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Indians, which produced so wondrous a work of God under the efforts of Elliot.
The Englishman's God in Heaven! Poor, ignorant, simple-hearted savage ! nearer, by far, to the kingdom of heaven in his darkness, than thousands upon thousands of the savored Englishmen, amidst all their light ! One cannot but hope that Squanto's heart had been really visited by the Spirit of God. We can readily conceive what a kind and tender interest a man like Governor Bradford would have taken in his conversion, and with what gravity and patient assiduity he would have labored to instruct him in the truths of the Gospel. Squanto well knew that the Governor was a man of prayer.
Prayer is the Christian's vital breath,
The Christian's native air;
He enters heaven with prayer.
THE PILGRIM CHURCH AT LEYDEN AND THE PASTOR ROBINSON.
-THE VINE BROUGHT OUT OF EGYPT, BUT
Tuis purely reformed church in the North of England, as Gov. Bradford styles it, was compelled, as early as the year 1606, after much suffering, to form itself into two distinct churches, by reason of the wide extent of counties and villages in which its members were scattered. In that one of these churches which God chose for the Pilgrim Church, there was then a graduate of the University of Cambridge, John Robinson, a man remarkable both for his piety and learning, whom they chose for their pastor, and who went with his flock in 1608 over into Holland. Before his connexion with that church he had held a preferment in the Church of England, but with views so inclined towards the Puritans, that he could not escape the persecuting notice of Archbishop Bancroft. Mr. Neal speaks of him as “a Norfolk divine, beneficed about Yarmouth, being often molested by the bishop's officers, and his friends almost ruined in the ecclesiastical courts."* Unquestionably, could he have conformed to the church, and seen no further than the bishops saw, or with their spectacles, he had been advanced to great dignities and comforts of the establishment; but his views of truth and freedom were too clear and conscientious for that, and he rather chose to endure affliction with that people of God with whom he saw most of God's truth and spirit, than remain in Egypt. He was to be one of God's chosen instruments in bringing his vine out of Egypt, and preparing it for its planting in the wilderness.
* Neal's History of the Puritans, vol. ii., p. 72.
Their removal into Holland was a work of incomparably greater difficulty, hardship, and danger, than they could have imagined ; for they were beset with persecuting enemies, and threatened by them every step of the way. They were thrown into prison, betrayed, robbed, and treated with barbarous indecency and cruelty. It took near a whole year of labor and trial to accomplish this first pilgrimage, beginning in the fall of 1607, and continuing in the spring and summer of 1608. The other branch of their original church in Lincolnshire, under the care of Mr. John Smith as pastor, had gone over to Amsterdam before them, and it would seem with much less difficulty from external enemies; but they soon fell into difficulties among themselves, which Robinson and the Pilgrim Church avoided meddling with by removing afterwards to Leyden. The Pilgrims had chosen Robinson for their pastor before they thought of an exile from England, and his counsel was of the greatest service to them. The first notice of their removal given by Mr. Prince from Governor Bradford's manuscript is as follows, under date of 1607: “ This fall, Mr. Robinson's church in the North of England, being extremely harassed, some cast into prison, some beset in their houses, some forced to leave their farms and families, they begin to fly over to Holland, for purity of worship and liberty of conscience.”
Then in the spring of 1608 we find the next record, as follows: “ This spring, more of Mr. Robinson's church, through great difficulties from their pursuers, get over to Holland, and afterwards the rest, with Mr. Robinson and Mr. Brewster, who are of the last, having tarried to help the weakest over before them. They first settle in Amsterdam, and stay there a year, where Mr. Smith and his church had gotten before them.”
Then in 1609 we find the following record, which conveys nearly all that we can learn respecting the causes of their removal from Amsterdam to Leyden ;“Mr. Robinson's church having staid at Amsterdam about a year, seeing Mr. Smith and his company was fallen into contention with the church that was there before him, and that the flames thereof were like to break out in that ancient church itself, as afterwards lamentably came to pass, which Mr. Robinson and church prudently foreseeing, they think it best to remove in time before they were any way engaged with the same; though they knew it would be very much to the prejudice of their outward interest, as it proved to be. Yet valuing peace and spiritual comfort above other riches, they therefore remove to Leyden about the beginning of the twelve years' truce between the Dutch and the Spaniards, choose Mr. Brewster assistant to him in the place of an elder, and then live in great love and harmony both among themselves and their neighbour citizens for above eleven years, till they remove to New England."
The providences of God for them, though mingled with much mercy, were all the while those of change and trial. God was leading them forth out of Egypt for his own purposes, which as yet he had not revealed to them. They removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth; and they departed from Succoth and pitched in Etham. They seemed all the while to hear as of old the voice of Jehovah, “I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God; and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it to you for an heritage.” God, who was with them, made them feel that it was not for a lasting encampment in Amsterdam or Leyden, that he had brought them out, nor for themselves alone, nor for their own enjoyment, that he was leading them. God awoke within them the great purpose of crossing the ocean, and incited them to it by many inducements, providences, and trials, inward and external. God made them unwilling to bear the thought of so being exiles as to cut themselves for ever off from the language, the laws, the name, and the home of Englishmen. They saw that in Holland they were in danger of this; that to this, indeed, they were fast coming. God made them to see also that by the dissolution of foreign examples, the licentiousness of the youth around them, and the great temptations of the city, their children were becoming a prey to the great adversary of their souls, were tempted to join the army, to embark on dangerous voyages, and engage in vicious courses, so that they had reason to fear a degenerate posterity, and religion dying among them. God made them to note with grief the great and constant profanation of the Sabbath around them, and that all their efforts to stop the tide of immorality were unavailing. They desired a Christian Sabbath, they desired English laws, the English language, English manners, and an English home and education for their children. These thoughts and anxieties God caused to burn within them.
Above all, God suggested and excited in their hearts, what was at that day a peculiarity and a marvel of Christian experience, and a prophecy of the missionary spirit that should come, “an inward zeal and great hope,” in the language of Governor Bradford, “ of laying some good foundation, or at least to make some way thereunto, for the propagating and advancing the gospel of the Kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea, though they should be as stepping stones unto others for the performing of so great a work.” Their first motive in getting out of Egypt had been, as it were, simply a three days'