154 LIVES OF THE PURITANS. congregation; and that the keys of government were given to every congregational church. The public worship of God at Boston was, therefore, conducted without the fetters and formality .of a liturgy, or those vestments and cere- monies which were imposed by the commandments of men. Many of his people united together as a christian church, and enjoyed the fellowship of the gospel, upon congre- gational principles, " entering into a covenant with God anti one another, to follow- the Lord Jesus in all the purity of gospel worship.". Mr. Cotton was a celebrated divine, and obtained a most distinguished reputation. The best of men greatly loved him, and the worst greatly feared him. For his great learning, piety, and usefulness, he was highly esteemed by Bishop Williams, who, when he was keeper of the great seal, recommended him to the king, and his majesty allowed him, notwithstanding his nonconformity, to continue in the exercise of his ministry.± The celebrated Archbishop Usher had the highest opinion of him, and maintained a friendly correspondence with him: One of his letters, written by the learned prelate's request, dated May 31, 1626, is upon the subject of predestination.t He was also greatly admired and esteemed by the Earl of Dorset, who kindly promised him, that, if he should ever want a friend at court, he would use all his interest in his favour.§ But, in the midst of all this honour and applause, his meekness and humility remained untarnished. Mr. Cotton, having preached at Boston nearly twenty years, found it impossible to continue any longer. He beheld the storm of persecution fast approaching, and wisely withdrew from it. A debauched fellow of Boston, to be revenged upon the magistrates, for punishing him according to his deserts, brought complaints against them, together with Mr. Cotton, in the high commission court ; and swore4 44 That neither the minister nor the magistrates of the town kneeled at the sacrament, nor observed certain 4. Mather's History, b. Hi. p. 18. + Fuller's Church History, Is ix. p. 218. t Parr's Life of Usher, p. 828. Clark's Lives, p. 520, 221. M When this vile informer first appeared before the commission, he com- plained only of the magistrates ; and when the spiritital rulers said he must include Mr. Cotton, be replied, " Nay, the minister is an honest man. and never did me any wrong." But when they signified "sat all his com- plaints would be to no purpose, unless he included the minister, he swore against them all.-Mather's b. iii. p. 19.