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A Key into the Language of AmericaSummary and Reviews of A Key into the Language of America
The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton's Letter ExaminedSummary and Reviews of The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton's Letter Examined and Answered
The Bloody Tenant Yet More Bloody: By Mr. Cottons Endeavor To Wash It White In The Blood Of The LambSummary and Reviews of The Bloody Tenant Yet More Bloody: By Mr. Cottons Endeavor To Wash It White In The Blood Of The Lamb
Hireling Ministry None of Christ's or A Discourse Touching the Propagating of the Gospel of Christ JSummary and Reviews of Hireling Ministry None of Christ's or A Discourse Touching the Propagating of the Gospel of Christ Jesus
George Fox Digged Out of His BurrowesSummary and Reviews of George Fox Digged Out of His Burrowes
Christenings Make Not ChristiansSummary and Reviews of Christenings Make Not Christians
The Complete Writings of Roger WilliamsSummary and Reviews of The Complete Writings of Roger Williams
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Roger Williams

Click the banner or the individual items listed to buy and read Williams' work.

Roger Williams (1603-1683) spent his early life in the Smithfield district of London, which was a hotbed of Separatism.  However, he did go to Cambridge, a Church run school, after Sir Edward Coke noticed him for his shorthand skills.  After getting his Bachelor’s degree and starting on his Master’s, he embraced Puritanism and left Cambridge.  He sailed into America on the Lyon and landed in America on February 3, 1631. 

He traveled to Boston, and Governor John Winthrop recorded his arrival date two days later.  Immediately, he began to cause a stir in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by expressing views contrary to Puritan orthodoxy.  During his time in Massachusetts, the leaders of the colonies felt increasingly threatened.  William Bradford called him “godly and zealous…but very unsettled in judgment.”  John Winthrop called his ideas “dangerous.”  Worst of all, Cotton Mather called him the “first rebel against the divine-church order in the wilderness” with a “windmill” of ideas in his head that might set America “on fire.”  The authorities tried to move Williams from one pastorate to another to try to temper his views and influence, but eventually they convicted him of heresy and divisiveness and banished him.

Williams preached three main points of “heresy.”  Firstly, he preached that Puritans should be Separatists, which threatened the charter of the Massachusetts Bay Company.  Secondly, he preached that the charter of the Company was invalid because a Christian king did not have a right to land belonging to heathens.  Finally, and most dangerous to the Puritan authorities’ power, he preached that the civil government had jurisdiction over outward economic and social matters but not matters of conscience.

After his banishment, Williams bought land from the Narragansett Indians and founded Providence.  Williams’ goal in establishing this colony was religious tolerance.  Jews, Quakers, Anne Hutchinson, who was banished from Massachusetts for Antinomianism, and other nonconformists followed Williams.  Disorder arose from this mix of religious views so he sailed to England for a charter recognizing religious liberty.  He had to get a second charter after King Charles’ execution voided the first one.  Roger Williams was president of the General Assembly under the new charter.  This gave him broad influence over the colony, and he continued the policy of welcoming Quakers and anyone looking for religious freedom.

Williams wrote several works, including a glorified tract describing the land and the Natives of the land called A Key into the Language of America, which may be his most “literary” work.  Most of his other output was in the form of tracts and open letters defending his views of separation of church and state and presenting his version of his banishment from Massachusetts.  In the midst of all the ideas that are so opposed to the Puritan leaders of the America at that time, the reader of Williams’ work must notice that Williams was, at his core, a Christian who could call Quakerism a “cursed sect” even while defending them from persecution at great risk to himself.

Note:  The owner of this site is a direct descendant of Roger Williams.


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