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choice of their settlement, they would probably have stopped there, and the swift commercial growth that would thence have succeeded the enterprise would not have been favorable to the growth of a deep-set piety, the fixtures of stern, difficult, Puritan virtue in the character. Like New England soil itself, there must be a granite basis first, and then a sturdy, vigorous loam to last for many generations. So the settlement and growth of the Pilgrim colonies was at first slow, difficult, painful; but so much the more rapid, unprecedented, and successful afterwards. It was a native growth. If there had been such a thing as steam communication then between England and America, there would never have been a New England on this continent, as the example of social, commercial, and religious virtue and happiness for the world. Let us be thankful to God that he kept the ocean between us and Europe for two hundred years, before he lessened the distance or the difficulty of its navigation, or permitted the tide of an ignorant and vicious emigration to set with such fury upon us, as would have destroyed our infant institutions in the bud.
INSTRUCTIVE DISCIPLINE OF THE PILGRIM CHURCH AT AMSTER
DAM.-_ORIGINAL ORDER AND BEAUTY OF THE CHURCHES
THERE.—EVILS OF DISSENSION, AND OF MINUTE LEGISLATION.—THE FORBEARING AND KINDLY SPIRIT OF THE PIL
TOGETHER with Robinson and Brewsten there is mention in Governor Bradford's writings of a grave and fatherly old man, having a great white beard ; a sound, orthodos, reverend old man, who had converted many to God by his faithful and painstaking ministry, both in preaching and catechizing. This was Mr. Richard Clifton, one of the earliest members in that Congregational Church in the North of England, of which Mr. Robinson was chosen the Pastor. Mr. Clifton accompanied the Church in its exile to Amsterdam, but on account of his great age did not remove with it from Amsterdam to Leyden, but took his dismission from them to join the Church in Amsterdam. In that church there were at one time about three hundred communicants, under the care of two eminent men as their Pastor and Teacher, Mr. Johnson and Mr. Ainsworth. In the time of their beauty and order, before the canker of division and bitterness, they were a flourishing church, having “four grave men for ruling elders, and three able and godly men for deacons, and one ancient widow for deaconess, who did them service many years, though she was sixty years
when she was chosen. She honoured her place, and was an ornament to the congregation.”
The Leyden Church does not seem to have kept up any such office or service as this latter. The notice of it by Gov. Bradford is very curious, reminding one of the pictures in Shenstone's Schoolmistress.
Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow,
And steadfast hate, and sharp affliction joined,
Here oft the dame, on Sabbath's decent eve,
All for the nonce untuning every string,
For she was just, and friend to virtuous lore,
And many a saint in smouldering flames did burn;
Right well she knew each temper to descry,
Even absent she the reins of power doth hold,
Forewarned, if little bird their pranks behold,
Lo, now with state she utters her command,
On which thilk wight that has ygazing been
Not unlike this must have been the character of the venerable deaconess, in whose rule as a Mother in Israel, with maidens and young women, among the poor and sick, or by birchen rod, and on Bench of State, among the children, in time of public worship, there was not a little of the simplicity of primitive discipline. She was a mild
. reflection to the urchins of that day, of the image of the old-fashioned Connecticut Tythingmen.
“She usually sat in a convenient place in the congregation," says Gov. Bradford, “with a little birchen rod in her hand, and kept little children in great awe from disturbing the congregation. She did frequently visit the sick and weak, especially women, and as there was need called out maids and young women to watch, and do them other helps as their necessity did require; and if they were poor, she would gather relief for them of those who were able, or acquaint the deacons: and she was obeyed as a mother in Israel and an officer of Christ."
There are such mothers in Israel still, by virtue of deep and well-known piety, and old experience, but without the title and distinction of office. The reality of deaconesses has not passed out of the churches, although the office has. Yet now in some parts of the modern Evangelical Church efforts are making to revive it.
But notwithstanding all this beauty and order in the church at Amsterdam, the spirit of discord broke out among them, and in such a way that one is inclined to think that the providence of God led the Pilgrim Church with Robinson and Brewster to Amsterdam first, that by the example of such ruinous dissensions from little causes before them, they might hate and vigilantly avoid the same; that they might love peace above all other things except the truth, and that they might ever be charitable and yielding in little and indifferent things, and might seek the things which make for peace, and those whereby one might edify another. This they did, remarkably, being an eminent example of uninterrupted love, kindness, disinterestedness, freedom, liberality, and concord with one another. We cannot doubt that their sojourn at Amsterdam, and the melancholy example of the fire of contention there, with the still older and more sadly instructive case at Frankfort, was of great benefit to them ; it admonished them of the ways in which Satan, if permitted, would get an advantage over them ; it made them acquainted with his devices, and put them on their guard against the spirit of envy, jealousy, censoriousness, and bitterness in their own hearts, that if they found it working they might at once, by the help of Christ's grace, cast it out. The beautiful, apostolic, gentle, and heavenly tenor of Robinson's instructions on these points, and the frequency with which he repeated them, and dwelt upon them, and warned his dear flock, both at Leyden, and in the wilderness, to be on their defence and to guard unceasingly against the spirit of self-prejudice, self-opinion, self-seeking, self-obstinacy in every way, and to be kindly and forbearing in regard to the humors, peculiarities, and causes of minor offence, which they might see in others, grew much out of his experience there; and out of God's discipline and grace, teaching him to flee from discussion and contention about minute rules, and things indifferent, and pets of private opinion,