John Allyn.

A sermon delivered at Plimouth, December 22, 1801, commemorative of the pious ancestry, who first imigrated [!] to that place, 1620 online

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Online LibraryJohn AllynA sermon delivered at Plimouth, December 22, 1801, commemorative of the pious ancestry, who first imigrated [!] to that place, 1620 → online text (page 4 of 18)
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understanding, nor fa^uour to men of skill. Eccl. ix. 11.
Let us sing unto the Lord a 7ie'iv song, for he hath done
marvellous things ; his right hand and his holy arm
hath gotten us the v ictory . The L ord hath made known
his sahation : his righteousness hath he openly shewed
in the sight of the heathen. Psal. xcviii. 1, 2.

2. Let us consider, whether we have not, as a peo-
ple, been rebellious against God, under the reception
of his favoufs. Can we compare With Our forefa-
thers ? If \^'e attempt it, shall we not be found wanting ?
Are we as conscientious in observing the Lord's
day f Are we as careful to give God the hours, which
he has consecrated to himself ? Are we disposed to
keep holy time in a holy manner ; and call the Sab-
bath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable, and
honour him, not doing our own ways, nor finding our
own pleasure, nor speaking our o%vn words ? Isaiah Iviii,

Are we as watchful and prayerful ; as careful to
support family and closet religion, and as anxious to
train up our children in the nurture and admonition of
the Lord? Do we live in the fear of the Lord all the
day long? Do we feel our dependence on God?
Do we realize our accountability to the Searcher of all


hearts f Do we acknowledge God in all our ways,
that he may direct our steps for us. Do we strive to
'adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, by a well or.
dered life and conversation ? So did our forefathers.

Doctor Mather writes, that for many years after our
fathers came to this country, it was a rare thing to find \
a prayeriess family ; but now are there not many in 3c
every place to be found, who are heads of families,
that cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God ?

How is the gold become dim, and the most fine
gold changed, in this respect !

Are we as anxious to spread the gospel among the
destitute, as were our forefathers ? The cause of
Christ lay near their hearts. They had good will to
men. They knew from the Bible and their own ex-
perience, that mankind were in a lost state by nature.
They realized a judgment to come. Heiven and hell
were realities in their view. And life and immortali-
ty are -brought to light in the gospel. Hence, they ex-
erted themselves, to spread the knowledge of the
Lord ; that those, who were perishing for lack of vis-
ion, might be saved.

Have we become Christ's friends ? Have we devo^
ted our all to his service and glory ? Have we paid our
vows unto God? Have we improved our Lord's
money to the advancement of his kingdom ? Is it our
heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel, that they
might be saved ?

Are we as careful to promote a reformation in the
lives and morals of our kindred and citizens, as were
our ancestors ? Do we let our light shine before others,
that they, seeing our good works, may glorify our Fa-


ther, who is in heaven ? Do we exhort one another
daily, lest any be hardened through the deceitfulness
of sin ? Are we faithful in discharging relative duties ?
Are husbands and wives true helpmeets to each oth-
er, in prayer, and faith, and hope ? Are parents as
prayerful and laborious for their children's souls, as
their bodies ; their eternal interest, as for their world-
ly ? Are children obedjent, submissive, and aifection-
ate to their pai'ents ? Are masters compassionate and
-faithful to the jr servant^ ; and servants dutiful to their
masters? Are ministers as spiritual, evangelical, and
faithful, as formerly ? Are people as engaged to attend
to tlie word and ordinances of Christ, as in years and
months past? Ar-e magistrates as great fearers of
God, and haters of covetousness, as their worthy pre-
decessors ? Are subjects as n^uch terrified from evil
doings ; and as zealous to do well now, as a century
^go ? If we cannot answer in the affirmative, let us im-
mediately repent, and turn to God and our duty.

3. Let us feel the importance of contending earn-
estly for the faith, once delivered to the saints ; which
our forefathers, in a good degree, embraced and held

But let us receive the good counsel of pious Robin-
son to his people, when they were about to leave Hol-
land, and come to America ; "That they should ex-
pect greater light in the church, and ought not to be
divided from their brethren because they had different
degrees of light in divine things !" The apostle John
represents some Christians as little children, some
young men, some fathers. Should these brethren, of
different degrees of knowledge and gracCj be sepai'ated
from each other ? Should those who tliink themselves


Mier than others, turn their more weak and ignorant
brediren out of doors, because they have not arrived to
their stature? *' Nevertheless, whereto we have al-
ready attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us'
mind the same thing." Phil. iii. 16.

So fer as our forefathers followed Christ, so far we
should follow them. But we are commanded to
call no man Father on the earth ; for one is our Father
which is in heaven. Matt, xxiii. 18.

3But our forefathers believed the doctrines of grace ;
and they were the doctrines of the reformation. Lu-
ther, Melancthon and Calvin, and the other reformers,
were united in holding the same system of truth. The
^doctrines of divine sovereignty and decrees, predesti-
nation, election, reprobation ; total depravity of the
human will ; regeneration by the irresistible power of
the Spirit ; justification by faith alone, and that faith
the gift of God ; by grace, not of works, through the
atoning blood of Christ ; and the final perseverance
of the saints in holiness and good works to eternal life,
were doctrines believed and loved by the Reformers,
and our forefathers.

And as these doctrines are according to God's M^ord,
and promotive of true godliness, we should ever hold
tflfem precious. For these we should earnestly con-
tend. And if these truths have a proper effect on our
hearts, we shall exert ourselves for our children of the
rising generation ; that, by grace, they may be taught
to fear the Lord who has been our shield and defence.
Let the goodness and mercy of God to us and our fathers
influence us to keep his commands ; that the blessings
and privileges, transmitted to us, may be handed down,


by us, to the latest generation. Soon the little ones, now
coming on the stage of life, will take our possessions
and places in church and state. How important, then,
that they be trained up in the way they should go, that
when they are old, they may not depart from it. Then
they will keep this forefathers' day in a Christian man-
ner, and call us blessed. Then they will be good cit-
izens, God's friends, and a happy people.

And finally, having come out of spiritual Egypt,
the bondage of sin ; crossed the Red Sea of regenera-
tion ; travelled through the wilderness of this world ;
and passed the Jordan of death j we shall meet in the
promised Canaan of rest, where pious parents, who
meet their pious children, will say to the King, Here
are we, and the children thou hast given us#




In commemoration of the landing of our FoREFAfHERs in Ply-
mouth, -Dec. 22, 1630.

Ask thy Father and he will show thee. Moses.
The Lord hath done great things for us. Psalmist;

i. With sympathetic sway,
Commemorate the day,

Our fathers came j
From England's hostile shore,
By persecution sore,
Crimson'd with Martyr's gore,

They cross'd the main.

2. An asylum to seek,

They cross'd the raging deep,

Conscience their starj
By God's approving grace,
It aids them to this place,
In this drear wilderness.

God's name revere.

«^. By troubles drove from home)
Amid stern winter's gloom.

They landed here ;
No friend to give relief,
Or mitigate their grief,
But foes to mercy deaf.

With bow and spear.

4. They foes, nor dangers fear,
Nor winter's cold severe.

Nor death's cold hand,
That thin'd them off apace,
Nor godly Carver's death,
All could not shake their faith,

To quit the l^ixd.



5. Then while we tread the soil,
The blessings of their toil)

We'll not forget
The end for which they came,
To spread the gospel's fame,
While we enjoy the same,

God's praise repeat.

6. Sons of Columbia, join

To praise the hand divine;

Daughters rejoice ;
And as ye praise His name,
Sing our Forefathers' fame,
Who hither laid your claim ;

Loud raise ypur voice.

X. Tho' yonder silent tombs

Contain their mould'ring bones,

Their names yet live j
The wonders they have done
Shall go from son to son,
That people yet unborn

Shall sing fais praise.

P. B.





DECEMBER 22, I815y



First Landing of our Ancestors at that Place,


Minister of the church in the East"parlsh of Bridgewater.

Delivered and published at the <(|gpest of the gentlemen, com-
posing the committee of the town of Plymouth.


For Joseph Avery, Plymouth,




The reader is referrea, for a full and regular
detail of the historical facts alluded to in the
following Discourse, to the 2d volume of Amer-
ican Biography by the late Dr, Belknap*



WE have a goodly heritage. Ps. xvi. 6.

THE event, which we have assembled once more
to commemorate, is deeply interesting in itself,
highly instructive in the causes, which led to it, most
important in the consequences, which have resulted
from it, and is every way worthy to be ranked among
those signal achievements and remarkable epochs in
the history of nations, the remembrance of which
every civilized people has sought to perpetuate by
monuments, by painting,* by song, and the annual
observance of festive or religious rites, suited to the
character of the event to be celebrated. The landing
of the first fathers of New-England has high claims to
be gratefully and religiously remembered by every
successive generation of their descendants. It was the
dawn of a new day upon this new world. And, when
the christian pilgrims first set foot upon these shores,
we may imagine a voice to have been heard, perhaps
of the good angels, who had guarded them across the
deep, congratulating the solitary wilderness, and causing
it to resound with the accomplished prediction of the
prophet, " Arise, shine ; for thy light is come, and the
glory of the Lord is risen upon thee."

The rock, on which they first stepped, when they
took possession of this land, is, with reason, piously
• See Note A. at the end.


preserved and visited by their posterity, as an appropri-
ate monument of that event. It is to their posterity,
what the heap of stones upon the margin of Jordan was
to the children of the Israelites, a monument to remind
them of the wonders, which God wrought for their
fathers. It is also a fit memorial of their sufferings,
their toils and their virtues. It is not, indeed, covered
over with ostentatious records of what they endured, or
achieved. For they were not actuated by earthly ambi-
tion and vanity, like those military adventurers and con-
querors, who erect arches and pillars to their own
fame. They sought not glory from men, but *' the glo-
ry, which cometh from God only," and were ambitious
only of a " name written in the Lamb's book of life."
But if this rock bears no written record of the
names and achievements of these modest and much
enduring soldiers of the cross, it needs only to be touch-
ed by the magic wand of imagination and memory,
and, more miraculous than the effect produced upon the
rock in the wilderness by the rod of Moses, there is-
sues from it a fountain of instruction, of ancient and
affecting recollections ; it becomes animate and elo-
quent, and verifies the assertion of the poet, that there
may be " sermons in stones." We stand upon it,
and there opens to us, not indeed a vein of silver or
of gold, but of what is far more precious, a vein of
serious and pious meditation — a mine of solemn and
salutary reflection upon the days that are past, the
rapidity of the flight of time, the feebleness and tran^
sient existence of man, the successive generations, that
have gone before us, the origin, growth, revolutions,
and decay of nations, the changes of human opinions
and forms in government and religion, and the vanity
of all else, but virtue, piety, confidence in God, and
that " sure and certain hope" of immortality and

heaven, to which the sincere christian ** is begotten
again by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

These and a crowd of kindred ideas throng into the
mind when we contemplate the rock of the pilgrims^
and while, as at this time, we are assembled upon the
spot, which first afforded a resting place to the weary
voyagers, on which they first erected their domestic
altars, on which the first Bethel, in this land of idolaters,
was consecrated by christian rites, by a rational and
spiritual worship of the true God.

Sons, as we claim to be, of these ancient worthies,
and heirs of these renowned servants of God, let us
prove our claim of kindred, and right of inheritance to
be legitimate, by elevating our minds, while we at-
tempt to honour their memory, to that height of exalta-
tion above this world, that lofty standard of duty, and of
pure devotion to God and their Redeemer, v^•hich marked
their characters, and which distinguished the founders of
New-England, from those of every other commonwealth.

We do not, however, observe this solemnity
from a superstitious veneration of our fathers. Saints,
as they certainly were, and as worthy to be
canonized as any on the Roman calendar, yet we have
no faith in their power to help us in their present bright
abode. With us there is but one Mediator between
God and man. We would demonstrate our respect for
their characters, our admiration of their virtues, and
our gratitude for the *' goodly heritage," which has
come down from them to us, by often recurring to
their history with renewed interest, by recounting their
sufferings with a filial sympathy, by repeating their
eulogy with the honest pride of children, who would
thus learn to emulate the worth of their fathers, and,
who, having no cause to blush for them, would have
none to blush for themselves. We would thus, by

frequent contemplation of what was great and good in
their characters, hope to catch something of their spirit,
and to feel the influence of the sacred motives from
which they acted. We would hope, that being thus
often reminded of what it cost our fathers to transmit
to their children the " goodly heritage," which we
possess, we shall be the better able to appreciate its
value, and consequently be more impressed with our
obligations and inducements to transmit it, in our turn,
to our children, unimpaired, and undiminished in all
its rich immunities and blessings.

When we speak of the " goodly heritage," which
has come down to us from our fathers, we mean some-
thing more than the soil, that sustains our bodies —
something of higher value than " the goods and chat-
tels," which perish with the using, and which are con-
veyed by parchment from father to son. We mean
that which can be transmitted only from soul to soul —
the patrimony of mind, of sentiment, of principles ;
the character, spirit, examples, institutions, the laws and
privileges, the light, hopes and consolations of religion,
which, as heirs of the pilgrims, we inherit, as our

We will select, then, for our present contemplation,
a few particulars of our heritage, to which the occasion
most obviously points our attention. And while we
review the privileges of our descent from the pilgrims,
we will glance at the duties they impose, as the only
condition, on which we may hope still to enjoy and
to transmit them.

Not least among these privileges I reckon the
insructive history of the first fathers of New-
England. Their history, wc know, when re-
corded and given to the world, is the property of all,
who choose to study it. But it is ours in an appropri-
ate and peculiar sense, as it is the history of men, from

whom we are descended. And it is of so much more
value and importance to us, than general history, as
the records of a family are the more eagerly read, and
more readily remembered and referred to for examples
by the children of that family, than the annals of anoth-
er, to which they are drawn by no attraction of kin-
dred. While you have, perhaps, never had patience to
go, even for once, through the narrative of obscure
facts and absurd fictions relating to the first founders of
illustrious nations, now no more, and have even dozed
over the annals of the first planters of " the ancient do-
minion," you have often read or heard, with uiitlrlng
repetition and unabated keenness of interest, every
circumstance in the history of the persecuted pilgrims
of Plymouth. In the narrow bigotry and cruelty of
their persecutors, which exiled them from their homes,
and eventually to this place, you have often admired
the profound wisdom of God, which educes good from
evil, and makes the malignant passions of men subser-
vient to the accomplishment of the most beneficent
ends. You have followed them with sympathy from
their native fields. You have felt indignant at the
perfidy, which repeatedly betrayed and harassed them
in their escape to a land, where the rights of conscience
were respected. You have there shared in the bitter
regrets and pains of their hard " weaning from the del-
icate milk of their mother country." You have there,
too, enjoyed with them their triumphant vindication
from the slanders of their enemies, in the good name
and affection, which their blameless and christian de-
portment won from the generous people, who received'
them into their city. You have there learned what
should be a christian parent's chief solicitude for his
offspring, from their just concern and parental fears for
the morals and religion of their children, in a plaCf;


where the Sabbath was openly prophaned, and where
they were exposed to the enticements and infection of
vicious examples. You have seen these fears — coopera-
ting with other laudable motives, and still attracted by
that mysterious magnet, which attaches a virtuous peo-
ple to their parent country, even when thfey are suffering
from its injustice — determine them to quit their asylum
at Leyden, and to brave the perils of the deep, and all
the toils and privations of a new settlement in a distant
wilderness. You have been impressed with reverence,
and melted to tenderness at the unaffected dignity of
mind, the cordial union and mutual affection of their
little community, which mark their application to the
king for permission to set down, with liberty of con-
science, even upon the extreme verge of that circle,
within whose limits they might still claim the name and
privileges of Englishmen. You have been disgusted
at the royal littleness of soul, which instead of public*
assurance of protection, gave them only private promise
of connivance. You have felt the thrill of sublime
emotion at their heroic intrepidity, in resolving, with
such scant encouragement, to attempt their formidable
enterprise. You have accompanied them, with awe,
in their humble approaches, by fastings and prayers, to
the invisible Source of all their fortitude and unshrink-
ing energy of soul. You have bowed with them in
their last united act of solemn humiliation before God,
*' to seek of him a right way for themselves, and for
their little ones, and for all their substance." You have
wept with these affectionate pilgrims, when, embracing
for the last time, their beloved pastor and friends, who
were to remain, they parted from them with prayers
and many tears, committing themselves to the winds
and waves, and the protection of him, whom these
9bey. You have given them your sympathy in the



discouragements of their tedious and expensive delays,
and repeated returns into port after thtir voyage from
Enp:land had commenced ; in their perils by sea, and
in their joyful discovery of these shores. You have
joined in their thanksgivings to God for their safety.
You have assisted at their consultations, in forming
their simple republic, the model, in theory, of that
which has since grown out of our independence. You
have recognized in this compact the great objects of
their enterprize, and what should be the primary ends
of all government, "the glory of God, and the ad-
vancement of the christian faith" — *' the good order
and preservation of the body politic."* You have
accompanied the heads of this yet floating republic, with
a curiosity and an interest, scarcely exceeded by theirs,
in ail their excursions along the desolate coast, in
search of a place, where they might form " a city of
habitation." You have exulted with them in their
discovery of that quiet harbour, and this sheltered spot,
on which they, and you, and the generations tliat sleep
with them, have drank the portions allotted to each of
bitter and of sw^eet in the cup of existence. You have
paused with them, when first disembarked upon this
spot, to contrast, for a moment, what they had come
from, with what was before them. In the old world,
with an ocean between, they had left country, kindred,
home, the charms of their native fields, the scenes of
their first loves, a land of conveniences and plenty.
Before them, in the new, they beheld a wilderness, ^
winter of storms, the lurking savage with his shafts of
death, a doubtful subsistence, certain toil and suffering,
a prospect, which borrowed all the light it had from
regions beyond the grave. You deemed it no distrust

* See this compact drawn up and signed on board the May-flower.


in them of the goodness of their covenant God, ifthen^
*' Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them sooni'*

You have entered with them into their humble
shehers from the inclement elements, and have there
witnessed, with admiration and pity, the privations
and hardships they endured, with the patience and for-
titude of martyrs, " for conscience' sake." You have
mourned with them the melancholy ravages, which a
mortal sickness made in their little community. You
have watched in Carver, Bradford, Winslow, and
Standish, the developement and application of their
chciracteristic and diverse resources, suited to the dif-
ferent exigences and emergences of their indigent and
feeble commonwealth. You have, in short, pursued
with emotions various as their trials, their labours, their
talents, and their virtues, the career of these chief
builders and defenders of the colony, who wisely and
faithfully managed its temporal concerns, while the
meek and truly apostolic Brewster, preached to them
the words of eternal life — "allured" the whole "to
brighter worlds, and led the way."
. This history, then, is a valuable part of our inheri-
tance. It is a treasure of interesting and instructive
facts, — a repository of admirable lessons and examples.
it merits a place in every family, and to be read and
preserved with more scrupulous care than ever the
proudest son of nobility guarded the records of his
ancient lineage and titled descent. It is a proof of our
descent, not, indeed, from men ennobled by the breath
of kings, but from men, whose patent of nobility was
derived from their Creator. We should preserve and
teach it to our children for another reason ; that it may
serve for a memorial to us and them, as did the history
of the patriarchs to their children, that God wrought
such signal wonders for our fathers, that their posterity


after them, " might be a seed to seek and to serve him
in all generations."*

As another, we trust, imperishable portion of our
heritage from our fathers, we ought especially to notice
their principles of rehgious and political liberty. Those,
who have gone before me in this service, have so often
and minutely detailed to you these principles, that a
particular recital of them here would be a useless repe-
tition. It is well known to my auditors, that these
principles were the result of enlightened and correct
views of their unalienable rights, as christians, and as
men. In regard to religion, they maintained the grand
Protestant principle in all its just consequences ; that
the inspired scriptures are to be regarded as the only
repository of revealed truth, as the sole standard of
faith and practice, — that every man has a right to judge
for himself of their meaning ; — that the imposition of

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Online LibraryJohn AllynA sermon delivered at Plimouth, December 22, 1801, commemorative of the pious ancestry, who first imigrated [!] to that place, 1620 → online text (page 4 of 18)