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Mayflower, Day by Day - Wednesday, 13 October 1621

13 Oct 2021 3:31 AM | Soule (Administrator)

Laws, Human and Divine (part one)            

Legal historians often emphasize that the Plymouth Colony applied a combination of English common law and Mosaic law in regulating the daily affairs of the settlers. This invocation of religious authority was also useful in establishing the Colony's own authority to govern: since it had no legislative or judicial authority from the Crown, Holy Writ was the only other option. What they lacked by royal charter was often obtained by invocation of the Colony's service of the greater "glory of God," just as the Monarch invoked this service of God (“by the grace of God”) as a source of legitimacy for his own claim of power and authority. Whatever legislative powers were assumed depended therefore upon some view of the inherent capacity of the group. A necessary consequence of the Separatists' ideas of church forming was that a certain corporate quality attached to the congregation formed by covenant. [Note: There has never been a thoroughgoing study made of Separatism from the angle of corporate theory, and this is all the more remarkable because of the importance of the Congregational church in New England and the close relation of state and church in that region. To comprehend the steps by which the Separatists reached their views we must remember that in England their churches were beyond the pale of the law; that they rejected all ideas of hierarchical organization; and that the Protestant doctrines of the visible church made some form of organization essential. The central and most characteristic fact in Separatism was the covenant by which a church was organized. This was a dual act, a covenant with God -- a solemn promise by the body of believers to God to do his will -- and a second covenant, sometimes reduced to writing, made by the believers with one another, to work for the Lord, to avoid evil, to do good, and to stand together. Only in this way, they believed, could a visible church be established.]

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