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CHAP. 20. CONGREGATIONALISTS OF NEW ENGLAND, 351
fame by his pulpit eloquence, was suddenly called into Eternity, Aug. 5, 1811, at the early age of twenty. Their ministers are supported chiefly by contribution. George I. gave 1000 pounds a year, for the maintenance of the dissenting clergy. This was afterwards increased to 2000, and is still divided among them. The Independents have entered warmly into the cause of the Bible, foreign missions, Sabbath schools, and other benevolent enterprises. Some of their best modern preachers, have been Winter, Stafford, Jay, Bogue.
Many of Cromwell's army settled in Ireland, and established Presbyterian congregations. At a subsequent period, many Seceders passed over from Scotland, and established about an hundred congregations in the north of Ireland. Of late, the Independents have also settled in that desolate country. Each of these branches have taken root and continued to live. King William granted their ministers 1200 pounds a year. In 1719, an act of toleration was passed in their favour.
Mr. Robinson's Church. Its emigration to Holland and to New
England. Rapid increase of the New England Churches. Character of their first ministers and members. . Constitution. Harvard College founded. Roger Williams. Hutchinsonian controversy. Troubles from the Baptists. Cambridge Platform. Disturbances from the Quakers. Hartford controversy. Synod of 1657. Half-way covenant. Synod of 1680. Witchcraft. Yale College, Saybrook Platform. Great revival. Sandemanian Controversy. Demoralizing influence of the French and Revolutionary war. Revival of the Churches. Unitarianisin. Theological Institutions. Number and order of the churches and ministers. Distinguished Divines.
In 1602, an Independent congregation in the North of England chose Mr John Robinson, a man of much learning and piety to be their pastor. But scarcely had they begun to enjoy his labors, when they were subjected to fines, imprisonment, the ruin of their families and fortunes, and were compelled to flee to Holland, which at this time granted free toleration to different denominations of Protestants, for the enjoyment of religious liberty. The government had forbidden all such departures, and they could escape only by stealth. They secretly contracted
with a captain to take them on board his ship at Boston, Linconshire ; but the captain was treacherous, and no sooner had he received them, than he delivered them over to the civil authority; their goods were seized and they were carried back to the town, spectacles of scorn. The next spring, they agreed with a Dutch captain to take them from a spot remote from any town. The little band were collected at the appointed moment, but the vessel did not come until the next day, and much suffering was endured. At length the vessel appeared, and a boat came to the shore and received as many as it could contain. But before it returned, a company of armed horsemen appeared and seized those who remained, and the vessel weighed anchor and disappeared. As there had been no regard to families in the embarkation, great distress ensued. Husbands were separated from wives, and parents from children. Those on the sea were tossed in a terrible storm, and driven on the coast, of Norway. Those that remianed were treated with the greatest indignity and cruelty; were hurried from prison to prison, and officer to officer, and at last became objects of pity and public charity. Their flight was not the flight of guilt, but of humble piety from oppression, and God was their helper. In process of time, they all safely reached Holland, and in 1708. Mr. Robinson saw his church established at Amsterdam upon firm independent principles. Mr. Robinson's church were originally of the Brownists who denied the church of England to be a true church. But by reflection and conversation with the learned Dr. Ames, he adopted more enlarged views, and established his church upon better principles.
The next year the pilgrims removed to Leyden, where they acquired a comfortable subsistence, and under the care of Mr. Robinson and Elder Brewster, their church prospered. Nombers joined them from England. They had a large congregation and 300 communicants. In doctrine, they were strictly Calvinistic; in discipline, rigid ; in practice, very exemplary. At the end of twelve years, the magistrates declared from the seat of justice, “ These English have lived among us now these twelve years, and yet we have never had one suit or action come against them."
In Holland they might long have enjoyed peace and prosperity, but their object was religion. The fathers were dropping away, and the youth were attracted by the splendour and luxuries of the Dutch. They saw that their church would soon there be merged in the world, and they resolved upon a removal to the wilds of America, where they might be freed from
LANDING OF THE PILGRIMS.
the oppressions, tyranny, and the temptations of the old world, and perpetuate the precious blessings they enjoyed. Having obtained liberty from the Virginia company to settle at the mouth of Hudson river, and having made the necessary prepar. ations, a portion of the church, with Elder Brewster, embarked for America to make preparation for Mr. Robinson and the remainder, who promised soon to follow. Several individuals had sold their estates, and purchased a small vessel to take them from Holland, and hired a large one in England, which should also take a number of families from thence. The day of their departure from Holland was a day of solemn humiliation and prayer. They were removing not for the advantages of trade, but for the liberty of conscience in the worship of God, and the establishment of a Christian church according to the apostolic pattern, and they fervently sought the blessing of heaven upon their great undertaking.
Their small vessel proving leaky, they left it in England, and all, amounting to one hundred and one souls, .embarked together in the large one, from Southampton, Sept. 6, 1620. Their captain being bribed by the Dutch, carried them far north of their destined haven. For two months they were tossed on the stormy ocean. On the ninth of Nov. they saw the shores of Cape Cod, and having formed a civil government, and chosen John Carver their first governor, they landed at Plymouth, Dec. 11,“ with hearty praises to God, who had been their assurance when far off on the sea.
They found themselves, indeed, in a new world. Terrific were the dark forests, and the barbarous savages. But these they dreaded less than depraved and barbarous Europe ; and here, under the kind providence of God, they planted the flourishing New England churches ; Mr. Robinson, their pastor never followed them, but died at Leyden, March 1625, in the 50th year of his age. He was universally regarded as a great and good man, and his death was deeply lamented. His family and people soon after joined their brethren at Plymouth. For nine
years, the church at Plymouth went without the ordinances, having no settled pastor. Mr. Ralph Smith was established in 1629, their first pastor.
As liberty of conscience could not be enjoyed in England, great numbers of her most learned, orthordox, and pious people, who would not conform to the ceremonies of the established church, fled to America. On the 24th of June, 1629, three hundred people arrived at Salem. Thirty of them, on the 6th of August, entered into church fellowship, forming the first
church gathered in New-England. Mr. Higginson, and Mr. Shelton, two nonconforming ministers, who had been silenced in England, were ordained* over them by the imposition of the hands of some of the brethren. Governor Bradford and others, messengers from the church of Plymouth, gave them the right hand of fellowship. “They aimed to settle a reformed church, according to their apprehension of the rules of the gospel, and the pattern of the best reformed churches."
The next year, Gov. Winthrop arrived with a number of val. uable ministers, and about 1500 people, and encamped on Charlestown hill. They first worshipped God under a large spreading tree. A day of thanksgiving was observed throughout all the settlements for God's goodness to them.
Some of these settled permanently at Charlestown, and Boston; and, as their great object was the promotion of religion, they entered, August 27, into church covenant, and chose Mr. Wilson, a man of distinguished piety and zeal, who had been minister in Sudbury, England, to be their pastor. This church embraced the Governor, deputy governor, and other men of distinction. Others scattered about, forming nine or ten villages, and establishing as many churches. One company settled Watertown, with Mr. Phillips for their pastor. Another settled Roxbury, and chose the famous John Elliot, and Mr. Weld, for their pastors. Another, and a very excellent company, which had been formed into a congregational church in England, under Mr. Wareham and Mr. Maverick, and which came over about the same time, settled Dorchester. Three years after, another valuable company came over under Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone, and settled Newton, now Cambridge. Mr. Hooker had been a preacher at Chelmsford, and was silenced for nonconformity, and obliged to flee to Holland.
But he was a man of such pulpit talents, that many who viewed him as their spiritual father, were ready to follow him to the ends of the earth. They invited him to go with them to America. Some of them preceded him and formed their settlement, and when he arrived, he embraced them with open arms, saying, I live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”
As the numbers of the planters increased, the churches at
• “ They had been ordained by bishops in England. This ordination was only to the pastoral care of that particular flock, founded on their free election."-Prince.
+ See chap. xxii.
HARTFORD AND NEW HAVEN SETTLED,
Dorchester, Watertown and Newton, resolved to remove to the fertile valleys of the Connecticut. Abou the beginning of June, 1636, Mr. Hooker and Mr. Stone, with an hundred men, women, and children, left Newton, and travelled with the greatest difficulty, over an hundred miles of trackless wilderness to Hartford. They drove about 160 head of cattle, which afforded them sustenance, and carried their arms and utensils. They were about a fortnight in the wilderness. Mr. Warham also removed with his church and settled Windsor. The church at Watertown removed to Wethersfield, but Mr. Philips did not go with them, and they chose Mr. Henry Smith their pastor. The places left vacant were soon filled by new emigrants and able ministers.
In 1637, Mr. Danvenport, an eminent Christian and a learned divine, who had preached with great celebrity in London, but had become obnoxious to the ruling party and fled to Holland, came over with Mr. Eaton and Mr. Hopkins, two pious and wealthy merchants of London ; and with a few families from Massachusetts, settled New-Haven. Their republic was eminently Christian. About the same time, settlements were formed on the Piscataqna, and a church was gathered at Exeter.
Ninety-four ministers had now passed from England to Massachusetts, and 21,200 people. Of the ministers, 27 bad returned, and 36 had died.
These early pious emigrants, endured almost incredible hardships, from famine, disease, and the barbarous tribes of Indians, but as they looked around them, they were compelled to exclaim, 66 What hath God wrought !” In a very few years, this waste howling wilderness, had become a fruitful field, and the habitations of savage cruelty had become vocal with the high praises of God. In 1650, there were about forty churches in NewEngland, over which had been settled above eighty ministers, and 7,750 communicants.
Both ministers and people, were, as a body, eminently pious. Many of the ministers were distinguished in England, for literature and pulpit talent. " They were men,” says Neal, “ of great sobriety and virtue, plain, serious, affectionate preachers, exactly conformable to the doctrine of the Church of England, and took a great deal of pains to promote a reformation of manners in their several parishes." Among the emigrants, they were abundant in preaching, prayer, catechising, and visiting from house to house ; and such was the fidelity, and such the excellent character of the emigrants, that religion exceedingly