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Mr. Clifton and the younger Mr. Robinibn
were appointed paftors. The newly formed
Society met, on the Lord's days, at Mr.
Brewfter's houfe ; where they were enter
tained at his expenfe, with much affection
and refpect, as long as they could afTemble
without oppofition from their adverfaries.

But when the refentment of the hierar
chy, heightened by the countenance^and au
thority of James, the fucceflbr of Elizabeth,
obliged them to feek refuge in a foreign coun
try j Brewfter was the moft forward to aflift
them in their removal. He was one of thofe

who



*$6 B R E W S T t R.

who went 'on board a veffel, in the night, at
Bofton in Lincolnfhire, (as already related in
the life of Robinfon ;) and being apprehend
ed by the magiftiates, he was the greateft fuf-
ferer, becaufe he had the mofl property.
When liberated from confinement, he firft
aflifted the weak and poor of the Society in
their embarkation, and then followed them
to Holland.

His family was large, and his dependents
v 'Umerous ; his education and mode of liv
ing were not fuited to a mechanical or mer
cantile life, and he could not pr adife agricul
ture in a commercial city. The hardfhips
which he fufFered in confequence of this re
moval were grievous and depreffing ; but
when his finances were exhaufted, he had a
refource in his learning and abilities, In
Leyden he found employment as a tutor ;
the youth of the city and univerfity came to
him for inftrution in the Englifh tongue ;
and by means of the Latin, which was com
mon to both, and a grammar of his own con-
ftru&ion, they ibon acquired a knowledge of
the Englifh language. By the help of fome
friends, he alfo fet up a printing-office, and
was inftrumental of publifhing feveral books

again ft



& R E Vf 6 T E R.

Sgainft the hierarchy, which could not obtain
a licenfe in England*

His reputation was fo high ifi the Church
of which he was a member, that they chofe
him a ruling elder, and confided in his wi-
dom, experience and integrity, to afiift in
conducting their temporal as well as ecclefi-
aftical concerns, particularly their removal to
America. With the minority of the Church
he came over, and fuffered all the hardships
attending their fettle ment in this wildernefs.
He partook with them of labour, hunger and
watching ; his bible and his arms were
equally familiar to him ; and he was always
ready for any duty or fuffering to which he
was called.

For fome time after their arrival, they were
deftitute of a teaching elder ; expecting and
hoping that Mr. Robinfon, with the remain
der of the church, would follow them to
America. Brewfter frequently officiated as
a preafeher, but he never could be perfuaded
to adminifter the facraments, or take on hirn
the paftoral office ; though it had been flip-
ulated before their departure from Holland,
that " thofe who rlrft went fhould be an ab-
folute church of themfelves, as well as thofe.
I i who



who ftaid ;"* and it was one of their princi
ples, that the brethren who elected, had the
power of ordaining to office.

The reafon of his refufal was his extreme
diffidence ; being unwilling to affume any
other office in the Church, than that with
which he had been inverted by the whole
body. This plea might have feme force
during Robinfon's life, by whofe advice he
had been prevailed upon to accept the office
of a ruling elder ; but after his death there
was lefs reafon for it, and his declining to of
ficiate was really productive of very difagree-
able effects.

A fpirit of faction and divifion was excit
ed in the church, partly by perfons of differ
ent fentiments and characters, who came
over from England, and partly by uneafy and
afluming brethren among themfelves. Such
was the notoriety and melancholy appear
ance of thefe divifions, that their friends in
England fcrioufly admonifhed them, and
recommended to them " to let their practice
in the Church be complete and full ; to per
mit all who feared God, to join themfelves
tso them without delay j and to let all divine

ordinances

* Prince, 66.



B R E W S T E R. 259

ordinances be ufed completely in the Church,
without longer waiting upon uncertainties,
or keeping a gap open for oppofites."*

With this falutary advice they did not
comply ; and one great obftacle to their com-*
pliance was the liberty of " prophefying,"
which was allowed not pnly to the elders,
but to fuch private members as were " gift
ed." In Robinfon's Apo!ogy,f this princi
ple

* Bradford's Letters in Collections H. Society, III. 33.

f " We learn from the Apoftle Paul, (i Cor. xiv. 3.)
that he who prophcilcth, fpcakcth to men, to edification,
and exhortation, and comfort ; whieh, to perform conve
niently, comes within the compafs of but a few of the mul
titude, haply two or three in each of our churches.
Touching prophecy, then, we think the fame that the
Synod of Embden (1571) hath decreed in thefe words.
*' Let the order of prophecy be obferved according to
Paul's inftitution. Into the fellowfhip of this work, are
to be admitted, not only the minifters, but the teachers,
elders and deacons, yea even of the multitude, who are
willing to confer their gift, received of God, to the com
mon utility of the church ; but fo as they firft be allowed,
by the judgment of the minifters and others."

Robinfon's Slpology, Chap. viii.

Governor Winthrop, and Mr. Wilfon, minifter of Bof-
ton, made a vifit to Plymouth in October, 1632, and kept
Sabbath there. The following account of the afternoon
exercife is preferved in Winthrop's Journal, p. 44.

" In the afternoon Mr. Roger Williams, according to
their cuftom, propounded a queftion, to which the paftor,

Mr.



BREWSTER.

pie is explained in a very cautious manner ;
the exercife of the gift was fubject to the
judgment of the minifter ; and whilft they
were under his fuperintendence, their proph-
efyings were conducted with tolerable regu^
larity ; but when they came to practice on
this principle where they had not that ad-,
vantage, the confequence was prejudicial to
the eftablifhment of any regular mini/try
among them. "The preachments of the
gifted brethren produced thofe difcourage-
ments, to the minifters, that almoft all left
the Colony, apprehending themfelves driven
away by the neglect an$ contempt, with
which the people on this occafion treated
them."' This practice was not allowed in
any other Church of New-England, except
that of Plymouth,

Befide

Mr. Smith, fpake briefly; then Mr. Williams propkefied *
and after, the Governor of Plymouth [Bradford] fpake
to the queftion ; after him the elder [Brewfter] then two
or three more of the congregation. Then the elder de-
fired the Governor of MafTachufetts and Mr. Wilfon to
fpeak to it, which they did. When this was ended, the
deacon, Mr. Fuller, put the congregation in mind of their
duty of contribution ; upon which the Governor and all
the reft went down to the deacon's feat, and put into the
bag, and then returned."

* Math, Mag. I. 14,



B R E W S T E R.

Befide the liberty of prophefying, and
public cpnference, there were feveral other
peculiarities in their pratice, which they
learned from the Brownifts, and in which
they differed from many of the reformed
churches.* They admitted none tp their
communion without either a written or oral
declaration of their uth and religious expe
riences, delivered before the whole Church,
with liberty for every one to alk questions
till they were fatisfied. They pra&ifed or
dination by the hands of the brethren, f
They difufed the Lord's prayer and the pub
lic reading of the Scriptures. They did not
allow the reading of the pfalm before fmg-
ing, till, in compaflion to a brother who
could not read, they permitted one of the
elders or deacons to read it line by line, af
ter it had been previoufly expounded by the
minifter.f ' They admitted no children to
baptifm, unlefs one, at leaft, of the parents,
were in full communion with the church ;

and

* Baylle's DI/Tuafive from the Errors cf the Times,
p. 22.

f Cotton's Appendix, in Collections cf the Hiftorical
Society, IV. 127, 136, &c.

if. Ainfv/orth's tranflation of the Pfalms was ufed in the
Church of Plymouth, till 1692, when the New-England
verfion was introduced. Cotton's Appendix.



BREWSTER.

and they accounted all baptized children
proper fubje&s of ecclefiaftical difcipline.
Whilft in Holland, they had the Lord's Sup
per every Sabbath ; but, when they came
to America, they omitted it till they could
obtain a minifter, and then had it monthly.
Moll of thefe practices were continued for
many years, and fomc arc yet adhered to,
though others have been gradually laid afide.
The Church of Plymouth had no regular
minifter till four years after the death of Mr.
Robinfon, and nine years after their coming
to America. In 1629, they fettled Ralph
Smith, who continued with them about five
years, and then refigned. He is faid to have
been a man of " low gifts,'* and was aflifted
three years by Roger Williams, of " bright
accomplifhments, but offeniive errors," In
1636, they had John Reyner, " an able
and godly man, of a meek and humble fpirit,
found in the truth, and unreproveable in his
life and converfation. He continued with
them till 1654,* w ^ en ne removed to Dover,

in

* The fucceflion of mmifters, fmce that time, has been
as follows. After a vacancy of 15 years,
In 1669, John Cotton was ordained ; and, in 1697, re-
figned,and removed toCarolina, where he died in 1 699.

la



BREWSTER, 263

in 'New-Hampfhire, where he fpent the re
mainder of his life.

During his miniftry at Plymouth, elder
Brewfter having enjoyed a healthy old
age, died oh the fixteenth of April, 1644,
being then in the eighty-fourth year of his
age. He was able to continue his ecclefi-
aftical fun&ions, and his field labour, till
within a few days of his death, and was
confined to his bed but one day.

He had been remarkably temperate,
through his whole life, having drank no
liquor but water, till within the laft five or
fix years. For many months together, he
had, through neceflity, lived without bread ;
having nothing but fifh for his fuftenance,
and fometimes was deftitute of that. Yet,
being of a pliant and cheerful temper, he
eafily accommodated himfelf to his circum-
ilances. When nothing but oyfters or
clams were fet on his table, he would give

thanks,

In 1699, Ephraim Little was ordained, and died at

Plymouth, in 1723 ; being the only minifter, of that

Church, who died there.
la 1724, Nathaniel Leonard was ordained; and, in

1757, removed to Norton.
In 1759, Chandler Robbins, D. D. was ordained, and

is now living.

Cotton's Appendix.



fc R E W S T E &

thanks, with his family, that they could
" fuck of the abundance of the feas, and of
the treafures hid in the fand."*

He was a man of eminent piety and de*
votion ; not prolix, but full and comprehen-
five in his public prayers ; efteeming it his
duty, to ftrengthen and encourage the devo
tion of others, rather than to weary them
with long performances. On days of fading
and humiliation, he was more copious, but
equally fervent, f As an inftance of this, it
is obferved, that in 1623, a drought of fix
xveeks having fucceeded the planting feafon,
in July a day was fet apart for falling and
prayer. The morning was clear and hot,
as ufual, but after eight hours employed in
religious exercifes, the weather changed, and
before the next morning, a gentle rain came
on, which continued, with intermiffions of
fair and warm weather, fourteen days, by
which the languifhing corn revived. The
neighbouring Indians obferved the change,
and faid that " the Englifhman's God was
a good God."

In

* Deut. xxxiii. 19.
t Morton, Prince, and Winfiois.'.



E;R E W S T E R. 265

In liis public difcourfes, Mr. Brewfter was
Very clear and diftinguiming, as well as pa
thetic j addreffing himfelf firft to the under-
ftanding, and then to the affections of* his
audience ; convincing and perfuading them
of the fuperior excellency of true religion.
Such a kind of teaching, was well adapted,
and in many inftances effectual, to the real
inftruction and benefit of his hearers. What
a pity that fuch a man could not have been
perfuaded to take on him the paftoral office !

In his private converfation, he was focial,
pleafant, and inoffenfive ; yet when occafion
required, he exercifed that fortitude which
true virtue infpires, but mixed with fuch
tendernefs, that his reproofs gave no offence.

His companion towards the diflrefled was
an eminent trait in his character ; and if
they were fuffering for confcience fake, he
judged them, of all others, moil defer ving
of pity and relief. Nothing was m6re dif-
gufting-to him than vanity and hypocrify.

In the government of the church, he was

careful to preferve order and purity, and to

fupprefs contention. Had his diffidence

permitted him to exercife the paftoral office,

K K he



266 BREWSTER,

he would have had more influence, and kept
intruders at a proper diftanee.

He was owner of a very confiderable
library, part of which was loft, when the
veflel in which he embarked was plundered
at Bofton in Lincolnfhire. After his death,
his remaining books were valued at forty-
three pounds, in filver, as appears by the Co
lony Records, where a catalogue of them is
preferved.



XXV,



267
XXV. ROBERT CUSHMAN.*



u



ROBERT CUSHMAN was a

diftinguifhed character among that collec-
tion of worthies, who quitted England
on account of their religious difficulties,
and fettled with Mr. John Robinfon, their
paftor, in the city of Leyden, Propo-
fmg afterwards a removal to America, in the
year 1617, Mr. Cufhman and Mr, John
Carver, (afterwards the firft Governor of
New Plymouth) were fent over to England,
as their agents, to agree with the Virginia
Company for a fettlement, and to obtain, if
poffible, a grant of liberty of confcience in
their intended plantation, from King James.

From this negociation, though conducted
on their part with great difcretion and ability,
they returned unfuccefsful to Leyden, in
May 1618. They met with no difficulty
indeed from the Virginia Company, who
were willing to grant them fufficicnt territo^-
ry, with as ample privileges as they could
beftow : But the pragmatical James, the pre
tended

* This account of Mr. Cuftiman was published in 1785,
at Plymouth, as an Appendix to the third edition of his
Difcourfc on Self-love. It was written by John Davis, Efq,



268 C U S H M A N.

tended vicegerent of the Deity, refufed to
grant them that liberty in religious matters,
which was their principal object. This per-
fevering people determined to tranfport
themfelves to this country, relying upon
James's promife that he would connive at,
though not exprefsly tolerate them ; and Mr.
Cufhrnan was again difpatched to England
in February, 1619, with Mr. William Brad
ford, to agree with the Virginia Company
on the terms of their removal and fettle-
ment.

After much difficulty and delay, they ob-?
tained a patent in the September following ;
upon which, part of the Church at Leyden,
with their Elder, Mr. Brewfter, determined
to tranfport themfelves as foon as poffible,
Mr. Cufhman was one of the agents in Eng
land to procure money, {hipping and other
neceffaries for the voyage, and embarked
with them at South-Hampton, Auguft ^th,
1620. But the fhip, in which he failed,
proving leaky, and after twice putting into
port to repair, being condemned as unfit to
perform . the voyage, Mr. Cufhman with
his family, and a number of others, were
obliged, though reluctantly, to relinquifh the

voyage



C IT S H M A N. 269

voyage for that time, and return to Lon
don. Thofe in the other fhip proceeded
and made their fettlement at Plymouth in
December, 1620, where Mr. Cufliman alib
arrived in the fliip Fortune from London,
on the loth of November, 1621, but took
paflage in the fame fhip back again, purfu- ,

ant to the directions of the merchant adven
turers in London, (who fitted out the fhip,
and by whofe afliftance the firft fettlers were
tranfported) to give them an account of the
plantation. He failed from Plymouth De
cember 1 3th, 1621; and arriving on the
coaft of England, the fhip, with a cargo
valued at 500!. fterling, was taken by the
French. Mr. Cufhman, with the crew,
was carried into France ; but arrived in Lon-
dcn in the February following. During
his fhort refidence at Plymouth, though a
mere lay character, he delivered a difcourfe
on the fin and danger of felf-love. which

X,

was printed in London (1622) and after
wards, re-printed in Bofton, ( 1 724) and again
at Plymouth, ( 1 785.) And though his name
is not prefixed to either of the two former
editions, yet unqueftionable tradition renders
jt certain that he was the author, and even

tranfmits



470 C U S H M A N.

tranfmits to us a knowledge of the fpot
where it was delivered. Mr. Cumman,
though he conftantly correfponded with his
friends here, and was very fer viceable tp their
intereft in London, never returned to the
country again ; but, whilft preparing for it,
was removed to a better, in the year 1626.
The news of his death, and Mr. Robinfon's,
arrived at the fame time, at Plymouth, by
Captain Standifh, and feem to have been
equally lamented by their bereaved and fuf-
fering friends there. He was zealoufly en*
gaged in the profperity of the plantation, a
man of activity and enterprise, well verfed
in bufmefs, refpecl:able in point of intellectu-
al abilities, well accomplifhed in fcriptural
knowledge, an unaffected profeiTor, and, a
Heady fmcere practifer of religion. The de-
fign of the above-mentioned difcourfe was to
keep up that flow of public fpirit, which, per
haps, began then to abate, but which was
thought necefTary for their prefervation and
fecurity. The policy of that entire commu
nity of interefts which our fathers eftablifh-
ed, and which this fermon was defigned to
preferve, is, neverthelefs, juftly queftionable.
The love of feparate property, for good and
wife purpofes, is flrongly implanted in the

heart



tf S H M A N. 271

heart of man. So far from being unfavour
able to a reafonable generofity and public
fpirit, it better enables us to difplay them,
and is not lefs confiftent with the precepts of
fcripture, rightly underftood, than with the
dictates of reafon. This is evidenced by the
fubfequent conduct of this very people. In
the year 1623, departing a little from their
firft fyftem, they agreed that every family
mould plant for themfelves ; bringing in a
competent portion at harveft, for the main
tenance of public officers, fifhermen, &c. and
in all other things to go on in the general
way, (as they term it) as before ; for this
purpofe they afligned to every family a par
cel of land, for a year only, in proportion to
their number. Even this temporary divi-
fion, as Governor Bradford, in his manu-
fcript hiftory, obferves, " has a very good
effect ; makes all induftrious ; gives content j
even the women and children now go into
the field to work, and much more corn is
planted than ever." In the fpring of the
year 1624, the people being ftill uneafy, one
acre of land was given to each, in fee-fimple ;
no more to be gitfen, till the expiration of the
feven yean. In the year 1627, when they

purchafed



\



C U S H M A N.

purchafed the intereft of the adventurers in
England, in the plantation, there was a divi-
fion and allotment of almoft all their proper
ty, real and perfonal ; twenty acres of tillage
land to each, befides what they held before 3
the meadows and the trade only, remaining
in common.

Thus it is obfervable, how men, in fpite
of their principles, are naturally led into that
mode of conduct, which truth and utility, ev
er coincident, point out. Our fathers de-
ferve the higheft commendation for profecut-
ing, at the hazard of life and fortune, that ref
ormation in religion, which the Church of
England left imperfect : Taking, for this
purpofe, the facred Scriptures, as their only
guide, they travelled in the path of truth,
and appealed to a mofl noble and unerring
ftandard ; but when from their reverence
to this divine authority, in matters of
religion, they were inclined to efteern
it the only guide, in all the affairs of
life, and attempted to regulate their civil
polity upon church ideas, they erred, and
involved themfelves in innumerable diffi
culties,

The-



C U S H M A N. 273

The end of civil fociety is the fecurity of
the temporal liberty and profperity of man,
not all the happinefs and perfection, which
he is capable of attaining, for which other
means are appointed. Had not our fathers
placed themfelves upon fuch a footing, with
refpect to property, as was repugnant to the
nature of man, and not warranted by the
true end of civil fociety^ there would prob
ably have been no juft ground of complaint
of a want of a real and reafonable public
fpirit ; and the neceffity of the exhorta
tion and reproof, contained in Mn Cufh-
man's difcourfe, would have been fuperfed-
ed. Their zeal, their enterprise, and their
uncommon fufferings in the profecution of
their arduous undertaking, render it morally
certain, that they would have ever cheerfully
performed their duty in this refpect : Their
contemporaries might cenfure them for what
they did not, but their pofterity muft ever
admire and revere them for what they did
exhibit."

After the death of Mr. Cumman, his fam
ily came over to New-England. His fon,
Thomas Cumman, fucceeded Mr. Brewfter,
as ruling elder of the Church of Plymouth,
L L being



.



274 C U S H M A &

being ordained to that office in 1649.
was a man of good gifts, and frequently af~
fifted in carrying on the public worfhip,
preaching, and catechifmg. For it was one
profeffed pnnciple of that Church, in its firft
formation, " to choofe n-one for governing
Eiders, but fuch as were able to teach." He
continued in this office till lie died, in 1691,
in the eighty-fourth year of his age. *

The above-mentioned difeourfe of Mr.
Robert Cumman, in 1621, may be eonfid-
ered as a fpecimen of the " prophefyings" of
the brethren* The occafiofi was fmgular ;
the exhortations and reproofs are not lefs fo,
but were adapted to the then Hate of fociety.
Some fpecimens may not be difagreeable,
and are therefore here inferted.

" Now, brethren, I pray you remember
yourfelves, and know that you are not in a
retired monaftical courfe, but have given your
names and promifes one to another, and cov
enanted here to cleave together in the fervice
of God and the King. What then muft you
do ? May you live as retired hermits, and
look after nobody ? Nay, you muft feek ftill
the wealth of one another ; and inquire, as
David, how liveth fuch a man ? how is he

clad?






C V S H M A NL 1175

ekd ? how is he fed ? He is my brother,
my aflbciate j we ventured our lives together
Jiere, and had a hard brunt of it ; and we
are in league together. Is his labour harder
than mine ? furely I will eafe him. Hath
he no bed to lie on ? I have two ; I'll lend
Jiim one. Hath he no apparel ? I have two
fuits ; I'll give him one of them. Eats he
coarfe fare, bread and water ? and have I bet
ter ? furely we will part Hakes. He is as
good a man as I, and we are bound each to
other ; fo that his wants muft be my wants,
liis forrows my forrows, his ficknefs my
ficknefs, and his welfare my welfare ; for I
am as he is. Such a fweet fympathy were
excellent, comfortable, yea, heavenly, and is
the only maker and conferver of Churches
and Commonwealths."

*- It wonderfully eneourageth men in their
duties, when they fee the burthen equally
borne ; but when fome withdraw- themlelves,
and retire to their own particular eafe, pleaf-
ure, or profit, what heart can men have to go
on in their bufmefs ? When men are come
together to lift fome weighty piece of timber,
or veffel, if one ftand ftill and do not lift,
(hall not the reft be weakened and difheart-

encd ?



a. 7 6 C U S H M A N.

cned ? Will not a few idle drones fpoil the
whole flock of laborious bees ? So one idle
belly, one murmurer, one complainer, one
felf-lover, will weaken and difhearten a whole
Colony. Great matters have been brought
to pafs, where men have cheerfully, as with
one heart, hand and moulder, gone about it,
both in wars, buildings and plantations ; but
where every man feeks himfelf, all cometh to
nothing."

" The country is yet raw ; the land un-
tilled ; the cities not builded ; the cattle not
fettled. We are compafled about with a help-


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Online LibraryUnknownAmerican biography: or, An historical account of those persons who have been distinguished in America, as adventurers, statesmen, philosophers, divines, warriors, authors, and other remarkable characters .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 13 of 24)