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their heaviest calamity was yet to come. Their beloved governor, the excellent Carver, fainted under his labours and died.”—pp. 6, 7.
Dr. Spring. “Their condition on landing was such as to call for the peculiar benignity of a superintending Providence. Without the limits of their patent—enfeebled and sickly, through the length and hardships of their voyage, without shelter and without friends, before them a wide region of solitude and savageness, they were compelled to pitch their tents, between the howlings of the forest, and the storm of the ocean; and spend a dreary season, in burying their dead, and thinking of their sorrows. Like the pilgrims of other times, “they wandered in the wilderness, in a soitary way, they found no city to dwell in.”—pp. 10, 11.
Mr. Chester. “ Deceived in their situation, they enter in their “tempest-tost bark” a bay, unknown and unexplored! Her shrouds glitter with ice, the shore is desolate with winter. Yet, they leave the ship with praises, and land on the rock with prayer. Here was the courage of self-denial and holiness, that may challenge the wreath from the hero's brow. There was no external excitement, no inspiring trumpet, no pennon streaming on the wind; all without was black and desolate, all within was calm ; they rested on an arm that was never weary, and “found peace for their souls.”—pp. 24, 25.
The view that is given in these extracts, of the hardships, sufferings and mortality, which were experienced by the pilgrims at Plymouth, during the first winter, might be extended, with only circumstantial variations, to most of the other early settlements in New-England. The first planters of Salem, with Mr. John Endicott at their head, suffered much, in the first year, for want of provisions, and lost many of their number in a few months, by a mortal sickness. Those also who came over soon after, and settled in the vicinity of Boston, under Governor Winthrop, suffered extremely the first year, from the severity of the winter, against which they were but miserably defended in their tents, and in their huts. This exposure, together with the want of provisions, brought on a distressing sickness, which swept off more than a hundred and twenty, before the opening of the spring.
Inlike manner, the first emigrants from Massachusetts to Connecticut, suffered incredibly from cold, and for want of food; and nothing but the special protection of Heaven, saved them from perishing, either by famine, or by the tomahawk.
“O could we place our souls in their souls stead, under the circumstances which I have related, how would our hearts sink within us. When winter roars in the for. ests and drifts around our dwellings, let us think of the pilgrims and be thankful. Let us think of them, when we sit by our warm fires, enjoying the the society of our neighbours and friends. Let us think of them, when our “garners are full, as. fording all manner of store,” and when we are sick, let us think of the pilgrims, sick and dying, without the aid of physicians or nurses; and let the fond mother think of them, when in a piercing night, she goes from room to room, to see if her children are warm. Let us this day, in particular, dwell much upon their privations and sufferings; and when we contrast our happy lot, with every thing, that was distressing in theirs, let our hearts rise in the warmest gratitude to Him, “who maketh us to differ.”—Mr. Humphrey, p. 13.
But though often “perplexed,” the fathers of New-England, “were not in despair.” They confided in the same merciful Providence, that had brought them across the ocean, and they were preserved.
“Whatever, says Mr. Porter, may have been the virtue and the valour of our fathers, he must be wilfully blind, who is not prepared to lift his heart to God, and say, “they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them ; but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favour unto them." His providence, in the establishment and preservation of the New-England states, has been illustriously manifest The ve policy of their enemies, has been mysteriously employed for this end. As in ancient days, he hardened the heart of Pharaoh, to show forth his power and glory in the redemption of his people, so for similar purposes, he hardened the hearts of New-Englands proud monarch's and prelates. These oppressive acts, were the sword by which he drove our ancestors from their pleasant seats into this howling wilderness, that he might prepare for them a city; and so far as we can perceive, were the only means, by which so great a por. tion of his church, and numbers of such wealth, talents and worth, and these, united to each other by such kindred views, habits and affections, as were necessary to lay the foundation of these colonies, would, have been induced to the arduous enterprise."—p. 15.
On this subject Dr. Spring has the following remarks.
When difficulties and darkness perplexed them, [our ancestors, God sent his light and truth to lead them. When they were hemmed in by enemies, he opened a passage for them “through the sea;" when they “wandered in the wilderness, where there was no water, he brought water out of the rock, and rained down manna for them out of heaven.” “He found them in a desert land, in a waste howling wilderness; he led them about, he instructed them, he kept them as the apple of his eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nestfluttereth over her young—-spreadeth abroad her wings—taketh them—beareth them on her wings; so the Lord alone did lead them, and there was no strange god with them.” How obvious to the most superficial observer, that the whole course of our venerable forefathers, was the result of the divine purpose, lay under the divine inspection, and was directed by a divine and omnipotent hand. There
In doctrine they harmonized with the great luminaries of the reformation. They worshipped God, as Father, Son and Holy Ghost, three in one, and one in three. The proper divinity and vicarious suffer. ings of the Lord Jesus Christ, the supernatural agency of the Spirit in renewing the hearts of sinners, justification by faith alone, divine sovereignty, personal election without any fore-sight of worthiness in the creature, perseverance in holiness unto the end, and the eternal punishment of the wicked, as well as happiness of the righteous; these and the other kindred doctrines, were prominent articles in all their confessions of faith. They had none of that critical acume n, which is now so dexterously employed, by some of their descendants, to explain away the most positive declarations of scripture; none of that daring which would pluck the crown from the head of Jesus; and none of that charity, which would present the right hand of christian fellowship indifferently, to him who adores “lmmanuel as
God over all blessed forever,” and to him who would degrade the eternal Saviour, to the rank of mere manhood. In discipline, the founders of the NewEngland churches were strictly congregational. They denied the authority of Arch Bishops, Bishops, and all such ecclesiastical tribunals, as exercised a coercive power in England and Scotland; but they admitted the right and expediency of Consocialing for mutual edification and advice. The religion of our puritan fathers did not consist in mere abstract doctrinal propositions and modes of church government. Is was eminently spiritual and practical. It was a religion of the heart, as well as the head. The essence of it was that “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord "-that “ love which is the fnlfilling of the law.” They were men of prayer, and they were “strong in faith.” They knew what it was to wrestle with the “Angel of the covenant and prevail." They were peculiarly attentive, both to the smiles and frowns of providence. Public dangers and distresses, such as exposure to enemies, unfruitful seasons, the destructive rage of the elements, the ravages of insects, and all the more private afflictions and disappointments which o experienced, were regarded by them as the rebukes and judgements of a holy God, and as calling for public and private humiliation. Accordingly, they kept a great many solemn fasts, and received extraordinary answers to the prayers which on such occasions, they offered up to him who was able to save. No people, I believe, ever set a greater value upon the institutions of the gospel, or more conscientiously regarded its ... precepts. There was no sacrifice whic they were not ready to make, to secure to themselves and their families, the regular administration of divine ordinances. Their first care, when they landed upon these shores, and afterwards in extending their settlements was, to organize churches, settle ministers and build meetinghouses. And so highly did they prize religious instruction, that in some instances, even while their congregations were small and feeble, they supported both a pastor and a teacher at the same time. This was the case at Salem, Hartford and New-Haven—pp. 27, 28.
With our ancestors a profession of religion, was understood to be a profession of real holiness of heart, a living faith in Christ. and a sincere dedication of soul and body to God, for time and eternity. They were remarkably strict in the administration of gospel discipline, and their form of covenanting was peculiarly solemn and impressive. Dr Hyde has copied from Mather's Magnalia, the covenant of the first church that was formed in Massachusetts, which is in our judgment, so very excellent, that we shall here present it at full length to our readers.
“We covenant with our Lord, and with one another; and we do bind ourselves in the presence of God, to walk together in all his ways, according as he is i. to reveal himself unto us, in his blessed word of truth; and do explicitly, in the name and fear of God, profess and protest to walk as followeth, through the power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We avouch the Lord to be our God, and ourselves to be his people in the truth, and simplicity of our spirits. We give ourselves to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the word of his grace, for the teaching, ruling and sanctifying of us, in matters of worship and conversation; resolving to cleave unto him alone, for life and glory, and to reject all contrary ways, canons, and constitutions of men in his worsnip. We promise to walk with our brethren, with all watchfulness and tenderness, avoiding jealousies and suspicions, backbitings, censurings, provokings, secret risings of spirit against them; but in all offences to follow the rule of our Lord Jesus, and to bear and forbear, give and forgive, as he hath taught us. In public, or private, we will willingly do nothing to the offence of the church; but will be willing to take advice for ourselves and ours, as occasion shall be presented. We will not in the congregation, be forward, either to show our gifts and parts in speaking, or scrupling, or there discover the weakness or failings of our brethren ; but attend an orderly call thereunto, knowing how much the Lord may be dishonored, and his gospel and the profession of it be slighted, by our distempers and weaknesses, in public. We bind ourselves to study the advancement of the gospel, in all truth and peace, both in regard of those that are within, or without; no way slighting our sister churches; but using their counsel as need shall be; not laying a stumbling block before any; no not the Indians whose good we desire to promote; and so to converse, as we may avoid the very appearance of evil. We do hereby promise, to carry ourselves in all lawful obedience to those who are over us in church, or conmonwealth, knowing how well pleasing it would be to the Lord, that they should have encouragement in their places, by our not grieving their spirits, through our irregularities. We resolve to approve ourselves to the Lord in our practical callings, shunning idleness as the bane of any state; nor will we deal hardly, or oppressively with any, wherein we are the Lord's
stewards.-Promising also, unto our best ability, to teach our children and servants the knowledge of God, and of his will, that they may serve him also ; and ali this, not by any strength of our own; but by the Lord Christ, whose blood we desire may sprinkle this our covenant, made in his name.”
In their observance of the Sabbath, the first settlers of New-England were remarkably strict and conscientious. With them it was a day of sweet and sacred rest. It was whol. ly devoted to reading, meditation and prayer, in private; and to family instruction, and social worship in public. We heartily join with Mr. Chester in the following sentiment. “O may their descendants, in whatever clime they make their home, be distinguished like their fathers, for their sacred regard to the Sabbath of the Lord—to its hallowed rest—to its delightful duties.”
Such was the abhorrence of immorality amongst our puritan ances. tors, and so strict were they in the education and government of their children, that vice sought a distant retirement, and scarcely found a place among them. This fact is attested by almost all the records of those times. We shall only copy the tes. timony of the Rev. Mr. Firman, in a sermon which he preached before the Parliament, and the Assembly of Divines at Westminster. “I have lived, said he, in a country, (meaning NewEngland) seven years, and all that time I never heard one profane oath, and all that time, I never did see a man drunk in that land.” Alas, what would be his testimony could he now return, and spend seven years more in New-England?
It seems to be taken for granted, by some, that the men who lived two centuries, or a century and a half ago, must have been very inferior in point of education, if not of talent, to the present generation of their descendants; and that they could not have duly appreciated the importance of literature and science to a community. But this opinion does greatinjustice to the pilgrims. “It is no
partial or extravagant representation to say, that they were men of vigorous talent, enlarged views, and uncommon learning.” Many of them received the best education which could be obtained in the English Universities. Cotton, Hooker, Davenport, Mayhew, Norton, Winthrop, Eaton, Hopkins, Wolcott and others, will long be remembered as the enlightened and distinguished patrons of Education.
“Anxiously attentive to the general diffusion of science, our forefathers laid the basis of their exertions, in the extended estabiishment of common schools. It was as much a point of conscience with them, and it entered as really into all their plans of colonization, to furnish their posterity with the means of intellectual advancement, as to provide them with the means of daily and comfortable subsistence: and they early laid the foundations of those higher seminaries of learning, which have been justly considered among the brightest ornaments of the land.” Dr. Spring, p. 22.
“Next to the advancement of pure and undefiled religion in their own souls, and in the communities to which they belonged, the promotion of sound learning in public seminaries, and of general education among the people, were objects which lay nearest their hearts. In proof of this, it is only necessary to trace the history of our higher literary institutions and common schools, as exhibited in their respective charters, in the public acts for their encouragement, and in the private munificence by which they were early supported and endowed. To mention but one source of information on this subject: whoever may think it worth the trouble, to look into the colonial laws of NewEngland, will find the broad basis of our whole system of education, carefully laid by our wise and provident ancestors. Mr. Humphrey, p 30.
In reserence to the first preachers of New-England, we can subscribe with some little abatement of superlatives and comparatives, to the folkowing paragraph.
“Their views of truth were uncommonly vivid and correct. They enjoyed the best opportunities to acquire a profound knowledge of the scriptures. They were , well acquainted with the writings and disciples of the reformers. They lived at a period when the ministers of the Protestant Churches,were among the most learned and acute scholars and critics, that ever preached the gospel. They were
sound and able men. o brought with then the most valuable libraries—
they were familiar with the fountains of knowledge which all must seek, and at which the distinguished divines of this day, must be surnished and instructed. The gospel was preached “in the demonstration of the Spirit, and with power.” Its great truths were as ably stated—as well defended—and as powerfully enforced as they ever were, or ever can be, by mere uninspired men.” Mr. C. p. 17.
This we think is going rather too far. It seems to suppose, that no advance has been made in the science of theology, for the last hundred years; or at the very least, that the great truths of the bible, can never be better, understood, or more ably illustrated, and defended, than they were by the fathers. But surely it can be no disparagement, to the memory of those venerable and “mighty elders,” to hope and believe, that with the help of their labors, some of the divines of the present and of succeeding centuries, will surpass them in theological knowledge. Other men of equal talents and industry may be raised up; and as the millenium approaches, may be more “fervent in spirit;” or if this should not be the case, why may not the inferiors §. other respects) of Hooker, and
otton, and Davenport, become mightier in the scriptures than ever they were P It would be strange indeed, if a man of ordinary stature, standing upon a giant's shoulder, could not, from this elevation, see farther than
the giant himself.
But to proceed:—‘The pilgrims of New-England brought over with them a missionary spirit. They had pity on the heathem.” The Rev. John Eiiot, the samed Apostle of the Indians, was among the early settlers. The Mayhews were but little behind him, in zeal and activity; and the success of these missionaries, in turning the Aborigines from darkness to light,was almost without a parallel. At a very early period, there were no less than fourteen towns in Massachusetts, inhabited by these evangelised sons of the forest. In 1652 two hundred and eighty two of the natives of Mar. tha's Vineyard, had embraced christianity ; and at a later period, the Rev. Experience Mayhew enumerated, no less than thirty Indian ministers. How animating the thought, that many, thus “turned from dumb idols,” by the blessing of God, upon the earliest missionary labours in this country, are now in heaven, with their pious and indefatigable spiritual guides and teachers : “As the first settlers of New-England, believed in the absolute necessity of regeneration, by the Holy Spirit, they were friends to revivals of religion. They early fasted and prayed, for the effusions of divine grace upon the infant churches and settlements; and many were the ‘times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” Thus the Spirit was remarkably poured out in 1629, 1630, and 1637. In 1680, there was a general revival in Massachusetts, Plymouth, and Connecticut. In 1677, 1683, 1696, 1712, 1718 and 1721, there were happy and powerful revivals, in various parts of New-England.” Since the last mentioned date, also, we believe that this “our goodly heritage,’ has been more highly favoured with revivals, than any other portion of the globe, and in consequence, we have no doubt, of the institutions, piety and prayers of our ancestors. Of their laws, we have only room to say, that they resolved to make the Bible the basis of legislation, as well as the standard of faith ; and it was owing to this circumstance, we are fully persuaded, more than all others, that their civil and criminal codes, so far surpassed those of any other infant colonies, whether ancient or modern. After all, however, the fathers of New-England have received their full share of obloquy and reproach. “Just escaped from persecution themselves, it has been said, they demonstrated, that it was not the principle, but its application which they condemned: for the moment they had the power, they became persecutors in their turn.”
“This,” Mr. Porter contends, and ve. o
ry conclusively we think, “unless it be understood with much qualification, is most illiberal and unfounded. They did cnact laws, against the teaching of doc. trines, and the adherence to practices, which were subversive of their own. Leaving all men to entertain their own opinions, they yet required those, who held opinions destructive to the vital princi. ples of their community, either to abstain from inculcating them, or to leave their jurisdiction. This, whatever may be thought of the expediency of it, they had the right to do. For the express purpose of forming a community, accordant with their views of the Gospel, they came with immense expense, to these retired shores. That they might interfere with no rights of their fellow men in the prosecution of this design, they selected a part of the world, that was unoccupied only by sav. ages, of whom, by fair and open purchase they received it. This,in the highest sense, was their domicil, and as such, they rea: sonably demanded of their fellow men, the privilege of enjoying it, for the purposes for which they possessed it. But in the year 1656, a number of persons of the denomination of Quakers, for the purpose, as there is reason to believe, of trampling upon the religious order of the colonies, came from England to Massachusetts, and immediately began, in the most public manner, to revile both the ministry and the magistracy; to denounce them as a à. of imposture and tyranny ; and to threaten the severest judgments of heaven upon the people, if they did not abandon them. Their conduct was in some instances, an intolerable outrage, not only upon established order, but upon common decency. The penalties of the laws were accordingly enforced by the infliction of fines, imprisonment, flagellation, or banishment, according to their aggravation of the offence ; and when these were found ineffectual, a law was enacted, “that any Quaker returning from banishment, to renew his offences against the peace of the colony, should be punished with death." Under this law, several were executed. This is a matter of deep regret. So it seems to have been viewed by our fathers themselves, for in each of the colonies, the law was soon repealed, or was not enforced. Yet it should be remembered, that those who were punished either capitally, or in any other form, suffered, not directly for their religion ; but for their disturbance of the public peace, and their infraction of the first principles of the established government.”
Upon the unhappy occurrences, which mark the early history of NewEngland, on the subject of witchcraft, Mr. Porter has the following judicious remarks.