PREFACE. XXl sacrament, not subscribing to articles without foundation in law, or some other equally trivial circumstance, were among the inhuman and ini- quitous proceedings of those courts. These intolerant and cruel transactions, instead of reconciling the Puritans to the church, drove them farther from it. Such argumentswere found too weak to convince men's understandings and consciences ; nor could they compel them to admire and esteem the church fighting with such weapons. These tragic proceedings created in the nation a great deal of ill blood, which, alas! continues in part to this day. While the govern- ing prelates lost their esteem among the people, the number and reputation of the Puritans greatly increased, till, at length, they got the power into their own hands, and shook off the painful yoke. That the Puritans in general were men of great learning, untarnished piety, and the best friends to the constitution and liberties of their country, no one will deny, who is acquainted with their true character* and the history of the times in which they lived. Many of thein, it is acknow- ledged, Were too rigid in their behaviour: they had but little acquaintance with the rights of consci- ence ; and, in some instances, they treated their superiors with improper language : but, surely, the deprivation, the imprisonment, or the putting of them to death for these trifles, will never be attempted to be vindicated in modern times.