By Don M. Wolfe
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INTRODUCTION 35 As strikingly as any other figure of his day Williams embodied the sharp, seemingly precipitate intellectual transitions inherent in an explosive individualism. Converted to Puritanism at eleven, he was successively a Puritan Anglican, semi-Separatist, Separatist, and Seeker before he was thirty-five. ” 99 Williams’ historical sense made him keenly aware of the rebellious extensions of Puri tanism and of his own place in the process. “I beleeve that there hardly hath been a conscientious Seperatist,” he wrote, “who was not first a Puritan: for .
Mr. ” ®4 Even Winthrop, of whose friendship Williams spoke with reverence until the end of his days, assented to the penalty of banishment. Hugh Peters, later an unlovely disciple of Williams’ doctrines, recommended a sentence of excommunication. Upon petition Williams was granted permission to stay in the Bay INTRODUCTION 33 colony until spring, provided he would not vent his dangerous opinions. Alarmed by Williams’ project of a new colony, by his continued influence, especially with Sir Henry Vane, who had arrived a few days after his sentence of banishment, and with Winthrop himself, who had been censured by the Council for “his too much leniency to disaffected souls,” Governor Haynes and his assistants resolved to force Williams upon a ship bound for England.
And . . [we are] likely to have no redress, seeing our impudent, shameless, and wainscot-faced Bishops, like beasts, contrary to the knowledge of all men, and against their own consciences, dare in the ears of her M ajesty affirm all to be well, where there is nothing but sores and blisters; yea, where the grief is even deadly a t the heart. . ** Marprelate denounced the destruction of Puritan printing presses and the leniency shown to Papist pamphleteers; he taunted Whitgift for his inability to cope with Cartright’s manifestoes; he declared his undying antagonism to the episcopal hierarchy, while publishing his conditions of peace.
Milton in the Puritan Revolution by Don M. Wolfe