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grave, seem to have vanished entirely from the minds of these men, supported by the worth and dignity of the design which they were combined to accomplish. Their hearts were knit to each other by community of generous purpose ; and they experienced none of those jealousies which invariably spring up in confederacies for ends merely selfish, among persons unequally qualified to promote the object of their association. Behind them, indeed, was the land of their fathers; but it had long since ceased to wear towards them a benign or paternal countenance; and in forsaking it, they fled from the prisons and scaffolds to which Christians and patriots were daily consigned. Before them lay a vast and dreary wilderness; but they hoped to irradiate its gloom, by kindling and preserving there the sacred fire of religion and liberty."*
This second colony came out beneath the authority of a charter, whereas the Plymouth colony had none. There was not, therefore, a second time transacted the august ceremony that passed in the cabin of the May Flower. One such self-constituting act of a free community was enough in the infancy of a nation.
But although the colony of Massachusetts was not compelled in the same manner with that of the Pilgrims of Plymouth to throw itself upon a voluntary compact as a body politic, yet precisely in the same way did God lead them also into their religious form as an independent church. The history of their various conferences with the Plymouth colony is deeply interesting. There was among the Pilgrims a physician of ability and intelligence, Dr. Fuller, who had been a deacon in the Pilgrim church in Leyden, and, of course, held the same office in the Pilgrim church at Plymouth. Early in 1629, Governor Endicott was compelled, by the sickness prevailing in the little company at Salem, to send to Governor Bradford for the services of Dr. Fuller. The doctor seems to have been a man of large education, and thoroughly grounded in the reason and practice of Congregationalism as it was established in Mr. Robinson's church. During his stay at Salem for the healing of the people, he had no little conference with Mr. Endicott concerning the discipline of that Church, and found his mind already strongly attracted towards it. The fruit of their conversations may be gathered from the friendly Christian letter of Mr. Endicott to Governor Bradford, of May 11th, 1629, which was as follows: “Right worshipful sir: It is a thing not usual, that servants to one master, and of the same household, should be strangers to one another. I assure you I desire it not; nay, to speak more plainly, I cannot be so to you. God's people are marked with one and the same mark, and have, for the main, one and the same heart, and are guided by one and the same spirit of Truth; and wheresoever this is, there can be no discord, nay, but a sweet harmony. And this same request with you I make to the Lord, that we, as Christian brethren, may be united by hearty and unfeigned love, bending all our hearts and forces in furthering a work which is beyond our strength, with reverence and fear, fastening our eyes always on Him that is only able to direct and prosper all our ways.
*Grahame's Colonial History, vol. i. 213
“I acknowledge myself most bound to you for your kind love and care in sending Mr. Fuller among us, and rejoice much that I am by him satisfied touching your judgments of the outer form of God's worship. It is as far as I can yet gather, no other than is warranted by the evidence of truth: and the same which I have preferred and maintained ever since the Lord in mercy revealed himself unto me; being far from the common report that hath been spread of you touching that particular : but God's children must not look for less here below, and it is a great mercy of God that He strengthens them to go through it."*
Meantime there had sailed from England, May 4th and May 11th, 1629, the three first ships for the Salem Colony,
* Governor Bradford's Letter Book.
“ being all three full of godly passengers, with the four ministers for the Massachusetts."* The ministers were Messrs. Skelton, Higginson, and Bright, the latter having been trained up under Mr. Davenport, and Mr. Smith, afterwards settled over the Pilgrim Church at Plymouth. They arrived June 24th, and now the first business which occupied the care of the Governor and the Colonists was the Covenant of the Church and the ordaining of its ministry. The 20th of July was appointed by the Governor as a day of solemn prayer with fasting, for the trial and choice of a Pastor and teacher. The forenoon they spent in prayer, and in witnessing the exercise of the gifts of the candidates in Teaching, and the afternoon in their examination and election, which issued in the choice of Mr. Skelton Pastor and Mr. Higginson Teacher. Upon their acceptance of the charge, Mr. Higginson, with three or four more of the gravest members of the church, laid their hands upon Mr. Skelton with solemn prayer, and then Mr. Skelton and some others performed the same ceremony with Mr. Higginson. They then appointed Thursday, the 6th of August, as another day of prayer and fasting for the choice and ordination of Elders and Deacons.
The same day the church were to enter into Covenant. They were thirty in number who were thus to be constituted or organized. Mr. Higginson drew up for them a Confession of Faith, and a Church Covenant, according to Scripture, of which thirty copies were written out, and one delivered to every member. The Church at Plymouth was invited to be present by their messengers, to give their advice and assistance in this important solemnity.
When the day came, they first listened to the sermons of the two ministers, together with the usual exercises of prayer. Then in the afternoon the Confession and Covenant were read in the public assembly, and solemnly by the members assumed. They then proceeded to the cere
* Prince, 184, 185.
mony of ordination, which was performed with prayer and the laying on of the hands of certain of the brethren appointed by the Church for that purpose. This they did with Mr. Skelton and Mr. Higginson, although they were both before ordained by Bishops in the Church of England. They were now ordained by those who chose them for their ministers. *
In the midst of these ceremonies, Governor Bradford and the other delegates from the Church of the Pilgrims at Plymouth presented themselves. They had set sail in good time from Plymouth, but had been detained by adverse winds; yet happily arrived in season to give the Right Hand of Fellowship to their sister church, and to unite with them in prayer and praise for God's blessing. This was a sacred and remarkable day. It was the first ceremony of the kind ever transacted on this Continent. In its simplicity and sole dependence upon Christ, it had a dignity and true grandeur, which could not be found in all the gorgeous array of pomp and circumstance borrowed in the English Establishment from the Romish Church.
And on what occasion of Hierarchical grandeur was there ever a form or a document made use of, to be compared in value or in beauty with the following admirable Covenant? We here present it as given in Mather's Magnalia ; the Covenant of the first Church of Christ ever organized in America. Not the first church ever in America, nor the first Independent or Congregational Church in New England; this last claim belongs to the Pilgrim Church at Plymouth, which was a church already in being and form, before its members landed from the May Flower; but the first church organized in New England was that church at Salem, in 1629. And the following is doubtless the first Church Covenant ever drawn up in America.
* Prince, 189, 191.---Mather's Magnalia, vol. i. 66.—Grahame's Colonial History, vol. i. 214, 215.
“ We covenant with our Lord, and one with another ; and we do bind ourselves in the presence of God, to walk together in all his ways, according as he is pleased 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 worship.
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 Christ, and to bear and forbear, give and forgive, as he has 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 weaknesses 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 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