all his ways, made known, or to be made known to them, according to their best endeavors, whatever it cost them.”

The clearer and further insight, which these religious men, by means of these trials and persecutions obtained, by the light of God's Word, are stated by Governor Bradford to have been “ that the ceremonies prescribed were unlawful, and also the lordly and tyrannous power of the prelates, who would, contrary to the freedom of the Gospel, load the consciences of men, and by their compulsive power make a profane mixture of things and persons in divine worship; that their offices, courts, and canons were unlawful, being such as have no warrant in the Word of God, but the same that were used in Popery, and still retained."*

This little church compact, among a few despised persons, totally unknown in the world and uncared for, was one of the greatest events that had then ever taken place in the world's history. Out of that grew the celebrated civil and religious compact on board the May Flower; out of that, indeed, sprang all the institutions of civil and religious freedom in our country. That Church Compact in the Old World was the beginning both of form and life to the New.

That little church covenant, that phenomenon of dissent and conventicles, unnoticed at that time, except by the great red dragon of the twelfth of Revelations, was as the ridge of a mountain breaking suddenly out of the polished scurf and dust of established church despotisms, and rising to throw that bondage from the world. It is still rising, all over the earth, and the mountain of the Lord's House shall be established upon this top of the mountains, and all nations shall at length flow into it. It was a free, voluntary church, gathered by the Spirit of the Lord, and not by man's sacramental oaths and rubrics. A world was now to be

* Bradford in Prince, 4.

founded, with no more mere ecclesiastico-political societies under the name of National Churches, combining together, like so many national menageries, bears, and calves, and sheep, and wild bulls of Bashan, and presenting a mere caricature of the prophetic reign of peace and righteousness on earth; the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, the cow and the bear, the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together, and a little child leading them. This beautiful prediction in Isaiah was certainly never intended to be accomplished by driving together with fines and penalties the religious and the irreligious, the converted and the unconverted, to the Lord's Table, in the Lord's House, and proclaiming by law, The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord are these !

But how obscurely does God often begin the greatest of his revealing dispensations! An old, old man, with a long white beard, takes a little child in his arms in the Jewish temple, and exclaims, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation !” It is the fulfilment of predictions, for which the great globe itself has been kept in its orbit for centuries. It is the beginning of a new creation of God. The personages disappear from the eye of sense, and the ages silently roll on, but the dispensation then begun, enlarges, till the whole world is filled with it.

So, down among the obscurities of Lincolnshire, where no creature in the world knew what was going on, the lost old primitive model of the Christian Church was begun again under Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of Souls. If it had been known what great things were to spring from that covenant, all other interests at the gates of hell would have been left unguarded, to crush and annihilate that little despised band of worshippers. . But yet in what utter obscurity the effort begins! We love to dwell upon the scene, and upon Gov. Bradford's simple language, “Several did, as the Lord's free people, join themselves by covenant into a church-state, to walk in all his ways, according to their best endeavours, whatever it cost them."

Aye! Whatever it cost them! A great sentence is that. They knew almost as little, then, what it would reveal, as the gates of hell knew of their whole movement. And how wonderfully, from step to step, they were led on ! It might be said, with reference to the great enterprise, then wholly unknown, undreamed of, to which God would prepare and bring them, “I girded thee, though thou hast not known me.” They knew God, but what God was going to do with them they knew not, nor what their first step would cost them. It was by the providential discipline of God, with the intolerable severities of the Establishment as its instruments, that they came to the discovery of the great truth, that as Christ's disciples they were really the Lord's free people, who might, if they pleased, join themselves by covenant into a church state, who had that liberty from Christ, though neither asking leave of any Established Church, nor constituted by any king or bishop. Why! this was one of the greatest lessons ever taught by Divine Providence, ever learned from his word through suffering. The whole world was against it. If that question had been brought before any set of men then in existence, had it even been carried to Geneva, and laid before the church of Calvin there, had it been carried to Germany, and proposed to a Lutheran syncd there, in its bare simplicity, as taught of God, it would have been negatived. The question, can we, “ several religious people," we, “two or three gathered together," constitute a church? Can we constitute ourselves into a church, and be regarded as a church, and lawfully choose our own minister, under Christ only ?—this question would in most quarters have been answered by pursuivants and bailiffs, in prisons and Courts of High Commission. In the opinion of the rulers of the Church then in England it was a mortal sin “ for a man that had been at church twice on


the Lord's Day to repeat the heads of the sermons to his family in the evening ; a crime that deserved fines, imprisonment, and the forfeiture of all that was dear to a man in the world.” “If any will not be quiet, and shew his obedience, the church,” said King James, “were better without him, and he were worthy to be hanged.” And Archbishop Whitgift said that his Majesty spake by the special assistance of the Holy Ghost.*

Long and arduously did the persecuting rulers of the Church labor at their work of smelting out this precious ore of truth, this doctrine of Christian liberty. Busily were they running to and fro, conveying the metal from one forge and furnace to another, sweating at their fires and anvils, with the great trip-hammers of Church and State despotism at command, thinking, forsooth, that they were burning and beating down, out of existence, all idea, all thought, all dream of freedom, when they were merely God's instruments to discipline and beat the consciences of our fathers, out of their remaining bondage and darkness into liberty and light. This great act of joining themselves by covenant into a church-state was one, into which the providence of God did, as it were, compel the Pilgrims, anxious and doubtful at first, but at length free, without the least mixture of fear or superstition. After that step, great and rapid was the increase of their light and liberty, and God's discipline, in preparation for the removal of the vine out of Egypt, was immediate.

* Prince, 10, 11.–Neal's History of the Puritans.-Fuller's Church History.







That we may watch and compare God's marvellous providences in this thing, the date is to be marked, 1602. This was the time when God took from a persecuting ChurchEstablishment the seed-corn which he was to prepare for the planting of his church in New England, for an entirely new dispensation of his grace in our world.

In that same year, 1602, the same Divine Providence carried Bartholomew Gosnold to the discovery of Cape Cod, where God would soon carry the seed he was thus gathering and preparing. The coincidence of these dates is remarkable. It is also remarkable that both in this expedition of Gosnold, in 1602, and in that of our Pilgrim Fathers in 1620, God's providence disappointed man's will, preventing entirely the first intended settlement, and turning the last from its intended place to a spot not even within the limits of the charter. Gosnold's expedition was directed to Virginia, a general and most indefinite designation at that time, comprising almost the whole present seacoast of the United States. Intending a shorter cut than had before been attempted by the more southerly adventurers, Gosnold steered more directly across the ocean, and at length brought up at Cape Cod, where he probably cast the first lines ever thrown for a fish which was to be

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