|A Divine Deliverance ....||Peter Marshall and David Manuel|
America was a new event in the history of man. Never before had God taken a body of Christians and planted them in a land where there was no immediate civil authority, where, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they were to establish their own civil authority. This was why the Spirit-inspired pattern of the early Pilgrim church was so crucially important.
For freedom. Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. That would be exactly what the new Americans would be guilty of, if, having been given their freedom by God, they voluntarily gave up their authority to govern themselves. It would be like the Israelites -- after all God had done for them to bring them out of Egypt -- turning around and inviting Pharaoh to bring his troops to Canaan and put them back under servitude.
Their resistance, however, did not go unnoticed. Nearly a century before the Revolution, Charles II's advisors warned him that "the ministers were preaching freedom," and urged him either to regulate them or replace them with Episcopal priests. The matter came to a head in 1682: Charles II demanded that Massachusetts either swear allegiance to the Crown, administer justice in the King's name, repeal their restrictions on suffrage (only church members could vote), and allow Episcopal clergy - to form churches-or relinquish its charter. The bay colonists informed him, as tactfully as possible, that they would not do the former, and could not do the latter. (After all, they considered that to surrender their charter would be to "give up the ark of the Lord!")
Informed of this, Charles II demanded the return of the charter, decreeing in 1683 that Massachusetts "make a full submission and entire resignation of their charter to his pleasure. "
Now they were really in trouble, for there was no way the Bay Colony alone could conceivably stand up to the greatest military power on earth. The Yankees faced the darkest crisis since the General Sickness had struck the Old Colony and the Bay Colony in their first winters. There seemed to be no alternative but to give up all that their fathers and grandfathers had lived and died for, all that they themselves had been taught to revere since they were old enough to understand.
At this crucial time, the leadership of Puritan New England gravitated, as it had eight years before during the Indian uprising, to one man: Increase Mather. And as he had previously, he turned directly to heaven for his guidance. Then he carefully prepared his decision.
To submit and resign their charter would be inconsistent with the main end of their fathers' coming to New England. . . [Although resistance would provoke] great sufferings, [it was] better to suffer than sin. (Hebrews 11:26,27). Let them put their trust in the God of their fathers, which is better than to put confidence in princes. And if they suffer, because they dare not comply with the wills of men against the will of God, they suffer in a good cause and will be accounted martyrs in the next generation, and at the great day.
Early in January, 1684, Mather attended an emergency town meeting in Boston, convened to consider what Boston's response would be to the King's declaration. One can imagine the Old South Meetinghouse packed to the doors with freemen, the crowd standing shoulder to shoulder in the aisles, as the stem, upright Puritan ascended to the pulpit. He then outlined the Scriptural references supporting resistance, recalling the story of Jephthah and Naboth, who refused to give away the inheritance of their fathers, and of David, who wisely chose 'to' fall "into the hand of God, rather than into the hands of men." If we refuse to submit, argued Mather, we keep ourselves in God's hands, and who knows what He may do for us? And he closed by declaring that giving up the Charter would be a sin against God, and who "would dare to be guilty of so great a sin"?
The entire assembly was in tears. The vote not to submit was unanimous, and that unequivocal stand influenced the other towns in the colony to do likewise.
When word reached Charles II, he was in a rage. He determined to send Colonel Percy Kirk and five thousand troops to bring Massachusetts to heel once and for all, and his choice sent shudders through even the King's advisors. For "Bloody Kirk," the notorious governor of Tangier, was known to stop at nothing to crush opposition. As this news preceded the dispatching of Kirk, New England was plunged into despair.
Increase Mather reports that when the news reached him in February of 1685, he shut himself in his study, and spent the day on his knees, in fasting and prayer about the colony's burdens. At length, the heaviness that he had felt in his heart left him, and was replaced by joy.
Without proof, except the inner conviction of his spirit, he knew that God was assuring him of Massachusetts' deliverance. Two months later, word arrived that Charles II had died of apoplexy. His brother James II had succeeded him, and Kirk would not be coming after all! The joyous news spread throughout the Colonies. As Mather worked back the date of Charles's death, and found it to be the very day that he had spent in prayer and fasting, his jubilant attitude changed to awe.
The above was taken from the book "The Light and the Glory" -- pages 257-259