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I need help understanding Roger Williams "A Plea for Religious Liberty" Essay.

give a sample of what you get and don't get


The way it's worded is very hard to understand. I'm writing an essay comparing it to Johnathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" comparing the two in terms of style, how the authors tried to persuade the reader, and on the topics of evangelizing, toleration, the relation of church and government, and the relation of God and humans. I just need someone to take a look and help get me started.

Roger Williams, A Plea for Religious Liberty (excerpt)

[T]he blood of so many hundred thousand souls of Protestants and Papists, spilt in the wars of present and former ages, for their respective consciences, is not required nor accepted by Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.
[Scriptures are] against the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience.
[S]atisfactory answers are given to… the ministers of the New English churches and others former and later, tending to prove the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience.
[T]he doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience is proved guilty of all the blood of the souls crying for vengeance under the altar.
[A]ll civil states with their officers of justice in their respective constitutions and administrations are proved essentially civil, and therefore not judges, governors, or defenders of the spiritual or Christian state and worship.
[I]t is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God's Spirit, the Word of God.
God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state; which enforced uniformity (sooner or later) is the greatest occasion of civil war, ravishing of conscience, persecution of Christ Jesus in his servants, and of the hypocrisy and destruction of millions of souls.
[A]n enforced uniformity of religion throughout a nation or civil state, confounds the civil and religious, denies the principles of Christianity and civility, and that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.
[T]he permission of other consciences and worships than a state professeth only can (according to God) procure a firm and lasting peace (good assurance being taken according to the wisdom of the civil state for uniformity of civil obedience from all…
[T]rue civility and Christianity may both flourish in a state or kingdom, notwithstanding the permission of divers and contrary consciences…
…I acknowledge that to molest any person, Jew or Gentile, for either professing doctrine, or practicing worship merely religious or spiritual, it is to persecute him, and such a person (whatever his doctrine or practice be, true or false) suffereth persecution for conscience.
It is as necessary, yea more honorable, godly, and Christian, to fight the fight of faith, with religious and spiritual artillery, and to contend earnestly for the faith of Jesus, once delivered to the saints against all opposers [holding another faith or doctrine]
…I add that a civil sword (as woeful experience in all ages has proved) is so far from bringing or helping forward an opposite in religion to repentance that magistrates sin grievously against the work of God and blood of souls by such proceedings. Because as (commonly) the sufferings of false and antichristian teachers harden their followers, who being blind, by this means are occasioned to tumble into the ditch of hell after their blind leaders, with more inflamed zeal of lying confidence. So, secondly, violence and a sword of steel begets such an impression in the sufferers that certainly they conclude…[that] that religion cannot be true which needs such instruments of violence to uphold it so.…
[T]o batter down idolatry, false worship, heresy, schism, blindness, hardness, out of the soul and spirit, it is vain, improper, and unsuitable to bring those weapons which are used by persecutors, stocks, whips, prisons, swords, gibbets, stakes… but against these spiritual strongholds in the souls of men, spiritual artillery and weapons are proper, which are mighty through God….
…God needeth not the help of a material sword of steel to assist the sword of the Spirit in the affairs of conscience….
So that magistrates, as magistrates, have no power of setting up the form of church government, electing church officers, punishing with church censures, but to see that the church does her duty herein. And on the other side, the churches as churches, have no power (though as members of the commonweal they may have power) of erecting or altering forms of civil government, electing of civil officers, [or] inflicting civil punishments….
[A] civil government is an ordinance of God, to conserve the civil peace of people so far as concerns their bodies and goods….[T]he sovereign, original, and foundation of civil power lies in the people (whom they must needs mean by the civil power distinct from the government set up). And, if so, that a people may erect and establish what form of government seems to them most meet for their civil condition; it is evident that such governments as are by them erected and established have no more power, nor for no longer time, than the civil power or people consenting and agreeing shall betrust them with. This is clear not only in reason but in the experience of all commonweals, where the people are not deprived of their natural freedom by the power of tyrants.
...God will shortly seal this truth, and confirm this witness, and make it evident to the whole world, that the doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience, is most evidently and lamentably contrary to the doctrine of Christ Jesus the Prince of Peace. Amen.


this is the essental point from an emotoinal aproach,[persuasion]

[T]he doctrine of persecution for cause of conscience is proved guilty of all the blood of the souls crying for vengeance under the altar.

and the aplication of logic here,[persuasion]

…I acknowledge that to molest any person, Jew or Gentile, for either professing doctrine, or practicing worship merely religious or spiritual, it is to persecute him, and such a person (whatever his doctrine or practice be, true or false) suffereth persecution for conscience.

on [evangelising]and [tollreation]

[I]t is the will and command of God that (since the coming of his Son the Lord Jesus) a permission of the most paganish, Jewish, Turkish, or antichristian consciences and worships, be granted to all men in all nations and countries; and they are only to be fought against with that sword which is only (in soul matters) able to conquer, to wit, the sword of God's Spirit, the Word of God.

on [tolleration]

[T]o batter down idolatry, false worship, heresy, schism, blindness, hardness, out of the soul and spirit, it is vain, improper, and unsuitable

[church and govt.]

God requireth not a uniformity of religion to be enacted and enforced in any civil state;

on [god and humans]

…God needeth not the help of a material sword of steel to assist the sword of the Spirit in the affairs of conscience….

I hope this is helpfull :)

Thank you so much!

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