gree of decision and energy of character. But the Captain arrived in London in the very midst of the Plague ; not the great Plague described by De Foe, but its forerunner by some years; when such multitudes were dying

every week, that Trade itself was dead, and no business · could be accomplished. Nevertheless, the Captain engaged several of the New England Council to promise their helpfulness to the plantation ; but the friendly Adventurers he found so weakened by losses, that they could do but little. The Captain had to take up 150 pounds at the enormous rate of fifty per cent. interest. And when he returned he brought the sad news not only of great losses sustained by some of their friends, but of the death of others by the Plague, and above all, that their beloved Pastor Robinson, whom they had been hoping to welcome among them, had gone to his rest. Their ancient friend, Mr. Cushman, was also dead, “ their right hand with the Adventurers, who for years had managed all their business with them, to their great advantage.'

At length, in the autumn of 1626, they sent over Mr. Allerton, who, after no small trouble, with the help of some faithful, energetic friends, brought the Adventurers to a settlement. They agreed to sell out to the Pilgrims all their interest in the Colony for the sum of 1800 pounds, of which 200 should be paid every year, beginning in 1628. The Colonists rejoiced in this arrangement, although, being forced to take up money or goods at such enormous interest, they scarcely knew how to raise the payment, and at the same time discharge their other engagements, and supply their own wants. Seven or eight of the principal men among them had to become jointly bound, in behalf of the rest, for the whole amount. Besides this, the whole Colony were anxious to assist their friends at Leyden to get over to them; and for this purpose eight foremost men among them, with the three friendly Adventurers in England, Sherley, Beauchamp, and Andrews, entered into an en


gagement, taking the trade of the Colony for six years, to pay all their debts, and transport the remainder of the Church from Leyden to Plymouth. By means of this arrangement, thirty-five of their friends with their families were enabled to join them in 1629, their expenses being paid, from 30 to 50 pounds a family; "besides giving them houses, preparing them grounds to plant on, and maintaining them with corn and other necessaries above 13 or 14 months, before they had a harvest of their own production.” The names of the Pilgrims by whom this difficult work was accomplished, in connexion with the friendly Adventurers above named, were Governor Bradford, Edward Winslow, Thomas Prince, Miles Standish, William Brewster, John Alden, John Howland, and Isaac Allerton.

But their charge did not end here. In May, 1630, another company of their Leyden brethren arrived in the harbor of Salem, the cost of whose provision and transportation from Holland to England, from England to Salem, and from Salem with their goods to Plymouth, was all cheerfully borne by the same “New Plymouth Undertakers," before named ; amounting to above five hundred and fifty pounds sterling, “ besides the providing them housing, preparing them ground, and maintaining them with food for sixteen or eighteen months, before they had a harvest of their own; all which came to nearly as much more. A rare example of brotherly love and Christian care in performing their promises to their brethren, even beyond their


These were great charges, but the Pilgrims had now everything under their own control. The perplexities of their copartnership with the Adventurers were at an end ; in their business arrangements they might deal now only with brethren and friends; and they regarded the coming of the remainder of the Leyden Church, which once seemed so hopeless, as a recompense from Heaven with a double blessing. They received the new companies of “godly friends and Christian brethren, as the beginning of a larger harvest to Christ, in the increase of his people and Churches in these parts of the earth, to the admiration of many, and almost wonder of the world.”

* Bradford in Prince, 201.





While men were contriving their pilgrimages and colonies of gain, God was arranging his of principle, and was selecting its instruments. It was the work of his Church. It was simply the early dispensation renewed, when men of God, scattered abroad by persecution, went preaching the word, and founding word-colonies of grace, amidst the wilderness of a Pagan civilization. But now a whole church was to be transplanted. Its materials must first be gathered and disciplined ; and for these God went into the despised non-conforming cottages and conventicles of England. There were noble preachers of God's Word then, even amidst all the turmoil and persecution about ceremonies; and the minister who would be a free and fearless preacher of God's Word at such a time, teaching God's fear, not by the precepts of men, would likely be God's honored instrument in preparing the materials for his intended Church Colony.

Divine grace, as well as human wrath, must have been at work with great power at that period. Men who became Christians under such oppressions as they had to endure if they embraced the new discovered, but ancient truth of the independence of the Church under Christ only, would likely become such through deep and powerful experience. “I am afraid,” said Sir Walter Raleigh, in a speech deprecating their banishment from England by oppression, “I am afraid there are nearly twenty thousand of these men; and when they are driven out of the Kingdom, who shall support their wives and children ?" But mere driving them out of the Kingdom had been mercy, in comparison with the treatment they received. One whole Church, perhaps the earliest on independent principles formed in England, was hunted out by the sharp and eager cruelty of the Commissioners of Queen Elizabeth, the very year of its formation in London, in 1592, and fifty-six of its members were imprisoned, beaten, put to death in various ways, some by the inhuman cruelties of their confinement, some upon the gallows. The Queen's Commissioners, when these victims of the Protestant Persecutor refused to play the hypocrite by going to the State-Church, let them know that it was not piety to God they wished for, but obedience to the Queen ; and that with that they might do and be whatever of evil in religion they pleased. “Come to Church,” said they, “and obey the Queen's laws; and be a dissembler, a hypocrite, or a devil, if thou wilt.” So this band of Christ's followers perished in England. It was not quite yet God's time for the sacred Colony.

The foundation of the Pilgrim Church, and therefore the tap-root of New-England, runs back to the year 1602, when, in Governor Bradford's words, “several religious people near the joining borders of Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire, finding their pious ministers urged with subscriptions, or silenced, and the people greatly vexed with Commissary Courts, Apparitors, and Pursuivants, which they bare sundry years with much patience, till they were occasioned by the continuance and increase of these troubles, and other means, to see further into these things by the light of the Word of God,-shake off this yoke of anti-Christian bondage ; and as the Lord's free people join themselves by covenant into a church-state, to walk in

« VorigeDoorgaan »