Thomas Hooker (1586-1647)
Founder of Connecticut

Thomas Hooker, the founder of Connecticut, and one of New England’s greatest men of God, was born in 1586 in Markfield, Leicestershire, England. He died at Hartford, Connecticut, in 1647. 1

Hooker Persecuted for the Cause of Christ
Hooker was a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, after which he became the assistant to a minister in Chelmsford. Archbishop Laud ordered him to refrain from preaching the Gospel of Christ, his preaching being considered outside the format of the established Church of England. He then taught school in Little Braddon; John Eliot, missionary to the Indians, becoming his assistant. Under intense persecution, Hooker left for Holland, embarking on a ship bound for New England in 1633. 2

Hooker arrives in America
After arriving in America, he was appointed as pastor of the church at Newtown, (Cambridge), his spiritual influence in the colony being immeasurable. In 1636, Thomas Hooker founded Connecticut, the new colony encompassing the towns of Hartford, Windsor and Weathersfield. 3

Hooker draws up the First Written Constitution
Made by the People for the People in History

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut – the first written Constitution – made by the people and for the people in the history of civilization, limiting the powers of government, was drawn up by Hooker and adopted by the assembly of planters of the three towns of Connecticut, on January 14, 1638. 4

The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut (1638) – Preamble

Foreasmuch as it hath pleased the Allmighty God by the wise disposition of his diuyne pruidence so to Order and dispose of things that we the Inhabitants and Residents of Windsor, Harteford and Wethersfield are now cohabiting and dwelling in and uppon the River of Conectecotte and the lands thereunto adioyneing; And well knowing where a people are gathered togather the Word of God requires that to mayntayne the peace and union of such a people there should be an orderly and decent Gouerment established according to God, to order and dispose of the affayres of the people at all seasons as occation shall require; doe therefore assotiate and conioyne our selues to be as one Publike State or Comonwealth; and doe, for our selves and our Successors and such as shall be adioyned to vs att any tyme hereafter, enter into Combination and Confederation togather, to mayntayne and prsearue the liberty and purity of the gospell of our Lord Jesus wch we now prfesse, as also the discipline of the Churches, wch according to the truth of the said gospell is now practiced amongst vs; As also in or Ciuell Affaires to be guided and gouerned according to such Lawes, Rules, Orders and decrees as shall be made, ordered & decreed, as followeth…14th January, 1638, the 11 Orders abouesaid are voted.

The Oath of the Gournor, for the (Prsent.)

I, _________, being now chosen to be Gournor wthin this Jurisdiction, for the yeare ensueing, and vntil a new be chosen, doe sweare by the greate and dreadfull name of the everliueing God, to prmote the publicke good and peace of the same, according to the best of my skill; as also will mayntayne all lawfull priuledges of this Comonwealth; as also that all wholsome lawes that are or shall be made by lawfull authority here established, be duly executed: and will further the execution of Justice according to the rule of Gods Word; so helpe me God, in the name of the Lo: Jesus Christ.

The Oath of the Magestrate, for the Prsent.

I,___________, being chosen a Magestrate wthin this Jurisdiction for the yeare ensueing, doe sweare by the great and dreadfull name of the euerliueing God, to prmote the publike good and peace of the same, according to the best of my skill, and that I will mayntayne all the lawfull priuiledges thereof according to my vnderstanding, as also assist in the execution of all such wholsome lawes as are made or shall be made by lawfull authority heare established, and will further the execution of Justice for the tyme aforesaid according to the righteous rule of Gods Word; so helpe me God, etc.

Thomas Hooker Influential in Both the Church and the State
It can be said that the birthplace of the American republican form of government is Hartford.5 Hooker was influential in both the church and in government, his Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline forming an accurate exposé of the way of the churches of New England. Hooker’s Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline was first printed in London in 1648, shortly after his death.

Hooker’s Greatest Work:
A Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline
The preface to this work, considered to be his greatest: A Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline (wherein the Way of the Churches of New England is warranted out of the Word, and all Exceptions of Weight, which are Made against it, Answered…) gives insight into this great American statesman’s understanding of the church and how it strayed away from the true gospel; but was finally brought to deliverance by the Reformation:

…Sometimes God makes an eclipse of the Truth at midday, that so He might express his wrath from Heaven, against the unthankfulness, prophaneness and atheism of a malignant world. Hence it was he let loose those hellish delusions, immediately after the Ascension of our Saviour; that through His life and conversation gave in evidence beyond gainsaying, that He was true man: though the miracles and wonders He wrought in His life and death, resurrection and ascension, were witnesses undeniable, that He was true God: yet there arose a wretched generation of heretics, in the first, second and third hundred years, who adventured not only against the express verdict of the Scripture, but against sense and experience, fresh in the observation and tradition of living men, with more than Satanical impudency to deny both the natures of our blessed Saviour. Some denied the Deity of our Saviour, and would have Him mere man…First, they began to encroach upon the Priestly Office of our Saviour, and not only to pray for the dead, and to attribute too much to the martyrs and their worth; and to derogate from the merits, and that plentiful and perfect redemption wrought alone by the Lord Jesus. The Spouse of Christ thus like the unwise virgins, was taken aside with the slumber of idolatry, till at last she fell fast asleep as the following times give in abundant testimony. Not long after, these sleeps were attended with suitable dreams, for not being content with the simplicity of the Gospel, and the purity of the worship appointed therein: They set forth a new and large edition of devised and instituted ceremonies, coined merely out of the vanity of men’s carnal minds, which as so many blinds, were set up by the subtlety of Satan, merely to delude men, and mislead them from the Truth of God’s worship, under a pretense of directing them more easily in the way of grace: and under a colour of kindling, they quenched all true zeal for, and love of the Truth…When God had revenged the contempt of the authority of His Son, by delivering up such condemners to the tyranny and slavery of Antichrist…They then began to sigh for some deliverance from this spiritual, more than Egyptian bondage; and being thus prepared to lend a listening ear unto the truth, God sent them some little reviving in their extremities, a day-star arising in this their darkness…6

Here we see Hooker relating the lethargy, apathy and idolatry of the churches, which fell into the trap of liturgy and formats, as opposed to the simplicity and purity of the Gospel, and worship of God. “Instituted ceremonies” led the churches astray from the true worship of God to the delusions of Satan. Finally, however, after centuries of slavery to the spirit of Antichrist, the church awoke to serving Jesus Christ, its Lord and Redeemer.

Hooker, Minister of the Gospel
In terms of Hooker’s ministry of the gospel, his work entitled, The Covenant of Grace Opened, shows forth a masterful exposition of the grace of God. It is hereunder excerpted, for the reader to assess:

…The second is from that, Romans 4:11. “Abraham received the sign of circumcision, as the seal of the righteousness of faith,” etc. that is, the righteousness of Christ received by faith, sealed by circumcision, that was the seal of the righteousness of faith, by God’s appointment…Hence it is plain, that what Abraham had was the covenant of the gospel of grace. It is proved thus, that which was the covenant of the righteousness of faith, is the covenant of the gospel; that this is so, we may see it by the Apostle, “If it be of works, it is not of faith; if it be of faith, it is not of works.” Romans 3… 7

His thesis is that we attain to righteousness in God’s eyes, through faith in Christ and not by good deeds performed in our own strength. It is God’s grace which draws us to Him, giving us the faith which gains favor for us in the sight of God: good deeds being a by-product of faith, and not a prerequisite to it…
Thomas Hooker has produced many more works of value on topics of biblical truth and Christian doctrine. Some of these are enumerated as follows:

– The Soul’s Humiliation
– The Soul’s Implantation
– The Soul’s Exultation
– The Poor Doubting Christian drawn to Christ
– The Application of Redemption by the effectual work of
the Word, and the Spirit of Christ for the bringing home
of Lost Sinners to God.
– A Comment upon Christ’s Last Prayer in the 17th of John… 8

To learn more, click here.
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Bibliography:

1

Hooker, Thomas. A Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline. Boston: Old South Leaflets No. 55, 1896, p. 15.

2

Ibid.

3

Ibid.

4

Ibid.

5

Ibid.

6

Hooker, Thomas. (Late pastor of the Church at Hartford upon Connecticut, in N.E.) A Survey of the Summe of Church Discipline, wherein the Way of Churches of New England is warranted out of the Word and all exceptions of weight, which are made against it, answered. London: A.M. for John Bellamy, 1648, Preface. Rare Book Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

7

Hooker, Thomas. (Reverend and faithful Minister of the Gospel) The Covenant of Grace Opened. London: G. Dawson, 1649. Rare Book Collection, Library of Congress.

8

Rare Book Collection, Library of Congress.

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