Analyzing Roger Williams Writing Style and Analysis Essay
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Roger Williams Writing Style and Analysis
Roger Williams was one of the first European settlers on Rhode Island. Born in a wealthy English family, Roger Williams went to school at Cambridge and later became a Christian preacher. In the year 1630, Williams crossed the Atlantic bound for Massachusetts. When he arrived there, he was invited to the church of Boston but he refused several times before later agreeing to become the church's assistant pastor. After some time, he moved on to become the pastor of the church of Salem. He constantly rebuked the European settlers for taking the land away from Indians just because of a royal charter. His stand on this matter made him a thorn in the flesh of the colonial authorities; the animosity resulted in him being accused guilty of spreading a new authority of justice. His punishment for this crime was that he could no longer live in the Massachusetts colony. He went to live with friendly Indians for a short while and later founded the colony of Rhode Island and Providence (Constitution Society).
Williams' strong religious opinions led to him becoming a Baptist and later a Seeker. In 1644, he went back to England to get a charter for his providence colony from the English parliament. It was there that he wrote his autobiography. In the later years of his life, Williams was deeply engaged in sharing his knowledge and opinions on religious and political questions. He was an important figure in bringing democracy to the American colonies. His abhorrence and his opposition to those who were self-seeking and privileged was well-known (Constitution Society).
Analysis of Roger Williams Writings
Williams utilized his Cambridge schooling in disputation to write erudite, rhetorical
and prolix arguments, supported with classical and biblical quotations (Dolle). According to Driesbach, Williams was a spiritual separatist whose ambition was to remove theological impurity from the true church. He challenged key tenets of the Puritans' claim that they were the new Israel. He argued that the new Israel, separated from that of the Old Testament could be any group that voluntarily joined Christ's church. He also opposed the concept of a state church arguing that such a church would be a mix of saved and unsaved citizens of the state. For this reason, wherever a church was established, Williams thought that the congregation ought to be separated so as to maintain and sustain spiritual purity.
Roger Williams is best known for his "wall of separation" metaphor, which was later made more famous by one of the founding fathers of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, and adopted by the Supreme Court as the subject of its interpretation of the Constitution's First Amendment. Williams' metaphor of a wall of separation first appears in his 1644 work "Mr. Cotton's Letter Lately Printed, Examined and Answered." Mr. Cotton's letter contained the concept of a Christian state; i.e. the merger of the Christian society and the civil government under which the government would be run on Christian principles. Williams was against this idea. He objected to the eventuality of civilian authorities forcing conformity of non-believers to Christian conduct and beliefs. He instead advocated for a "wall of separation" between the religious purity of Christ's church and the worldly corruptibles of civil states (Dreisbach).
In accordance to Dolle, the use of metaphors, emblems, and analogy are actually among the most interesting rhetorical devices in Williams' writing. The introduction to "A Key into the Language of America," one of his writings' heading, draws attention to such metaphorical language,…
Sources Used in Documents:
Constitution Society. A Plea For Religious Liberty. 2015. Web. 18 June 2016
Dolle, Raymond F. Roger Williams (1603?-1683). 2015. Web. 18 June 2016
Dreisbach, Daniel. The Puritanical Roger Williams. 8 July 2012. Web. 18 June 2016
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