First governor of PROVIDENCE PLANTATIONS of Rhode Island, and founder of Warwick, Rhode Island and Christian Transcendentalist philospher.
The Narragansette indians were impressed that the Gortonists had survived their ordeal with the Puritans. Gorton became a magistrate at Portsmouth and tried to bring about more fair land distribution. 1645. That year he published his Simplicities Defence Against Seven-Headed Policy. In this and other works Gorton wrote that all humans are essentially divine and that conversion is apprehending this inner divinity and being willing to follow its guidance even against human authority. Those who understand God in Christ find divinity in all humanity. The divine spirit is equally near to saints and sinners, and Christ offers freedom. Gorton accused New England Puritans of establishing worthless idols and distracting people with fasts, the Sabbath, sermons, battles, churches, and officers. If Christ is king and ruler, then all other authority and government is superfluous. Justice is not administered by an officer but by every brother, rich or poor, ignorant or learned. Gorton criticized the privileged status of ministers, who praise the able and learned while burdening the poor with obedience and sins. He opposed slavery. No external education could reform one's life as well as Christ could, and women may prophesy as well as men. Gorton argued that the penalty of sin is not in the future but is the natural and inevitable result of an evil action. Heaven and hell are within.