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INTRODUCTION.



AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT PLYMOUTH, IN

NEW ENGLAND, AS FOLLOWETH.i

It is well known to the godly and judicious, how intr.
that ever since the first breaking out of the light of the
Gospel in our honorable nation of England, — which
was the first of nations whom the Lord adorned there-
with, after that gross darkness of Popery, which had
covered and overspread the Christian world, — what
wars and oppositions ever since Satan hath raised,
maintained, and continued against the saints from time
to time, in one sort or other ; sometimes by bloody
death and cruel torments, otherwhiles imprisonments,
banishments, and other hard usages ; as being loth his
kingdom should go down, the truth prevail, and the
churches of God revert to their ancient purity, and
recover their primitive order, liberty, and beauty. But
when he could not prevail by these means against the
main truths of the Gospel, but that they began to take
footing in many places, being watered with the blood
of the martyrs and blessed from heaven with a gracious

* This was originally penned by Mr. William Bradford, Governor of
New Plymoulh. — Morton's Note.



8 INTRODUCTION.

INTR. increase ; he then began to take him to his ancient
stratagems, used of old against the first Christians ;
that when by the bloody and barbarousness ' of the
heathen emperor he could not stop and subvert the
course of the Gospel, but that it speedily overspread
with a wonderful celerity to the then best known parts
of the world, he then began to sow errors, heresies,
and wonderful desertions amongst the professors them-
selves, working upon their pride and ambition, with
other corrupt passions incident to all mortal men, yea
to the saints themselves in some measure ; by which
woful effects followed, as not only bitter contentions
and heart-burnings, schisms, with other horrible con-
fusions, but Satan took occasion and advantage thereby
to foist in a number of vile ceremonies, with many
unprofitable canons and decrees, which have since been
as snares to many peaceable poor souls even to this
day ; so, as in the ancient times the persecution by
the heathen and their emperors was not greater than
of the Christians, one against another, the Arians' and
other their accomplices' against the orthodox and true
Christians (as witnesseth Socrates in his second book,
saith he) " was no less than that of old practised to-
wards the Christians when they were compelled and
drawn to sacrifice to idols ; for many endured sundry
kinds of torments, others racking, and dismembering
of their joints, confiscating of their goods, some be-
reaved of their native soil, others departed this life
under the hands of the tormentor, and some died in
banishment, and never saw their country again." ^
The like method Satan hath seemed to hold in these

1 So in the MS. ^ Eccles. Hist. lib. ii. cap. 27.



INTRODUCTION. 9

latter times, since the truth began to spring and spread intr.
after the great defection made by Antichrist, the Man
of Sin. For to let pass the many examples in sundry
nations, in several places of the world, and instances
of our own, whenas the old serpent could not prevail by
those fiery flames, and other his cruel tragedies, which
he by his instruments put in ure every where in the
days of Queen Marv and before, he then began another 15 53

to

kind of war, and went more closely to work, not only i5 58.
to oppugn, but even to ruinate and destroy the kingdom
of Christ by more secret and subtile means, by kind-
ling the flames of contention and sow^ing the seeds of
discord and bitter enmity amongst the professors and
seeming: reformed themselves. For when he could not
prevail by the former means against the principal doc-
trines of faith, he bent his force against the holy disci-
pline and outward regiment of the kingdom of Christ,
by which those holy doctrines should be confirmed, and
true piety maintained amongst the saints and people
of God.

Mr. Fox recordeth how that, besides those worthy
martyrs and confessors which were burned in Queen
Mary's days and otherwise tormented, many, both stu-
dents and others, fled out of the land, to the number 1554.
of eight hundred, and became several congregations at
Wesel, Frankfort, Basle, Emden, Marburg, Strasburg,
and Geneva, &c.^ Amongst whom, especially those
at Frankfort, began a bitter war of contention and per- 1555.
secution about the ceremonies and service book, and
other popish and antichristian stuff, the plague of Eng-
land to this day, which are like the high places in

• Fox, Acts and Monuments, iii. iii. 146, and Fuller's Ch. Hist, of
40. See also Strype's Memorials, Britain, ii. 405.

2



10 INTRODUCTION.

iJNTR. Israel which the prophets cried out against, and were
their ruin ; which the better part sought, according to
the purity of the Gospel, to root out and utterly de-
stroy, and the other part, under veiled pretences, for
their own ends and advancement, sought as stiffly to
continue, maintain, and defend ; as appeareth by the
Discourse thereof published in print anno 1575, a book
that deserves better to be known and considered than
it is.^ The one side labored to have the right worship
of God and discipline of Christ established in the
church according to the simplicity of the Gospel, with-
out the mixture of men's inventions, and to have and
to be ruled by the laws of God's word, dispensed in
those offices and by those officers of pastors and teach-
ers and elders, according to the Scriptures. The other
party, though under many colors and pretences, en-
deavoured to have the episcopal dignity, after the popish
manner, with their large power and jurisdiction, still
retained, with all those court canons and ceremonies,
together with all such livings, revenues, and subordinate
officers, with other such means as formerly upheld their
antichristian greatness, and enabled them with lordly
and tyrannous power to persecute the poor servants of
God.



' This work is entitled, " A Brief the view and consideration of the
Discourse of the Troubles begun at most Honorable and High Court of
Frankfort, in Germany, anno Domi- Parliament, and the reverend di-
ni 1554, about the Book of Common vines of the intended ensuing As-
Prayer and Ceremonies, and contin- sembly." Hallam says, in his Con-
ned by the Englishmen there to the stitutional History of England,
end of Queen Mary's reign ; in the chap, iv., that " this tract is fairly
which Discourse the gentle reader and temperately written, though
shall see the very original and be- with an avowed bias towards the
ginning of all the contention that Puritan party. Whatever we read
hath been, and what was the cause in any historian on the subject, is
of the same. 1575." The place derived from this authority." Both
where it was printed is not men- editions of this rare book are in the
tioned. It was reprinted at London Library of the Massachusetts His-
in 1642, and "humbly presented to torical Society.



INTRODUCTION.



11



This contention was so great, as neither the honor intr.
of God, the common persecution, nor the mediation of
Mr. Calvin and other worthies of the Lord in those
places, could prevail with those thus episcopally mind-
ed ; but they proceeded by all means to disturb the
peace of this poor persecuted church, so far as to charge
very unjustly and ungodlily (yet prelate like) some of
their chief opposers with rebellion and high treason
against the Emperor, and other such crimes.^ And
this contention died not wilh Queen Mary, nor was 1558.
left beyond the seas. But at her death, these people 7J'
returning into England, under gracious Queen Eliza-
beth, many of them preserved aspired to bishoprics and
other promotions,^ according to their aims and desires ;



' Calvin, in his letter of Jan. 20,
1555, addressed to John Knox and
William Whittinghaoi, at Frank-
fort, says, " In the liturgy of Eng-
land I see that there were many
tolerable foolish things ; by these
words I mean that there was not
the purity which was to be desired.
These vices, though they could not
at the first day be amended, yet,
seeing there was no manifest im-
piety, they were for a season to be
tolerated. Therefore it was lawful
to begin of such rudiments or abece-
daries ; but so that it behooved the
learned, grave, and godly ministers
of Christ to enterprise farther, and
to set forth something more filed
from rust, and piwer. If godly reli-
gion had flourished till this day in
England, there ought to have been
a thing better corrected, and many
things clean taken away. I cannot
tell what they mean which so great-
ly delight in the leavings of popish
dregs." Knox was soon after ac-
cused of treason before the magis-
trates of Frankfort by some of the
opposite party, on the ground of
certain passages in a book of his,
entitled An Admonition to Chris-



tians, in which he called the em-
peror of Germany " no less an
enemy to Christ than was Nero;"
in consequence of which he was
obliged to leave the city. See Dis-
course of the Troubles of Frank-
fort, pp. 35 and 44, ed. of 1575, and
Fuller's Ch. Hist. ii. 411.

* See in Prince's Annals, p. 288,
a list of those who were thus pro-
moted. It is a just remark of Hal-
lam, i. 188. that the objections to
the church ceremonies and the cleri-
cal vestments "were by no means
confined, as is perpetually insinu-
ated, to a few discontented persons.
The most eminent churchmen, such
as Jewel, Grindal, Sandys, Nowell,
were in favor of leaving off the sur-
plice and what were called the
popish ceremonies. The current
opinion that these scruples were
imbibed during the banishment of
the reformers, mast be received
wilh great allowance. The dislike
to some parts of the Anglican ritual
had begun at home, it had broken
out at Frankfort, it is displayed in
all the early documents of Eliza-
beth's reign by the English divines,
far more warmly than by their Swiss



12 INTKODUCTION.

iNTR. SO that inveterate hatred against the holy discipline of
Christ in his church hath continued to this day ; inso-
much that, for fear it should prevail, all plots and devices
have been used to keep it out, incensing the Queen
and State against it as dano;erous to her commonwealth ;
and that it was most needful for the fundamental points
of religion should be preached in those ignorant and
superstitious times, and to win the weak and ignorant,
they might retain divers harmless ceremonies ; and
though it were to be wished that divers thing^s were
reformed, yet this was not a season for it ; and many
the like, to stop the mouths of the more godly, to bring
them on to yield to one ceremonv after another and
one corruption after another ; by these ways beguiling
• some and corrupting others, until at length they began
to persecute all the zealous professors in the land, (al-
though they knew little what this discipline meant),
both by word and deed, if they would not submit to
their ceremonies and become slaves to them and their
popish trash, which have no ground in the word of
God, but are relics of the Man of Sin. And the more
the light of the Gospel grew, the more they urged their
subscriptions to these corruptions, so as notwithstanding
all their former pretences and fair colors, they whose
eyes God had not justly blinded might easily see
whereto these things tended. And to cast contempt
the more upon the sincere servants of God, they oppro-
briously and most injuriously gave unto and imposed

15 64. upon them that name of Puritans,' which is said the

correspondents. The queen alone origin and growth of Puritanism in

was the cause of retaining those ob- England, will be found in Prince's

servances, to which the great sepa- Annals, p. 282-307, and Bancroft's

ration from the Anglican establish- Hist, of the United States, i. 278.

ment is ascribed." The most con- ' The era of the English Puri-

cise and accurate account of the tans properly begins in 1550, when



INTRODUCTION.



13



Novatians, out of pride, did assume and take unto intr.
themselves.' And lamentable it is to see the effects ^^"^'
which have followed. Religion hath been disgraced, the
godly grieved, afflicted, persecuted, and many exiled ;
sundry have lost their lives in prisons and other ways.
On the other hand, sin hath been countenanced, igno-
rance, profaneness and atheism increased, the Papists
encouraged to hope again for a day.

This made that holy man Mr. Perkins cry out in his
Exhortation unto Repentance, on Zephaniah ii, " Re-
ligion," saith he, " hath been amongst us this thirty-



Hooper refused, for a time, to be
consecrated in the ecclesiastical
habits. But in the year 1564, " the
Enelish bishops,'' says Fuller, "con-
ceiving themselves empowered by
their canons, began to show their
authority in urging the clergy of
their respective dioceses to subscribe
to the liturgy, ceremonies, and dis-
cipline of the Church; and such as
refused the same were branded with
the odious name of Puritans. We
need not speak of the ancient Ca-
thari, or primitive Puritans, suffi-
ciently known by their heretical
opinions. ' Puritan ' here was taken
for the opposers of the hierarchy
and church-service, as resenting of
superstition. But profane mouths
quickly improved this nickname,
therewith on every occasion to
abuse pious people ; some of them
so far from opposing the liturgy,
that they endeavoured (according
to the instructions thereof m the
preparative to the Confession) ' to
accompany the minister with a pure
heart,' and labored (as it is in the
Absolution) 'for a life pure and
holy.' " An old writer of the
Church of England, quoted by
Prince, says, " they are called Pu-
ritans who would have the Church
thoroughly reformed ; that is, purged
from all those inventions which
Kave been brought into it since the



age of the Apostles, and reduced
entirely to the Scripture pvriti/."
See Fuller's Ch. Hist. ii. 3^1. 474;
Strype's Annals, i. 459-463 ; Cam-
den's Elizabeth, p. 107; Prince, pp.
100, 283; Neal's Puritans, i. 46, 72,
91. (4to ed.)

' " Novatus, a presbyter of the
church of Rome, being puffed up
with pride against those who in the
times of persecution had lapsed
through infirmity of mind, as if
there were no further hope of salva-
tion for them, although they per-
formed all things appertaining to an
unfeigned conversion and a sincere
confession, constituted himself the
ringleaderof a peculiar sect, of those
w'ho by reason of their haughty
minds styled themselves Cathari,
that is, the Pure^ Eusebius, Ec-
cles. Hist. lib. vi. cap. 43. His
excessive rigor towards the lapsed
appears to have been the only heresy
of Novatus ; and it is quite as likely
that the name of Puritan was fas-
tened upon his followers in derision
and reproach as that they assumed
it of themselves; as we know was
the case with the modern Quakers
and Methodists. For an account
of Novatus and his opinions, see
Lardner's Credibility, part ii. ch.
47 ; Mosheim, de Rebus Christiano-
rum ante Const. Magn. Comment.
512-527; Jackson's Nova tian,Praef.



14 INTRODUCTION.

iNTR. five years. But the more it is published, the more it
is contemned and reproached of many, &c. Thus not
profaneness nor wickedness, but religion itself is a by-
word, a mocking-stock, and matter of reproach ; so that
in England at this day, the man or woman that begins
to profess religion and to serve God, must resolve with
himself to sustain mocks and injuries, even as though
he lived amongst the enemies of religion ; and this
common experience hath been too apparent." '

But before I pass on, I cannot omit an observation
worthy to be noted, which was observed by the author,
viz. Mr. William Bradford, as followeth.

Saith he : Full little did I think that the downfall
of the bishops, with their courts, canons, and ceremo-
nies, had been so near when I first began this writing,
which was about the year 1630, and so pieced at leisure
times afterwards, or that I should have lived to have
seen or heard of the same.^ But it is the Lord's doing,
^^^\'3 and ought to be marvellous in our eyes. " Every plant
which mine heavenly father hath not planted," saith
our Saviour, " shall be rooted up."^ " I have snared

' Works, vol. iii. p. 421, ed. 1613. his older age he altered his voice,
William Perkins lived in ihe reign and remitied much of his former
of Elizabeth, was a fellow of Christ's rigidness, often professing that to
College, Cambridge, and a Puritan preach mercy was the proper office
Nonconformist. He was a strict of the ministers of the gospel."
Calvinist, and had a controversy ' Charles I. was beheaded and
with Arminius. His writings were the church establishment over-
held in high esteem by the fathers thrown in 1649.
of New England. Fuller says, in ^ The version of the Bible here
his Life of him in the Holy State, quoted, and subsequently, is the
that " he would pronounce the word one which was made by the Eng-
damn with such an emphasis as left lish exiles at Geneva, in the reign
a doleful echo in his auditors' ears of Queen Mary. It was first printed
a good while after. And when in 1560, and was so highly esteemed,
catechist of Christ's College, in ex- particularly on account of its notes,
pounding the commandments, ap- that it passed through thirty edi-
plied them so home, able almost to tions. King James appears to have
make his hearers' hearts fall down, had a special dislike of it ; for in
and hairs to stand upright, But in the Conference at Hampton Court



INTRODUCTION. 15

thee, and thou art taken, O Babel, (bishops) and thou intr.
wast not aware : thou art found and also caught, ,

a ' Jer. 1.

because thou hast striven against the Lord." But will "^^'
they needs strive against the truth, against the servants
of the Lord, what ! and against the Lord himself ?
Do they provoke the Lord to anger ? Are they stronger ^^^■''•
than he ? No, no, they have met with their match.
Behold, I come against thee, O proud men, saith the -""f'-
Lord God of hosts ; for thy day is coming, even the
time that I will visit thee. May not the people of God
now say, and these poor people among the rest, The
Lord hath brought forth our righteousness : come, let "'Yo.'''
us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God.
Let all flesh be still before the Lord, for he is raised ^"13;"'
up out of his holy place.*

This poor people may say among the thousands of
Israel, When the Lord brought again the captivity of crxvi""i.
Zion, we were like them that dream. The Lord hath vs. 3.
done great things for us, whereof we rejoice. They
that sow in tears shall reap in joy. They went weep- vss.5,6.
ing and carried precious seed ; but they shall return
with joy, and bring their sheaves.

Do ye not now see the fruits of your labors, O all
ye servants of the Lord that have suffered for his truth.



"he professed that he could never Annals, i. 229; Troubles at Frank-
yet see a Bible well translated in fort, p. 192; Barlow's Sum and
English ; but the worst of all his Substance of the Conference at
Majesty thought the Geneva lobe." Hampton Court, p. 46; Strype's
This opinion of the royal pedant Life of Abp. Parker, 205; Fuller's
would not lower it in the estimation Ch. Hist. iii. 182,247.
of our fathers, who used it in Eng- ' This elevation of spirit was a
land and Holland, and brought it considerable time after the first pen-
with them to this country. King ning of these writings, but here en-
James's version, which was first tered because of the suitableness of
printed in 1611, had hardly got into the matter going before it. — Mor-
common use in England when they ton^s Note.
came over in 1620. See Strype's



16 INTRODUCTION.

INTR. and have been faithful witnesses of the same ? And
ve little handful amongst the rest, the least amongst
the thousands of Israel ? You have not had a seed-
time, but many of you have seen a joyful harvest.
Should ye not then rejoice, yea, again rejoice, and

xix.7,"2. say, Hallelujah ! salvation, and glory, and honor, and
powder, be to the Lord our God ; for true and righteous
are his judgments.

But thou wilt ask, What is the matter ? What is
done ? — Why, art thou a stranger in Israel, that thou
shouldest not know what is done ? Are not those

%^.T' Jebusites overcome, that have vexed the people of Israel
so long, even holding Jerusalem even until David's
days, and been as thorns in their sides for many ages,
and now began to scorn that not any David should
meddle with them ; they began to fortify their tower,
as that of the old Babylonians. But these proud Ana-
kims are now thrown down, and their glory laid in the
dust. The tyrannous bishops are ejected, their courts
dissolved, their canons forceless, their service-books
cashiered, their ceremonies useless and despised, their
plots for Popery prevented, and all their superstitions
discarded, and returned to Rome, from whence they
came ; and the monuments of idolatry rooted out of
the land, and the proud and profane supporters and
cruel defenders of these, as bloody papists, wicked
atheists, and their malignant consorts, marvellousiy
overthrown. And are not these great things? Who
can deny it ?

But who hath done it ? Even he that sitteth on the

xu!n. white horse, who is called Faithful and True, and
judgeth and fighteth righteously, whose garments are

»s. L3. dipped in blood, and his name was called The Word



INTRODUCTION. 17

of God ; for he shall rule them with a rod of iron ; for intr.
it is he that treadeth the wine-press of the fierceness
and wrath of Almighty God ; and he hath upon his gar-
ment and upon his thigh a name written, The King of
Kings and Lord of Lords. Hallelujah !

See how this holy man's spirit was elevated and his
heart raised up in praising of the Lord in consideration
of the downfall of the proud prelacy ; as he and many
more of the saints had good reason, who felt the smart
of their bitter and cruel tyranny ; who are, indeed, a
limb of Antichrist. And if the generality of the saints
had been thus sensible of this great and marvellous
work of God, possibly that proud hierarchy had not
got up so soon again as they have done, soon after this
good man's departure out of this world.' Nevertheless,
we doubt not but that God will bring them down in
his good time. For undoubtedly all those that will
not that the Lord Jesus should reign over them, but
instead thereof exercise an usurped lordly power over
the poor saints of God, shall be brought and slain
before him, and (without repentance) shall, together
with the beast and false prophet, be thrown into the xfCao.
lake burning with fire and brimstone. When Babylon
cometh into remembrance before God, then shall the
saints with the angel say, Thou art just and holy, ^W
because thou hast judged these things ; for they, (viz.
the whore of Rome and the prelates, their adherents,)
have shed the blood of the saints. Give them blood vs. e.
to drink ; for they are worthy.



'Gov. Bradford died May 9, 1657. Charles II. was restored and
l^piscopacy reestablished in 1660.



18 INTRODUCTION.

iNTR. The exordium being concluded, I shall come more

^^^ nearer my intended purpose, viz. in reference unto the

Church of Christ at Plymouth in New England, first

begun in Old England, and carried on in Holland and

at Plymouth aforesaid.



CHAPTER I.



OF THE FIRST BEGINNINGS OF THIS CHURCH AND PEOPLE.

When, by the travail and diligence of some godly chap.
and zealous preachers, and God's blessing on their -^-^^^
labors, as in other places of the land, so in the north ^^jP/'"
parts, many became enlightened by the word of God,
and had their ignorance and sins discovered by the
word of God's grace, and began, by his grace, to re-
form their lives and make conscience of their ways,
the work of God was no sooner manifest in them, but
presently they were both scoffed and scorned by the
profane multitude, and the ministers urged with the
yoke of subscription,^ or else must be silenced ; and
the poor people were so urged with apparitors and pur-
suivants and the Commission Courts,^ as truly their

' Subscription to the book of com- persons, twelve of whom were

mon prayer, the rites and ceremo- bishops, many more privy counsel-

nies, and all the thirty-nine articles, lors, and the rest clergymen or civi-

See Fuller, iii. 68 ; Prince, p. 99. lians. Its spirit and mode of pro-

* This was the celebrated Court ceeding seem to have been derived
of High Commission, so called be- from the Spanish Inquisition. The



Online LibraryAlexander YoungChronicles of the Pilgrim fathers of the colony of Plymouth, from 1602-1625 → online text (page 2 of 44)