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386 SUCCEEDING COLONIES CONSULT PLYMOUTH.
And for the many plantations that came over to us, upon notice of God's blessing upon us, whereas 'tis falsely said they took Plymouth for their precedent, as fast as they came;' 'tis true, I confess, that some of the chief of them advised with us, (coming over to be freed from the burthensome ceremonies then imposed u, in England) how they should do to fall upon a right
f platform of worship, and desired to that end, since
God had honored us to lay the foundation of a Commonwealth, and to settle a Church in it, to show them whereupon our practice was grounded; and if they found, upon due search, it was built upon the Word, they should be willing to take up what was of God. We accordingly showed them the primitive practice for our warrant, taken out of the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles written to the several churches by the said Apostles, together with the commandments of Christ the Lord in the Gospel, and other our warrants
1 "The dissuader," says Cotton, love and care in sending Mr.Fuller "is much mistaken when he saith, (the physician) amongst us, and | The congregation of Plymouth did rejoice much that I am by him incontinently leaven all the vicini- satisfied touchingyour judgment of ty;' seeing for many years there the outward form of God's worwas no vicinity to be leavened, ship. It is, as far as I can yet And Salem itself, that was gather- gather, no other than is warranted ed into church order seven or eight by the evidence of truth, and the years after them, was above forty same which I have professed and miles distant from them. And maintained ever since the Lord in though it be very likely that some mercy revealed himself unto me, of the first comers might help their being far differing from the corntheory by hearing and discerning mon report that hath been spread their practice at Plymouth, yet of you touching that particular." therein the Scripture is fulfilled, Fuller himself, in a letter dated «• The kingdom of heaven is like Massachusetts, June 28, 1630, unto leaven, which a woman took writes, "Here is a gentleman, one and hid in three measures of meal, Mr. Coddington, a Boston man, till all was leavened." Way, &c, who told me that Mr. Cotton's P- 16. charge to them at Hampton was, Endicott, writing to Governor that they should take advice of Bradford from Salem, May 11, them at Plymouth, and should do 1629, says, " I acknowledge myself nothing to offend them." Mass. much bound to you for your kind Hist. Coll. iii. 66, 75.
THE PRIMITIVE CHURCHES THE ONLY PATTERN. 387
for every particular we did from the book of God. Chap.
Which being by them well weighed and considered,
they also entered into covenant with God and one another to walk in all his ways, revealed or as they should be made known unto them, and to worship him according to his will revealed in his written word only, &c. So that here also thou mayest see they set not the church at Plymouth before them for example, but the primitive churches were and are their and our mutual patterns and examples, which are only worthy to be followed, having the blessed Apostles amongst them, who were sent immediately by Christ himself, and enabled and guided by the unerring spirit of God. And truly this is a pattern fit to be followed of all that fear God, and no man or men to be followed further than they follow Christ and them.
Having thus briefly showed that the foundation of our New England plantations was not laid upon schism, division or separation, but upon love, peace and holiness; yea, such love and mutual care of the church of Leyden for the spreading of the Gospel, the welfare of each other and their posterities to succeeding generations, as is seldom found on earth; and having showed also that the primitive churches are the only pattern which the churches of Christ in New England have in their eye, not following Luther, Calvin, Knox, Ainsworth, Robinson, Ames, or any other, further than they follow Christ and his Apostles, I am earnestly requested to clear up another gross mistake which caused many, and still doth, to judge the harder of ^ New England and the churches there, " because (say they) the Church of Plymouth, which went first from
338 ROBINSON'S DOCTRINE OF COMMUNION.
Chap. Lejden, were schismatics, Brownists, rigid Separatists,
~ &c, having Mr. Robinson for their pastor, who made
and to the last professed separation from other the churches of Christ, &c. And the rest of the churches in New England, holding communion with that church, are to be reputed such as they are."
For answer to this aspersion, first, he that knew Mr. Robinson either by his doctrine daily taught, or hath read his Apology, published not long before his death,1 or knew the practice of that church of Christ under his government, or was acquainted with the wholesome counsel he gave that part of the church which went for New England at their departure and afterward, might easily resolve the doubt and take off the aspersion. 1617 For his doctrine, I living three years8 under his min1620. istry, before we began the work of plantation in New England, it was always against separation from any the churches of Christ; professing and holding communion both with the French and Dutch churches,3 yea, tendering it to the Scotch also, as I shall make appear more particularly anon; ever holding forth how wary persons ought to be in separating from a Church, and
1 In 1619. Robinson died in Again, on page 8, he says, "Touch
1625. ing the Reformed Churches, what
* From 1617 to 1620. Winslow more shall I say? We account
was 22 years old when he united them the true churches of Jesus
himself to Robinson's church at Christ, and both profess and prac
Leyden. See note on page 274. tise communion with them in the
3 Robinson says in his Apology, holy things of God, what in us lielh. page 6, " We do profess before God Their sermons such of ours freand men, that such is our accord, quent, as understand the Dutch in the case of religion, with the tongue; the sacraments we do adDutch Reformed Churches, as that minister to their known members, we are ready to subscribe to all and if by occasion any of them be preevery article of faith in the same sent with us; their distractions Church, as they are laid down in and other evils we do seriously bethe Harmony of Confessions of wail; and do desire from the Lord Faith, published in their name." their holy and firm peace."
HIS REGARD FOR THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND. 339
that till Christ the Lord departed wholly from it, man Chap.
ought not to leave it, only to bear witness against the
corruption that was in it.
But if any object, he separated from the Church of England and wrote largely against it, but yet let me tell you he allowed hearing the godly ministers preach and pray1 in the public assemblies; yea, he allowed private communion2 not only with them, but all that were faithful in Christ Jesus in the kingdom and elsewhere upon all occasions; yea, honored them for the power of godliness, above all other the professors of religion in the world. Nay, I may truly say, his spirit cleaved unto them, being so well acquainted with the integrity of their hearts and care to walk blameless in their lives; which was no small motive to him to persuade us to remove from Holland3 where we might probably not only continue English, but have and maintain such sweet communion with the godly of that nation as through God's great mercy we enjoy this day.
'Tis true, I confess, he was more rigid in his course and way at first than towards his latter end ; * for his study was peace and union, so far as might agree with faith and a good conscience; and for schism and divi
1 Cotton says, "This must not any church, but from the world.1"
be understood of the Common Prince, Annals, p. 174.
Prayer Book, but of the prayers 3 The words "to some other
conceived by the preacher before place," seem to be here accidentally
and after sermon." Way, p. 8. omitted.
* "By private communion I sup- * Baylie himself acknowledges pose he means in opposition to the that "Master Robinson was the mixed communion in the public most learned, polished, and modest churches ; that is, he allowed all of spirit that ever that sect enjoyed;" the Church of England who were . and adds, "it had been truly a marknown to be pious to have commu- vel if such a man had gone on to nion in his private church. For as the end a rigid Separatist." DisMr. Cotton, writing of Mr. Robin- suasive, p. 17. son, says, 'He separated not from
HIS DISLIKE OF EPISCOPACY AND THE LITURGY.
chap. sion, there was nothing in the world more hateful to
—v^. him. But for the government of the Church of England, as it was in the Episcopal way, the Liturgy, and stinted prayers of the Church then, yea, the constitution of it as National, and so consequently the corrupt communion of the unworthy with the worthy receivers W the Lord's Supper, these things were never approved of him, but witnessed against to his death, and are by the church over which he was, to this day.1 And if the Lord would be pleased to stir up the hearts of those in whom (under him) the power of reformation lies to reform that abuse, that a distinction might once be put between the precious and the vile, particular churches might be gathered by the powerful preaching of the Word, those only admitted into communion whose hearts the Lord persuades to submit unto the iron rod of the Gospel, O how sweet then would the communion of the churches be! How thorough the reformation! How easy would the differences be reconciled between the Presbyterian and Independent way! How would the God of peace, who command
1 "Our faith is not negative, nor consists in the condemning of others, and wiping their names out of the bead-roll of churches, but in the edifying of ourselves; neither require we of any of ours, in the confession of their faith, that they either renounce or in one word contest with the Church of England— whatsoever the world clamors of us in this way. Our faith is founded upon the writings of the Prophets and Apostles, in which no mention of the Church of England is made."
"No man to whom England is known can be ignorant that all the natives there, and subjects of the kingdom, although never such
strangers from all show of true piety and goodness, and fraught never so full with many most heinous impieties and vices, are without difference compelled and enforced by most severe laws, civil and ecclesiastical, into the body of that church. And of this confused heap (a few, compared with the rest, godly persons mingled among,) is that national church, commonly called the church of England, collected and framed. Every subject of the kingdom, dwelling in this or that parish, is bound, will he, nill he, fit or unfit, as with iron bonds, to participate in all holy things, and some unholy also, in that same parish church." Robinson's Apology, pp. 52, 56.