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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Warning to Endicott

By Roger Williams (1604?–1683)

[Letter to Governor Endicott. From “The Bloody Tenent yet more Bloody.” 1652.]

THE MAKER and Searcher of our hearts knows with what bitterness I write, as with bitterness of soul I have heard such language as this to proceed from yourself and others, who formerly have fled from (with crying out against) persecutors! “You will say this is your conscience; you will say you are persecuted, and you are persecuted for your conscience. No; you are Conventiclers, heretics, blasphemers, seducers. You deserve to be hanged; rather than one shall be wanting to hang him I will hang him myself. I am resolved not to leave an heretic in the country.”… Oh, sir, you cannot forget what language and dialect this is, whether not the same unsavory and ungodly, blasphemous and bloody, which the Gardiners and Bonners both former and later used to all that bowed not to the state golden image of what conscience soever they were. And indeed, sir, if the Most High be pleased to awaken you to render unto his holy majesty his due praises, in your truly broken-hearted confessions and supplications, you will then proclaim to all the world, that what profession soever you made of the Lamb, yet these expressions could not proceed from the dragon’s mouth.

Oh remember, and the most holy Lord bring it to your remembrance, that you have now a great price in your hand, to bring great glory to his holy name, great rejoicing to so gracious a Redeemer (in whom you profess is all your healing and salvation), great rejoicing to the holy Spirit of all true consolation, whom yet so long you who have grieved and sadded, great rejoicing to those blessed spirits (attending upon the Lamb, and all his, and terrible to his persecutors), great rejoicing and instruction to all that love the true Lord Jesus (notwithstanding their wanderings among so many false Christs), mourning and lamenting after him in all parts of the world where his name is sounded. Your talents are great, your fall hath been so; your eminency is great, the glory of the Most High in mercy or justice toward you will be great also.

Oh remember it is a dangerous combat for the potsherds of the earth to fight with their dreadful Potter. It is a dismal battle for poor naked feet to kick against the pricks; it is a dreadful voice from the King of kings, and Lord of lords, “Endicott, Endicott, why huntest thou me? why imprisonest thou me? why finest, why so bloodily whippest, why wouldest thou (did not I hold thy bloody hands) hang and burn me?” Yea, sir, I beseech you remember that it is a dangerous thing to put this to the may be, to the venture or hazard, to the possibility. Is it possible (may you well say) that since I hunt, I hunt not the life of my Saviour, and the blood of the Lamb of God? I have fought against many several sorts of consciences, is it beyond all possibility and hazard, that I have not fought against God, that I have not persecuted Jesus in some of them?

Sir, I must be humbly bold to say, that ’tis impossible for any man or men to maintain their Christ by their sword, and to worship a true Christ! to fight against all consciences opposite to theirs, and not to fight against God in some of them, and to hunt after the precious life of the true Lord Jesus Christ. Oh remember whether your principles and consciences must in time and opportunity force you. ’T is but worldly policy and compliance with men and times (God’s mercy overruling) that holds your hands from murdering of thousands and ten thousands were your power and command as great as once the bloody Roman emperors was….

Oh remember once again (as I began) and I humbly desire to remember with you, that every gray hair now on both our heads is a Boanerges, a son of thunder, and a warning piece to prepare us for the weighing of our last anchors, and to be gone from hence, as if we had never been.