Winslow’s Brief Narration

(The Appendix to ‘‘Hypocrisie Unmasked,’’ 1646)

Of the true grounds or cause of the first planting of new england

And now that I have finished what I conceive necessary concerning Mr. Gorton’s scandalous and slanderous books,1

let me briefly answer some objections that I often meet withal against the country of New England.

The first that I meet with is concerning the rise and foundation of our New England Plantations; it being alleged (though upon a great mistake by a late writer)2

that division or disagreement in the church of Leyden was the occasion, nay cause, of the first plantation in New England; for, saith the author, or to this effect, when they could no longer agree together, the one part went to New England, and began the Plantation at Plymouth, which he makes the mother, as it were, of the rest of the churches; as if the foundation of our New England plantations had been laid upon division or separation, than which nothing is more untrue.3 For I persuade myself, never people upon earth lived more lovingly together and parted more sweetly than we, the church at Leyden, did; not rashly, in a distracted humour, but upon joint and serious deliberation, often seeking the mind of God by fasting and prayer; whose gracious presence we not only found with us, but his blessing upon us, from that time to this instant, to the indignation of our adversaries, the admiration of strangers, and the exceeding consolation of ourselves, to see such effects of our prayers and tears before our pilgrimage here be ended. And therefore briefly take notice of the true cause of it.

’Tis true that that poor persecuted flock of Christ, by the malice and power of the late hierarchy, were driven to Leyden in Holland, there to bear witness in their practice to the kingly office of Christ Jesus in his church; and there lived together ten years under the United States, with much peace and liberty. But our reverend pastor, Mr. John Robinson, of late memory, and our grave elder, Mr. William Brewster (now at rest with the Lord), considering, amongst many other inconveniences, how hard the country was where we lived, how many spent their estate in it and were forced to return for England, how grievous to live from under the protection of the State of England, how like we were to lose our language and our name of English, how little good we did or were like to do to the Dutch in reforming the sabbath, how unable there to give such education to our children as we ourselves had received, etc., they, I say, out of their Christian care of the flock of Christ committed to them, conceived, if God would be pleased to discover some place unto us (though in America), and give us so much favour with the King and State of England as to have their protection there, where we might enjoy the like liberty, and where, the Lord favouring our endeavours by his blessing, we might exemplarily show our tender countrymen by our example, no less burdened than ourselves, where they might live and comfortably subsist, and enjoy the like liberties with us, being freed from antichristian bondage, keep their names and nation, and not only be a means to enlarge the dominions of our State, but the Church of Christ also, if the Lord have a people amongst the natives whither he should bring us, etc.—hereby, in their great wisdoms, they thought we might more glorify God, do more good to our country, better provide for our posterity, and live to be more refreshed by our labours, than ever we could do in Holland, where we were.

Now these their private thoughts, upon mature deliberation, they imparted to the brethren of the congregation, which after much private discussion came to public agitation, till at the length the Lord was solemnly sought in the congregation by fasting and prayer to direct us; who moving our hearts more and more to the work, we sent some of good abilities over into England to see what favour or acceptance such a thing might find with the King. These also found God going along with them, and got Sir Edwin Sands, a religious gentleman then living, to stir in it, who procured Sir Robert Naunton, then principal Secretary of State to King James, of famous memory, to move his Majesty by a private motion to give way to such a people (who could not so comfortably live under the government of another State) to enjoy their liberty of conscience under his gracious protection in America, where they would endeavour the advancement of his Majesty’s dominions and the enlargement of the Gospel by all due means. This his Majesty said was a good and honest motion, and asking what profits might arise in the part we intended (for our eye was upon the most northern parts of Virginia), ’twas answered, Fishing. To which he replied with his ordinary asseveration, ‘‘So God have my soul, ’tis an honest trade; ’twas the Apostles’ own calling,’’ etc.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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