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ministers of the gospel had been tardy, inconstant, and
scanty. At the time when the Dutch ministers were most
active in hindering the work of others, there were only four
of themselves in a vast territory with a rapidly increasing
population. The clearest sign of spiritual life in the first
generation of the colony is to be found in the righteous
quarrel of Domine Bogardus with the malignant Kieft,
and the large Christian brotherly kindness, the laborious
mission work among the Indians, and the long-sustained
pastoral faithfulness of Domine Megapolensis.

Doubtless there is a record in heaven of faithful living
and serving of many true disciples among this people,
whose names are unknown on earth ; but in writing history
it is only with earthly memorials that we have to do. The
records of the Dutch regime present few indications of
such religious activity on the part of the colonists as would
show that they regarded religion otherwise than as some-
thing to be imported from Holland at the expense of the

A studious and elegant writer, Mr. Douglas Campbell,
has presented in two ample and interesting volumes ^ the
evidence in favor of his thesis that the characteristic in-
stitutions established by the Puritans in New England
were derived, directly or indirectly, not from England,
but from Holland. One of the gravest answers to an
argument which contains so much to command respect is
found in the history of the New Netherlands. In the early
records of no one of the American colonies is there less
manifestation of the Puritan characteristics than in the
records of the colony that was absolutely and exclusively

1 " The Puritans in Holland, England, and America" (New York, 1892).


under Dutch control and made up chiefly of Dutch settlers.
Nineteen years from the beginning of the colony there
was only one church in the whole extent of it ; at the end
of thirty years there were only two churches. After ten
years of settlement the first schoolmaster arrived ; and
after thirty-six years a Latin school was begun, for want
of which up to that time young men seeking a classical
education had had to go to Boston for it. In no colony
does there appear less of local self-government or of cen-
tral representative government, less of civil liberty, or even
of the aspiration for it. The contrast between the char-
acter of this colony and the heroic antecedents of the
Dutch in Holland is astonishing and inexplicable. The
sordid government of a trading corporation doubtless
tended to depress the moral tone of the community, but
this was an evil common to many of the colonies. Or-
dinances, frequently renewed, for the prevention of disorder
and brawling on Sunday and for restricting the sale of
strong drinks, show how prevalent and obstinate were
these evils. In 1648 it is boldly asserted in the preamble
to a new law that one fourth of the houses in New Am-
sterdam were devoted to the sale of strong drink. Not a
hopeful beginning for a young commonwealth.

Before bidding a willing good-bye to the Dutch regime
of the New Netherlands, it remains to tell the story of
another colony, begun under happy auspices, but so short-
lived that its rise and fall are a mere episode in the history
of the Dutch colony.

As early as 1630, under the feudal concessions of the
Dutch West India Company, extensive tracts had been
taken on the South River, or Delaware, and, after purchase
from the Indians, settled by a colony under the conduct
of the best of all the Dutch leaders, De Vries. Quarrels


with the Indians arose, and at the end of a twelvemonth
the colony was extinguished in blood. The land seemed
to be left free for other occupants.

Years before, the great Gustavus Adolphus had pondered
and decided on an enterprise of colonization in America.^
The exigencies of the Thirty Years' War delayed the ex-
ecution of his plan, but after the fatal day of Liitzen the
project was resumed by the fit successor of Gustavus in
the government of Sweden, the Chancellor Oxenstiern.
Peter Minuit, who had been rejected from his place as the
first governor of New Amsterdam, tendered to the Swedes
the aid of his experience and approved wisdom ; and in
the end of the year 1637, against the protest of Governor
Kieft, the strong foundations of a Swedish Lutheran colony
were laid on the banks of the Delaware. A new purchase
was made of the Indians (who had as little scruple as the
Stuart kings about disposing of the same land twice over
to different parties), including the lands from the mouth
of the bay to the falls near Trenton. A fort was built
where now stands the city of Wilmington, and under the
protection of its walls Christian worship was begun by the
first pastor, Torkillus. Strong reinforcements arrived in
1643, with the energetic Governor Printz and that man of
" unwearied zeal in always propagating the love of God,"
the Rev. John Campanius, who through faith has obtained
a good report by his brief but most laborious ministry both
to his fellow-countrymen and to the Delaware Indians.

The governor fixed his residence at Tinicum, now almost
included within the vast circumference of Philadelphia,
and there, forty years before the arrival of William Penn,
Campanius preached the gospel of peace in two languages,
to the red men and to the white.

1 The king's noble conceptions of what such a colony ihould be and ihoiild
accomplish are quoted in Bancroft, vol. ii., pp. 284, aej.


The question of the Swedish title, raised at the outset
by the protest of the Dutch governor, could not long be
postponed. It was suddenly precipitated on the arrival of
Governor Rising, in 1654, by his capture of Fort Casimir,
which the Dutch had built for the practical assertion of
their claim. It seems a somewhat grotesque act of piety
on the part of the Swedes, when, having celebrated the
festival of Trinity Sunday by whipping their fellow- Chris-
tians out of the fort, they commemorated the good work
by naming it the Fort of the .Holy Trinity. It was a fatal
victory. The next year came Governor Stuyvesant with
an overpowering force and demanded and received the
surrender of the colony to the Dutch. Honorable terms
of surrender were conceded ; among them, against the
protest, alas! of good Domine Megapolensis, was the
stipulation of religious liberty for the Lutherans.

It was the end of the Swedish colony, but not at once
of the church. The Swedish community of some seven
hundred souls, cut off from reinforcement and support from
the fatherland, cherished its language and traditions and
the mold of doctrine in which it had been shaped ; after
more than forty years the reviving interest of the mother
church was manifested by the sending out of missionaries
to seek and succor the daughter long absent and neglected
in the wilderness. Two venerable buildings, the Gloria
Dei Church in the southern part of Philadelphia, and the
Old Swedes' Church at Wilmington, remain as monuments
of the honorable story. The Swedish language ceased to
be spoken ; the people became undistinguishably absorbed
in the swiftly multiplying population about them.

It was a short-lived triumph in which the Dutch colony
reduced the Swedish under its jurisdiction. It only pre-
pared a larger domain for it to surrender, in its turn, to


superior force. With perfidy worthy of the House of
Stuart, the newly restored king of England, having granted
to his brother, the Duke of York, territory already plighted
to others and territory already occupied by a friendly
power, stretching in all from the Connecticut to the Dela-
ware, covered his designs with friendly demonstrations,
and in a time of profound peace surprised the quiet town
of New Amsterdam with a hostile fleet and knd force and
a peremptory demand for surrender. The only hindrance
interposed was a few hours of vain and angry bluster from
Stuyvesant. The indifference of the Dutch republic, which
had from the beginning refused its colony any promise of
protection, and the sordid despotism of the Company, and
the arrogant contempt of popular rights manifested by its
governors, seem to have left no spark of patriotic loyalty
alive in the population. With inert indifference, if not
even with satisfaction, the colony transferred its allegiance
to the British crown, henceforth sovereign from Maine to
the Carolinas, The rights of person and property, reli-
gious liberty, and freedom of trade were stipulated in the

The British government was happy in the character of
Colonel Nicolls, who came as commandant of the invad-
ing expedition and remained as governor. Not only faith-
ful to the terms of the surrender, but considerate of the
feelings and interests of the conquered province, he gave
the people small reason to regret the change of govern-
ment. The established Dutch church not only was not
molested, but was continued in full possession of its ex-
ceptional privileges. And it continued to languish. At
the time of the surrender the province contained " three
cities, thirty villages, and ten thousand inhabitants," ^ and
for all these there were six ministers. The six soon dribbled

1 Corwin, p. 54.


away to three, and for ten years these three continued
without reinforcement. This extreme feebleness of the
clergy, the absence of any vigorous church life among the
laity, and the debilitating notion that the power and the
right to preach the gospel must be imported from Holland,
put the Dutch church at such a disadvantage as to invite
aggression. Later English governors showed no scruple
in violating the spirit of the terms of surrender and using
their official power and influence to force the establish-
ment of the English church against the almost unanimous
will of the people. Property was unjustly taken and legal
rights infringed to this end, but the end was not attained.
Colonel Morris, an earnest Anglican, warned his friends
against the folly of taking by force the salaries of ministers
chosen by the people and paying them over to " the min-
isters of the church." " It may be a means of subsisting
those ministers, but they won't make many converts among
a people who think themselves very much injured." The
pious efforts of Governor Fletcher, the most zealous of
these official propagandists, are even more severely char-
acterized in a dispatch of his successor, the Earl of Bello-
mont : " The late governor, . . . under the notion of a
Church of England to be put in opposition to the Dutch
and French churches established here, supported a few
rascally English, who are a scandal to their nation and the
Protestant religion." ^ Evidently such support would have
for its main effect to make the pretended establishment
odious to the people. Colonel Morris sharply points out
the impolicy as well as the injustice of the course adopted,
claiming that his church would have been in a much better
position without this political aid, and citing the case of
the Jerseys and Pennsylvania, where nothing of the kind
had been attempted, and where, nevertheless, " there are

1 Corwin, py). 105, 121.


four times the number of churchmen that there are in this
province of New York; and they are so, most of them,
upon principle, whereas nine parts in ten of ours will add
no great credit to whatever church they are of." ^

It need not be denied that government patronage, even
when dispensed by the dirty hands of such scurvy nursing
fathers as Fletcher and Lord Cornbury, may give strength
of a certain sort to a religious organization. Whatever
could be done in the way of endowment or of social pre-
ferment in behalf of the English church was done eagerly.
But happily this church had a better resource than royal
governors in the well-equipped and sustained, and gener-
ally well-chosen, army of missionaries of the Society for
the Propagation of the Gospel. Not fewer than fifty-eight
of them were placed by the society in this single province.
And if among them there were those who seemed to
"preach Christ of envy and strife," as if the great aim of
the preacher of the gospel were to get a man out of one
Christian sect into another, there were others who showed
a more Pauline and more Christian conception of their
work, taking their full share of the task of bringing the
knowledge of Christ to the unevangelized, whether white,
red, or black.^

The diversity of organization which was destined to
characterize the church in the province of New York was
increased by the inflow of population from New England.
The settlement of Long Island was from the beginning
Puritan English. The Hudson Valley began early to be
occupied by New Englanders bringing with them their

1 Cor win, p. 105,

2 " Digest of S. P. G. Records," pp. 57-79. That the sectarian proselyt-
ing zeal manifested in some of the missionaries' reports made an unfavorable
impression on the society is indicated by the peremptory terms of a resolution
adopted in 1710 : " That a stop be put to the sending any more missionaries
among Christians, except to such places whose ministers are, or shall be, dead
or removed" (^ibid., p. 69). A good resolution, but not well kept.


pastors. In 1696 Domine Selyns, the only Dutch pastor
in New York City, in his annual report congratulates him-
self, "Our number is now full," meaning that there are
four Dutch ministers in the whole province of New York,
and adds : " In the country places here there are many
English preachers, mostly from New England. They
w ere ordained there, having been in a large measure sup-
j>lied by the University of Cambridge [Mass.]." The
same letter gives the names of the three eminent French
pastors ministering to the communities of Huguenot ref-
ugees at New Rochelle and New York and elsewhere in
the neighborhood. The Scotch-Irish Presbyterians, more
important to the history of the opening century than any
of the rest, were yet to enter.

The spectacle of the ancient Dutch church thus dwin-
dling, and seemingly content to dwindle, to one of the least
of the tribes, is not a cheerful one, nor one easy to under-
stand. But out of this little and dilapidated Bethlehem
was to come forth a leader. Domine Frelinghuysen, ar-
riving in America in 1 720, was to begin a work of training
for the ministry, which would result, in 1784, in the estab-
lishment of the first American professorship of theology ;'
and by the fervor of his preaching he was to win the
signal glory of bringing in the Great Awakening.

1 Corwin, p. 207. Undue stress should not be laid upon this formal fact.
The early New England colleges were primarily and mainly theological semi-
naries and training-schools for the ministry. Their professors were all theo-
logical professors. It is stated in D wight's " Life of Edwards " that James
i'ierpont, of New Haven, Edwards's father-in-law, who died in 1714, lectured
to the students of Yale College, as professor of moral philosophy.



The attitude of the Church of England Puritans toward
the Separatists from that church was the attitude of the
earnest, patient, hopeful reformer toiling for the removal
of public abuses, toward the restless " come-outer " who
quits the conflict in despair of succeeding, and, " without
tarrying for any," sets up his little model of good order
outside. Such defection seemed to them not only of the
nature of a military desertion and a weakening of the right
side, but also an implied assertion of superior righteousness
which provoked invidious comparison and mutual irritation
of feeling. The comparison must not be pressed too far
if we cite in illustration the feeling of the great mass of
earnest, practical antislavery men in the American conflict
with slavery toward the faction of " come-outer " aboli-
tionists, who, despairing of success within the church and
the state, seceded from both, thenceforth predicting failure
for every practical enterprise of reform on the part of their
former workfellows, and at every defeat chuckling, " I told
you so."

If we should compare the English Separatist of the
seventeenth century with this American Separatist of the
nineteenth, we should be in still greater danger of mislead-


ing. Certainly there were those among the Separatists
from the Church of England who, in the violence of their
alienation and the bitterness of their sufferings, did not re-
frain from sour and acrid censoriousness toward the men
who were nearest them in rehgious conviction and pursuing
like ends by another course. One does not read far in the
history of New England without encountering reformers
of this extreme type. But not such were the company of
true worshipers who, at peril of liberty and life, were wont
to assemble each Lord's day in a room of the old manor-
house of Scrooby, of which William Brewster was lessee,
for Christian fellowship and worship, and for instruction
in Christian truth and duty from the saintly lips of John
Robinson. The extreme radicals of their day, they seem
to have been divinely preserved from the besetting sins of
radicalism — its narrowness, its self-righteousness, its cen-
soriousness and intolerance. Those who read the copious
records of the early New England colonization are again
and again surprised at finding that the impoverished little
company of Separatists at Leyden and Plymouth, who
were so sharply reprobated by their Puritan brethren of
the Church of England for their schismatic attitude, their
over-righteousness and exclusiveness, do really excel, in
liberality and patient tolerance and catholic and compre-
hensive love toward all good men, those who sat in judg-
ment on them. Something of this is due to the native
nobleness of the men themselves, of whom the world was
not worthy ; something of it to their long discipline in the
passive virtues under bitter persecution in their native land
and in exile in Holland and in the wilderness ; much of it
certainly to the incomparably wise and Christ-like teaching
of Robinson both at Scrooby and at Leyden, and after-
ward through the tender and faithful epistles with which
he followed them across the sea ; and all of it to the grace

84 AMERtCAM CtiRISTlANITY. t<^HAP. viii.

of God working in their hearts and glorified in their living
and their dying.

It would be incompatible with the limits of this volume
to recite in detail the story of the Pilgrims ; it has been
told more amply and with fuller repetition than almost any
other chapter of human history, and is never to be told or
heard without awakening that thrill with which the heart-
strings respond to the sufferings and triumphs of Christ's
blessed martyrs and confessors. But, more dispassionately
studied with reference to its position and relations in
ecclesiastical history, it cannot be understood unless the
sharp and sometimes exasperated antagonism is kept in
view that existed between the inconsiderable faction, as it
was esteemed, of the Separatists, and the great and grow-
ing Puritan party at that time in disfavor with king and
court and hierarchy, but soon to become the dominant
party not only in the Church of England, but in the
nation. It is not strange that the antagonism between
the two parties should be lost sight of. The two are
identified in their theological convictions, in their spiritual
sympathies, and, for the most part, in their judgment on
questions concerning the externals of the church ; and
presently their respective colonies, planted side by side,
not without mutual doubts and suspicions, are to grow to-
gether, leaving no visible seam of juncture,

Like kindred drops commingling into one. l

To the Puritan reformer within the Church of England,
the act of the Pilgrims at Scrooby in separating themselves
from the general mass of English Christians, mingled
though that mass might be with a multitude of unworthy

1 The mutual opposition of Puritan and Pilgrim is brought out with
emphasis in " The Genesis of the New England Churches," by L. Bacon,
especially chaps, v., vii., xviii.


was nothing less than the sin of schism. One effect of the
act was to reflect odium upon the whole party of Puritans,
and involve them in the suspicion of that sedition which
was so unjustly, but with such fatal success, imputed to the
Separatists. It was a hard and doubtful warfare that the
Puritans were waging against spiritual wickedness in high
places ; the defection of the Separatists doubly weakened
them in the conflict. It is not strange, however it may
seem so, that the animosity of Puritan toward Separatist
was sometimes acrimonious, nor that the public reproaches
hurled at the unpopular little party should have provoked
recriminations upon the assailants as being involved in the
defilements and the plagues of Babylon, and should have
driven the Separatists into a narrower exclusiveness of
separation, cutting themselves off not only from commu-
nion with abuses and corruptions in the Church of England,
but even from fellowship with good and holy men in the
national church who did not find it a duty to secede.

Nothing of this bitterness and narrowness is found in
Robinson. Strenuously as he maintained the right and
duty of separation from the Establishment, he was, espe-
cially in his later years, no less earnest in condemning the
" Separatists who carried their separation too far and had
gone beyond the true landmarks in matters of Christian
doctrine or of Christian fellowship." ^ His latest work,
" found in his studie after his decease," was "A Treatise of
the Lawfulness of Hearing of the Ministers in the Church
of England."

The moderateness of Robinson's position, and the
brotherly kindness of his temper, could not save him and
his people from the prevaiHng odium that rested upon the
Separatist. Many and grave were the sorrows through
which the Pilgrim church had to pass in its way from the
1 L. Bacon, " Genesis of New England Churches," p. 245.


little hamlet of Scrooby to the bleak hill of Plymouth. They
were in peril from the persecutor at home and in peril in the
attempt to escape ; in peril from greedy speculators and
malignant politicians ; in peril from the sea and from cold
and from starvation; in peril from the savages and from
false brethren privily sent among them to spy out their
Hberties ; but an added bitterness to all their tribulations
lay in this, that, for the course which they were constrained
in conscience to pursue, they were subject to the repro-
bation of those whom they most highly honored as their
brethren in the faith of Christ. Some of the most heart-
breaking of their trials arose directly from the unwilling-
ness of English Puritans to sustain, or even countenance,
the Pilgrim colony.

In the year 1607, when the ships of the Virginia Com-
pany were about landing their freight of emigrants and
supplies at Jamestown, the first and unsuccessful attempt
of the Pilgrims was made to escape from their native land
to Holland. Before the end of 1608 the greater part of
them, in scattering parties, had effected the passage of the
North Sea, and the church was reunited in a land of reli-
gious freedom. With what a blameless, diligent, and peace-
ful life they adorned the name of disciple through all the
twelve 3'-ears of their sojourn, how honored and beloved
they were among the churches and in the University of
Leyden, there are abundant testimonies. The twelve years
of seclusion in an alien land among a people of strange
language was not too long a discipline of preparation for
that work for which the Head of the church had set them
apart. This was the period of Robinson's activity as
author. In erudite studies, in grave debate with gainsay-
ers at home and with fellow-exiles in Holland, he was
maturing in his own mind, and in the minds of the church,
those large and liberal yet definite views of church organ-


ization and duty which were destined for coming ages so
profoundly to influence the American church in all its
orders and divisions. " He became a reformer of the
Separation." ^

We pass by the heroic and pathetic story of the consul-
tations and correspondences, the negotiations and disap-
pointments, the embarkation and voyage, and come to that

Online LibraryLeonard Woolsey BaconA history of American Christianity → online text (page 7 of 34)