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PRINCIPLES, PROVIDENCES, PERSONS.—THE COLONY OF PRIN
CIPLE, AND THE COLONY OF GAIN.
PRINCIPLES, PROVIDENCES, PERSONS. This is God's order ; principles come first, providences next, persons last. Principles are eternal. Providences develope principles, principles make persons. Sometimes principles, providences, and persons all go to form other persons, so directly and visibly, that the combination arrests a reflecting mind as indicative of some great and special design. This is the case in the history of the formation of character in a man like Luther. Indeed, persons can be used as instrumentalities in no grander way, and on no sublimer mission, than informing other persons; the greatest work of souls is upon souls, not upon railroads and steam-engines. Providences are the discipline of persons with respect to principles. Providences sometimes are the revelation of principles to persons, and sometimes they are the preparation of persons to sustain, hold forth, illustrate, and apply principles. Then again the principles sustain the persons to bear the providences, to understand them, and to carry forward their design.
In no company of men that the world ever saw was the Providence and Grace of God illustrated more remarkably, than with our Pilgrim Fathers. But God selected them
HISTORICAL AND LOCAL ILLUSTRATIONS
for a work, not for an immediate and glorious exhibition either of principles or graces. They were rather for the present, in their own humble language, “stepping stones,'' at the foundation, to be polished by being walked upon, than precious stones set for ornament and admiration in the superstructure. They are in the superstructure now, infinitely perfect, infinitely glorious; but on earth they were a company of God's workmen, God's operatives, and not mere incumbents of the sinecures of Grace, if there could be such a thing ; nor merely the vivid pietists of glowing sensibilities, out of whose experience a diary of great depths and heights in the religious affections might be spread before the world. No! they were to suffer and to do God's will, as patient, pioneering laborers; laborers in a work of ages, by which, generation after generation, great principles should be more and more fully developed and established; principles for the building of a new world, and the renovation of an old. ,
They had scarcely time for any other spiritual work or enjoyment, than the Word of God and prayer.
They could not be brooding over their affections, or analysing the processes of grace. Men who have to count, miserly, the kernels of corn for their daily bread, and to till their ground staggering through weakness from the effect of famine, can do but little in settling the metaphysics of faith, or in counting frames, and gauging the exercises of their feelings. Grim necessity of hunger looks morbid sensibility out of countenance.
Nevertheless, they were spiritually minded and experimental Christians, and they both acted upon principles and acted them out. Where before had there ever been a band of colonists in the World that did this? We know of none. A thousand colonies might be banded by the principles of gain, and thriving, like so many bee-hives; this was no more than the city of London itself was doing, with its knots of merchant adventurers. A Fur company
or a Wampum society in the wilderness has no more of a colonizing impulse, although they may leave their homes to dwell among savages, than the tradesmen in the Strand, who buy and sell, possibly without ever going a mile from their own door. But these impulses of gain, these enterprises of traffic are not to be dignified with the name of principles. Nay, sometimes of such colonizing expeditions God says, “Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not been mindful of the stock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant pleasant plants, and shalt set it with strange slips. In the day shalt thou make thy plant to grow, and in the morning shalt thou make thy seed to flourish; but the harvest shall be an heap in the day of grief and of desperate sorrow."
It has been noted by more than one historian how sig. nally every attempt to colonize any part of New England failed, until the enterprise of our Pilgrim Fathers was begun from a high sense of duty and in reliance upon God. “The designs of those attempts,” remarks Cotton Mather, “being aimed no higher than the advancement of some worldly interests, a constant series of disasters has confounded them, until there was a plantation erected upon the nobler designs of Christianity.” All men were aware of this. It was well known how wide was the distinction between a purely religious and a worldly colony, and that nothing but religion supported the enterprise of the Pilgrims. It was easy to colonize after they had opened the way, and made a clearing, a cornfield, a house of God, and a settlement in the wilderness.
Cotton Mather relates an amusing characteristic anecdote of one of the north-eastern fishing and trading settlements. He says that one of the Massachusetts ministers, once preaching to a congregation in those settlements (probably a hard and heedless set), besought them to become religious and to approve themselves as such, for this reason, among others, that if they did not, they would con
tradict the main end of planting this wilderness; whereupon, a well known person, then in the assembly, cried out, “Sir, you are mistaken; you think you are preaching to the people at the Bay: but our main end was to catch fish."
They were accomplishing their main end, and so were the Pilgrim Fathers theirs; but there was not a colony in existence that did not know and acknowledge the difference between them and the Plymouth Pilgrims. That band of colonists had a sacredness in the eye of the whole world. There was no other company like them; there never would be another such.
They were religious Pilgrims, not tradesmen. We read much in their earliest history concerning a set of persons called Merchant Adventurers. God made no little use of such men for a season, both to discipline the Pilgrims, and to forward their enterprise. They were as the scaffolding of the building, by which God would put his living stones in their places, and then take the frame away.
Foundation and corner stones (remarks Mr. Hubbard, in his History of New England), though buried, and lying low under ground, ought not to be out of mind, seeing they support and bear up the weight of the whole building. This is eminently true of the unostentatious, but enduring and solid virtues of our Pilgrim Fathers. In their characters and habits God was laying the foundations of a people, among whom labor should be respectable in all classes, and industry and frugality native and national qualities. They were all laborers, they were almost all farmers, or had been, and labor with them was caused to be, by God's Providence, a necessity of their existence. The two foremost men among them had learned, the one the trade of a silk-dyer, the other the art of a printer; and both of them, the Governor and the Elder, labored with their hands, like the poorest and meanest of their company. There was no such thing in existence among them as slavery, to
make labor disreputable; nor any monopoly of luxury, to make idleness, and being waited on, the distinctions of a gentleman. They were all free; they were almost all Christian freemen ; with whom self-denial was not only a necessity of God's Providence in their great enterprise, but always a duty of self-discipline. They went back to primitive times; if any will not work, neither shall he eat; yet not they, by their legislation, but God carrying them by his spirit and his discipline. And in their habit of labor among all classes, and of a simple competence gained by each family through industry and frugality, they laid the foundations of a state, in which not only labor itself was more reputable than in any other country in the world, but in which ignorance, and idleness, and poverty were almost unknown, till other countries contributed these foreign ingredients.
This is a world of labor, and always must and will be ; but there only, where freedom and piety prevail, will labor, to the world's end, be regarded as honorable and noble. “I have spoken of labor,” says Mr. Webster, in one of his true New England speeches, “as one of the great elements of our society, the great substantial interest on which we all stand. Not feudal service, not predial toil, not the irksome drudgery by one race of mankind, .subjected, on account of color, to the control of another race of mankind; but labor, intelligent, manly, independent, thinking and acting for itself, earning its own wages, accumulating those wages into capital, becoming a part of our social system, educating childhood, maintaining worship, claiming the right of the elective franchise, and helping to uphold the great fabric of the State. That is AMERICAN LABOR, and I confess that all my sympathies are with it, and my voice, until I am dumb, will be for it."
And the foundation of that system goes back to the day, when Bradford, Brewster, and Winslow labored in the field together, builded their own houses, planted their own corn, and, as truly as the lowliest of the Pilgrims, gained