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tolerable mischiefs attendant on spiritual despotism. It
was a shock to the hopes and the generous sentiments of
those who had looked to see one undivided body of a re-
formed church erected over against the medieval church.


from the corruptions of which they had revolted, when
they saw Protestantism go asunder into the several churches
of the Lutheran and the Reformed confessions ; there are
many even now to deplore it as a disastrous set-back to
the progress of the kingdom of Christ. But in the calm-
ness of our long retrospect it is easy for us to recognize
that whatever jurisdiction should have been established
over an undivided Protestant church would inevitably
have proved itself, in no long time, just such a yoke as
neither the men of that time nor their fathers had been
able to bear. Fifteen centuries of church history have not
been wasted if thereby the Christian people have learned
that the pursuit of Christian unity through administrative
or corporate or diplomatic union is following the wrong
road, and that the one Holy Cathohc Church is not the
corporation of saints, but their communion.

The new experiment of church life that was initiated in
the colonization of America is still in progress. The new
States were to be planted not only with diverse companies
from the Old World, but with all the definitely organized
sects by which the map of Christendom was at that time
variegated, to which should be added others of native ori-
gin. Notwithstanding successive " booms " now of one
and then of another, it was soon to become obvious to all
that no one of these mutually jealous sects was to have
any exclusive predominance, even over narrow precincts of
territory. The old-world state churches, which under the
rule, cnjtis regio ejus religio, had been supreme and exclu-
sive each in its jurisdiction, were to find themselves side
by side and mingled through the community on equal terms
with those over whom in the old country they had domi-
neered as dissenters, or whom perhaps they had even
persecuted as heretics or as Antichrist. Thus placed, they
were to be trained by the discipline of divine Providence



and by the grace of the Holy Spirit from persecution to
toleration, from toleration to mutual respect, and to coop-
eration in matters of common concern in the advancement
of the kingdom of Christ. What further remains to be
tried is the question whether, if not the sects, then the
Christian hearts in each sect, can be brought to take the
final step from mutual respect to mutual love, "that we
henceforth, speaking truth in love, may grow up in all things
into him, which is the head, even Christ; from whom
all the body fitly framed and knit together through that
which every joint supplieth, according to the working in
due measure of each several part, shall make the increase
of the body unto the building up of itself in love." Un-
less we must submit to those philosophers who forbid us
to find in history the evidences of final cause and provi-
dential design, we may surely look upon this as a worthy
possible solution of the mystery of Providence in the
planting of the church in America in almost its ultimate
stage of schism — that it is the purpose of its Head, out of
the mutual attrition of the sects, their disintegration and
comminution, to bring forth such a demonstration of the
unity and liberty of the children of God as the past ages
of church history have failed to show.

That mutual intolerance of differences in religious behef
which, in the seventeenth century, was, throughout Chris-
tendom, coextensive with religious earnestness had its im-
portant part to play in the colonization of America. Of
the persecutions and oppressions which gave direct impulse
to the earliest colonization of America, the most notable
are the following: (i) the persecution of the EngHsh Puri-
tans in the reigns of James I. and Charles I., ending with
the outbreak of the civil war in 1642 ; (2) the persecution of
the English Roman Catholics during the same period ; (3)
the persecution of the Enghsh Quakers during the twenty-


five years of Charles II. (1660-85); (4) the persecution
of the French Huguenots after the revocation of the Edict
of Nantes (1685) ; (5) the disabihties suffered by the Pres-
byterians of the north of Ireland after the English Revo-
lution (1688); (6) the ferocious ravaging of the region of
the Rhenish Palatinate by the armies of Louis XIV. in the
early years of the seventeenth century ; (7) the cruel ex-
pulsion of the Protestants of the archiepiscopal duchy of
Salzburg (1731).

Beyond dispute, the best and most potent elements in
the settlement of the seaboard colonies were the companies
of earnestly religious people who from time to time, under
severe compulsion for conscience' sake, came forth from
tlie Old World as involuntary emigrants. Cruel wars and
persecutions accompHshed a result in the advancement of
the kingdom of Christ which the authors of them never
intended. But not these agencies alone promoted the great
work. Peace, prosperity, wealth, and the hope of vv^ealth
had their part in it. The earliest successful enterprises of
colonization were indeed marked with the badge of Chris-
tianity, and among their promoters were men whose lan-
guage and deeds nobly evince the Christian spirit; but
the enterprises were impelled and directed by commercial
or patriotic considerations. The immense advantages that
were to accrue from them to the world through the wider
propagation of the gospel of Christ were not lost sight of
in the projecting and organizing of the expeditions, nor
were provisions for church and ministry omitted ; but these
were incidental, not primary.

This story of the divine preparations carried forward
through unconscious human agencies in different lands and
ages for the founding of the American church is a neces-
sary preamble to our history. The scene of the story is
now to be shifted to the other side of the sea.



There is sufficient evidence that the three Httle vessels
which on the 13th of May, 1607, were moored to the trees
on the bank of the James River brought to the soil of
America the germ of a Christian church. We may feel
constrained to accept only at a large discount the pious
official professions of King James I., and critically to
scrutinize many of the statements of that brilliant and
fascinating adventurer, Captain John Smith, whether con-
cerning his friends or concerning his enemies or concerning
himself. But the beauty and dignity of the Christian
character shine unmistakable in the life of the chaplain to
the expedition, the Rev. Robert Hunt, and all the more
radiantly for the dark and discouraging surroundings in
which his ministry was to be exercised.

For the company which Captain Smith and that famous
mariner, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold, had by many
months of labor and " many a forgotten pound " of ex-
pense succeeded in recruiting for the enterprise was made
up of most unhopeful material for the founding of a Chris-
tian colony. Those were the years of ignoble peace with
which the reign of James began ; and the glittering hopes
of gold might well attract some of the brave men who


had served by sea or land in the wars of EUzabeth. But
the last thirty years had furnished no instance of success,
and many of disastrous and sometimes tragical failure, in
like attempts — the enterprises of Humphrey Gilbert, of
Raleigh, of John White, of Gosnold himself, and of Pop-
ham and Gorges. Even brave men might hesitate to
volunteer for the forlorn hope of another experiment at

The little squadron had hardly set sail when the unfit-
ness of the emigrants for their work began to discover it-
self. Lying weather-bound within sight of home, " some
few, little better than atheists, of the greatest rank among
them," were busying themselves with scandalous imputa-
tions upon the chaplain, then lying dangerously ill in his
berth. All through the four months' passage by way of
the Canaries and the West India Islands discontents and
dissensions prevailed. Wingfield, who had been named
president of the colony, had Smith in irons, and at the
island of Nevis had the gallows set up for his execution
on a charge of conspiracy, when milder counsels prevailed,
and he was brought to Virginia, where he was tried and
acquitted and his adversary mulcted in damages.

Arrived at the place of settlement, the colonists set
about the work of building their houses, but found that
their total number of one hundred and five was made up
in the proportion of four carpenters to forty-eight " gentle-
men." Not inadequately provisioned for their work,- they
came repeatedly almost to perishing through their sheer
incapacity and unthrift, and their needless quarrels with
one another and with the Indians. In five months one
half of the company were dead. In January, 1608, eight
months from the landing, when the second expedition ar-
rived with reinforcements and supplies, only thirty-eight
were surviving out of the one hundred and five, and of


these the strongest were conspiring to seize the pinnace
and desert the settlement.

The newcomers were no better than the first. They
were chiefly " gentlemen " again, and goldsmiths, whose
duty was to discover and refine the quantities of gold that
the stockholders in the enterprise were resolved should
be found in Virginia, whether it was there or not. The
ship took back on her return trip a full cargo of worth-
less dirt.

Reinforcements continued to arrive every few months,
the quality of which it might be unfair to judge simply
from the disgusted complaints of Captain Smith. He
begs the Company to send but thirty honest laborers and
artisans, " rather than a thousand such as we have," and
reports the next ship-load as " fitter to breed a riot than
to found a colony." The wretched settlement became an
object of derision to the wits of London, and of sympa-
thetic interest to serious minds. The Company, reorgan-
ized under a new charter, was strengthened by the acces-
sion of some of the foremost men in England, including
four bishops, the Earl of Southampton, and Sir Francis
Bacon. Appeals were made to the Christian public in
behalf of an enterprise so full of promise of the furtherance
of the gospel. A fleet of nine ships was fitted out, carry-
ing more than five hundred emigrants, with ample sup-
plies. Captain Smith, representing what there was of
civil authority in the colony, had a brief struggle with
their turbulence, and recognized them as of the same sort
with the former companies, for the most part " poor gen-
tlemen, tradesmen, serving-men, hbertines, and such like,
ten times more fit to spoil a commonwealth than either
begin one or help to maintain one." When only part of
this expedition had arrived, Captain Smith departed for
England, disabled by an accidental wound, leaving a set-


tiement of nearly five hundred men, abundantly provi-
sioned. " It was not the will of God that the new state
should be formed of these materials." -^ In six months the
number of the colonists was reduced to sixty, and when
relief arrived it was reckoned that in ten days' longer delay
they would have perished to the last man. With one ac-
cord the wretched remnant of the colony, together with
the latest comers, deserted, without a tear of regret, the
scene of their misery. But their retreating vessels were
met and turned back from the mouth of the river by the
approaching ships of Lord de la Warr with emigrants and
supplies. Such were the first three unhappy and unhon-
ored years of the first Christian colony on the soil of the
United States.

One almost shrinks from being assured that this worth-
less crew, through all these years of suicidal crime and
folly, had been assiduous in religious duties. First under
an awning made of an old sail, seated upon logs, with a
rail nailed to two trees for a pulpit, afterward in a poor
shanty of a church, " that could neither well defend wind
nor rain," they " had daily common prayer morning and
evening, every Sunday two sermons, and every three
months the holy communion, till their minister died " ; and
after that " prayers daily, with an homily on Sundays,
two or three years, till more preachers came." The sturdy
and terrible resolution of Captain Smith, who in his
marches through the wilderness was wont to begin the
day with prayer and psalm, and was not unequal to the
duty, when it was laid on him, of giving Christian exhor-
tation as well as righteous punishment, and the gentle
Christian influence of the Rev. Robert Hunt, were the
salt that saved the colony from utterly perishing of its
vices. It was not many months before the frail body of

1 Bancroft, vol. i., p. 138.


the chaplain sank under the hardships of pioneer life ; he
is commemorated by his comrade, the captain, as " an
honest, religious, and courageous divine, during whose
life our factions were oft qualified, our wants and greatest
extremities so comforted that they seemed easy in com-
parison of what we endured after his memorable death."
When, in 1609, in a nobler spirit than that of mere com-
mercial enterprise, the reorganized Company, under the
new charter, was preparing the great reinforcement of five
hundred to go out under Lord de la Warr as governor of
the colony, counsel was taken with Abbot, the Puritan
Bishop of London, himself a member of the Virginia Com-
pany, and Richard Buck was selected as a worthy succes-
sor to Robert Hunt in the office of chaplain. Such he
proved himself. Sailing in advance of the governor, in the
ship with Sir Thomas Gates and Sir George Somers, and
wrecked with them off the Bermudas, he did not forget
his duty in the " plenty, peace, and ease " of that paradise.
The ship's bell was rescued from the wreck to ring for
morning and evening prayer, and for the two sermons
every Sunday. There were births and funerals and a
marriage in the shipwrecked company, and at length, when
their makeshift vessel was ready, they embarked for their
desired haven, there to find only the starving threescore
survivors of the colony. They gathered together, a piti-
able remnant, in the church, where Master Buck " made
a zealous and sorrowful prayer"; and at once, without
losing a day, they embarked for a last departure from Vir-
ginia, but were met at the mouth of the river by the tardy
ships of Lord de la Warr. The next morning, Sunday,
June 10, 16 10, Lord de la Warr landed at the fort, where
Gates had drawn up his forlorn platoon of starving men
to receive him. The governor fell on his knees in prayer,
then led the way to the church, and, after service and a


sermon from the chaplain, made an address, assuming
command of the colony.

Armed, under the new charter, with adequate authority,
the new governor was not slow in putting on the state of
a viceroy. Among his first cares was to provide for the
external dignity of worship. The church, a building sixty
feet by twenty-four, built long enough before to be now
in need of repairs, was put into good condition, and a brave
sight it was on Sundays to see the Governor, with the
Privy Council and the Lieutenant- General and the Admiral
and the Vice- Admiral and the Master of the Horse, together
with the body-guard of fifty halberdiers in fair red cloaks,
commanded by Captain Edward Brewster, assembled for
worship, the governor seated in the choir in a green vel-
vet chair, with a velvet cushion on a table before him.
Few things could have been better adapted to convince
the peculiar public of Jamestown that divine worship was
indeed a serious matter. There was something more than
the parade of government manifested by his lordship in
the few months of his reign; but the inauguration of
strong and effective control over the lazy, disorderly, and
seditious crowd to be dealt with at Jamestown was re-
served for his successor. Sir Thomas Dale, who arrived in
May, 161 1, in company with the Rev. Alexander Whit-
aker, the " apostle of Virginia."

It will not be possible for any to understand the rela-
tions of this colony to the state of parties in England
without distinctly recognizing that the Puritans were not
a party against the Church of England, but a party in the
Church of England. The Puritan party was the party of
reform, and was strong in a deep fervor of religious con-
viction widely diffused among people and clergy, and ex-
tending to the highest places of the nobility and the epis-
copate. The anti- Puritan party was the conservative or


reactionary party, strong in the vis incrticB, and in the
king's pig-headed prejudices and his monstrous conceit of
theological ability and supremacy in the church; strong
also in a considerable adhesion and zealous cooperation
from among his nominees, the bishops. The. religious
division was also a political one, the Puritans being known
as the party of the people, their antagonists as the court
party. The struggle of the Puritans (as distinguished
from the inconsiderable number of the Separatists) was
for the maintenance of their rights within the church ; the
effort of their adversaries, with the aid of the king's pre-
rogative, was to drive or harry them out of the church.
It is not to be understood that the two parties were as
yet organized as such and distinctly bounded; but the
two tendencies were plainly recognized, and the sympa-
thies of leading men in church or state were no secret...^

The Virginia Company was a Puritan corporation.^ As
such, its meetings and debates were the object of popular
interest and of the royal jealousy. Among its corporators
were the brothers Sandys, sons of the Puritan Archbisho])
of York, one of whom held the manor of Scrooby. Others
of the corporation were William Brewster, of Scrooby, and
his son Edward. In the fleet of Sir Thomas Gates, May,
1609, were noted Puritans, one of whom, Stephen Hop-
kins, " who had much knowledge in the Scriptures and
could reason well therein," was clerk to that " painful
preacher," but not strict conformist. Master Richard Bucl:.
The intimate and sometimes official relations of the Vi:"-

1 See the interesting demonstration of this point in articles by E. D. Neili
in " Hours at Home," vol. vi., pp. 22, 201.

Mr. Neill's various publications on the colonial history of Virginia an<l
Maryland are of the highest value and authority. They include : " The Eng-
lish Colonization of America During the Seventeenth Century"; " Histoi-
of the Virginia Company " ; " Virginia Vetusta" ; " Virginia Carolorum " :
" Terra Marise ; or, Threads of Maryland Colonial History " ; " The FounJ
ers of Maryland"; " Life of Patrick Copland."


ginia Company not only with leading representatives of
the Puritan party, but with the Pilgrims of Leyden, whom
they would gladly have received into their own colony,
are matter of history and of record. It admits of proof
that there was a steady purpose in the Company, so far as
it was not thwarted by the king and the bishops of the
court party, to hold their unruly and ill-assorted colony
under Puritan influences both of church and government.^
The fact throws light on the remoter as well as the nearer
history of Virginia. Especially it throws light on the
memorable administration of Sir Thomas Dale, which fol-
lowed hard upon the departure of Lord de la Warr and
his body-guard in red cloaks.

The Company had picked their man with care — " a man
of good conscience and knowledge in divinity," and a
soldier and disciplinarian proved in the wars of the Low
Countries — a very prototype of the great Cromwell. He
understood what manner of task he had undertaken, and
executed it without flinching. As a matter of course — it
was the way in that colony — there was a conspiracy against
his authority. There was no second conspiracy under him.
Punishment was inflicted on the ringleaders so swift, so
terrible, as to paralyze all future sedition. He put in force,
in the name of the Company, a code of '*' Laws, Divine,
Moral, and Martial," to which no parallel can be found in
the severest legislation of New England. An invaluable
service to the colony was the abolition of that demoraliz-
ing socialism that had been enforced on the colonists, by
which all their labor was to be devoted to the common
stock. He gave out land in severalty, and the laborer en-
joyed the fruits of his own industry and thrift, or suffered

1 It was customary for the Company, when a candidate was proposed for
a chaplaincy in the colony, to select a text for him and appoint a Sunday
and a church for a " trial sermon " from which they might judge of his qual-


the consequences of his laziness. The culture of tobacco
gave the colony a currency and a staple of export.

With Dale was associated as chaplain Alexander Whit-
aker, son of the author of the Calvinistic Lambeth
Articles, and brother of a Separatist preacher of London.
What was his position in relation to church parties is
shown by his letter to his cousin, the "arch-Puritan,"
William Gouge, written after three years' residence in
Virginia, urging that nonconformist clergymen should
come over to Virginia, where no question would be raised
on the subject of subscription or the surplice. What man-
ner of man and minister he was is proved by a noble rec-
ord of faithful work. He found a true workfellow in Dale.
When this statesmanlike and soldierly governor founded
his new city of Henrico up the river, and laid out across
the stream the suburb of Hope-in-Faith, defended by Fort
Charity and Fort Patience, he built there in sight from
his official residence the parsonage of the " apostle of Vir-
ginia." The course of Whitaker's ministry is described
by himself in a letter to a friend : " Every Sabbath day
we preach in the forenoon and catechise in the afternoon.
Every Saturday, at night, I exercise in Sir Thomas Dale's
house." But he and his fellow-clergymen did not labor
without aid, even in word and doctrine. When Mr. John
Rolfe was perplexed with questions of duty touching his
love for Pocahontas, it was to the old soldier, Dale, that
he brought his burden, seeking spiritual counsel. And
it was this " religious and vahant governor," as Whitaker
calls him, this " man of great knowledge in divinity, and
of a good conscience in all things," that " labored long to
ground the faith of Jesus Christ" in the Indian maiden,
and wrote concerning her, " Were it but for the gaining
of this one soul, I will think my time, toils, and present
stay well spent."


The progress of the gospel in reclaiming the unhappy
colony to Christian civilization varies with the varying
fortunes of contending parties in England. Energetic
efforts were made by the Company under Sandys, the friend
of Brewster, to send out worthy colonists ; and the deli-
cate task of finding young women of good character to
be shipped as wives to the settlers was undertaken con-
scientiously and successfully. Generous gifts of money
and land were contributed (although little came from them)
for the endowment of schools and a college for the promo-
tion of Christ's work among the white people and the red.
But the course of events on both sides of the sea may be
best illustrated by a narrative of personal incidents.

In the year 162 1, an East India Company's chaplain,
the Rev. Patrick Copland, who perhaps deserves the title
of the first English missionary in India, on his way back
from India met, probably at the Canaries, with ships bound
for Virginia with emigrants. Learning from these some-
thing of the needs of the plantation, he stirred up his fel-
low-passengers on the " Royal James," and raised the sum
of seventy pounds, which was paid to the treasurer of the
Virginia Company ; and, being increased by other gifts to
one hundred and twenty-five pounds, was, in consultation
with Mr. Copland, appropriated for a free school to be
called the " East India School."

The affairs of the colony were most promising. It was
growing in population and in wealth and in the institutions
of a Christian commonwealth. The territory was divided

Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconA history of American Christianity → online text (page 4 of 34)