Reverence for both Scripture and freedom led [Roger] Williams to his position. His mentor was Edward Coke, the great English jurist who ruled, “The house of every one is as his castle,” extending the liberties of great lords ”” and an inviolate refuge where one was free ”” to the lowest English commoners. Coke pioneered the use of habeas corpus to prevent arbitrary imprisonment. And when Chancellor of England Thomas Egerton said, “Rex est lex loquens; the king is the law speaking,” and agreed that the monarch could “suspend any particular law” for “reason of state,” Coke decreed instead that the law bound the king. Coke was imprisoned ”” without charge ”” for his view of liberty, but that same view ran in Williams’ veins.
Equally important to Williams was Scripture. Going beyond the “render unto Caesar” verse in the New Testament, he recognized the difficulty in reconciling contradictory scriptural passages as well as different Bible translations. He even had before him an example of a new translation that served a political purpose. King James had disliked the existing English Bible because in his view it insufficiently taught obedience to authority; the King James Bible would correct that.
Given these complexities, Williams judged it impossible for any human to interpret all Scripture without error. Therefore he considered it “monstrous” for one person to impose any religious belief on another.