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The Complete Writings of Roger Williams -…
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The Complete Writings of Roger Williams - Volume 5 (edição: 2005)

de Roger Williams

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Ten years after the U. S. Civil War, a group of men in Rhode Island made a conserted effort to rescue the widely scattered writings of Roger Williams. Few sets were printed though, and under the guidance of Perry Miller, 'The Complete Writings of Roger Williams' were brought back in 1963, but still in short numbers. The present collection now makes these volumes available to readers in their original orthography. The theme of religious liberty is dominant in these volumes, running through Williams's correspondence with John Cotton and on through his famous pair of works on 'The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution.' All of the extant shorter writings and letters of Roger Williams are included in this set, along with two significant works resulting from his engagement with Native Americans: his seminal 'Key into the Language of America and Christenings Make Not Christians.'… (mais)
Membro:dualravens
Título:The Complete Writings of Roger Williams - Volume 5
Autores:Roger Williams
Informação:The Baptist Standard Bearer (2005), Paperback, 584 pages
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The Complete Writings of Roger Williams - Volume 5 de Roger Williams

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This is a reprint of volume 5 of the 1963 edition of The Complete Writings of Roger Williams, which, in turn, was a reprint of volume 5 of the nineteenth-century Narragansett Edition. The entire volume is devoted to Roger Williams's last major work: George Fox Digg'd out of his Burrowes ("GFDB"). The present edition appears to reproduce exactly the 1676 edition of GFDB except for the addition (in printed footnotes) of marginal handwritten corrections made by Roger Williams to a published copy of the work. If there was an edition of this book published prior to 1676, it apparently is no longer extant, as English Early Books Online (EEBO) also reproduces the 1676 edition with the same printed footnotes that are included in the present edition.

GFDB is an account of four days of live debate in August of 1672 between Williams and representatives of the Quakers (Friends) on theological issues. The first three days occurred in Newport (Rhode Island); the last day took place in Providence (Rhode Island). Williams had hoped to hire a stenographer to take down the exact words of the debates. Since he was unable to obtain a stenographer, he relied on his memory, augmented by extensive additional reflections, in writing this book. The Quakers, who did retain a stenographer to record the debates, responded to GFDB with their own account of the debates and an extended response to Williams's book. Although Williams began to prepare a reply to the Quakers' response, he was dissuaded from completing this project by an unknown friend who "advised to let it sleep, and for beare publicke Contests with Protestants since it is the Designe of Hell and Rome [the Roman Catholic Church] etc. to cut the throats of all the protesters [Protestants] in the world." Letter of Williams to Governor Simon Bradstreet, May 6, 1682, in The Correspondence of Roger Williams, ed. Glenn W. LaFantasie (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England / Brown University Press, 1988), 2:777-78.

Most of Williams's earlier works, to the extent they have survived, involved the issues of freedom of conscience and separation of church and state. Williams opposed the governmentally established Church of England as well as the legal establishment of the Roman Catholic Church throughout much of continental Europe. But his publications on religious liberty were written during periods when his relevant governmental authorities were neither Anglican nor Catholic. Williams was banished from the colony of Massachusetts Bay in 1635-36 after he opposed its Calvinist Puritan theocracy; he then founded the settlement of Providence, which later evolved into what we know as Rhode Island. Williams's new colony was based on the principles of separation of church and state and complete liberty of conscience. John Cotton was the most important clerical representative of the Massachusetts Bay theocracy, and Williams and Cotton engaged in an extended written disputation on the proper relationship between church and state. Williams also made return trips to England during the English Civil Wars and Interregnum. During those visits, the Church of England had been disestablished, and the Presbyterians were attempting to create their own theocracy, while the Independents, under Oliver Cromwell, were developing a modified theocratic system based on governmentally required religious tithes and a limited toleration of some but not all Protestant sects (Quakers were not included in the toleration). Accordingly, Williams's publications during this period were directed not only against John Cotton and Massachusetts Bay but also against the Presbyterian and Independent efforts to replace the Church of England with some sort of Calvinist theocracy.

Cotton, the Presbyterians, and the Independents all shared with Williams the basics of Calvinist theology. Accordingly, in his writings opposing their theocratic efforts, Williams always treated his coreligionists with a certain amount of respect. Not so, the Quakers. The Friends proceeded from entirely different theological foundations, and Williams identified those principles with Satan and the Roman Catholic Church (which virtually all Protestants at the time regarded as the "Antichrist"). Williams's theological debates with the Quakers were full of emotional invective on both sides. Space does not permit a discussion of those theological disputes here. They will be treated in greater depth in my forthcoming book The First American Founder: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience.

Although I disagree with the theology of Roger Williams expressed in GFDB, I give this edition five stars for its accuracy in reproducing the 1676 publication and for the clarity with which Roger Williams presented his theological dispute with the Friends. Williams's earlier works did not fully explicate his theological principles. Many secondary accounts have accordingly largely ignored his decidedly unmodern theology. His conservative theology did not, however, prevent Williams from articulating a very strong commitment to liberty of conscience and separation of church and state. With the possible exception of one ambiguous statement (discussed in my forthcoming book), Williams did not depart from these principles in GFDB. Indeed, Williams accused the Quakers of religious principles that would, if they ever obtained control of government, lead to their own establishment of religion and persecution of religious dissenters. Today, we find Williams's view of the Friends virtually incomprehensible. However, the pacific Quakers of recent times were different from the militant Quakers of the seventeenth century. The earlier Quakers tested, by public acts as well as doctrine, the limits of freedom and the very definition of civility. Roger Williams's attempts to reconcile, intellectually and emotionally, the tension between his conservative theology and his commitment to religious freedom make this work one of enduring interest.
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Ten years after the U. S. Civil War, a group of men in Rhode Island made a conserted effort to rescue the widely scattered writings of Roger Williams. Few sets were printed though, and under the guidance of Perry Miller, 'The Complete Writings of Roger Williams' were brought back in 1963, but still in short numbers. The present collection now makes these volumes available to readers in their original orthography. The theme of religious liberty is dominant in these volumes, running through Williams's correspondence with John Cotton and on through his famous pair of works on 'The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution.' All of the extant shorter writings and letters of Roger Williams are included in this set, along with two significant works resulting from his engagement with Native Americans: his seminal 'Key into the Language of America and Christenings Make Not Christians.'

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