves to plant His church by blood;’ "and Stephen of Poland, as saying: "‘I am ... a civil magistrate over the bodies of men, not a spiritual over their souls;’" and the king of Bohemia, as saying: " ‘That conscience ought not to be violated or forced.... That persecution for cause of conscience hath ever proved pernicious, being the causes of all those wonderful innovations of, or changes in, the principalest and mightiest kingdoms of Christendom."

Mr. Cotton replied to this: "For those three princes named by you, who tolerated religion, we can name you more and greater who have not tolerated heretics and schismatics, notwithstanding their pretense of conscience.’" Then Mr. Cotton proceeds to name a large number of notable kings, emperors, and queens of "greater piety" who would not tolerate heresy or schism.

Mr. Cotton said: " ‘Constantine the Great at the request of the general council of Nice, banished Arius, with some of his fellows....

"‘The same Constantine made a severe law against the Donatists: and the like proceedings against them were used by Valentinian, Gratian, and Theodosius, as Augustine reports. . . . Only Julian the Apostate granted liberty to heretics as well as to pagans....

"Queen Elizabeth, as famous for her government as most of the former, it is well known what laws she made and executed against papists. Yea, and King James, one of your own witnesses, though he was slow in proceeding against papists, as you say, for conscience’ sake, yet you are not ignorant how sharply and severely he punished those whom the malignant world calls Puritans, men of more conscience and better faith than the papists whom he tolerated.’"

Mr. Williams in reply said: "Unto this, I answer: First, that for mine own part I would not use an argument from the number of princes, witnessing in profession of practice against persecution for cause of conscience; for the truth and faith of the Lord Jesus must not be received with respect of faces, be they never so high, princely and glorious.

"Precious pearls and jewels, and far more precious truth, are found in muddy shells and places. The rich mines of golden truth lie hid under barren hills, and in obscure holes and corners.

"The most high and glorious God hath chosen the poor of the world, and the witnesses’ of truth (Revelation 11) are clothed in sackcloth, not in silk or satin, cloth of gold or tissue: and, therefore, I acknowledge, if the number of princes professing persecution be considered, it is rare to find a king, prince, or governor like Christ Jesus, the King of kings, and Prince of the princes of the earth, and who tread not in the steps of Herod the fox, or Nero the lion, openly or secretly persecuting the name of the Lord Jesus; such were. Saul, Jereboam, Ahab, though under a mask or pretense of the name of the God of Israel.

"To that purpose was it a noble speech of Buchanan, who, lying on his deathbed, sent this item to King James:—‘Remember my humble service to His Majesty, and tell him that Buchanan is going to a place where few kings come."

Mr. Williams further stated that Mr. Cotton himself admitted "‘that amongst the Roman emperors, they that did not persecute were Julian the Apostate, and Valens the Arian; whereas the good emperors, Constantine, Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius, they did persecute the Arians, Donatists,’ etc."

To this argument Mr. Williams replied: "It is no new thing for godly, and eminently godly men to perform ungodly actions: nor for ungodly persons, for wicked ends, to act what in itself is good and righteous."

Mr. Williams then cited as examples such great and holy men as Abraham, Jacob, David, Solomon, Lamech, and Saul, all of whom "lived in constant transgression against the institution of so holy and so ratified a law of marriage," and "other sins are wont to be recorded of them."

Mr. Williams argued that it was not safe to look to men or the examples of men, no matter how eminent they were, that Christ was the only pattern we must follow. Though King David ordered the "slaughter of Uriah, he afterward repented and sought God’s forgiveness, and thus "David was holy and precious to God still, though like a jewel fallen into the dirt. Whereas King Ahab, though acting his fasting and humiliation, was but Ahab still."

Mr. Williams said the misguided "zeal of Constantine and other emperors, did more hurt to Christ Jesus’ crown and kingdom, than the raging fury of the most bloody Neros. In the persecutions of the latter, Christians were sweet and fragrant, like spice pounded and beaten in mortars. But these good emperors, persecuting some erroneous persons, Arius, etc., and advancing the professors of some truths of Christ-for there was no small number of truths lost in those times-and maintaining their religion by the material sword-I say, by this means Christianity was eclipsed, and the professors of it fell asleep (Cant. 5:2), Babel, or confusion, was ushered in, and by degrees the gardens of the churches of saints were turned into the wilderness of whole nations, until the whole world became Christian, or Christendom. Revelation 12, 13.

"Doubtless those holy men, emperors and bishops, intended and aimed right to exalt Christ; but not attending to the command of Christ Jesus, to permit the tares to grow in the field of the world, they make the garden of the church and field of the world to be all one; and might not only sometimes, in their zealous mistakes, persecute good wheat instead of tares, but also pluck up thousands of those precious stalks by commotions and combustions about religion, as hath been since practiced in the great and wonderful, changes wrought by such wars in, many great and mighty states and kingdoms, as we heard even now in the observation of the king of Bohemia....

"This is the common clamor of persecutors against the messengers and witnesses of Jesus in all ages," said Williams, "viz., you are heretics, schismatics, factious, seditious, rebellious. Have not all truth’s witnesses heard such reproaches? You pretend conscience: you say you are persecuted for religion: you will say you are martyrs?

... Doubtless, that soul that can so readily speak Babel’s language, hath cause to fear that he hath not yet in point of worship left the gates or suburbs of it."

Mr. Cotton declared that when Julian the Apostate and Valens the Arian tolerated" `all weeds to grow,’" it was "‘that thereby they might choke the vitals of Christianity.’ "

Mr. Williams replied: "When Christianity began to be choked, it was not when Christians lodged in cold prisons, but down beds of ease, and persecuted others."

Mr. Williams declared that Mr. Cotton concluded his argument "with approbation of Queen Elizabeth for persecuting the papists, and a reproof to King James for his persecuting the Puritans."

"I answer," said Mr. Williams, "if Queen Elizabeth, according to the answerer’s [Mr. Cotton’s] tenent and conscience, did well to persecute according to her conscience, King James did not ill in persecuting according to his. For Mr. Cotton must grant that either King James was not fit to be a king, had not the essential qualifications of a king, in not being able rightly to judge who ought to be persecuted, and who not: or else he must confess that King James, and all magistrates, must persecute such whom in their conscience they judge worthy to be persecuted."

Mr. Cotton replied: " ‘It followeth not. For Queen Elizabeth might do well in persecuting seditious or seducing papists, according to conscience rightly informed, and King James do ill according to conscience misinformed.’"

Mr. Williams stated his position thus: "I say it again, though I neither approve Queen Elizabeth or King James in such their persecutions, yet such as hold this tenent of persecuting for conscience, must also hold that civil magistrates are not essentially fitted and qualified for their function and office, except they can discern clearly the difference between such as are to be punished and persecuted, and such as are not.

"Or else, if they be essentially qualified, without such a religious spirit of discerning, and yet must persecute the heretic, the schismatic, etc., must they not persecute according to their consciences and persuasion? And then doubtless, though he be excellent for civil government, may he easily, as Paul did ignorantly, persecute the Son of God instead of the son of perdition.

"Therefore, lastly, according to Christ Jesus’ command, magistrates are bound not to persecute, and to see that none of their subjects be persecuted and oppressed for their conscience and worship, being otherwise subject and peaceable in civil obedience."

Mr. Cotton justified "the persecution of the papists by Queen Elizabeth," and similar persecution of the papists "in the Low Countries," or the Netherlands, because the "‘Duke D’Alva boasts that 36,000 Protestants were put to death by him,’ "for which " ‘the Jesuits’ " were responsible, and therefore, says Cotton, the Protestants were justified in banishing the Jesuits from the country in 1586. Mr. Cotton said: "They [the Protestants] justly say Amen to the queen’s law—that as she gave the popish emissaries blood to drink—the angel says, "Even so, Amen" [Rev. 16:7]. They acknowledge God’s almighty power, that had given them power to make that law against them-"all states rang of these laws, and it raised all Christendom" " ‘in combustion; raised the wars of 1588 and the Spanish invasion,’ " and he adds, both concerning the English nation and the Dutch, "‘that if God had not borne witness to His people and their laws, in defeating the intendments of their enemies, against both nations, it might have been the ruin of them both."

Mr. Williams replied: "That those laws and practices of Queen Elizabeth raised those combustions in Christendom, I deny not: that they might likely have cost the ruin of English and Dutch, I grant.

"That it was God’s gracious work in defeating the intendments of their enemies, I thankfully acknowledge. But that God bore witness to such persecutions and laws for such persecutions, I deny: for, First, event and success come alike to all, and are no argument of love, or hatred, etc.

"Secondly, the papists in their wars have ever yet had, both in peace and war, victory and dominion; and therefore, if success be the measure, God hath borne witness unto them.

"It is most true, what Daniel in his eighth, and eleventh, and twelfth chapters, and John in his Revelation, eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth chapters, write of the great success of antichrist against Christ Jesus for a time appointed.

"Success was various between Charles V and some German princes: Philip of Spain and the Low Countries; the French king and his Protestant subjects; sometimes losing, sometimes winning, interchangeably.

"But most memorable is the famous history of the Waldenses and Albigenses, those famous witnesses of Jesus Christ, who rising from Waldo, at Lyons in France (1160), spread over France, Italy, Germany, and almost all countries, into thousands and ten thousands, making separation from the pope and Church of Rome. These fought many battles with various success, and had the assistance and protection of divers great princes against three succeeding popes and their armies; but after mutual slaughters and miseries to both sides, the final success of victory fell to the popedom and Romish church, in the utter extirpation of those famous Waldensian witnesses.

"God’s servants are all overcomers when they war with God’s weapons, in God’s cause and worship: and in Revelation second and third chapters, seven times it is recorded-‘To him that over cometh,’ in Ephesus; ‘to him that overcometh,’ in Sardis, etc. and Revelation twelfth, God’s servants overcame the dragon, or devil, in the Roman emperors by three weapons—the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony, and the not loving of their lives unto the death."

Mr. Cotton said he was willing to admit that "the Christian church doth not persecute, but is persecuted. But,’ said Mr. Cotton, "to excommunicate a heretic, is not to persecute, that is, it is not to punish an innocent but a culpable and damnable person, and that not for conscience, but for persisting in error against light of conscience, whereof he hath been convinced.’"

Mr. Williams replied: "I answer, If it be a mark of the Christian church to be persecuted, and of the anti-Christian, or false church, to persecute, then those churches cannot be truly Christian, according to the first institution, which either actually themselves, or by the civil power of kings and princes given to them, or procured by them to fight for them, do persecute such as dissent from them, or be opposite against them."

Mr. Williams added if "‘to excommunicate a heretic is not to persecute, but to punish him for sinning against the light of his own conscience,’ " as Mr. Cotton asserted, then, said Williams, Mr. Cotton must make a distinction between what is "spiritual" and what is "civil." "Excommunication being of a spiritual nature ... and a spiritual killing by the most sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit, in delivering up the person excommunicated to Satan-therefore, who sees not that his answer comes not near our question?"

Mr. Williams said it was one thing for the church to excommunicate its own members "in spiritual and church matters" and by spiritual excommunications, but it was an entirely different thing to punish "a heretic for sinning against his conscience," "by imprisonments, stocking, whipping, fining, banishing, hanging, burning, etc., notwithstanding that such persons in civil obedience and subjection are unreprovable."