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In tendering this tribute of respect to his patrons, the Editor has only to add, that as he has now two able and active brethren associated with him in the editorial department, he cherishes the fond hope, that the work will continue increasingly pleasing and useful, and that its circulation may be extended throughout the United States. THOMAS BALDWIN.
Ar the commencement, of this new year, the Editors of the AMERICAN BAPTIST MAGAZINE take the liberty of tendering their sincere congratulations to the friends and patrons of this periodical work.
If we take a retrospect of the past, or glance at the prospect before us, we shall see much to encourage and animate us in our exertions for the spread of christian knowledge. Our most sanguine expectations have, in some respects, been more than realized. That union in sentiment and design, so essentially necessary to support our hopes of success, seems to be happily extending through the different sections of our country. A laudable zeal for the missionary cause is every where apparent; and societies auxiliary to the "Board of Foreign Missions," are forming from Maine to Georgia, and from the Atlantic to the Missisippi. Such a union was rather to be desired, than confidently expected. But this proves the truth of that excellent maxim, "Attempt great things, and expect great things."
An attempt to subvert the long established rites of paganism, and plant the standard of the Cross, where Satan has for ages held his seat, requires no ordinary effort. Difficulties we must expect: But we have much to encourage the hope, that Christ is soon to have "the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession." We may say with an ancient governor of Judab, "we are engaged in a great work;" for the accomplishment of which we feel a deep solicitude. The present period is peculiarly auspicious. The sound of the trumpet, and the alarm of war, are no longer heard. Wasting and destruction have ceased their ravages, and peace has again spread her balmy wings over our highly favoured land. The nations of Europe, fatigued and exhausted by a long and bloody conflict, have at length consented to sheath the sword, and suffer the world to enjoy a short repose. Such, it is said, was the state of the world in the reign of Augustus, when the Son of God made his advent. This wonderful event was celebrated by the angelic hosts, who were heard to sing, "GLORY. TO
GOD IN THE HIGHEST ON EARTH PEACE! GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN."
Shall such an interesting crisis as the present, pass unnoticed and unimproved by the friends of the Redeemer? Shall they remain unconcerned and inactive at such a season? Will it not rather exeite all their energies, and animate them to redouble their exertions to spread the knowledge of salvation far and wide? This we have reason to believe will be the effect. Indeed the work has already commenced. The world is in motion. Christians of every denomination are in different ways exerting themselves, "to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death, and to guide their feet into the way of peace."
Attempts have already been made to introduce the gospel of the kingdom, in Greenland, in Labrador, in Tartary, in Hindos tan, in China, in Burmah, in New Holland, in the Isles of the Pacif ic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, in the African Deserts, and in South America. But still the work of evangelizing the heathen has but just commenced. The tidings of salvation are yet to be sounded out through more than half the globe. Six hundred millions of our race are still ignorant of Jesus Christ.
The dispersed through the countries," the descendants of Abraham, are still to be gathered in, and with them the fulness of the Gentiles. From land to land, from sea to sea, the word of Jehovah must continue to run, and in all its divine career, shed light, and life, and happiness, on a benighted world.
The Editors of the American Baptist Magazine, in presenting their friends with this first Number of the New Series, feel a pleasure in being able to state, that this work, which commenced with only one thousand copies, has increased to more than four thousand. With each number the demand has increased. But notwithstanding the increasing demand for the Magazine, it is a fact, that only a small proportion of the churches which are now combining their efforts in the missionary cause, have ever taken this work, or any other of a similar nature.
How much may be effected, by a well conducted periodical work, we will not attempt to describe. How easily it may be circulated; how well it is adapted to attract attention by the recency of the intelligence it communicates; how interesting and profitable it may be made to every description of readers, by the variety it admits in matter and manner; and how much more likely to be read than a larger book,-the case speaks for itself.
Nor will we attempt to describe how much may be done, not only to increase the respectability of the denomination, and to cherish among all classes, especially the young, a taste for useful read
ing, but what is more, to enkindle and keep alive the flame of piety, by exciting attention to the Bible and religious subjects; to enlight en private christians, and to increase, the knowledge and real usefulness of ministers, even of the most able, as well as of those whose literary and theological attainments are small. In a word, to build up and adorn the churches.
As the present prosperous state of our country offers peculiar fa cilities for circulating periodical works throughout the United States, we hope soon to be able to dispose of double the present number.
From an impression that the former title, though proper at first, might give the Magazine too much of a local appearance, it has been determined to alter it to one more general, and appropriate to the whole denomination. As we have no local interests to serve, our object equally embraces the interests of the whole.
In order to render the Magazine both entertaining and profitable, the Editors pledge their best abilities for its execution. At the same time, they earnestly solicit the assistance of their literary friends throughout the Union, in furnishing materials for the different departments of the work. Interesting Memoirs, well written essays on any branch of christian doctrine, learned and judicious criticism on difficult texts of scripture, and generally any intelligence of a religious or literary nature, will be gratefully received.
Boston, Jan. 1817.
THOMAS BALDWIN, Principal Editor.
MEMOIR OF MR. ROGER WILLIAMS,
The first American Baptist,-Minister of the Gospel,-and first Governor of the Colony of Rhode Island.
THE subject of this Memoir was born in Wales, 1599, and educated at the university of Oxford, under the patronage of Sir Edward Coke. The occasion of Mr. Williams' receiving the favour of that distinguished lawyer was very singular. Sir Edward one day at church observing a youth taking D notes from the sermon, beckoned and received him into his pew. He obtained a sight of the lad's minutes, which were exceedingly judicious, being a collection of the most striking sentiments delivered by the preacher. This, with Mr. Williams' great modesty, so en#gaged Sir Edward in his favour, as to induce him to solicit his parents to let him have the care of their son; which they readily granted.
Soon after completing his collegiate education, Mr. W. entered on the study of the law, and received all possible assistance from his generous patron. But, finding this employment not altogether agreeable to his taste, he turned his attention to divinity, in which he made such proficiency, as encouraged Sir Edward to obtain for him episcopal orders. His preaching was highly esteemed, and his private character revered. But disliking the form and government of the Episcopal Church, and having early imbibed an unconquerable aversion to religious domination, he left his na† Hist. Coll.
tive country, and came into this American wilderness. Here, he hoped to enjoy, without restraint from the civil power, that entire liberty of thinking and acting on religious subjects, which he so ardently desired. But he soon found to his great disappointment, that he had misconceived the rigid sentiments of the clerical leaders of this new theocracy.
At the age of thirty-two, Mr. Williams embarked for America, and arrived in Boston in the month of February, 1631. A few weeks after his arrival, he was invited to preach in Salem; but as he had previously refused to commune with the churches at Boston; 66 objecting to the oaths which they took when they came out from England, and to the force which they exercised in religious affairs, the Court at Boston wrote to Salem against him."*
In order to avoid difficulty, Mr. W. left Salem, and went to Plymouth; which, at this time, was under a separate jurisdiction. Here he resided for more than two years, "teaching the things contained in the New Testament;"† also freely and openly speaking his own opinions on religious subjects, without giving offence to the brethren of that church. During this time, it is said, he was highly esteemed by Governor Bradford and others. Although as a preacher he was peculiarly
Eliot's Am. Biog.
gifted, yet such were his notions of religious liberty, that he was willing that the brethren should speak in their publick, as well as in their private meetings. Hence they became much attached to him, and were ready to assist him in the time of his greatest necessities.*
Notwithstanding the liberty and friendship which Mr. W. enjoyed in Plymouth, he was unwilling to settle with that church. About this time he received an invitation from the church at Salem, to come and supply them, their Pastor being sick. With this request he readily complied, and obtained a dismission for this purpose in the Summer of 1633. Here he continued his labours as a supply, until the death of Mr. Skelton, in 1634; after which he was ordained to the pastoral office in this church. His settlement, however, gave offence to the government of the Colony. It was the opinion of the ministers of the Bay, that if Mr. Williams were allowed to propagate his opinions, the churches might run into heresy and apostasy, and the people might be led to defy the authority of the civil magistrate. The church at Salem was therefore censured, as well as their pastor.
When the Court met at Boston the ensuing fall, Mr. Williams was ordered to appear before them. The charges against him were, for having written two letters; one to the churches, complaining of the magistrates for injustice, extreme oppression, &c.; the other, to his own church, persuading them to renounce communion with all the neighbouring churches, "as being full of antichristian pollutious."
When before the Court, Mr. W. justified the opinions asserted in these letters, and offered to defend them in a public dispute. Mr. Hooker was accordingly chosen to dispute with him; but
could not convince him of his al
The ejection of Mr. Williams was in the following words: "Whereas Mr. Roger Williams, one of the elders of the church of Salem, hath broached and divulged divers new and dangerous opinions against the authority of magistrates, as also writ letters of defamation both of the magistrates and churches here, and that before any conviction, and yet maintaineth the same, without any retraction: It is therefore ordered, that the said Mr. Williams shall depart out of this Jurisdiction within six weeks now next ensuing, which if he neglect to perform, it shall be lawful for the governor and two magistrates, to send him to some place out of the Jurisdiction, not to return any more without leave from the Court."
Determined to get rid of a man, who in the face of civil authority, had the courage to avow his sentiments of christian liberty, and to oppose their unscriptural mode of discipline, they sent for him (Jan. 1636,) to come to Boston. Probably suspecting their design, he did not go, but sent an excuse. Whereupon they sent an officer to take him, and convey him on board a ship bound to England. But when the officer arrived at Salem, he found he had left the place three days before.
As Mr. Williams journeyed south from Boston, he first stoped at a place called Seekhonk. But Governor Winslow wrote him, that he was then within the Plymouth colony, but if he would only go over the river, he would
As having a right to interfere in matters of religion.