Early New England Towns; a Comparative Study of Their Development

By Anne Bush MacLear | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
THE CHURCH

The fact that the settlers of Massachusetts came to America to put into practice a definite religious system explains many features peculiar to the colony which they established after reaching this side of the Atlantic. Par- ticularly does it account for that close union between church and state which made the Massachusetts church of the seven- teenth century the particular care of the civil authorities, which gave to the church officers such influence in civil affairs, which required the civil magistrates to punish moral and religious offenses, and which made even citizenship in the colony depend upon membership in the church. For men founding a state with this purpose in view must neces- sarily watch over the welfare of the church, heed its ad- vice, punish violations of its laws, and allow only those who agreed with the doctrines it taught to become citizens of the commonwealth they were seeking to establish.

From the very inception of the colony, the importance of the minister was recognized and his support provided for. At first, this was looked after by the company which sent ministers to its plantation in America. But after the re- moval of the company to this country, the support of the minister became one of the functions of the local government, though the central government watched carefully to see that the support was adequate. The assistants at their first meet- ing, August 23, 1630, discussed the question of the support

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Early New England Towns; a Comparative Study of Their Development
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 9
  • Chapter I - The Town in General 13
  • Chapter III - Town Finances 55
  • Chapter IV - Town Lands *
  • Chapter V - Town Government 106
  • Chapter VI - The Church 137
  • Chapter VII - The Schools 161
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