The Hireling Ministry — None of Christ's
by Roger Williams, 1652

Throughout his stormy career as a Puritan minister, converted Baptist, and “Seeker” of the “pure truth,” Roger Williams continued to maintain the Calvinist principle that a ministry sent from God was necessary to the existence of the true church. During a visit to England in 1651 he became embroiled in a controversy raging there over forced tithes for the support of established church ministers. In The Hireling Ministry, Williams denounced compulsory support for the clergy, arguing that ministers who bargained for salary were not those truly ordained by Christ.
The civil state of the nations, being merely and essentially civil, cannot (Christianly) be called “Christian states.”…
The civil sword (therefore) cannot (rightfully) act either in restraining the souls of the people from worship, etc., or in constraining them to worship, considering that there is not a tittle in the New Testament of Christ Jesus that commits the forming or reforming of His spouse and church to the civil and worldly powers. …
If they please to take off the yokes, the soul yokes of binding all persons to such parochial or parish forms, permitting them to enjoy their own belief, whether within or without such parish worships, parish maintenance, parish marryings, parish buryings, by which the souls and consciences of so many have been inbondaged in life and death, and (their bodies, in respect of buryings) after death.
If they shall please so far (if not to countenance yet) to permit impartially all consciences, and especially the consciences, the meetings and assemblings of faithful and conscionable people (the volunteers in preaching Jesus Christ), so as that what people and persons please, may peaceably frequent and repair to such spiritual meetings and assemblies as they do the parish churches, I am humbly confident that, as to the point of converting souls to God (so far as the present state of Christianity can be so promoted), the souls of thousands will bless God more than if millions of hirelings were sent abroad from all the universities, both of popish and Protestant countries.
I have read … the last will and testament of the Lord Jesus over many times, and yet I cannot find by one tittle of that testament that if He had been pleased to have accepted of a temporal crown and government that ever He would have put forth the least finger of temporal or civil power in the matters of His spiritual affairs and Kingdom.
Hence must it lamentably be against the testimony of Christ Jesus for the civil state to impose upon the souls of the people a religion, a worship, a ministry, oaths (in religious and civil affairs), tithes, times, days, marryings, and buryings in holy ground…
What is then the express duty of the civil magistrate as to Christ Jesus, His Gospel and Kingdom? …First, in removing the civil bars, obstructions, hindrances in taking off those yokes that pinch the very souls and consciences of men, such as yet are the payments of tithes and the maintenance of ministers they have no faith in; such are the enforced oaths and some ceremonies therein, in all the courts of justice; such are the holy marryings, holy buryings, etc. Second, in a free and absolute permission of the consciences of all men in what is merely spiritual.…
I distinguish of the people of this nation into two sorts:
First, such as have a freedom in their mind to frequent the public parish assemblies of the nation; and they are also of two sorts: (1) such as conscientiously frequent such places, either out of a conscientious zeal of worshiping of God, or out of a superstitious and traditional awe; (2) such as can go or not go, and care not what religion themselves and the state be of.
There is a second sort of people in this nation which, out of conscience, dare not frequent such places, and they are such: (1) such as indeed fear God and are in their consciences persuaded of an indelible character of holiness upon such temples as temples dedicated to a parish worship; (2) such as, out of an utter dislike of all Protestant worship and a high esteem of their own Catholic faith, are as far from love to such places as the former sort.
Now, all these consciences (yea, the very conscience of the Papists, Jews, etc., as I have proved at large in my answer to Master Cotton's washings) ought freely and impartially to be permitted their several respective worships, their ministers of worships, and what way of maintaining them they freely choose.