THE Endeavor Herald remarks:—
“The old Puritans would have made good members of our citizenship committees. They had the courage of their convictions, and advanced to the attack of anything which they regarded as evil with a confidence of victory that is inspiring.”
Thus the Endeavorers adopt the Puritans as their model and their ways as their example in the matter of citizenship. And then they think themselves very much outraged when we say that their Endeavor citizenship movement means the union of church and state with its essential accompaniments—religious despotism and persecution!
There is nothing truer nor more palpable in history than that the principles of government and citizenship of the “old Puritans” were essentially theocratical, and their practices therein essentially despotic and persecuting. With them and in their government no man could be a citizen of the commonwealth except he be a member of the Puritan Church. Members of other churches were persecuted to death. All this is notorious. And it is equally notorious that as to government and citizenship these are the only principles that received any recognition from them. And yet the Christian Endeavorers who now propose to remodel citizenship and reform the nation, adopt these same theocratic, despotic, and persecuting Puritans as their model, and publish to the American people that “the old Puritans would have made good members of our citizenship committees;” and declare that the way in which these old Puritans did these things “is inspiring”!
Any governmental or citizenship movement of which the old Puritans would be a good part, is surely only to be dreaded by everybody who has any respect for either Christianity or humanity. And any inspiration that can be derived from either their principles or their practices can be nothing short of an inspiration to oppression and persecution, to death and destruction.
It has been well remarked that “if we are to be profited by the past, it is essential that we should study our history honestly and impartially. We cannot be true to ourselves if we begin by being false with our predecessors. If we credit them with motives they did not feel and could not have understood; if we claim for them things which they never accomplished; if we defend their indefensible acts; if we seek to prove them in the right when they were in the wrong in their behaviour toward others,—it will follow that we will deal likewise in our own case, and prove dishonest and tricky as a nation and in our personal transactions.” “We regret to read of the banishment of Quakers and the expulsion of ‘papists’ from soil procured for the settlers by one of the best patriot’s check never kindles with shame till the story of the New England Puritans is told. Theirs alone is the dishonor of the torture, the mutilation, and the scaffold.”
No man will ever be better, nor ever do better, than his chosen model. So long as “the old Puritans” shall be the chosen models of the Christian Endeavorers in government and citizenship, it is certain that every movement that they make in matters of government and citizenship will be a positive menace to free government and American citizenship, and is to be dreaded and opposed as such. And as just now the Christian Endeavorers are the leading and controlling influence among the National Reform elements of the country, so long as they hold “the old Puritans” as their models, they need to be carefully watched by the whole American people, in the interests of true Christian and civil liberty.
A. T. J.