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The Elders of Churches have free libertie to meete monthly, Quarterly, or otherwise, in convenient numbers and places, for conferences, and consultations about Christian and Church questions and occasions.
8. All Churches have libertie to deale with any of their members in a church way that are in the hand of Justice. So it be not to retard or hinder the course thereof.
Every Church hath libertie to deale with any magestrate, Deputie of Court or other officer what soe ever that is a member in a church way in case of apparent and just offence given in their places, so it be done with due observance and respect.
10. Wee allowe private meetings for edification in religion amongst Christians of all sortes of people. So it be without just offence for number, time, place, and other cercumstances.
For the preventing and removeing of errour and offence that may grow and spread in any of the Churches in this Jurisdiction, And for the preserveing of trueith and peace in the severall churches within themselves, and for the maintenance and exercise of brotherly communion, amongst all the churches in the Countrie, It is allowed and ratified, by the Authoritie of this Generall Court as a lawful libertie of the Churches of Christ. That once in every month of the yeare (when the season will beare it) It shall be lawfull for the minesters and Elders, of the Churches neere adjoyneing together, with any other of the breetheren with the consent of the churches to assemble by course in each severall Church one after an other. To the intent after the preaching of the word by such a minister as shall be requested thereto
by the Elders of the church where the Assembly is held, The rest of the day may be spent in publique Christian Conference about the discussing and resolveing of any such doubts and cases of conscience concerning matter of doctrine or worship or government of the church as shall be propounded by any of the Breetheren of that church, will leave also to any other Brother to propound his objections or answeres for further satisfaction according to the word of god. Provided that the whole action be guided and moderated by the Elders of the Church where the Assemblie is helde, or by such others as they shall appoint. And that no thing be concluded and imposed by way of Authoritie from one or more churches upon an other, but onely by way of Brotherly conference and consultations. That the trueth may be searched out to the satisfying of every mans conscience in the sight of god according his worde. And because such an Assembly and the worke thereof can not be duly attended to if other lectures be held in the same weeke. It is therefore agreed with the consent of the Churches. That in that weeke when such an Assembly is held, All the lectures in all the neighbouring Churches for that weeke shall be forborne. That so the publique service of Christ in this more solemne Assembly may be transacted with greater deligence and attention.
96. Howsoever these above specified rites, freedomes Immunities, Authorites and priveledges, both Civill and Ecclesiastical are expressed onely under the name and title of Liberties, and not in the exact forme of Laws or Statutes, yet we do with one consent fullie Authorise, and earnestly intreate all that are and shall be in Authoritie to consider them as laws, and not to faile to inflict condigne and proportionable punishments upon every man impartiallie, that shall infringe or violate any of them.
97. Wee likewise give full power and libertie to any person that shall at any time be denyed or deprived of any of them, to commence and prosecute their suite, Complaint or action against any man that shall so doe in any Court that hath proper Cognizance or judicature thereof.
98. Lastly because our dutie and desire is to do nothing suddainlie which fundamentally concerne us, we decree that these rites and liberties, shall be Audably read and deliberately weighed at every Generall Court that shall be held, within three yeares next insueing, And such of them as shall not be altered or repealed they shall stand so ratified, That no man shall infringe them without due punishment.
And if any Generall Court within these next thre yeares shali faile or forget to reade and consider them as abovesaid. Tile Governor and Deputy Governor for the time being, and every Assistant present at such Courts, shall forfeite 2osh. a man, and everie Deputie rosh, a man for each neglect, which shall be paid out of their proper estate, and not by the Country or the Townes which choose them, and whensoever there shall arise any question in any Court amonge the Assistants and Associates thereof about the explanation of these Rites and liberties, The Generall Court onely shall have power to interprett them.
BY JOHN WINTHROP
(1644) [In 1644, a dispute arose in Massachusetts between the magistrates and the deputies as to the respective powers of the two branches of the legislature, the deputies claiming judicial authority. Winthrop's opposition to this claim brought upon him and other magistrates the charge of arbitrary government; and in order to clear up the situation he drew up the following document. It is important not only for its presentation of Winthrop's personal views, but for the light it throws upon the origins of the political institutions of the Commonwealth.]
| RBITRARY Government is where a people have men
set over them, without their choice or allowance;
who have power to govern them, and judge their causes without a rule.
God only hath this prerogative; whose sovereignty is absolute, and whose will is a perfect rule, and reason itself; so as for man to usurp such authority, is tyranny, and impiety.
Where the people have liberty to admit or reject their governors, and to require the rule by which they shall be governed and judged, this is not an arbitrary government.
That the Government of the Massachusetts is such will appear (1) by the foundation of it; (2) by the positive laws thereof; (3) by the constant practice which proves a custom
than which (when it is for common good) there is no law of man more inviolable.
1. The foundation of this Government is the King's Letters Patents: this gave them their form and being, in disposing a certain number of persons into a body politic; whereby they became then (in such a politic respect) as one single person, consisting of several members, and appoint to each its proper place: it regulates their power and motions as might best conduce to the preservation and good of the whole body.
The parties or members of this body politic are reduced under two kinds, Governor and Company, or Freemen: to the Governor it adds a Deputy, and eighteen Assistants: in these is the power of authority placed, under the name of the Governor (not as a person, but as a State) and in the other (which is named the Company) is placed the power of liberty :—which is not a bare passive capacity of freedom, or immunity, but such a liberty as hath power to act upon the chiefest means of its own welfare (yet in a way of liberty, not of authority) and that under two general heads, election and counsel: (1) they have liberty to elect yearly (or oftener if occasion require) all their Governors and other their general officers, viz., such as should have influence (either judicial or ministerial) into all parts of the jurisdiction; (2) they have liberty of counsel in all the General Assemblies, so as without their counsel and consent no laws, decrees, or orders, of any public nature or concernment, not any taxes, impositions, impresses, or other burdens of what kind soever, can be imposed upon them, their families or estates, by any authority in the Government: which notwithstanding remains still a distinct member, even in those General Assemblies: otherwise our state should be a mere Democratie, if all were Governors or magistrates, and none left to be an object of government, which cannot fall out in any kind of Aristocratie.
To make this clear, we will set down the very words of the Patent.
“(1) The words of Constitution of this body politic are these, A, B, C, and all such others as shall hereafter be admitted and made free of the Company and society here.