Berean Bible Heritage Church
January 18, 2018; 11:45 pm
Jerusalem Time

Thomas Hooker

by Pastor Clinton Macomber

Thomas Hooker

Thomas Hooker was born in Leicestershire, England on July 7, 1586.

Hooker studied theology at Cambridge University and was a popular lecturer. He did not believe that the Church of England was Biblical in its beliefs. Because of this, he was summoned to appear before the terrible “High Commission” in 1630. He fled to Holland, and there preached to exiled Puritans. While there, he wrote a pamphlet—A Fresh Suit against Human Ceremonies in God’s Worship.

In 1632, he wrote The Soul’s Preparation. In it he said, “I have sometimes admired (wondered) at this: why a company of gentlemen, yeomen, poor women, that are scarcely able to know their ABC’s yet have a minister to speak Latine, Greeke, and Hebrew and use the Fathers, when it is certain they know nothing at all. The reason is, because all this stings not; they may sit and sleepe in their sinnes, and goe to hell hoodwinckt, never awakened.”

In 1633, Thomas Hooker, John Cotton, and Samuel Stone fled to America. They arrived in September. Several Puritans joked that now they had “cotton for their clothing, Hooker for their fishing, and Stone for their building.”

On October 26, 1633, Thomas Hooker was chosen as the Pastor of a small Puritan and Pilgrim congregation at Newton in the Massachusetts Bay Colony (now Cambridge). While there, Hooker questioned the form of government being used by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, believing that all citizens should choose their magistrates, and not just those who were church members. He also firmly believed that the citizens should set the limits on what a government can or cannot do!

This same year, an overland route to the Connecticut was found by John Oldham, a Massachusetts trader. His favorable reports of the area created a desire among those in the Colony to set up an independent state there. The area would offer better grazing for their animals, prevent the Dutch from gaining a permanent hold in the new Country, form an outpost in the Pequod country, and provide an opportunity for those who were unhappy with things in Massachusetts to have a place to go (mainly due to taxation issues).

In 1635, due to a dispute with John Cotton and Roger Williams over the strict theological rule of Massachusetts, Hooker sent a group of settlers ahead to Connecticut. Because the differences were not grave, the government of Massachusetts formally permitted the migration, gave the colonists a commission, and lent to them a cannon and ammunition. In 1636, he joined them with a large number of his congregation. He remained the pastor there until his death.

On May 31, 1638, Hooker preached the following historic and foundational sermon of America:

Deuteronomy 1:13 “Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.


I. That the choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God’s own allowance.

II. The privilege of election which belongs unto the people therefore, must not be exercised according to their humors, but according to the blessed will and law of God.

III. They who have power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is their power, also, to set the bounds of the power and place unto which they call them.


I. Because the foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people.

II. Because, by a free choice the hearts of the people will be more inclined to the love of the persons (chosen), and more ready to yield (obedience).

III. Because of that duty and engagement of the people.

The lesson taught is threefold:

I. There is a matter of thankful acknowledgement in the (appreciation) of God’s faithfulness towards us and the permission of these measures that God doth commend and vouchsafe.

II. Of reproof—to dash the conceits of all those that shall oppose it.

III. Of exhortation—to persuade us as God hath given us liberty, to take it.

And lastly. As God hath spared our lives, and given us them in liberty, so to seek the guidance of God, and to choose in God and for God.”

Because of this sermon, the first written Constitution was made, and this Constitution of Connecticut became the basis of the Constitutions of most of the States, as well as the basis for the Constitution of the United States of America.

In 1638, he drafted the Fundamental Orders for the government of Hartford, Connecticut. They outlined a government essentially the same as the Bay Colonies, though with more emphasis on the role of the people. He remained the governor of Connecticut for the remaining 9 years of his life.

In 1640, he published a book entitled: An Exposition of the Principles of Religion.

In 1643, he was instrumental in establishing the earliest system of federal government in America with the formation of the “United Colonies of New England.”

In 1648, his book was published on the policy for congregational churches, A Survey of the Sum of Church Discipline, being a champion for congregational government over Presbyterianism.

He died on July 7, 1647.


10,000 Sermon Illustrations. electronic ed. Dallas: Biblical Studies Press, 2000.

J. D. Douglas, Philip Wesley Comfort and Donald Mitchell, Who's Who in Christian History. (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House, 1997, c1992), “Hooker, Thomas.”

William J. Federer, Great Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Quotations Influencing Early and Modern World History Referenced According to Their Sources in Literature, Memoirs, Letters, Governmental Documents, Speeches, Charters, Court Decisions and Constitutions (St. Louis, MO: AmeriSearch, 2001), “Hooker, Thomas.”

George Grant and Gregory Wilbur; The Christian Almanac; Nashville, Tennessee; Cumberland Press; c. 2000; pg. 628.

Verna M. Hall; The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America; San Francisco, California; The Iversen Associates; c. 1966; pp. 250-251.

Christian History [Computer File] The American Puritans. electronic ed. Carol Stream IL: Christianity Today, 1994; Published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996.

George Thomas Kurian, Nelson's New Christian Dictionary (Nashville, Tenn.: Thomas Nelson Pubs., 2001). “Hooker, Thomas.”

Paul Lagass and Columbia University, The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. (New York; Detroit: Columbia University Press; Sold and distributed by Gale Group, 2000), “Hooker, Thomas.”

Ruben G. Thwaites, Epochs of American History: The Colonies (Redding, CA: Pleasant Places Press, 2005; 2005), pp. 140, 143, 183.

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