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M. L. 

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1606 to 1 90 1, ^v John Cuckson, Minister. 

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Geo. H. Ellis Co., 272 Congress Street 



Bv John Ci'ckson 







I dedicate these simple annals of a brave and sturdy race, in grateful 
acknowledgment of her loyal and generous friendship. 



Preface v« 

Introduction « 

I. Heresy and Schism i 

II. The Sojourn in Holland 8 

III, Across the Atlantic ^9 

IV, "The Wild New England Shore" 29 

V. Keeping the Faith 35 

VI. Gain and Loss 44 

VII. Stagnation and Revival 57 

VIII, Creed, or No Creed ? 70 

IX. Back to the Past 82 

X. Liberty and Progress 103 


THE venerable religious society — the First 
Church of Christ in Plymouth, the church 
of the Pilgrims and their descendants — is 
approaching the tercentenary of its birth. That 
event will be interesting not only to the parish 
itself, but to the outside world, for the story 
of heroic adventure, fortitude, and endurance, of 
which this church is the permanent memorial, does 
not belong to one age, or to one country. It has 
become the treasured heritage of all congregations 
founded upon freedom and self-government. In 
order, therefore, that the present generation may 
become better acquainted with the way in which 
their sturdy forefathers walked, and the principles 
which guided them from the beginning, and from 
which the church has never swerved, I have thought 
the occasion opportune for the putting together in 
brief and handy form, and as much as possible apart 
from the general history of Plymouth Colony, the 
most important items in the religious story of the 
Pilgrims. The main ground has been well-covered 
by able and scholarly men, who have studied Pil- 
grim history in its general bearings, and nothing 
new can be added to the facts, which they have ac- 
cumulated. All that is attempted here, is a modest 
summary from the larger histories, in the shape of a 
popular text-book for the use of the general reader, 
who has neither the leisure nor the inclination, to 
enter into a detailed study of the rarer and costlier 


The First Church in Plymouth 

volumes. The authorities which have been con- 
sulted are, Bradford's History of Plymouth Planta- 
tion 1606 to 1646^ Youngs Chronicles of the Pil- 
grims 1606 to 1624^ Records of the First Church in 
Plymouth^ Founders of New Plymouth by Rev. 
Joseph Hunter^ Goodwin s Pilgrim Republic^ Hon. 
W. T. Davis's Ancient Landmarks of Plymouth^ The 
Dictionary of National Biography. I have read 
many other books on the same subject, histories and 
records, but they were largely compilations from 
original sources, or special pleas in elucidation or 
defense, of some preconceived theories of Pilgrim 
theology or church polity. 

All that is wanted is a narrative faithfully and 
briefly told, in which the facts are left to tell their 
own story ; and I shall be amply satisfied, if this 
little book, by its clearness and accuracy, leads some 
of its readers, to study more completely a bit of 
history as rich in characters and events, interesting, 
romantic, and heroic, as any in the annals of our 

Fair Havens, Plymouth, Mass. 



THE story of the genesis of the Pilgrim 
movement, its rise in England, the flight 
of its founders to Holland, the perilous 
voyage across the Atlantic, the founding of a new 
colony in America, in the depth of winter, and 
among hostile savages, the annals of persecution, 
suffering and death, constitute one of the most 
interesting and inspiring epics in the history of 
religion. It began at the opening of the seven- 
teenth century. England had officially renounced 
the ecclesiastical authority of Pope Clement the 
Seventh and accepted that of Henry the Eighth. 
But, as the ideas, principles, habits of a nation, in 
religious matters, are not easily transplanted, the 
incipient Protestantism of the age was only a crude 
growth. The passage from the political theology 
of the Vatican, to the theological politics of Lam- 
beth Palace, was but a short step, towards the com- 
plete enfranchisement of the individual mind and 
conscience, which is the logical result of the Prot- 
estant principle. People who had been disciplined 
for ages, to mistrust their own faculties in religious 
thinking, were slow to leave what seemed to them 
like safe anchorage, and to trust their souls to 
the unauthorized guidance of unconventional re- 
formers, and their churches to the secular power. 
Many of them parted from the Papacy with re- 
luctance, and clung to Episcopacy, which at that 
time, was the nearest approach to it, as to the 


The First Church in Plymouth 

outer line of freedom, beyond which was nothing 
but chaos. Others, like the Presbyterians, Brown- 
ists. Anabaptists, Independents, felt and acted more 
courageously, and moved, as if they were marching 
on a road with numerous hostelries, but with no 
rest for their feet, short of complete liberty for the 
individual conscience. The reigns of Mary and 
Elizabeth were spotted with all sorts of heresies 
and schisms, and it was not strange, therefore, that 
the bishops of Rome, and of the New Church of 
England, looked upon the Reformation in Europe, 
and the British Isles, as an ecclesiastical Franken- 
stein, over which they might lose control, to the 
lasting harm of the Christian religion. It appeared 
to them, in all its crude shapes, as a many-headed 
monster, which they were forced to combat, even 
unto death, and with whatever weapons they could 

The translation of the Scriptures into the vernac- 
ular, and the slow dissemination of biblical knowl- 
edge among the people, had led independent and 
vigorous minds, to read and think for themselves, 
and to study the Bible without gloss or comment. 
They brought to this study, an eager thirst for the 
truth, and an unwarped judgment, which no creed 
could inspire. To know that they were privileged 
to read the sacred message themselves, and with 
such light as God had given them, and to feel that 
it was their supreme duty to stand firmly by their 
own convictions and the dictates of conscience, gave 
them that moral confidence in the divineness of their 


mission, which in larger measure filled the souls of 
Luther, Melancthon, Calvin and Knox, when they 
drank of the original waters of life, and took their 
faith undiluted from the gospels. There was a real- 
ity to their convictions, when they read the clear and 
simple language of the Scriptures, which did not 
come to them as they listened to the second-hand 
jargon of the creeds, and at last, they were satisfied, 
that the teachings of the New Testament, and of 
the early centuries of Christian history, were in a 
marked degree different from the conflicting and 
confusing dogmas of later ages. No wonder, then, 
that so many of them decided to renounce " the tra- 
ditions of the elders," the mere husks of doctrinal 
controversy, and take their faith from the Gospels 
themselves, and their ecclesiastical polity from the 
book of Acts and St. Paul's Epistles. The Bible, as 
they understood it, thus became the charter of their 
religious belief, and in its exposition, they were sat- 
isfied that neither church nor priest held exclusive 
rights or privileges. Christianity as Christ and the 
Apostles taught it, with individual freedom of mind 
and conscience, and without coercion and persecu- 
tion, became the watchword of thousands of sturdy 
Protestants, on whom the light of the Reformation 
was dawning. And, there never has been a great 
religious party of Anglo-Saxons, in any generation, 
who set the right of private judgment and the im- 
perative duty of supreme loyalty to truth, more 
boldly in the forefront of their lives, and praised 
other things less in comparison with religion, than 

The First Church in Plymouth 

did our sturdy Pilgrim Fathers. False men and 
hypocrites crept into their ranks, but the grand old 
leaders, who were really conscientious and devout, 
and who suffered in dark days, have few equals, and 
no superiors, in any age of the world's history. 
The characteristic note of their piety was this, the 
sovereign importance which it attached to truth, to 
the secret and free intercourse of every living soul 
with God, and a perfect loyalty to God's will ; a 
piety theirs, not of holy places or of sacred ritual, or 
of symbols that minister to the imagination — a piety 
personal, intimate, inward ; which each man transacts 
with his Maker, entering alone, as they put it, into 
covenant with God, through Jesus Christ. It was 
that lonely communion of a man with God, in which 
authority demands and obedience yields, and with 
which no stranger is permitted to meddle, which 
made them great, and their lives, bereft of all else, 
still worth living. For that, they were prepared to 
suffer and endure ; for that, they were contented like 
Abraham to follow the divine behest, going out, not 
knowing whither they went, singlehanded, if need 
be ; at all cost, with loss of home and possessions, if 
so be, they might better acquit them like men, and 
honour their integrity. Theirs was a serious and 
masterful religion, not to be won except by brave 
effort, and not to be kept, but with suffering and 
loss. It was a religion that gripped men by their 
consciences, and laid on their souls the awful man- 
date of Heaven, and ruled them by the voice of 



But, it may be asked, did not this intensity of 
faith, lead many of them into narrowness and 
fanaticism ? Were they not uncomfortable people 
to live with? In the midst of mendacity, frivolity, 
immorality, yes : but, surrounded by veracity, 
courage, virtue, no. The Pilgrim was unhappy 
himself, and the source of unhappiness to others, 
in the midst of conditions which aroused his moral 
indignation ; but, he was contented and peaceful 
enough, in any environment, which harmonized 
with personal and public virtue. The stalwart 
fathers were not perfect. They lived without the 
light of modern science and learning. They did 
not, and could not, understand the Scriptures as 
they are understood in the twentieth century ; they 
had not our helps to the right interpretation of 
the Bible ; they did less than justice, many of 
them, to the natural beauties of Creation, and to 
the innocent felicities of life ; they set the stern 
sovereignty of God above the Father's love ; but 
to say this, is only to say, that they did their best 
in a bad time. Exaggerations, limitations, mis- 
takes, cling to men in every age ; but in spite of 
these, the great thing was, that they bore their 
testimony to the truth, and asserted their freedom, 
in an age, when men cared nothing for the one, 
and were doing their best to crush out the other. 
It did not occur to them to stop and parley with 
prudential considerations, or wait to see what 
loyalty to righteousness would cost them ; but they 
heard the divine voice, and sought to make it the 

[ xiii ] 

The First Church in Plymouth 

rule of their lives, preferring the life of heroic duty 
with all its hard experiences, to a useless enjoyment 
of social respectability or self-indulgence, in which 
there is no moral worth whatever. 

There is also another point worth remembering. 
Our Pilgrim Fathers not only fled from persecu- 
tion on account of their opinions, but also from the 
deadening and desolating influence of Sacerdotalism 
and ceremony. The creeds entered into the Book 
of Common Prayer. And religion among their con- 
temporaries had degenerated into superstitious 
formality. Devotional liturgies rested upon a 
framework of dogma, in which they did not be- 
lieve, and were full of phrases and ascriptions, they 
could not honestly repeat. It was to get rid of 
this, quite as much as to escape the tyranny of false 
opinion, that they reluctantly but resolutely for- 
sook the Church, and worshipped apart in the cold 
shadow of despised dissent. 

They were not sectaries delighting in separation. 
For a long period they hesitated to break away 
from the ancient church with its prestige and noble 
history. They refused to organize themselves or 
to ordain their own ministers, until nothing else 
was left for them to do. The love of union and 
fellowship was deep and strong within them, but 
they felt it must be union in the midst of diversity, 
the fellowship of minds which cannot think alike, 
and not the profligate sentimentalism which on the 
surface, but nowhere else, looks like a love-feast of 



In this respect, we have much to learn from them. 
Our own age, which differs so widely from theirs, is 
yet, in the matter of religious fellowship on a broad 
and catholic basis, in much the same condition. If 
we imagine that the evils against which they con- 
tended have passed away, we imagine a vain thing. 
The old ecclesiastical spirit of intolerance and ex- 
clusion, though harmless as compared with what it 
was three centuries ago, is with us still. Except 
in comparatively few minds in every church, religion 
is a thing of sects and creeds, and the lines of separa- 
tion on the score of opinion are strictly drawn. The 
spirit of the age is in advance of the churches, and 
rebukes bigotry every time it shows itself; but the 
barriers between one ecclesiastical sheepfold and 
another, are as high and as strong as ever, except in 
isolated spots. The tasks which engaged our 
spiritual forefathers are yet unfinished, and the 
duties which shaped the action of Robinson, Brews- 
ter, Bradford, and Winslow, have lost none of their 
imperativeness for this generation. Love and service 
have not yet supplanted dogma and exclusiveness, 
as the foundation of fellowship, although the teach- 
ing of Jesus was so clear and emphatic. And the 
duty is incumbent upon us, of seeing when the time 
arrives for a great approach and reconciliation of 
Protestant sects, that the terms shall be so inclusive 
and liberal, that every succeeding generation shall 
delight to add a new link to the chain. 

In the meantime, much light and leading may be 
drawn from the character and experience of those, 


The First Church in Plymouth 

who in lonely exile, and comparative freedom from 
prejudice and meddlesome interference, laid the 
foundations, broad and deep, of the civil and re- 
ligious liberty, upon which alone, an enlightened 
and durable civilization can be reared. 




Heresy and Schism. 

THE Protestant Reformation in England 
lacked cohesion and consistency. It did 
not follow any clearly defined lines, but was 
sporadic, breaking out here and there, in indepen- 
dent movements, which were not only unrelated, but 
often fiercely hostile to each other. One of these 
departures from the church established by law, began 
near the North East Coast, at the point where the 
three counties ofYork, Nottingham, and Lincoln, con- 
verged. The little towns of Gainsborough, Scrooby, 
and Austerfield, sheltered a group of scholarly, 
brave, zealous inquirers, who quietly and for 
conscience sake, nourished their liberty, and without 
knowing it, were fanning a flame, which was destined 
to become a beacon light of history. One John 
Smyth was at the head of a Brownist community 
at Gainsborough. William Bradford, religiously 
disposed from his early youth, was brooding in- 
tently on the signs of the times, at Austerfield. 
William Brewster relieved from the cares of diplomacy 
and court intrigue, was wrestling with the religious 

The First Church in Plymouth 

problems of his day, in the quiet retreat of Scrooby 
Manor. All of them were touched by the new light 

which was breaking upon the religion of 
Scrooby England, and were cherishing a more than 
1606' common interest, in the deep things of a 

nation's spiritual life, grave, devout men, 
concerned about the morals and manners of the 
age, and satisfied that the Church of Christ was 
drifting farther and farther from its Scriptural 
moorings. The National Church was Anti-Christ. 
It had erred from the true faith of the Gospels. Its 
bishops and ordained clergy were worldly. Its 
church members were too frequently wanton and 
evil-livers ; and beliefs which should commend 
themselves to the minds and consciences of men, 
and ought not to be accepted in any other way, were 
being forced upon them by laws, temporal and 
spiritual. What could these men do ? It was against 
their consciences to feign satisfaction with things 
as they were, and to make no protest. It was 
cowardly to consent to what was untrue, and crimi- 
nal not to raise their voices in rebuke of wickedness 
in high places. Their own deep needs, and the 
spiritual hunger of those about them, made it nec- 
essary for them to meet together, whenever and 
wherever, they could safely do so, to worship in 
secret, like the persecuted Covenanters of Scotland 
and Huguenots of France. The views they held 
were heretical. The protests, they felt called upon 
to make against the teaching and ritual of the 
powerful churches of their day, laid them open to 

Heresy and Schism 

fine and imprisonment. And, yet, the impulse to 
preach and to pray, and the obHgation to prophesy, 
was irresistible. They could not be indifferent 
and would not be silent. 

The leader in this daring movement was William 
Brewster (1560 ?-i 644), who belonged to a good 
family, received an excellent education, and was for 
some time at Cambridge University. After leaving 
College, he, probably in 1584, entered the service 
of William Davison, ambassador, and afterwards 
Secretary of State to Queen Elizabeth. He was 
accounted a man of marked probity and practical 
sagacity, skilled in business affairs, and commanding 
the confidence of his employers. He accompanied 
Davison on a mission to the Netherlands in 1585, 
and remained in his service until 1587, when, as 
Bradford informs us, " he retired into the country," 
and at Scrooby Manor-House, where he resided, and 
had charge of the postal-service, he made the ac- 
quaintance of John Smyth, who was at the head of 
a Separatist community at Gainsborough (1602), 
and by whom he was greatly influenced, until he 
developed a strong personal interest in religion, and 
in "good preaching." Here in this historic house, 
which had sheltered Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 
Cardinal Wolsey, and Henry the Eighth, Brewster 
gathered about him, able and godly clergymen and 
laymen, lovers of freedom and haters of religious 
persecution, Puritans and Brownists, who found in 
their host an ardent and generous sympathizer. 
On the Lord's Day, we are told, that Brewster " en- 


The First Church in Plymouth 

tertained with great love," this group of godly- 
heretics, who without binding themselves to any- 
formal creed or ritual, such as those by which the 
age was so grievously tormented, "joyned them- 
selves, (by a covenant of the Lord) into a church 
estate, in ye fellowship of ye Gospel, to walke in all 
his ways, made known, or to be made known, ac- 
cording to their best endeavours, whatsoever it should 
cost them, the Lord assisting them." 

It soon became obvious that the little community 
needed a preacher and pastor, and it fell to the lot 

of one Richard Clyfton, some- 
Richard Clyfton time Vicar of Marnham in Not- 
1606. tinghamshire, and later. Rector 

of Babworth, near Scrooby, to be- 
come the first shepherd of the flock. He was well 
known in that vicinity as a scholarly and godly man, 
beloved by people of varying belief, " a grave and 
reverend preacher." Though somewhat advanced 
in life, he was active and energetic, and had made 
himself greatly beloved, throughout the outlying 
towns and villages. The fact that he was a bene- 
ficed clergyman did not prevent him from affilia- 
tion with heretics, or others similarly situated, 
from being members or ministers of dissenting con- 
gregations. It is conjectured that John Robinson 
1576 ?-i 625, a graduate of Cambridge, and curate in 
the Established Church, a man of great natural gifts 
and scholarly attainments joined the Scrooby com- 
munity in 1607. He became associated with Clyf- 
ton as teacher of religious doctrine, and with 
William Brewster, as ruling elder. 


Heresy and Schism 

The civil and ecclesiastical authorities were on the 
alert for heretics, and their attention was soon drawn 
to this little group of religious reformers. After the 
church had held together about a year, modestly 
exercising its independence, and doing a quiet relig- 
ious work, in its own way, it was suddenly scattered 
by relentless persecution. Prelacy was bent upon 
restoring such men to its fold, or harrying them out 
of the land. There was no safety except in recanta- 
tion, or in flight. They would not recant, and were 
forced to think of exile. Some set out for Holland, 
but the captain, in whose ship they had taken pass- 
age from Boston, betrayed them, and their leader 
William Brewster was imprisoned, and " bound over 
to the Court of Assize." In the summer of 1608, 
they were more fortunate. A Dutch skipper, await- 
ing a cargo at Hull, agreed to take them to Hol- 
land. They were to meet him at a spot on the 
coast between Hull and Grimsby, far enough away 
from any town. A small bark was engaged to take 
them to the appointed place, and at the time fixed 
they gathered on the shore, but owing to delay on 
the part of the vessel which was to carry them away, 
and difficulties with their own boat, the authorities 
were apprised of their escape, and while the men, 
women, children and cargo, were being embarked, 
they suddenly descried the approach of a great com- 
pany, both on horse and on foot, with bills and 
guns and weapons who had arrived to prevent their 
escape. The fugitives were thrown into confusion. 
Some were on board the Dutch vessel, others were 


The First Church in Plymouth 

on shore, families were divided, their goods were 
confiscated, wives were separated from their hus- 
bands, and children from their parents. Those on 
board the ship asked to be put on shore again, 
dreading to be torn from those they loved, and to 
leave their families helpless and destitute, but the 
captain would not yield. He weighed anchor, spread 
sails, and amid tears and grief inexpressible, the once 
united and happy families were ruthlessly torn 
asunder. Their cup of misery was not even then 
quite full. They encountered a fearful storm at sea, 
in which they saw neither moon nor stars, and were 
driven towards the coast of Norway. For fourteen 
days they were in peril on the sea, often expecting 
every moment that the vessel would founder, dis- 
tracted with fears, and crying unto the Lord to save 
them. Finally, after much anguish and suffering 
they arrived in Amsterdam. The fate of those that 
were left ashore was not less fearful. They fled 
from the soldiers, some making good their escape, 
and others, prevented by family ties, remaining to 
take care of the women and children. Many of 
them were apprehended, and hurried from one court 
to another, destitute, tormented, afflicted, until it 
was hard to know what to do with them. Women 
and children were homeless, friendless, forsaken, ex- 
posed to the cold, and fainting for lack of food. 
After their long misery, the sky cleared, and a way 
was opened for them, and in the end, as Bradford 
graphically tells us, "notwithstanding all these 
stormes of opposition, they all gatt over at length, 


Heresy and Schism 

some at one time and some at another, and some in 
one place and some in another, and mette togeather 
againe according to their desires, with no smaU 



The Sojourn in Holland. 

THE capital of the Netherlands afforded 
safe shelter for persecuted fugitives, who 
were sober, thrifty, peaceable and law-abid- 
ing. The Scrooby contingent did not, therefore, 
find themselves strangers in a strange land. Two 
Separatist communities from England 
Atnsterdam were already settled there, one which 
1608. had fled from London in 1593, pre- 

sided over by Francis Johnson, pastor, 
and Henry Ainsworth, teacher; and the other from 
Gainsborough, at the head of which was their old 
friend John Smyth. The former was a large and 
flourishing church, numbering three hundred com- 
municants, the latter, which had existed there little 
more than a year, was not so strong. The fact, 
that Amsterdam since 1573, had harbored all sorts 
of heresies, and had become famous in prose and 
verse, as the breeding ground of schisms, was not 
favorable to the possibilities of unity and concord 
among the new settlers, who after separation and 
delay were at last united, with John Robinson and 
William Brewster at their head. The two existing 
congregations were not at peace among themselves. 
They were torn by controversies and dissensions in 
which the Scrooby Pilgrims had no part, but into 
which they might easily be drawn. It was therefore 
decided, that in the interests of the community, it 


The Sojourn in Holland 

would be better to retire from the scene of so much 
ungodly strife, and to seek a home elsewhere, more 
favorable to their religious development. On the 
1 2th of February 1609, they obtained permission 
from the authorities of Leyden to settle there, and 
on the ist of May they removed thither. Amster- 
dam was the centre of bustHng commerce, while 
Leyden, though possessing great manufact- 
Leyden uring industries, especially, the spinning 
160Q. and weaving of cloth, was above all else 
academic. Its famous university opened in 
1575, attracted students from foreign lands, and 
continued, through the fame of such professors as 
LipsiuSjVossius, Heinsius, Gronovius, Hemsterhuis, 
Ruhuken, Valckenaer, Scaliger, Descartes, and Boer- 
haave, to be an intellectual power in Europe. Here, 
the problems of learning, of philosophy, of theol- 
ogy, and biblical exegesis, were discussed with abso- 
lute freedom, and before an audience sufficiently 
large and interested, to produce at times unusual 

When the Pilgrims arrived in Holland, they were 
without a pastor. Clyfton felt the infirmities of ad- 
vancing years a sufficient obstacle to emigration. 

Still, John Robinson and William 
John Robinson Brewster, who were the last of the 
l6og. original flock to reach Amsterdam, 

remained with them. The former 
was elected, and publicly ordained to be their min- 
ister, the latter was chosen as their elder. The 
society numbered about one hundred members, and 


The First Church In Plymouth 

steadily increased to three hundred. There were 
three deacons, two of whom, were John Carver and 
Samuel Fuller. After a while, they purchased a 
large dwelling, which in 1611 was used as pastor's 
residence and meeting-house. It stood under the 
shadow of the belfry tower of St. Peter's Church, 
and in the rear of it, twenty-one cottages were 
erected for poor emigrants. 

The Pilgrims commended themselves by their 
devoutness and high character to the citizens of 
Leyden, who showed them great consideration, and 
would have emphasized this respect still more, but 
for the fear of offending England. The magistrates 
of the city were wont to contrast their peaceable 
demeanour with the strifes and quarrels of refugees 
from other nations. " These English " said they, 
" have lived among us now these twelve years, and 
yet we never had any suit or accusation come 
against any of them." They were of the type of 
citizens adding strength and quality to any com- 
munity. Their pastor, was first and last a preacher 
and teacher, and concerned himself with his proper 
function, not turning aside to alien issues however 
tempting, but laboring incessantly to build up the 
lives of his flock, on the truths and principles of 
the Gospel, and in all the ways of pure and godly 
hving. He was not contentious, except where the 
vital interests of sound doctrine were concerned, 
and when error was calculated to sap the foundation 
of public morals. Now, and then, as in the con- 
troversy on Arminianism he entered into scholastic 


The Sojourn in Holland 

disputes. The old controversy between Arminius 
and Gomarus had been revived in Leyden, under 
new leaders. The two professors, Polyander and 
Episcopius, were in hot dispute on the nature of 
God's power and purpose in creation, and in 
human history. Polyander was the champion of 
Calvinism, which at the close of the i6th century 
was dominant in Holland; and Episcopius, the 
successor of Arminius in the chair of theology at 
Leyden, was the defender of the anti-Calvinistic 
school of opinion, which not only created the Re- 
monstrant Church in Holland, but pervaded much 
of the neo-Protestantism of England. 

The Calvinistic position on this question is set 
forth in Calvin's Institutio Christians Religionis^ 
written in early manhood, but subject to constant 
revision in later life, and may be briefly stated. 

I. Man was made in the image of God. Adam 
fell from this state, and involved the race in his 

1. Redemption from this state is by the incarna- 
tion of God in Jesus Christ. But until a man is 
united to Christ, so as to partake of him, there is no 
salvation. Through faith, and by the secret and 
special operation of the Holy Spirit, the believer 
after repentance, and newness of life, receives as- 
surance and justification. His sins are forgiven, he 
is accepted of God. This assurance rests upon the 
divine choice of man to salvation, and this falls back 
on God's eternal sovereign purpose whereby he has 
predestined some to eternal life, while the rest of 

The First Church in Plymouth 

mankind are predestined to condemnation and eter- 
nal death. 

3. The external aids to union with Christ, are the 
church and its ordinances, especially the sacrament. 
The Church universal is the multitude gathered from 
all nations, who agree in one common faith ; and 
wherever the word of God is sincerely preached, 
and the sacraments are duly administered, accord- 
ing to Christ's institute, there beyond doubt is a 
church of the living God. 

The Arminian contention as stated by Simon 
Episcopius is as follows : — 

I. The decree of God is, when it concerns his 
own actions absolute ; but when it concerns man's, 
conditional, i. e., the decree relative to the Saviour 
to be appointed, and the salvation to be provided is 
absolute, but the decree relative to the persons 
saved or condemned is made to depend on the 
acts — belief and repentance in the one case, unbe- 
lief and impenitence in the other — of the persons 

1. The Providence or government of God while 
sovereign is exercised in harmony with the nature 
of the creatures governed, i. e., the sovereignity of 
God is so exercised as to be compatible with the 
freedom of man. 

3. Man is by original nature, through the assist- 
ance of divine grace, free, able to will and perform 
the right ; but is in his fallen state, of and by him- 
self, unable to do so ; needs to be regenerated in all 
his powers before he can do what is good and pleas- 
ing to God. 

The Sojourn in Holland 

4. Divine grace originates, maintains and perfects 
all the good in man, so much so that he cannot, 
though regenerate, conceive, or will, or do any good 
thing without it. 

5. The saints possess by the grace of the Holy 
Spirit, sufficient strength to persevere to the end in 
spite of sin and flesh, but may so decline from 
sound doctrine as to cause divine grace to be inef- 

6. Every believer may be certain or assured of 
his own salvation. 

7. It is possible for a regenerate man to live 
without sin.* 

This controversy, which in a variety of ways re- 
peats itself in the later history of the Pilgrims, 
ended, as such debates usually end, with both sides 
claiming the victory. The exiles were proud of 
their champion, and were satisfied that he had come 
out of the conflict triumphantly, and had " non- 
plussed " his opponent ; and others, who were not 
biassed as to the issue, freely admitted that Robin- 
son had borne himself with courage, and courtesy, 
and skill, and learning, against one of the ablest dis- 
putants of the age. Indeed, he was in every 
respect a remarkable man, scholarly yet modest; 
liberal, yet free from the extravagant license of his 
age ; religiously earnest and strenuous, yet destitute 
of anything like narrowness and bigotry ; conserva- 
tive as to the faith and principles of the New 
Testament, though averse to creeds and dogmas 

* Britannica Encyclopaedia Article Arminius Vol II. 

The First Church in Plymouth 

having no sure foundation in the Gospels, and 
properly belonging to later ages ; clinging to the 
truth of the past, as it was held in his day, the com- 
monly accepted Augustinian theology with Calvin- 
istic emendations, but eager to keep himself, and 
the church over which he presided, open to the 
new light, which ever breaks forth from the word 
of God. His growth was not stunted, but pro- 
gressive ; and though he wrote many books and 
pamphlets, more or less critical, nothing that he 
ever wrote so completely expressed his mind and 
character, and revealed his true attitude towards the 
fundamental principles of the Christian religion, as 
the noble address to the departing Pilgrims, in 
which he warned them against stagnation of thought, 
and finality of belief, and the baneful tendency to 
build tabernacles on some mountain of theological 
speculation — one for Luther, one for Calvin, and 
one for Arminius. His mind was of the type 
which resists foreclosure, lies open to the light, and 
adjusts itself to whatever truth of nature or of life 
presents satisfactory credentials ; which is always 
broad enough, to do justice to opinions, it cannot 
wholly share. Not owning allegiance to any stereo- 
typed creed, he refused to set the seal of his author- 
ity upon any compendium of divinity, or final 
theological statement, however small, for the use 
of his followers ; and so the Scrooby covenant, 
simple, positive, practical, undogmatic, remained, in 
Holland, and later in New England, the only com- 
pass by which the fathers guided themselves through 


The Sojourn in Holland 

the turbid waters of religious controversy, by which 
they were so frequently surrounded. It was the 
all-sufficient rule of faith and practice at Scrooby, 
at Amsterdam, at Leyden, at Plymouth, and is to 
this day, at the end of three centuries, an adequate 
bond of Christian fellowship. 

It is impossible to do justice to the powerful in- 
fluence of John Robinson upon the Pilgrims. 
He swayed the minds of men like Brewster, 
Bradford, Carver and Winslow, who in many re- 
spects were his equals, as with magic. He com- 
manded their confidence and respect, while he was 
near them, and when the ocean divided him from 
them, they kept his name and character in unfad- 
ing remembrance. The spirit and polity of the 
church in Plymouth owed its continued existence to 
him, and preserved its integrity during the first try- 
ing years of American exile, through his sagacious 
counsel, and against the subtle blandishments of the 
Adventurers in London, and the dislike and sus- 
picion of the unmitred prelates of Salem. The 
Church was Separatist in Leyden, and remained 
Separatist and independent through its long struggle 
in the wilderness of New England. It stood alone, 
and held its own, maintaining friendly relations with 
kindred communities, but always jealously guard- 
ing its freedom, in all matters pertaining to the 
liberty of the individual conscience, and the abso- 
lute right of self-government. 

And, in the annals of that time, when civil and 
religious liberty was only beginning to be under- 


The First Church in Plymouth 

stood, the temper and attitude of this httle com- 
munity and its pastor were remarkable. It is true 
that more than a hundred years before the Pilgrims 
sailed from Holland, Sir Thomas More had written 
his Utopia, or ideal of a State, in which he had de- 
clared that Utopus the founder, had made a law, 
that every man might be of whatever religion he 
pleased, and might endeavour to draw others to it, 
by force of argument, and by amicable and modest 
ways ; but those who used reproaches or violence 
in their attempts were to be condemned to banish- 
ment. Nevertheless, this view of religious tolera- 
tion was looked upon in that age, as it is in many 
quarters even now, as altogether visionary and im- 
practicable, and he who taught it, one of the seren- 
est and most beautiful souls in history, was only 
like a voice crying in the wilderness. Not until 
the years 1644 and 1647 when John Milton issued 
his " Areopagitica, or speech for the liberty of un- 
licensed printing," and Jeremy Taylor published 
his " Liberty of Prophesying," more than twenty 
years after the Mayflower started on her eventful 
voyage, was there any attempt in England to set 
forth the true principles of civil and religious lib- 
erty. Yet, the exiles at Leyden were illustrating 
ideas and principles, learned in the hard school of 
persecution and suffering, to which later generations 
have added little, and from which they have had lit- 
tle to take away. It was enough for them, that they 
recognized the sufficiency of Scripture, the validity 
of reason and conscience under divine control, the 

The Sojourn in Holland 

spiritual authority of Jesus Christ, the plain teach- 
ing of the Gospels, and the necessity to salvation, 
of personal godliness. Practical loyalty to their 
great spiritual Head, was what concerned them 
most, and made them such rigid disciplinarians, in 
matters of conduct and character. Vice was the 
worst heresy with which they had to deal. They 
were less careful, all through their history, that 
their followers should agree or disagree with their 
views, than that they should walk justly and cir- 
cumspectly, and live pure and upright lives. John 
Calvin set himself to purify the State, and estab- 
lish the government of Geneva, upon a Christian 
basis, stamping out vice and crime, and ruling 
shameless iniquity with a rod of iron. And the 
Pilgrim Fathers thoroughly believed in the feasi- 
bility of a Christian Republic, in which pure living 
was, in the Apostolic sense, equivalent to sound 
doctrine, and personal righteousness the best proof 
of salvation. 

This accounts, in large measure, for the compara- 
tive absence among them, of pitiful wrangling about 
words, which characterized so many of their con- 
temporaries, and the concentration of their energy 
and enthusiasm upon the growth of Christian morals 
and manners, in their community. Sinners of the 
obdurate type always gave them the greatest trouble, 
and neither wealth, social status, nor any other con- 
sideration, could save such from their stern con- 
demnation. All who wished to enter their society, 
or stay there, must not by their conduct or bearing. 

The First Church in Plymouth 

bring reproach upon the community. They were 
resolved, that the church should set the style of 
living for the world, and not the world for the 
church. "They came as near the primitive pattern 
of the first churches, as any other churches of these 
latter times, hath done, according to their rank and 

* Bradford, First Church Records. 



Across the Atlantic. 

THE English element in the Leyden Con- 
gregation, never seemed to outgrow the 
feeling, that though in the enjoyment of 
larger liberty, and security from cruel oppression, 
they were sojourners in a strange land. They 
hoped, almost against hope, that some change 
for the better would take place, either dynastic or 
ecclesiastical, which would enable them to return to 
their homes in England. But, the change never 
came, and as early as 1617, they contemplated 
emigration to America. Leyden did not provide 
as many opportunities for such work as they could 
do, as Amsterdam. Some were skilled mechanics, 
others quickly picked up handicrafts of one sort or 
another, but quite a number were unskilled, and 
at their wit's end to know how to earn a living. 
The old world was everywhere, becoming too 
narrow and contracted for its teeming populations, 
and a refuge was needed from oppression and star- 
vation. And, as the Pilgrims brooded over their 
hardships, and daily wrestled with the hard problem 
of existence, the vision of life in some distant 
colony under the British Crown, was not without 
its fascinations. They were strong, thrifty, daring, 
and, if only means of transportation could be found, 
the goodness of God and their own enterprise 
might be trusted to do the rest. Tidings had 


The First Church in Plymouth 

reached them, of the fitting out of commercial ex- 
peditions from England, to her various colonies, 
and their only hope seemed to lie, in being able to 
join one of these. They, therefore, sent John 
Carver and Robert Cushman to London, to nego- 
tiate a scheme, which had been carefully prepared, 
by which they might be transported to America. 
London was the centre of commercial enterprise, 
and adventurous companies were investing their 
wealth in opening up new fields of business, and 
laying the foundations of that commercial suprem- 
acy which was to put the world under trib- 
ute. They took with them a document, which 
was evidence of their loyalty and good faith, signed 
by John Robinson and William Brewster, setting 
forth in seven articles, the conditions to which they 
would pledge themselves, in starting out on the 
projected enterprise. Their purpose, at least in its 
inception was not purely religious. They had 
struggled with hopeless poverty long enough, and 
longed to improve their material condition, as the 
preliminary to higher and nobler things. They 
wanted to earn an honest competency for them- 
selves and their children. Carver, and Brewster, 
soon found that in London they had to deal witl 
men of the world, accustomed to drive hard bar- 
gains, into which heroic and benevolent motives 
did not enter. The Virginia Company, and other 
combinations, existed only for trade and commerce, 
under charters of the Privy Council. They were 
composed of Merchant Adventurers, and as the 


Across the Atlantic 

loan which the Pilgrims required for seven years, 
and were prepared to negotiate, was subject to grave 
risks, and depended upon the industry and thrift 
of the borrowers, it was accompanied with hard 
conditions. Necessity, however, knows no choice. 
The bargain was completed. 

On the return of the emissaries, the members 
of the church at Leyden were invited to volunteer 
for the expedition, with the understanding, that if a 
majority agreed to go to America, their pastor would 
accompany them, but, otherwise, Brewster was to 
lead them to the Promised Land. To Robinson's 
regret, the majority did not approve of the expedi- 
tion. Their hearts failed them, and it was left to a 
minority of the community, to win an exalted and 
enviable place in history. 

The chosen company quickly set about making 
urgent plans for their departure. Some were in 
London, negotiating for a vessel and cargo, and all 
necessary equipments for the voyage. Others were 
busy at Leyden, securing another vessel to take 
them to England, and making such domestic ar- 
rangements as the occasion required. When every- 
thing was ready, the church set apart July 2 1 st 1 620, 
as a day of humiliation and prayer, and assembled in 
their meeting-house. John Robinson preached to 
them from the text. Then I proclaimed a fast there, 
at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves 
before God, to seek of him a straight way for us, and 
for our little ones, and for all our substance. Ezra 
Fill. 21. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

He also delivered an address, and among other 
wholesome instructions and exhortations, Winslow 
tells us, " he used these expressions, or to the same 
purpose : 

" We are now ere long to part asunder and the 
Lord knoweth whether ever he ghould live to see 
our faces again. But whether the Lord had ap- 
pointed it or not, he charged us before God and his 
blessed angels, to follow him no further than he fol- 
lowed Christ ; and if God should reveal anything to 
us by any other instrument of his, to be as ready to 
receive it, as ever we were to receive any truth by his 
ministry; for he was very confident the Lord had 
more truth and light yet to break forth out of his 
holy word. He took occasion also miserably to be- 
wail the state and condition of the Reformed 
Churches, who were come to a period in religion, 
and would go no further than the instruments of 
their Reformation. As, for example, the Luther- 
ans, they could not be drawn to go beyond what 
Luther saw ; for whatever part of God's will he had 
further imparted and revealed to Calvin, they will 
rather die than embrace it. And so also, saith he, 
you see the Calvinists, they stick where he left them ; 
a misery much to be lamented : for though they 
were precious shining lights in their times, yet God 
had not revealed his whole will to them ; and were 
they now living saith he, they would be as ready 
and willing to embrace further light as that they had 
received. Here also he put us in mind of our 
church covenant, at least that part of it whereby we 

Across the Atlant: 

promise and covenant with God, and one with 
another, to receive whatever light or truth shall be 
made known to us from his written word ; but 
withal, exhorted us to take heed what we received 
for truth, and well to examine it, and compare it, 
and weigh it, with other Scriptures of truth, before 
we received it. For, saith he, it is not possible the 
Christian world should come so lately out of such 
thick anti-christian darkness, and that full perfection 
of knowledge should break forth at once." ^' 

On the following day the emigrants went on 
board the Speedwell, a small vessel which was to 
take them to England ; and set sail from Delft- 
haven, parting sorrowfully with the fair city, which 
had given them such hospitable shelter, and with 
the dear friends from whom they were separating it 
might be for life, and started on their way with a 
prosperous wind, and a parting salute. " We gave 
them " writes Winslow "a volley of small shot, and 
three pieces of ordnance ; and so lifting up our 
hands to each other, to the Lord our God, we de- 
parted and found his presence with us." 

The Speedwell soon reached Southampton, where 
xki^ May flow erixovix London awaited her, with some of 
their company, and a trans-atlantic cargo on board. 

Negotiations and arrangements with the Advent- 
urers dragged slowly, and delayed the expedition, 
to the sore perplexity and regret of the Pilgrims. 
In the midst of this delay William Brewster re- 
ceived an official letter of farewell from John 

* Hypocrisie Unmasked by Edward Winslow. 

The First Church in Plymouth 

Robinson to the departing company, full of wise 
counsel and encouragement, as to their civil and 
religious duties and obligations, and commending 
them to the providence of God. 

On the 15th of August 1620, the Mayflower 
and Speedwell started on their voyage across the 
Atlantic. Whether the latter ship was unsea- 
worthy, or her master's courage was not equal to 
the task, will never be known ; but the craft leaked, 
put into Dartmouth and then into Plymouth for 
repairs, and was finally abandoned and sold. After 
the loss of a month of very precious time, the May- 
flower^ with Thomas Jones as captain, sailed alone 
on the 1 6th of September. She carried 102 pas- 
sengers, and was bound for the Virginia Colony. 
At the outset, she was further delayed, by stress of 
weather, but eventually the winds were favorable, 
and she started out on her long and perilous voy- 
age. These brave men and women 
The Mayflower impelled by a grand ideal, which 
1620. had hitherto led them from one 

city of refuge to another, broke 
away from earthly supports, and flung themselves 
with absolute confidence, on the guidance and pro- 
tection of God. They knew not what fate awaited 
them, or on what shore they might be cast, but 
carried in their breasts the hope of a better country, 
in which they might be free, virtuous, and con- 
tented. No ship ever bore a costlier freight. The 
ocean never carried on its heaving, restless bosom a 
charge so loaded with the higher destinies of man- 


Across the Atlantic 

kind. Now in sunshine and then in cloud ; one 
day scudding before a favouring breeze, and the 
next labouring in the trough of the sea ; at this 
moment, cowed with fear, at that, exultant with 
hope ; the exiles trusted themselves to the change- 
ful winds and the treacherous deep, nourishing in 
their daring hearts, the unwritten charter of a gov- 
ernment, founded upon law and liberty, and des- 
tined, though they knew it not, to afford shelter 
and protection to millions, who like themselves, 
should seek refuge from tyranny and starvation. 

A voyage of sixty-seven days, more than twice 
the average length ofa passage at that time, brought 
the Mayflower to Cape Cod. Two days afterwards, 
anchor was cast in the quiet 
Cape Cod Novem- waters of Provincetown Har- 
her 20th 1620. hour, and with gratitude to 
Almighty God for safe deliver- 
ance from the perils of the sea, the Pilgrims, not 
forgetting the past, and not despairing of the future, 
turned their faces trustfully and bravely, to the 
difficulties and dangers, which awaited them in the 
unknown wilderness on shore. The night before 
setting foot on American soil, they met in the ship's 
cabin, to settle the preliminary problem of statesman- 
ship, by signing a bond or agreement, to regulate 
their government, and to hold 
T^he Compact them together in peace and 

Novr 2 1 St 1620. good-will. On their own respon- 
sibility, they had come together 
years before as a separate church, undogmatic and 


The First Church in Plymouth 

self-governing, with officers and ordinances of their 
own free choice ; and, now, they were to be welded 
into a civil commonwealth equally free, authoritative, 
democratic. The form of the Compact was as 
follows — 

" In y* name of God, Amen. We whose names 
" are under-written, the loyall subjects of our dread 
" Soveraigne Lord, King James, by the grace of God, 
"of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, de- 
" fender of the faith, etc., having undertaken for the 
"glory of God, and advancement of the Christian 
"faith, and honour of our King and country, a 
*' voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern 
" parts of Virginia, do, by these presents, solemnly 
" and mutually, in the presence of God, and one of 
"another, covenant and combine ourselves together 
" in a civil body politic, for our better ordering and 
" preservation, and furtherance of the ends aforesaid ; 
" and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute and frame 
"such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, con- 
" stitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall 
" by thought most meet and convenient for the 
" general good of the colony ; unto which we 
"promise all due submission and obedience. In 
" witness where of we have hereunder subscribed 
"our names, at Cape Cod the ii"'of November 
" (" old style ") in the year of the reign of our sover- 
"eign lord. King James, of England, France and 
" Ireland the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty- 
" fourth, Anno Domini 1620 


Across th 





John Carver 



. William Mullins 


William Bradford 



William White 


Edward Winslow 



Richard Warren 


William Brewster 



John Rowland 

Isaac Allerton 



Stephen Hopkins 


Capt. Mvles Standish 



Edward Tilly 



John Alden 



John Tilly 


Samuel Fuller 



Francis Cook 


Christopher Martin 



Thomas Rogers 


John Ridgdale 



Thomas Tinker 


Edward Fuller 



Thomas Williams 


John Turner 



Gilbert Winslow 


Francis Eaton 



Edmund Margeson 


James Chilton 



Peter Brown 


John Crackston 



Richard Britteridge 


John Billington 



George Soule 

Moses Fletcher 



Richard Clarke 


John Godman 



Richard Gardiner 


Degory Priest 



John Allerton 
Thomas English 
Edward Dotey 
Edward Leister 


John Carver, a man godly and well-approved 
among them, was chosen the Governor of the Col- 
ony for that year. The embryo Commonwealth 
had thus completed its outfit. William Brewster, 
though unordained, and, therefore, not permitted to 
administer the communion, was able to conduct re- 
ligious worship, teach doctrines, and give spiritual 
comfort to the sick and dying. Governor Carver 
stood guarantee for the sovereignty of law and 
order. Myles Standish was captain and military 
commander. Necessity had driven them to or- 
ganize a church to meet the spiritual exigencies of 

The First Church in Plymouth 

their situation : and, now, necessity compelled 
them to enter into a civil compact, to protect them 
against the incipient rebellion, which in faint mut- 
terings had been heard on the voyage, and which 
in all probability would express itself in louder tones 
ashore. The Pilgrims were not philosophers, or 
theorists, elaborating methods of civil and religious 
government according to any preconceived plans ; 
but men with the statesman's special gift of meet- 
ing emergencies as they arise in the growth of a 
community. In doing this, they had chiefly their 
own wants to consider, and " so after they had pro- 
vided a place for their goods, a common store, 
(which was long in unlading for want of boats, 
foulness of winter weather, and sickness of diverce) 
and begun some small cottages for their habitation, 
as time would admitte, they mette, and consulted of 
lawes and orders, both for their civill and military 
government, as y^ necessitie of their condition did 
require, still adding thereunto as urgent occasion in 
several! times, and as cases did require." 



"The Wild New England Shore/' 

AFTER several expeditions on the coast, in 
search of a suitable landing-place, and a final 
settlement, accompanied with grave danger, 
both on sea and land, the Pilgrims sounded Ply- 
mouth harbor, and discovered it was fit for ship- 
ping. They went inland for several miles, and 
found cornfields and running 
Dec: JOth l620y brooks. " Pines, walnuts, beech, 
Plymouth. ash, birch, hazel, holly, asp, sas- 

safras in abundance, and vines 
•everywhere, cherry trees, plum trees," flourished. 
" Many winter herbs, as strawberry leaves, sorrel, 
yarrow, carvel, brooklime, liverwort, water cresses, 
great store of leeks and onions, and an excellent 
strong kind of flax and hemp," were abundant. 
Wild-fowl of various kinds frequented the shore ; 
skate, cod, turbot, herring, mussels, crabs, and lob- 
sters, abounded in the waters along the coast. The 
beautiful bay, with its islands and headlands, shone 
resplendent in its wintry sheen. Surely, this was a 
good place to dwell in, and it was natural enough, 
that the weather-beaten and weary wanderers should 
ofi^er special Thanksgiving to the good God, who 
had worked such deliverance for them. 

The early years of the settlement in Plymouth 
were largely taken up with the bare struggle for ex- 
istence. The first winter was particularly trying. 

The First Church in Plymouth 

and between January and the end of March, no less 
than twenty-one of those who signed the Compact, 
succumbed to its severities. The poor exiles were 
encompassed with dangers. They had to protect 
themselves, as best they could, against the intense 
cold, the inclemencies of a hard winter, the ravages 
of disease, the wily attacks of treacherous Indians, 
and the machinations of the meaner sort among 
themselves. But, the new Church, and the embryo 
State, nursed in persecution, borne through storm 
and tempest, independent yet co-operant, were 
firmly established. They had survived every vicis- 
situde, and their foundations were secure ; and from 
this point onward, our history is concerned with the 
rise and development of organized religion in the 

The first public building to be erected was a large 
house, twenty-feet square, which was used for 
storage and public worship ; but shortly after its 
completion, it took fire, and 
The Common House was burnt to the ground. In 
yanuary 1620. the month of April " whilst 

they were bussie with their 
seed," Governor Carver was taken suddenly ill, 
and died, leaving a widow who soon followed him. 
The death of the first Governor was a severe loss 
to the community. He was not only a deeply relig- 
ious man, but had won their esteem and endeared 
himself to them, by long and patient service and 
sacrifice. He was sagacious, skilled in practical 
affairs, and upright in all his dealings. He was 


"The Wild New England Shore" 

succeeded in office by William Bradford, with Isaac 
Allerton, as assistant. 

In the month of November 1621, the depleted 
ranks of the colonists were partly filled up by the 
unexpected arrival of the Fortune^ and thirty-five 
persons were added to the plantation. The summer 
of 1622, saw the erection of the Fort. Bradford 
writes, " they builte a fort with good timber, both 
strong and comly, which was of good 
The tort defence, made with a flatte rofe and 
1622. batilments, on which their ordnance was 
mounted, and where they kepte constante 
watch, especiallv in time of danger. It served them 
also for a meeting-house, and was fitted accordingly 
for that use." 

Here on the summit of Burial Hill, the Pilgrims 
perpetuated the church founded in England under 
the ministration of Elder Brewster. The ecclesiasti- 
cal polity of the church was copied, with slight 
modifications, from that provided by Guillaume 
Farel and John Calvin, for the Reformed Churches 
of France. The church universal consisted of those, 
of every nationality, who accepted the fundamentals 
of the Christian faith, preached from the Scriptures, 
and administered the sacraments. 
The permanent officers of the church, were 

1. The pastor, whose duty it was to preach, and 
to preside over the discipline of the church, to ad- 
minister the sacraments, and to admonish and exhort 
the members. 

2. A teacher, or teachers, who explained and in- 


The First Church in Plymouth 

terpreted the Scriptures, and inculcated the truth 
therein revealed, as it was made known to them 
from time to time. 

3. Certain devout and experienced men, known 
as deacons, who were to attend to the material in- 
terests of the church, and to relieve the poor. 

The election of the officers in the church was 
vested in the people, and those duly chosen and 
called, were ordained by the laying on of the hands 
of the pastors. The Sacraments were Baptism and 
the Lord's Supper. Baptism was administered only 
to such infants, as whereof one parent, at the least, 
was of some church. The Lord's Supper was ad- 
ministered by a duly ordained clergyman to mem- 
bers of the church. 

The Pilgrims had long felt, what Richard Baxter 
afterwards declared in 1680, that two things had 
wrought incalculable mischief to the church, firstly, 
insisting upon creed, and making more fundamentals 
than God ever made ; and secondly, the imposition 
of creeds and statements upon unwilling and un- 
beheving minds. In these two respects, therefore, 
they departed from other churches, and laid down 
principles which gave them a unique position in 
their time — they had no creed, and repudiated per- 
secution as the handmaid of piety. 

For several years the Church at Plymouth was 
without a pastor. It lived upon the truths which 
John Robinson had taught, with such care and learn- 
ing, and broke the bread of life in the way which 
exile had made so precious. On the Lord's day, 


"The Wild New England Shore" 

the people gathered in the meeting-house, sang the 
psalms, had the Scriptures read and explained, and 
joined in prayers, which flowed spontaneously from 
grateful hearts, and were born in the depth of an ex- 
perience, which had made the goodness and mercy 
of God, and the blessings of his daily providence, 
the most real and vital of all convictions. They 
knew that they were the humble instruments of 
God for good, and that their successes and failures, 
joys and sorrows, losses and gains, were included in 
his immediate purpose, and were to be accepted 
without murmur or complaint. 

Though far away from England, and apparently 
remote from interference, their ways and doings were 
reported to the British authorities, both civil and 
ecclesiastical, who worked through the Adventurers 
in London. The prelates of Episcopacy kept in 
touch with religious movements in the colonies, and 
were not slow to interfere, whenever and wherever, 
they felt called upon to do so. Bigotry has far- 
reaching tentacles, and upon the strength of reports, 
which came to them through commercial channels, 
the authorities in England complained of the laxity 
of religious life at Plymouth. It was alleged that 
the church was split up into factions, to which the 
colonists replied, that there was never any contro- 
versy or opposition among them, either public or pri- 
vate. It was charged that family duties were neg- 
lected on the Lord's day, to which the accused 
responded, that they allowed no such thing, but 
condemned it, both in themselves, and in others. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

They were denounced for neglect of both the Sacra- 
ments, to which they answered, " the more is our 
grief, that our pastor is kept from us, by whom we 
might enjoy them, for we used to have the Lord's 
Supper every Sabbath, and Baptism as often as there 
was occasion of children to baptize." Finally, it was 
urged against them, that their children were not cat- 
echised, or taught to read. This complaint was also 
false, " for diverse take pains with their owne as they 
can ; indeede we have no common schoole for want 
of a fitt person, or hitherto, means to maintain one; 
though we desire now to begine." 




Keeping the Faith. 

IT is obvious that behind the complaints as to 
the rehgion of the Colonists, was the hidden 
purpose to bring back the Separatists into full 
communion with Episcopacy. The epistles of 
pious concern, issued by the Adventurers, were soon 
followed by actions more transparent. One John 
Lyford, a clergyman, was sent over to shepherd the 
destitute flock. He was expected to ingratiate him- 
self into the good opinion of the church, to dis- 
guise his purpose, and by coaxing, wheedling, or 
Jesuitical posing, to overcome the prejudices of the 
people against prelatic usages and customs. The 
Pilgrims, though wanting a settled minister, had not 
been accustomed to having one chosen for them, 
and looked upon the experiment with suspicion. 
Although John Lyford tried hard to hoodwink 
them, by simulating a respect and affection he did 
not feel, they would have none of him. Mortified 
by defeat, he sought to injure the church, in Eng- 
land, by secretly sending false reports of its condition, 
so as to provoke intervention. His letters were 
intercepted and his dissembling exposed. He re- 
mained in the Colony for some time, engaging in 
various intrigues and causing much annoyance ; but 
his character had gone, and disappointed, and dis- 
credited, he finally left for Virginia, where he sick- 
ened and died. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

In the summer of 1625, Miles Standish went to 
London in the interests of the Colony. He could 
not have chosen a more inauspicious season for his 
mission, for at this time the country was in a state 
of commotion over the absolutism of Charles the 
First, and the tyranny of his prelates. Besides, the 
Plague was prevalent in the city. Business was 
practically suspended, and people were in no mood 
to consider Colonial affairs. He, therefore, returned 
without having accomplished his purpose. His 
arrival was received with joy, although he was the 
bearer of sad news. King James was dead. Prince 
Maurice, the head of the Dutch Government, dur- 
ing the residence of the Pilgrims in Leyden, had 
also passed away. Robert Cushman the tried and 
faithful friend of the Colonists had died at the early 
age of forty-five. And last, though not least, their 
beloved pastor John Robinson had gone to that 
rest which remained for the people of God. He 
was taken in the prime of manhood, at the age of 
forty-nine, afflicted with ague, and worn no doubt 
with anxieties and cares, incidental to his position, 
and induced in large measure by the Puritan faction, 
which gave him continual annoyance. He died on the 
I'' of March 1625, and on the 4*'', was buried in the 
vaults of St. Peter's Church. He lived the life of a 
saint, was deeply respected by his own people, and 
friends of learning in Leyden, and died a martyr to 
the cause he loved. 

The Plymouth Church continued to retain its 
convictions, and its sturdy independence, during the 


Keeping the Faith 

years it was without a pastor, desiring none of the 
imported clergymen sent by the Adventurers, whether 
of Episcopal or Puritan leanings, and heeding not 
the veiled rebukes and supercilious airs of the Salem 
fraternity. It was Separatist, and was neither to be 
bribed nor driven from its steadfast allegiance to the 
true ideal of liberty and independence. 

In 1629, there arrived in the "Talbot" one 
Ralph Smith, a clergyman whose ecclesiastical status 
when he boarded the ship, was a matter of con- 
jecture. He was thought to be a Separatist, and 
Matthew Cradock, Governor in England of the 

Massachusetts Colony, sent a mes- 
Ralph Smith sage to Endicott of Salem, concerning 
1620. him, " that unless he be conformable 

to our Government, you suffer him 
not to remain within the limits of our grant." Crad- 
ock's suspicions were well-founded, and Smith, 
upon inquiry, was compelled to accept the alterna- 
tive of being shipped back to England, in the 
" Lion's Whelp," or of seeking quarters where his 
views would meet with more favour than Salem ac- 
corded to them. He fled to Nantasket, and after 
struggling for some time in poverty, he persuaded 
the captain of a Plymouth vessel, to take him and 
his family on board, and convey them to the freer 
Colony. He was received by the Pilgrims some- 
what cautiously, but after close investigation was 
welcomed, and finally ordained the first minister of 
the church in Plymouth. Although a man of ordi- 
nary abilities, and it was said, not equal to Brewster 


The First Church in Plymouth 

as a preacher, he served the church acceptably for 
five or six years. During three years of his minis- 
try he was assisted by Roger Williams who arrived 
in America on the 5* of February 1631, and had 
been commended to the Colony by Governor Win- 
throp. On his arrival, he was invited to temporarily 
fill the pulpit of the Reverend John Wilson of Bos- 
ton, who was about to make a visit to England. 
Roger Williams graduated from Pembroke College, 
Cambridge, in 1626, and took orders in the church 
in 1629, serving as chaplain to Sir William Masham. 
The Anglican Liturgy proved distasteful to him, and 
the persistent attentions of Archbishop Laud drove 
him out of the land. He sailed from Bristol in 
England on the i'* of December 1630. The hope 
of finding liberty of conscience, and a field for his 
unquestioned ability and character in Boston, turned 
out to be delusive. In April 163 1, he accepted an 
appointment as preacher or teacher, at Salem. This 
change brought him no advantage. In matters 
ecclesiastical, Boston and Salem were too closely 
identified, and after a few months, he removed to 
Plymouth, where he remained for nearly three years. 
He appears to have been an eccentric genius, able, 
scholarly, but of unsound judgment. Here, as else- 
where his pronounced views, and personal idiosyn- 
crasies led him into trouble with the Puritan section, 
and not being able to smother his convictions at the 
behest of his worldly interests, the Plymouth church 
reluctantly parted with him. His principal conten- 
tions were, that the King had no right to grant the 


Keeping the Faith 

Colony's charter, that even casual attendance at the 
services of the Church of England was a sin, and 
that any interference whatever with the right of 
private judgment was an injustice to the individual 
and the community. These, and some minor ex- 
travagances of his, were intolerable to the Puritan 
faction, and finally ended in his banishment from 
the Bay Colony. 

The local scattering of the Colonists led to the 
founding of new churches in and around Plymouth. 
" Those that lived on their lots on y"" other side 
of y" bay (called Duxberie) they could not long 
bring their wives and children to y^ publick wor- 
ship and church meetings here, 
The Duxbury and with such burthen as growing 
Church l6j2. to some competente number, they 
sued to be dismissed, and so they 
were dismiste, about this time, though very un- 

Shortly afterwards, and for similar reasons, an- 
other body, living at Green's harbour, Marshfield 
split off from the parent church, and set up on 
its own account. These defec- 
The Marshfield tions greatly weakened the re- 
Church l6j2. sources of the Plymouth church, 
and were viewed with alarm, and, 
yet, nothing could be said against them. 

In 1633, Bradford resigned the Governorship 
after twelve years' service, and Edward Winslow 
succeeded him. Seven assistants were chosen, and 
that was the number of the Governor's Council 
ever afterwards. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

The Bay Colony had never taken very kindly to 
the Plymouth Separatists, and veiled suspicion and 
dislike soon ripened into meddlesome interference. 
The Puritan and the Pilgrim had many things in 
common, but one or two vital principles, on which 
they differed, kept them apart. The Puritan was 
conservative, accommodating, obsequious to the 
powers that be, and inclined to furbish up the old 
weapons, which had been used against himself, for 
use against others. The Pilgrim was radical. He 
had broken with the past, even to a greater extent 
than he could realize, and was making a new ex- 
periment, civil and ecclesiastical. He was more 
tolerant than the Puritan, both in matters of opin- 
ion and conduct, and wore a more gracious mien. 
About this time, the feeling between them was 
neither pleasant nor safe. Strictures on the re- 
ligious attitude of the Pilgrims were passing into 
efforts to divert their trade, and to trespass on 
their territory, which met with resistance, ending 
in bloodshed. 

In 1634, Governor Winslow went to England on 
colonial business, and before sailing, accepted a com- 
mission for the Bay Colony, which required him to 
appear before the King's Commissioners for Planta- 
tions. Here he was brought face to face with Arch- 
bishop Laud, who could not resist the opportunity 
of venting his wrath upon the representative of the 
Plymouth settlement, about whose sayings and do- 
ings he had been duly informed by the Puritans. 
Winslow was accused of taking part in Sunday 


Keeping the Faith 

services, and of conducting civil marriages. The 
Governor admitted the charges, and pleaded exten- 
uating circumstances ; but Laud was not to be ap- 
peased, and committed the bold Separatist to the 
Fleet Prison, where he remained for seventeen 
weeks, when he was released, and permitted to re- 
turn to America, wounded in his conscience by the 
cruel wrong done to him, and impoverished by legal 

In the year 1636, Ralph Smith resigned his pas- 
torate, and was succeeded by the Rev. John Reyner, 
a quiet, godly man, who seems to have pursued the 

even tenour of his way, doing his 
'John Reyner duty modestly and efficiently, and 
l6j6. commending himself to the good-will 

and affection of his flock, whom he 
served faithfully for eighteen years. About two 
years after his ordination, the Rev. Charles Chaun- 
cey a graduate, and for som^e time a professor, of 
Trinity College, Cambridge, drifted towards Plym- 
outh, and preached so acceptably, that he was in- 
vited to become co-pastor with Mr. Reyner. He 
had been vicar of Ware, Hertfordshire, and came 
into disfavour, by characterizing Laud's sacerdotal 
regulations as " Idolatrous." He was brought be- 
fore the Court of High Commission in 1630, and 
again in 1634, when he was suspended from the 
ministry, and imprisoned. On the 6* of February 
1636, he petitioned the Court to be allowed to sub- 
mit, and after listening to one of Archbishop Laud's 
admonitions to penitent heretics, he was released on 


The First Church in Plymouth 

payment of costs. He never forgave himself, for 
what he called his " scandalous submission," and be- 
fore leaving for America in 1637, he wrote a " Re- 
tractation," which was published in London in 1641. 
After acting as Reyner's assistant for three years, he 
developed anabaptist ideas, contending for immer- 
sion as against sprinkling. Scripture was on his 
side, but the American climate and personal health 
and comfort, were against him. The church evi- 
dently did not consider the question a vital one, and 
was willing that he should dip or sprinkle, as occa- 
sion might require. But, it was obviously a matter 
of principle with him, and to the deep regret of the 
Parish, he left Plymouth to take charge of the church 
at Scituate. He held his pulpit there, for some time, 
and when contemplating a return to his former 
charge at Ware, in England, the Trustees of Har- 
vard College, offered him the Presidency of that 
seat of learning. He accepted the offer, and be- 
came the second President of the College. 

The colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and 
Connecticut, had been looking for some time towards 
federation. It was felt that their mutual interests 
and protection would be furthered by union, and in 
1643, th^y entered into a Confederation known as 
" The United Colonies of New England." This 
union no doubt gave strength to the Colonies in 
their relations with the mother-country, and pro- 
vided for the better administration of law, and more 
adequate defence in case of war. But, it gave to 
the Massachusetts Colony a preponderating power. 

Keeping the Faith 

and reacted unfavourably upon the liberaHsm of Ply- 
mouth. In every union of independent organiza- 
tions something must be sacrificed. Corporations, 
like individuals acquire characteristics, which differ- 
entiate them from other bodies ; but, when they 
sink themselves in federation, these original quali- 
ties are either modified or entirely lost. Plymouth 
Colony was unique. It represented heroic history 
and traditions in which no other colony could share. 
Its ideals of liberty, self-reliance, and manliness, 
were its own. From the first, it had carved out an 
independent course for itself, and had pursued that 
course, with unflinching loyalty and determination. 
Now, the age of chivalry and romance was coming 
to an end. The old Colony had fought a good 
fight and finished its course. It had stood out 
bravely for the widest conception then known, of 
civil and religious liberty, preserving the independ- 
ence and integrity of the State, bridling religious 
intolerance, and offering an asylum for brave and 
honest men, who had been cast out by Prelacy and 
Puritanism. Henceforth, it was to form a minor 
part in a union with forces against which it had long 
contended. The heroes who had stood faithfully 
by it, were one by one failing under the weight of 
years, and stood ready to sing their nunc dimittis. 
Its name was to be relinquished; its career com- 
pleted ; and its wonderful history merged into the 
annals of secondary events. 



Gain and Loss. 

IN order to rightly understand the trend of later 
incidents in the history of the church, it may be 
well to observe, at this point, that the com- 
munity was divided into two sections — the church, 
and the precinct or Parish. The former consisted 
of those, who on entering into religious fellowship, 
made confession of their faith, and supported the 
confession by a distinct experience of a moral and 
spiritual new-birth, or conversion, proof of which 
had to be publicly declared, first in the presence of 
the pastor and elders, and then before the congrega- 
tion and communicants. The latter were members, 
who attended public worship and paid their taxes, 
but were not so closely and formally affiliated. 
These two bodies, distinct yet related, ruled the 
church, and appear to have stood in the same posi- 
tion to each other, on all ecclesiastical questions, as 
do the Senate and House of Representatives to-day, 
on political issues. The church represented a kind 
of spiritual aristocracy, or inner circle of advanced 
piety. The Parish consisted of a large body of de- 
vout men and women, who were by no means rigid 
as to doctrines or forms, but were attached to the 
institution. Neither could act independently on 
important matters, without the concurrence of the 
other. In the election or dismissal of a minister, 
for example, the initiative was taken by the church ; 


Gain and Loss 

but the action of the church had to be sustained by 
the vote of the Parish. Not unnaturally, the one 
came to stand for everything that was conservative 
in the life of the Society, and the other for every- 
thing that was progressive ; this, enforcing rules and 
disciplines, that, chafing under what is regarded as 
undue restraints. Friction was inevitable. The 
tendency of the church was to become rigid and 
narrow, and as its records show, to bear hard on 
neglect of worship and the sacrament of the Lord's 
Supper, frowning upon the most innocent forms of 
self-indulgence and pleasure, as upon the wiles of 
Satan. The tendency of the Parish, on the other 
hand, was to slacken ecclesiastical discipline, to 
assert personal liberty, and while sound enough as 
to essentials, and the need of pure and upright Hv- 
ing, was liberal in its construction of non-essentials. 
Elder Brewster held the two in gracious equilib- 
rium ; but after his death, there does not seem to 
have been anyone with equal authority and tact, to 
suppress inevitable jealousies and dissensions. The 
old regime had its defects, but it was not without 
its compensating advantages. It was, spiritually, 
dogmatic and imperious, but it set the stamp 
of sacredness upon the church and its hfe, and em- 
phasized the distinction between the standards of 
living within its jurisdiction, and those commonly 
accepted in the outside world, and in secular con- 
cerns. It was determined to lead the world, and 
not to be led by it, to dictate the type of character 
in the church, and not permit what was intended to 


The First Church in Plymouth 

be a Christian Commonwealth to shrink into the 
smaller proportions of a mere secular corporation, 
moulded by public opinion, whether religious or 
not, and subject like any other secular concern to 
the laws of the State, a condition into which so 
many congregational churches have fallen, and are 
still falling. 

About the year 1643, ^^^ migratory movements 
of families in and around Plymouth led to another 
loss in the church. The tendency to go farther 
afield in search of a better livelihood, threatened 
the extinction of the Pilgrim society, and when 
a number of members living in or near Nauset 
(Eastham) sought separation, it was feared that the 
parent body would not hold together. A pro- 
posal was made, but not carried, that the church 
should be transplanted to Nauset. It was finally de- 
cided to establish a new society in that region. Re- 
luctantly and painfully, the 
The Eastham Church old parish parted with her 
id/fj—^f.. children, fearing dissolution 

by disintegration, but taking 
to herself the consolation that in her poverty many 
were being made rich. Her venerable leaders, who 
had piloted her through many a storm, were either 
old and decrepit, or had one by one laid the bur- 
den down, and gone to their reward; and their 
children driven by hard necessity to seek a living 
elsewhere, were leaving the mother-church, weak 
and deserted, — the Niobe of civil and religious 
liberty in New England — a pathetic and oft re- 
peated story in ecclesiastical history. 


Gain and Loss 

On the 16"' of April 1644 William Brewster 
died. He more than any man 
William Brewster was entitled to be called the 
died 1644. Founder of the Pilgrim Church. 

It originated in his house at 
Scrooby, he sacrificed everything for it : and for 
years after the settlement in Plymouth, he was 
practically both minister and elder, officiating twice 
each Lord's Day. He had left home and family, 
suffered imprisonment and persecution, wandered 
in fear and much trembling, turned the hands once 
used to delicate service to hard manual labor, 
thrown in his lot with the poor and despised of 
this world, shared their perils by sea, and their toils 
and sufferings on land, never faltering in his pur- 
pose, and never wavering in his love and loyalty to 
the little flock, of which he was the patient and 
tender shepherd. How poor and mean are the 
sacrifices any of us are called upon to make for the 
cause of right and liberty, in our day, compared 
with the thirty-six years of heroic service, which 
this man gave, for the things we so often treat with 
cold indifference ! Firm as a rock, he clung to his 
noble purpose, and when his followers were in great- 
est peril and perplexity, worn and almost hopeless, 
through care and suffering, he kept a stout heart, 
and bade them be of good cheer. Although of 
frugal habits himself, not drinking anything but 
water, until within a short time of his death, and 
then medicinally, he was charitable to others, and 
unsparing in his service of the sick and destitute. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

Bradford writes of him " For his personal abilities, 
he was qualified above many : he was wise and dis- 
crete, and well-spoken, having a grave and deliber- 
ate utterance, of a very cheerful spirite, very sociable 
and pleasante among his friends, of an humble and 
modest mind, of a peaceable disposition, under- 
vallewing himself and his own abilities, and 
sometime over-vallewing others, inoffensive and 
innocent in his life and conversation, which gained 
him y^ love of those without, as well as those 
within ; yet he would tell them plainely of their 
faults and evills, both publickly and privately, but 
in such manner as usually was well-taken from 
him. He was tender-hearted and compassionate, 
of such as were in miserie, but espetially of such 
as had been of good estate and ranke, and were 
fallen into want and poverty, either for goodness 
and religion's sake, or for y^ injury and oppres- 
sion of others ; he would say of all men these de- 
served to be pitied most. And none did more 
offend and displease him, than such as would 
hautily and proudly carry and lift up themselves, 
being rise from nothing, and having little els in 
them, to commend them, but a few fine cloaths, or 
a little riches more than others." 

Until his death, his hand was never lifted from 
Pilgrim history. He shaped the counsels of his 
colleagues, helped to mould their policy, safeguarded 
their liberties, and kept in check tendencies towards 
religious bigotry and oppression. He tolerated 
differences, but put down wrangling and dissen- 


Gain and Loss 

sion, promoting in every way within his power, the 
strength and cleanness of private and pubHc Hfe. 

In 1648 the first church was built. It was situ- 
ated behind Bradford's lot, and facing Leyden St., 

and like every first church, 
The First Meeting however modest, was raised 
House 164.8. with becoming pride and joy. 

Seven years before, an ordi- 
nance had passed the General Court " that no in- 
junction should be put on any church, or church 
member, as to doctrine, worship, or discipline, 
whether for substance or circumstance, besides 
the command of the Bible." This might mean 
much or little, for justification of oppression was 
easily found in the Scriptures, but on the lips of 
those who had suff^ered greatly, and so often, for 
conscience sake, it meant a good deal. It meant 
that although men met for worship under one roof, 
it was not to be expected that they should think or 
feel alike ; but whether or not, they were to enjoy 
such freedom, as was not to be found in any other 
church of their time. 

The next decade brought great changes in the 
personnel of the Pilgrims. In October 1646, 
Winslow, against the advice of his compatriots, 
accepted a second mission to England. His last 
trip on a similar errand had proved disastrous to 
him : but, now, England was on the eve of a revo- 
lution, and the men who tormented him ten years 
before, were no longer in power. Laud had been 
sent to the scaffold on the charge of having 


The First Church in Plymouth 

attempted to disturb the foundations of Church 
and State, and Cromwell was commencing the 
famous struggle, which was to end in the death of 
Charles the First, and the establishment of a Pro- 
tectorate. Marston Moor and Naseby had already 
been fought and won, and the victor was quelling 
the revolt of the army. In the midst of this strife 
Winslow reached England. He found his old ene- 
mies either dead or powerless, and their places were 
filled by men favourable to the Colonies. His com- 
mission was soon executed ; but the dramatic scenes 
and incidents around him proved too fascinating. 
While anxious to return to his family, he neverthe- 
less prolonged his stay, and eventually was induced 
to take service under Cromwell. He was engaged 
in diplomatic action on several important commis- 
sions, and was finally sent with others, in charge of 
a fleet for the capture of the Spanish West Indies. 
The expedition failed, but redeemed its fame some- 
what, by the successful conquest of Jamaica. 
Winslow caught a fever in this expedition, from 
which he never recovered. He died and was 
buried at sea on May 8"" 1655. He was Gover- 
nor in 1633, 1636, and 1644, 
Edward Winslow and always proved himself a 
died 16^^. nian of exceptional ability and 

character, giving the best years 
of his life to the service of the Colony. He 
came with the Pilgrims in 1620, was one of the 
party sent to prospect along the coast, subscribed 
his name to the compact, and in 1623 while on a 


Gain and Loss 

mission to England published an account of the 
settlement and struggles of the Plymouth Colony 
under the title of " Good News for New England, 
or a relation of things remarkable in that Planta- 
tion." He further published a tract in 1646 en- 
titled "Hypocrisie Unmasked; by a true relation 
of the proceedings of the Governor of Massachu- 
setts against Samuel Groton, a notorious Disturber 
of the Peace," which is chiefly remarkable for an 
appendix giving an account of preparations in Ley- 
den for removal to America, and the substance of 
John Robinson's address to the Pilgrims on their 
departure from Holland. 

In the year 1656, the Colony lost its military 
commander, Myles Standish, who was born in 

Lancashire, about 1584, proba- 
Myles Standish bly from the Duxbury branch of 
died 16^6. the Standish family. He was a 

unique and romantic figure in the 
history of the Colony. His military career com- 
menced before 1603, when he obtained a lieuten- 
ant's commission in the British army, and fought in 
the wars against the Netherlands and Spain. He 
joined the Pilgrims at Leyden, when the project of 
emigration to America was pending, not so much 
from religious sympathy, however, as from a 
taste for military adventure. He embarked with 
the Pilgrims on the Mayflower^ and on their arrival 
at Cape Cod, took command of the exploring par- 
ties. Afterwards, in February 1621, he was elected 
military captain of the Colony. With a very small 


The First Church in Plymouth 

force, he protected the settlers against Indian incur- 
sions, until all danger from that quarter was at an 
end. When the settlers were made peaceably secure 
in their rights and possessions, and further exploits, 
adventures, and hair-breadth escapes were no longer 
possible, Standish retired to his estate at Duxbury, 
on the north side of Plymouth Bay, frequently 
acting as Governor's assistant, and from 1644 to 
1649 serving as Treasurer to the Colony. He was 
twice married, and had four sons and a daughter. 
In religious matters he was non-committal. He 
never belonged to the Pilgrim church, and though 
descended from a Catholic family, there is no evi- 
dence that he was a Catholic himself He did 
noble service for the Coloiny, and practically settled 
the question, whether the Anglo-Saxon or the native 
Indian, was to predominate in New England. He 
died on the 3"^ of October 1656, and was borne 
to his grave amid the grateful sorrow of his com- 
rades. Art and poetry have invested his memory 
with undying honour. A monument stands on 
what was his estate at Duxbury, and Longfellow and 
Lowell have wreathed his fame in romantic verse. 

Next summer, May 9% 1657, Bradford sank to 
his rest, more from sheer debility than from any 

chronic disease. His work was 
William Bradford done. Born in 1590, and early 
died 16^7. committing himself religiously 

to reform, he bore the burden 
and heat of the day, from the inception of the 
Pilgrim movement to its absorption in the Union 


Gain and Loss 

of the New England Colonies. He sprang from 
sturdy Yorkshire stock, living in Austerfield, and 
though not possessed of a University training, like 
some of his friends, he acquired more culture than 
most men of his station, and was well read, in 
history, philosophy, and religion. His mind took 
an early bias in the direction of theological and 
biblical studies, and when quite young, he began to 
attend the ministry of the Rev. Richard Clyfton, 
vicar of Babworth. In spite of the jeers and taunts 
of his family and friends, he joined the Separatist 
movement at Scrooby, and never regretted the step 
he took. His fresh enthusiasm induced him to 
throw in his lot with the Pilgrims. He accompanied 
them in all their wanderings, bravely sharing their 
trials, sufferings, and privations. On the death of 
Carver, he became the second Governor of Plymouth 
Colony. A patent was granted to him in 1629, by 
the Council of New England, vesting the Colony in 
trust to him, his heirs, associates, and assigns, con- 
firming their title to a tract of land, and conferring 
the power to frame a constitution and laws ; but 
eleven years later, he transferred this patent to the 
General Court, only reserving to himself, the allot- 
ment conceded to him, in the original division of 
land. His reputation as chief magistrate was marked 
by honesty and fair dealing, alike in his relations 
with the Indians tribes, and his treatment of recalci- 
trant colonists. His word was respected, and 
caused him to be trusted. His will was resolute in 
every emergency, and yet everybody knew that his 


The First Church in Plymouth 

clemency, and even charitable consideration, might 
be counted upon, whenever it could be safely exer- 
cised. The church was always dear to him. He 
enjoyed its faith and respected its institutions, and 
up to the hour of his death, confessed his delight in 
its teachings and its simple services. Governor 
Bradford was twice married, at Leyden in 1613 to 
Dorothy May, who was accidentally drowned in Cape 
Cod harbour, on the ly'*" of December 1620; and 
again, on the 14* of August 1623, to Alice Car- 
penter, widow of Edward Southworth. By his first 
wife, he had one son, and by his second, two sons 
and a daughter. He was the author of many 
pamphlets, some in prose, others in verse. The 
only work published in his lifetime was " A Diary 
of Occurences during the first year of the Colony," 
written jointly with Edward Winslow, and published 
in England in 1622. He left many manuscripts, 
letters and chronicles, verses, and dialogues, which 
are the principal authorities for the early history of 
the Colony. The book, by which he will be best 
remembered is the manuscript " History of Ply- 
mouth Plantation," which at one time was deposited 
in the " New England Library," but was afterwards 
lost, and was supposed to have been carried away 
by some one during the war with England. It was 
not until 1855, that certain passages in " Wilber- 
force's History of the Protestant Episcopal Church 
in America," printed in 1846, professing to quote 
from " a Manuscript History of Plymouth in the 
Fulham library," revealed the whereabouts of the 


Gain and Loss 

precious document. These quotations were identi- 
fied as being similar to extracts from Bradford's 
History made by earlier annalists. The story of 
the recovery of that manuscript cannot be better told 
than in the words of the Hon. George F. Hoar, the 
venerable Senator of Massachusetts, who during a 
visit to England, was instrumental in having the 
book returned. After procuring an introduction to 
the Lord Bishop of London, he was invited to Ful- 
ham Palace, which for a thousand years has been an 
Episcopal residence. The bishop received him with 
great courtesy, holding in his hand the invaluable 
manuscript. Whereupon the following conversation 

"My lord, I am going to say something, which 
you may think rather audacious. I think this book 
ought to go back to Massachusetts. Nobody knows 
how it got over here. Some people think it was 
carried off by Governor Hutchinson, the Tory 
Governor ; other people think it was carried off by 
British soldiers, when Boston was evacuated, but in 
either case, the property would not have changed. 
Or, if you treat it as booty, in which last case, I 
suppose by the law of nations, ordinary property 
does change, no civilized nation in modern times, 
applies that principle to the property of libraries, 
and institutions of learning." 

"Well," said the bishop, "I did not know that 
you cared anything about it." 

"Why," said I, "if there were in existence in 
England, a history of King Alfred's reign for thirty 


The First Church in Plymouth 

years, written by his own hand, it would not be 
more precious in the eyes of Englishmen, than this 
manuscript is to us." 

" Well," said he, " I think myself, it ought to go 
back, and if it had depended on me, it would have 
gone back before this. But, the Americans who 
have been here — many of them have been com- 
mercial people — did not seem to care much about 
it, except as a curiosity. I suppose I ought not to 
give it up, on my own authority. It belongs to me 
in my official capacity, and not as private or personal 
property. I think I ought to consult the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury, and indeed" he added, "I 
think I ought to speak to the Queen about it. We 
should not do such a thing behind Her Majesty's 
back." * 

In due form, and through the cordial offices of 
Ambassador T. F. Bayard the book was returned to 
the safe custody of the State of Massachusetts. 

* Senator Hoar's speech at the presentation of the book to Governor Wolcott, 
May 24th, 1897. 



Stagnation and Revival. 

THE year 1665 was remarkable for two 
things — a falling off of interest in religion, 
so that ministers could not obtain support, 
and the churches were in financial straits, and the 
influx of Quakers. The former was probably caused 
by a too stringent ecclesiasticism. The Puritan 
ideal, which had been kept under wholesome re- 
straint in Plymouth Colony, was spreading through 
the state, and contracting the sympathies of both 
clergy and laity. Religion with all its irksome re- 
strictions was becoming too much of a burden. It 
lacked sweetness and light. Rigid and sour-visaged 
piety became oppressive, and created in the minds 
of many, a disposition to turn from hard conven- 
tionalism to the sincere, joyous, though often irrev- 
erent zeal of unclassified prophets and prophetesses. 
Unordained zealots were preferred to learned minis- 
ters, and noisy worship in the open air to the deco- 
rous service in the Church. The Rev. John Reyner 
had resigned his pulpit in 1654, to the regret of his 
parish, and for thirteen years, the old church was 
without a settled pastor, and dependent upon Elder 
Cushman, and temporary supplies. The town 
seems to have been given up to ecclesiastical confu- 
sion, in which whoever was disposed might prophesy. 
The attempt of the English Parliament to regulate 
the church on rigid Presbyterian principles had pro- 


The First Church in Plymouth 

duced a set of EvangeHstic revivaHsts, under the 
leadership of George Fox, whose followers, num- 
bered by thousands, were drawn from the lower 
middle class, and from the outer 
George Fox edge of all the sects. They de- 

and the Quakers, spised the deadness and formal- 
ism of the established faith, and 
were disturbed by its apparent inability to touch the 
springs of moral character. Affecting a rugged plain- 
ness of attire, and an equally rugged directness of 
speech, they succeeded in making themselves obnox- 
ious. They were filled with a boisterous enthusiasm, 
sometimes grotesque and even gross. In a way, 
which nobody quite understood, these visionaries 
and fanatics threw the corporate life of the Puritan 
and other churches into complete disorder. The 
old meeting-houses were deserted, and crowds 
flocked to listen, in the open air, to these seven- 
teenth century wearers of camel's hair and the leath- 
ern girdle. George Fox, the Founder of the Eng- 
lish Society of Friends, had his followers in America, 
and though efforts were made to keep them out of 
the Colony, they persisted, defying the law and the 
magistrates, and apparently caring nothing for fines 
and imprisonment. One Humphrey Norton, claim- 
ing to be a prophet, came to Plymouth in 1657, and 
opened his tirade of abuse, which created a commo- 
tion. He was arrested, and the Court ordered him 
to leave the Colony, the under-marshal taking him 
to Assonet, near Rhode Island. He soon returned, 
however, bringing with him, John Rouse, a fiery 


Stagnation and Revival 

zealot, like himself. These two, proclaimed and 
declaimed, and disturbed the orderly serenity of the 
old town. They were apprehended and committed 
to prison. In the course of the trial and afterwards, 
they addressed the Governor and Court, in language 
which displayed the character of their minds, and 
unsettled the dignity of the grave assembly. The 
movement soon died out, and left no permanent 
traces of its existence. 

The objection to an ordained ministry with a 
salary, which had led to the resignation of pastor 
Reyner, and had been one of the causes of the long 
interregnum in the ministerial succession, seems to 
have been overcome in 1669, when the Rev. John 
Cotton, son of the famous minister of the First 
Church in Boston, was invited to take charge of 
the vacant pulpit. He was a man of 
yohn Cotton scholarly tastes and habits, somewhat 
1660. decided in his convictions, diligent 

and faithful in his pastoral duties. He 
had become greatly interested in the Indians and 
their religious education, and understood their 
language and spiritual needs, revising the last edi- 
tion of their Bible, and teaching them to pray in 
their own tongue. M"" Cotton's care for the spir- 
itual interests of his parish was constant. Meet- 
ings were organized for religious instruction, the 
children of the Parish were regularly catechised, 
and great efforts were made to restore the old and 
influential life of the church, which had suffered dur- 
ing the vacancy in the pastorate. The meeting-house 


The First Church in Plymouth 

was falling to pieces through neglect and decay, 
and it was decided to build a new one, larger and 
handsomer than the last. The new structure was 
erected at the head of 
The Second Meeting- Town Square, and all that 
House l68j. we know about it, is, that 

it had " an unceiled Gothic 
roof, diamond glass, with a small cupola and bell." 
It served the purposes of the time, and became the 
active centre of ethical and spiritual power. 

The disposition to break away from the mother 
church, for one reason or another, continued. In 
1694, M"" Isaac Cushman had been invited to 
minister to the religious necessities of a small society 
which had been formed at Plympton, then part of 
the town of Plymouth. M'' Cotton contended 
that he ought not to enter the ministry irregularly, 
and without first being ordained to the office of 
ruling elder, by the church. This led to one of 
those feuds, which beginning on a small scale, and 
within a limited area, soon assumes, disturbing pro- 
portions. Families took sides, and bitter recrimina- 
tions followed ; and in the end, the minister served 
as a scape-goat, and though innocent himself, and 
fortified by ecclesiastical usage, was sacrificed to 
what was called the good of the church, which has 
ever been, and still is, a hackneyed apology for 
congregational meanness. This controversy con- 
tinued for about three years, increasing in virulence, 
until M' Cotton tendered his resignation in the in- 
terests of harmony, probably sharing the moral 

Stagnation and Revival 

indignation of Plautus against those who had in- 
jured his reputation — without, perhaps, daring to 
utter it. 

Homines qui gestant, quique ascultant crimina 

Si meo arbitratu liceat, omnes pendeant, 

Gestores linguis, auditores auribus. 

That (rumour notwithstanding) he was not guilty 
of anything worse than speaking his mind with too 
much freedom and veracity, is obvious from the 
fact, that he had a large and influential following in 
the church, took another pulpit at Charleston, 
South Carolina, and when he died in 1699, was 
buried with respect and honour, by his old parish- 
ioners, who erected a monument over his grave. 

In the year 1698, another branch of the First 
Church was established at Plympton. This was the 
fourth church which had gone away 
The Plyfnpton from the old parish, to suit the 
Church l6()8. convenience of people living at a 
distance from the centre of the 
town, and like all previous departures, it weakened 
the resources and diminished the strength of the 
parent society. Still, the church bravely held up 
its head, and went on its way, in the dauntless spirit 
of its Founders. 

The next step was to appoint a successor to M"^ 
Cotton, and the Rev. Ephraim Little was ordained 
pastor, after a short probation. He was not a man 
of scholarly and studious habits, like so many of 
his predecessors, but was possessed of consider- 
able natural gifts, and of executive ability beyond 


The First Church in Plymouth 

the average, making up in devoted service, and 
large-hearted benevolence, what 
Ephraifn Little he lacked in conventional ac- 
1600. quirements — a good and faithful 

minister, painstaking in his work, 
and tenderly solicitous of the needs of the sick and 
poor. He ministered to the church for twenty 
years, winning and keeping the esteem and affection 
of his people, and never growing weary in well-do- 
ing, until failing health compelled him to relinquish 
his duties. During his later ministry, there came 
another birth ecclesiastical, and a church was 
founded at the North end of the town, known as 

Jones River Parish, afterwards 
The Kingston Kingston. One wonders how a 
Church lyiy. church, never very strong, either in 

wealth or numbers, could survive 
these repeated defections. But, one of its domi- 
nating ambitions was to spread the truth, and 
proclaim the humane Gospel of Jesus Christ ; and 
the faithful souls, who stood by it through all 
its trials, were comforted by the thought, that 
every new society was not only a jewel in its 
crown of rejoicing, but witnessed to its increase 
of faith, and the extension of the kingdom of 

On the 23'^^ of November 1723, M' Little was 
called to his rest, at the age of 84. His grave is on 
Burial Hill, by the side of so many good town's- 
folk whose temporal and spiritual interests he so 
faithfully tended. 


Stagnation and Revival 

For five years the church was without a settled 
pastor, the pulpit being supplied for some time, by- 
neighboring ministers. It was too weak to offer 
any great material inducements to clergymen seek- 
ing settlements, and this difficulty was considerably 
enhanced, by the somewhat fastidious tastes of the 
community, in the matter of choosing a minister. 
It had enjoyed the services of many able and learned 
men, scholars and preachers, who loved their pro- 
fession for its honour and usefulness, and not for its 
worldly advantages, and was not, therefore, easily 

On the 29*'' of July 1724, the Rev. Nathaniel 
Leonard was ordained to the long vacant pulpit. 
His advent on the scene was 
Nathaniel Leonard shortly marked by stirring 
I'/24. movements in the stagnant 

pools of religious conventiona- 
lism, and there was a return to something like the 
fiery zeal of the Quaker Revival. A considerable 
number of people were again dissatisfied with the 
cold dignified regime of a learned ministry and 
ancient customs. They sighed, as religious people 
do, at regular intervals, for something more demon- 
strative and sensational. Not heeding the quiet 
processes of growth with which Nature perfects her 
creations they conclude that things which make no 
noise must be dead. 

In the midst of this rising tide of religious fervour 
came another exodus of church members. Twenty- 
five persons, in good and regular standing, formed 


The First Church in Plymouth 

a new church at Manomet Ponds, and the ranks of the 
faithful were once more depleted. 
The Manomet Depressed by the loss, and probably 
Church 17 j8. desiring to recruit its strength, the 
church against the conviction of 
many of its staid members, threw in its lot, with one 
of those periodic convulsions, which ushered in 
" The Great Awakening." People were called upon 
to give oral proof of their conversion. It was not 
enough to be a Christian by baptism, or formal affili- 
ation with the church, but every Christian by pro- 
fession was expected to give the precise date and 
circumstance of an inward and spiritual change, and 
to be able to say something about it, to shout in 
chorus, if nothing better could be done. Pure liv- 
ing must be supplemented by vigorous hallelujahs, 
and more or less frantic gesticulations. 

In the year 1743, one Andrew Croswell, an itin- 
erant preacher, visited the town, determined to take 
the kingdom by violence. All true disciples were 
invited to stand up and be counted. Regular mem- 
bers of the church, who were living quiet and devout 
lives, were told that their righteousness was only as 
filthy rags, and people to whom religion was a slow 
spiritual growth, and who had never been accus- 
tomed to sound the loud timbrel, to whom "the 
unconscious was the alone complete," were classified 
among the unconverted. Shallow zealots, often 
ignorant and inexperienced, were invited to testify, 
as if anything they could say about the higher and 
holier life, was worth listening to. Hysterical 


Stagnation and Revival 

women and phenomenal children took to declama- 
tion and prophecy, and the whole town was thrown 
into a state of wild commotion. 

It was not long before the sober element in the 
community began to ask questions. There was an 
awakening of the intellect as well as of the emotions. 
What is called "a revival " is very apt to provoke 

M"' Leonard seems to have been captivated, and 
carried away, by the excitement. His attitude on 
this matter caused disaffection and indifference in 
the parish. Zealous observers of ordinances, and 
regular attendants at public worship, showed their 
disapproval of his action, by neglecting their relig- 
ious duties. At last, the disaffection ripened into 
revolt. M"" Josiah Cotton, whose deeply spiritual 
character was not to be questioned, invited the min- 
ister to call a meeting of the Parish to discuss the 
following questions : — 

1. "Whether a sudden and short distress, and as 
sudden joy, amounts to the repentance described 
and required. (2 Corinthians VII 9-1 1) 

2. Whether the judging and censuring others as 
unconverted, against whose lives and conversation 
nothing is objected, be not too pharisaical, and 
contrary to the rule of charity, prescribed in the 
Word, and a bold intrusion into the Divine prerog- 

3. Whether that spirit which leads us off from 
the Scriptures, or comparatively to undervalue them, 
be a good spirit : as for instance, the disorder and 


The First Church in Plymouth 

confusion in our pubhc meetings, contrary to the 
Scripture rule (i Corinthians XIV) the breaking in 
upon the order and religion of famihes, by fre- 
quent unseasonable evening lectures, without Script- 
ure precept, or example (except an extraordinary 

4. Women and children teaching and exhorting 
in the public assemblies, contrary to the apostolical 
direction. Many other things might be mentioned 
but are omitted. But, inasmuch as it has been 
publicly suggested, that three-fourths of this church 
are unconverted, we would humbly move, that we 
may meet together, in order to know whether they 
are in charity with one another, and also, that the 
admission of members, may not be too hastily 
pushed on, till we are better satisfied concerning the 
spirit that stirs up people to their duty herein." 
Whether M' Leonard deemed it prudent to keep 
all this inflammable material out of a church meeting, 
or did not wish to be drawn into a personal contro- 
versy, is not known; but the questions were not 
submitted to a public meeting. 

M' Cotton, however, was bent upon forcing an 
issue. He, and eighty others like minded, decided 
to seek separation from the church. They petitioned 
for dismissal, and their request was granted, and in 
1744, a new church was formed, to be called The 
Third Church and Congregation in Plymouth. The 
new community erected a place of worship in King 
Street, now Middle Street. 

The year 1744 was noticeable on account of a 


Stagnation and Revival 

visit to Plymouth of the great English Revivalist the 
Rev. George Whitefield, one of the most eloquent 
pulpit orators of his time. While acting as servitor 

at Pembroke College, Oxford, 
George Whitefield he came under the influence 
and the of John and Charles Wesley. 

Methodists IJ44. ^is zeal and piety induced the 

Bishop of Gloucester to ordain 
him deacon in 1736, but so great was his power as a 
preacher, that he was sent on an Evangelistic tour, 
and drew vast multitudes to hear him. Wesley in- 
vited him to go to Georgia as a missionary. He 
accepted the call, and arrived in America on the 
17'*" of May 1738, only to remain, however, for 
a very brief period. He returned to England to 
receive priest's orders, and to secure contributions 
towards his work in Georgia. During his absence 
from his native land, Wesley had diverged some- 
what from Calvinism, and this change led White- 
field to withdraw from the Wesleyan communion. 
He returned to America in 1744, and commenced 
his preaching itinerary. It does not appear, that he 
owned any great gift of thought, or wide range of 
knowledge, or scholarship. He had none of the 
philosophic genius of Jonathan Edwards, or the 
organizing gift of John Wesley. His success as 
a preacher was due to his great elocutionary and 
dramatic power, a phenomenal voice, and a spiritual 
magnetism, which attracted attention, and held it. 
He subdued men to serious thought by his stern 
denunciations of sin, and captivated their hearts, by 


The First Church in Plymouth 

his searching pathos. His visit to Plymouth, at 
this time, was doubtless intended, like his later visit 
in 1754, as an antidote to the Arminianism, which 
had taken firm root in the community, and was 
thought to have wrought much mischief. He 
preached several times, and always to crowded 

The old meeting-house, which had stood for 
more than sixty years, resisting wind and weather, 
and a stroke of lightning, was 
The Third Meeting- in poor condition, and the so- 
House I J 44 ciety resolved to erect a new 

structure on the same spot. 
The building was quickly reared, and the opening 
service was conducted by the pastor, with great re- 

In 1744-5 the church lost by death the last of its 
ruling elders, Mr. Thomas Faunce. He had held 
this responsible position for many years, and had 
shared with the minister the care and supervision 
not only of the material, but the spiritual interests 
of the community. The office of a ruling elder 
was next in importance to that of the minister, and 
was always held by a person of good education 
and accredited moral and religious standing. Mr. 
Faunce stood in few respects, if any, behind his 
eminent predecessors, in the exercise of his sacred 

In the autumn of 1755, owing to increasing 
physical weakness, Mr. Leonard was compelled to 
resign his ministry. His resignation was accepted 


Stagnation and Revival 

on condition that his services should be maintained 
until the settlement of his successor. Then fol- 
lowed an interregnum of several years, in which the 
society made unsuccessful efforts to obtain a suitable 



Creed, or no Creed? 

THE Rev: Chandler Robbins D.D. was 
called to the Plymouth Church, and or- 
dained in 1760. He was the son of the 
Rev. Philemon Robbins, and a graduate of Yale 
College. By birth and educa- 
Chandler Robbtns tion his tendencies were towards 
jj6o '"igid Calvinism, which though 

firmly rooted in Connecticut, 
was subject to attacks from ministers and laymen in 
Massachusetts. The spirit of the age was against 
it. The air was charged with scepticism both as to 
its reasonableness and Scriptural authority. John 
Robinson's injunction, that the Pilgrims and their 
descendants, should keep their minds open to new 
revelation was on the eve of a severe test. Mr. 
Robbins set himself to check the rising tide of 
liberalism in Plymouth, always bearing himself 
with becoming dignity, selfrespect, and courtesy, 
towards those who differed from him ; but resolutely 
bent upon stemming the waves which threatened 
his headland of faith. There is something pathetic 
in the way men stubbornly resist the inevitable 
tides of thought. Argument is of no avail, per- 
suasion does not count, facts are brushed aside. 
The old dogmas must be retained at all hazards, if 
not in substance, then in form, and new trenches 
must be dug around the assaulted citadels. Mr. 


Creed, or no Creed? 

Robbins addressed himself to the task in good 
earnest, and began to tighten the cords of behef, 
and against all the traditions of Pilgrim history, to 
encircle the community with doctrinal defences. In 
1772, he introduced for consideration a number of 
attached articles affecting affiliation with the church. 
The door of the Half-way Covenant, opened some 
years before, must be closed, and admission to the 
church be through the wicket-gate of special election. 
Article VI raised the question " whether it be the 
opinion of the church, that the half-way practice of 
owning or entering into covenant, which has of 
late years been adopted by this church, be a Script- 
ural method — or a practice warranted by the word 
of God, and so to be persisted in." On the one 
side it was urged, that children born of visible be- 
lievers, and baptized in infancy, were properly and 
truly members of the visible church, and, therefore, 
might claim the privileges of church members, when 
they arrived at adult age, and so by owning the 
covenant, it is not to be understood, that they qual- 
ified themselves thereby for the privileges of the 
covenant — they had a right to them before — 
but it is needful that they should acknowledge what 
their parents did for them. 

On the other hand, it was pleaded, that Baptism 
and the Lord's Supper, are both seals of the cove- 
nant, viz, the Covenant of Grace. And that, con- 
sequently, they who had a right to one seal, had a 
right also to the other, and yet, they had no right 
from the word of God, to make a distinction be- 


The First Church in Plymouth 

tween the two seals, as if one was more holy than 
the other — that would be a dangerous tendency to 
put aside what God had joined together.* This 
dispute, arising out of neglect of the Lord's Sup- 
per, divided the parish so seriously, that it was not 
deemed expedient, in the interests of unity and 
peace, to proceed further with it. The issue was a 
technical one, and since men and women of unques- 
tioned probity, and exemplary Christian character, 
were arrayed on both sides, it was not deemed ad- 
visable to push it to an extremity. 

It was natural that the church should unite with 
the town in support of the independence of the col- 
onies. Discontent with taxes and exactions had 
long been rife in the breasts of Plymouth merchants, 
and James W. Warren and Isaac Lothrop chosen 
to represent the town in the Provincial Congress 
v/ere instructed to support any movement of the 
colonies against British oppression. Dr. Robbins 
advocated resistance and independence, and the 
town was put in a state of defence. Many obnox- 
ious royalists felt uncomfortable and retired. Dur- 
ing the Revolution, the community suffered from 
the suspension of trade and commerce, and the fear 
of invasion, and in 1778-9, there was great distress, 
so that the people, through their selectmen, had to 
petition his Excellency Jonathan Trumbull Esq., 
Captain-General, Governor and Commander-in- 
Chief, in and over the State of Connecticut, and the 
Honorable Council of said State, for the absolute 

*The First Church Records. 

Creed, or no Creed? 

necessities of life. M' James Warren writing to 
Jonathan Trumbull, urged immediate aid " Many 
of the inhabitants of the town, who have been used 
to an affluent living have been for weeks destitute 
of bread, which, in addition to their peculiar suffer- 
ings from a total loss of their chief dependence for 
a subsistence, renders their case truly pitiable." * 
Starvation did not, however, weaken their loyalty to 
liberty, for when in the year 1775, General Gage 
proposed to locate the " Queen's Guards " at Plym- 
outh, and the opinion of M"" John Watson was 
asked as to the wisdom of this step, the latter re- 
plied, " It is mv opinion that it will not be prudent 
to bring your company here, for the people are in a 
state of great excitement and alarm." "Will they 
fight ?" asked the Captain of the Guards. "Yes" 
replied John Watson, "like devils." In 1783, the 
conflict was brought to a close, and the town re- 
sumed its wonted activities, and set to work to 
repair the ravages of eight years of war. 

The Third Church and Congregation settled in 
King Street in 1744, came to an end in 1776, and 
returned to the ancient fold thereby strengthening 
the forces of liberalism in the community. 

The religious controversy was silenced but not 
settled. On the 11^^ of December 1794, a meeting 
of the precinct was convened to hear a report from 
a committee, of which D' Robbins was chairman, 
relating to certain proposed alterations in the disci- 
pline and practice of the church, which committee 

* Trumbull Papers. Collections of the Mass. Historical Society. 

The First Church in Plymouth 

was to meet a committee of the church to discuss 
the question and to report. The report of the 
church committee is as follows — 

" The committee appointed, whereof the pastor 
was chairman, was not of so conciliatory and accom- 
modating a nature as your committee were sincerely 
desirous might take place. In respect to the first 
Article, that the children of baptized parents of 
sober life and conversation, and professing their 
belief in the Christian Religion should be admitted 
to baptism, the committee of said church would not 
agree to any qualified sense whatever, nor were the 
committee of the church so far to extend the terms 
of admission into its communion as to embrace all 
persons of sober life and conversation though un- 
feigned believers in the Christian Religion, unless 
they would subscribe to certain articles of faith, 
which have indeed been the subject of dispute, 
among Christians of great eminence and piety, but 
which were never heard of as a term of communion 
amongst the Apostles and primitive Christians. 
Nothing more could be obtained on this head, than 
that baptism may be administered by a neighbour- 
ing minister. Upon the whole your committee 
are constrained to lament the narrow policy of the 
church, in excluding from its communion, many 
exemplary Christians, merely on account of their 
different conceptions of some points of doctrine, 
about which learned and good men, have enter- 
tained a great variety of opinions, and this cir- 
cumstance is more especially a source of regret, at 


Creed, or no Creed 

this enlightened period, when the principles of civil 
and religious liberty are almost universally under- 
stood and practised. For whatever stress some 
persons may be disposed to lay on matters of 
mere speculation, the benevolent genius of the 
Gospel, will teach its votaries, amidst all their 
differences of opinion, to exercise mutual candour 
and indulgence, that they may if possible, preserve 
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."* Not- 
withstanding this report, which represented the feel- 
ing of a large section of the church, D' Robbins 
again raised the issue in 1795, ^^ '^he shape of a 
creed, as a test to Christian fellowship. He formu- 
lated a Calvinistic Confession of Faith and insisted 
that subscription to it, should be made the test of 
fellowship. A creed in the First Church, and 
among descendants of the Pilgrims was an innova- 
tion. Neither John Robinson nor his successors, 
had ever proposed anything of the kind. The Pil- 
grims had their religious beliefs, to which they 
clung tenaciously, but it never occurred to them, to 
imitate their oppressors, and try to inflict upon 
others the stigmas, penalties, and disabilities, from 
which they had themselves escaped, at great cost. 
Such a step must not be allowed to pass unchal- 
lenged. The liberals, therefore contemplated a 
second departure from the church. Their respect 
for the personal character of D"^ Robbins forbade 
any action inside the church, which would seriously 
affect his position. They contemplated a division 

* Records of The First Church. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

and the establishment of a new society. Wiser 
counsels, however, prevailed, and the creed was 
tolerated for a little while. But, when on June 30* 

1799, D' Robbins died, after thirty-nine years of 
faithful service, the desire for more liberal preaching 
revived. An opportunity presented itself for the 
election of a pastor answering to the progressive 
spirit of the age, and to the needs of a majority in 
the church and the precinct. A large number of 
people who considered themselves both orthodox 
and evangelical, but not Calvinistic, and who had sat 
uneasily under the ministry of D' Robbins, felt that 
they were entitled to some consideration in the 
choice of a minister, and, therefore, combined to 
choose some one in harmony with their needs and 
principles. The choice fell upon M' James Ken- 
dall, who graduated at Harvard in 1796, and was a 
tutor at the College, when called to Plymouth. 

He was elected by a considerable 
James Kendall majority in the church, and an over- 

1800. whelming majority in the precinct. 
Unlike so many Congregational 

Churches, at this time and after, the First Church 
resisted Calvinism so completely, that there was no 
ground left for dispute or litigation. The Church 
and the Parish were of one mind, and the forces of 
opposition were in a minority. The change thus 
wrought was more in the nature of growth than rev- 
olution. It had come slowly, imperceptibly, as the 
morning gently scattering the mists of night, as the 
opening spring giving new energy to a sleeping 


Creed, or no Creed? 

world. The Church and its new minister were well 
within the lines of Evangelical Congregationalism, 
and certainly more in harmony with the spirit of the 
Forefathers, than those who resisted the change. 
It is wrongly supposed that Unitarianism had some- 
thing to do with the division ; but liberalism did 
not take that form until twenty years later. At the 
time Dr. Kendall was ordained, neither Channing, 
Emerson or Parker had spoken the words, which 
lifted so many New England churches from their 
moorings. No : the change in the Plymouth 
Church came from within, and not from without, 
was a growth of the divine spirit in the human 
heart, and not a sudden conversion. The records 
of the church give no indication of bitterness of feel- 
ing, or angry resentment. The theological transi- 
tion from Dr. Robbins to Dr. Kendall was placid, if 
not pleasant, and when in September 1800, the un- 
satisfied minority sought separation, it was not with 
any evident signs of ill-will, although the intellectual 
and social cleavage was pronounced. 

The following extracts from the Records of the 
First Church, indicate the spirit which actuated 
those who remained, and those who went out. On 
the ly'^ of September 1800, the following petition 
signed by fifteen men and thirty-five women was 
presented to a meeting of the church. 

" We request that all the members, male and 
female that wish to be dismissed from their relation 
to the First Church in Plymouth, and that any 
male or female desiring hereafter a dismission from 


The First Church in Plymouth 

either church, to join the other, be dismissed if 
recommended to the other." 

The meeting adjourned for a week to consider 
the question, not desiring to do anything, or to 
permit anything to be done, hastily. 

" The church agreeable to adjournment met on 
the following week, at the house of the pastor, 
when the petitioners explained their meaning in 
the clause respecting the dismission of members 
from one church to the other, hereafter, with a 
recommendation. They said, they had nothing 
further in view, by injecting the clause, than that 
the removal of relations from one church to the 
other in future, be regulated according to the usual 
practice of this, and other Congregational churches 
in New England. They also relinquish their pre- 
tended claim to the church furniture, being con- 
vinced that it was given to the First Church, the 
present members are not exclusively entitled to it, 
and therefore, had no right to the disposal of it. 
They asked only for the privilege of using it, a cer- 
tain time, till it was convenient for them to furnish 
their own table." * The following petition and 
resolutions were then presented. 

" We the subscribers being members of the First 
Church of Christ in Plymouth, request to be dis- 
missed, and establish in a church estate among our- 
selves, by the name of the Third Church in 

Resolved, That the petitioners be dismissed from 

* Records of the First Church. 

Creed, or no Creed? 

their special relation to the First Church of Christ 
in Plymouth, in order to be set off into a distinct 
church by the name of the Third Church of Christ 
in Plymouth, agreeable to their request. The vote 
was passed in the affirmative unanimously. 

The church further voted, That they have the 
privilege of using the furniture at their communions 
for two years. 

The meeting then closed as usual, and dissolved 
in harmony. May the great Head of the church 
smile upon these transactions that they may con- 
tribute to the more rapid advancement of his king- 
dom among us ! " * 

So ended, amicably and peacefully, although not 
without deep feeling, the first separation in the 
church, into which dogmatic differences had entered. 
Both parties, those who stayed, and those who left, 
acted conscientiously and loyally. The old First 
Church was firmly convinced that it was supported 
in its action by the authority of Scripture and the 
traditions of Pilgrim history. 

The seceders applied to the General Court for in- 
corporation as the Third Congregational Society in 
Plvniouth, pleading the inadequacy of one church to 
meet the needs of the town, (the second church 
being at Manomet) and their inability to co-operate 
with their late co-religionists through lack of agree- 
ment and sympathy. 

The charter was granted, and in 1802, Deacon 
John Bishop with his fellow-seceders were incor- 

* Records of the First Church. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

porated as a distinct society. Before taking steps 
to erect a church building they petitioned the town 
for a lot on Training Green. 
The Third Church a committee was appointed to 
of Christ in take the matter into considera- 

Plymouth l8oi. tion and to report. After de- 
liberation, they decided, in view 
of the contemplated sale of the whole of Training 
Green, that it was inexpedient at this time. "To 
comply with the request of the applicants by grant- 
ing a lot, for the purpose mentioned, would in the 
opinion of your committee, not only preclude the 
Town under whatever circumstances, it may be, 
from opposing the prosecution of that object; but 
would sanction the separation of a small number 
of persons, on principles which do not appear to be 
substantial and well-founded. If religious societies 
are to be split up into divisions, merely for a variance 
of sentiment in certain polemic speculations, about 
which the greatest and best men in all ages of the 
Christian Church have differed, each Christian must 
consecrate his own dwelling, as his sanctuary, for 
scarcely two of the best informed Christians can be 
found precisely to agree on every controversial 
point." * 

A church was erected on the westerly side of 
Training Green, and the Rev. Adoniram Judson 
was settled as the first pastor. Later on, two 
churches sprung from the new society, one at Eel 
River in 1814, andthe Robinson church in 1830. 

*Town Records -vide Hon. W. T. Davis's Ancient Landmarks of Plymouth. 

Creed, or no Creed? 

On the 5th of May 1870, the name of the Third 
Church was changed to " The Church and Society 
of the Pilgrimage," and a Church Manual was 
printed, which appropriated all the ministers and 
deacons of the First Church down to 1801, and set 
up an unwarranted claim to be the first and oldest 
church in America, although on the 14th of No- 
vember of the same year, the Church of the Pil- 
grimage adopted new Articles of Faith, with a new 
covenant, and rules of government. 



Back to the Past. 

THE Creed of 1795, the real cause of dis- 
sension in the First Church, still remained 
to be dealt with. That had been the apple 
of discord in the community, and would remain 
a disturbing factor, unless some action was taken 
upon it. A creed in such a church, and with such 
a history, was a dangerous anachronism. The creed 
in question was a strongly Calvinistic statement of 
faith, and was intended to rule out of fellowship, 
all who could not subscribe to it. Its fundamental 
propositions were in substance the following. 

I. The apostacy and total depravity of human 
nature by sin. 

1. Salvation purchased by the atoning blood of 

3. The absolute necessity of regeneration by the 
supernatural agency of the Holy Spirit. The 
sovereignty of divine grace in the conversion of 

4. The true and proper deity of the Lord Jesus 
Christ, the only meritorious ground of justification 
before God. 

5. Eternal happiness for the elect : eternal misery 
for the rest. 

The Pilgrim Fathers may have believed these 
dogmas, wholly or in part, but they never put them 
into a creed, or made belief in them essential to 


Back to the Past 

Christian fellowship. The simple covenant still in 
use at the First Church satisfied their requirements. 

It is, therefore, not surprising, that after the death 
of Dr. Robbins, the community rebelled against the 
new instrument, and quietly resolved to get rid of 
it; and on the 9th of July 1820, "a meeting was 
called to consider the expediency of altering the 
terms or conditions of becoming members of the 
church, and enjoying Christian privileges, in order 
to render them more conformable to the require- 
ments of the Gospel, more agreeable to apostolic 
practice, and more in accordance with the usage of 
this church for 175 years. It appeared that in 1795 
a departure from the ancient usage of the church 
was introduced by adopting a written creed or con- 
fession, which was thought to be a condition of ad- 
mission to Christian ordinances, and not promotive 
of the increase and prosperity of the church. That 
it was, in fact a departure from the practice of this 
church from the time of our forefathers, and from 
the first principle of Protestantism — which is a suf- 
ficiency of Holy Scripture for all the purposes of 
faith and practice. Instead, therefore, of continuing 
to make a public acknowledgment of this creed, a 
condition of enjoying Christian fellowship and com- 
munion in future, it was voted unanimously to re- 
turn to the former practice of this church, in this 
respect, and adopt the covenant made use of by the 
church previous to the year I795-'"'' 

It is interesting to observe, how both parties to 

* Records of the First Church. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

this controversy, those who accepted the creed, and 
those who rejected it, appealed to Scripture, and 
especially to the Gospels, in support of their con- 
flicting opinions. Both claimed to be evangelical. 
The triumphant majority stoutly held, that neither 
the creed itself was scriptural, nor the use of it. 
Its dogmas were not known, when the earlier 
scriptures were penned ; and not until many cen- 
turies after the death of Jesus and his apostles did 
theological belief and conformity to opinion become 
a condition of discipleship, or of enjoyment of 
Christian ordinances. 

Once again, the old Church stood out in splendid 
isolation, and beneath an open sky, without any 
ecclesiastical affiliation or dogmatic bonds. Its 
faith was as great as ever, its teachings were unim- 
paired, its ordinances were intact, its work was un- 
restricted, and its first principles were in the way of 
fulfilment. It was still in spirit and in truth, the 
Church of the Pilgrims, the pure shrine to which the 
children of the ancient fathers gathered for worship. 

That the controversy ended as it did, was due in 
large measure, to the tact, urbanity, and refinement 
of Dr. Kendall. He was by nature and habit, free 
from the passions and prejudices which heat and 
disturb less finely tempered minds. Strength and 
sweetness were so blended in his character, that the 
tempests of the soul, in which other men delight, 
and which so often lift them from their feet, left him 
serene and firm. The passing disturbance soon sub- 
sided, and the two churches settled down to their 


Back to the Past 

separate functions, the Church of the Pilgrimage 
priding itself upon its loyalty to Calvinistic teaching, 
so far as the spirit of the age would permit it to do 
so ; and the First Church adhering to the principles 
of non-subscription to creeds and articles, and open- 
ness to more scientific knowledge of Scripture and 
religious philosophy, in accordance with the true 
spirit of Protestantism and the practice of the Pil- 
grim Fathers ; the former remaining in the Congre- 
gationalist body, the latter becoming more liberal, 
and finally joining the Unitarian movement, which 
at that time, differed but little from the advanced 
wing of modern Congregationalists. 

On the lo''' of April 1831, the last religious ser- 
vice was held in the old Meeting-House, which had 
stood for eighty-seven years. D"" Kendall preached 
from the text Haggai II, 3. "Who is left among 
you that saw this house in her first glory ? And 
now do you see it?" It was decided to take the 
edifice down, and to build another, larger and more 
in keeping with the improved taste, and broader out- 
look of the times. The new building was in course 
of construction about eight months, and on the 14*'' 
of December 1 831, was dedicated to " the worship 
and service of God." The opening sermon was 

preached by the Rev D' 
The Fourth Meeting- Kendall, from Ezra VI 16. 
House 18 J I " And the children of Israel, 

the priests and the Levites, 
and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept 
the dedication of this house of God with joy." The 


The First Church in Plymouth 

sermon dealt among other things with the unique 
catholicity of John Robinson and the Pilgrim 
Fathers, and with the desire of their heirs to per- 
petuate the same liberality and freedom from re- 
ligious persecution. " May these sacred walls " 
said he, " never reverberate with licentious opinions, 
the shouts of fanaticism; nor the denunciations of 
bigotry." The new building was a handsome and 
commodious structure, for the place and the time, 
and like the one which preceded it, was the gather- 
ing-place of descendants of the Pilgrims, who met 
on different occasions, to express their veneration 
for the forefathers. Its walls echoed to the voices 
of many famous men, who continued to do honour 
to the founders of the republic, on the spot which 
their fame had glorified ; and among the regular at- 
tendants at the services there, were many families 
claiming direct descent from the Pilgrims. 

The church maintained its ancient ordinances, and 
continued to participate in the ordination and 
installation of ministers of other Congregational 
churches. Narrow restrictions were removed from 
the administration of Baptism and the Lord's Sup- 
per, in which Christians of any name or creed were 
permitted to participate. As early as 1804, Bap- 
tists, Congregationalists, and Episcopalians, partook 
of communion in the Church. The Records relate 
that on the 12'^ of October 1804, Joanna Winslow 
and Mary Warren, Episcopalians of Scituate, sought 
permission to join in the communion of the First 
Church, and their request was cordiallv received 
and granted. 


Back to the Past 

On the 15* of June 1837, a meeting of the 
parish was held, to consider the best means of further 
promoting the prosperity of the church, and it was 
voted unanimously to adopt the following profession 
and declaration, " Believing the Scriptures of the Old 
and New Testaments to contain the word of God, 
and to be the only and sufficient rule of faith and 
practice ; it is my (or our) sincere desire and purpose 
of heart, in professing this belief, in joining this 
church, and partaking of the ordinances of the 
Gospel, by the aid of his grace — to live by the 
faith of the Son of God, and thus to walk in all his 
commandments and ordinances of the Lord, blame- 
less." It was made optional with the applicant, to 
manifest his or her assent to this profession, either 
in public, or to the pastor, in private, and by so 
doing, the person was received, and declared to be, 
a member in full communion with the church. 
" This form being so much in harmony with the 
simplicity that was in Christ, and so conformable to 
the primitive practice of the church, it is hoped and 
believed will tend to remove from the minds of 
sincere and devout persons, every reasonable objection 
against joining the church, and availing themselves 
of the satisfaction and benefit of enjoying the 
Christian ordinances. May this harmonious pro- 
ceeding of the brethren, be followed by the favour 
and blessing of the great head of the Church, and 
result in the prosperity of our spiritual Zion." * 

It was to be expected that the liberal attitude of 

* Ilecords of the First Church. 

The First Church in Plymouth 

the church would lay it open to some popular mis- 
representation. The denial of Calvinistic theology 
was equivalent in the minds of illiterate persons, to 
the rejection of Scripture, and all the more so, after 
the society had formally affiliated itself with the 
Unitarians, although D' Channing and the leaders 
of the Unitarian movement regarded the dogmas of 
the trinity, man's natural depravity, and atonement 
by blood, not only as unreasonable in themselves, 
but unscriptural. The point upon which the early 
Unitarians were wont to lay stress was the un- 
scriptural character of the dogmas, against which 
they protested. The time had not yet come, when 
they were to take other and broader ground, and to 
maintain, that doctrines which were intrinsically and 
logically unbelievable were not to be accepted, 
whether in the Bible or out of it. For the moment, 
they were willing to use the weapons of the Refor- 
mation, and to contend for the Scriptural basis of 
their beliefs. They were met with persistent mis- 
understanding and abuse from people, who would 
not, or could not see, that the issues at stake were 
to be settled by learning and fair judgment, and not 
by passion and prejudice, and that a man might 
believe or deny dogmas without being morally the 
better or the worse. Speculative opinions were 
impersonal things, and he might be a good Trini- 
tarian, or a good Unitarian, without in any degree 
gaining or losing caste as a Christian. There was 
no moral merit in affirmation, and no culpability in 
denial. The questions at issue between the churches 


Back to the Past 

were to be settled by critics and scholars, and not 
by appeals to ignorant zeal and prejudice. 

There were good Christians in the world, and in 
the church, long before dogmas were promulgated, 
or creeds were invented. The old First Church 
was pledged by its history to this truth, and was 
among the earliest communities to recognize the 
fact, which is fast becoming a simple truism, that 
Christianity is a type of life, and not a collection of 
opinions : discipleship to the great master of the art 
of living, and not scholarship in a theological 
academy. It is a temper and disposition of the 
mind and heart, which may exist under this doctrine 
or that, under one name or another. There is some 
portion of it in every church, and no church con- 
tains the whole of it — a beautiful truth which is 
doing so much to efface the lines between the sects, 
and to bring people together, who despite their 
inevitable differences of belief, ought to live in one 
fold, and under one shepherd. 

No one was better able to illustrate and champion 
this return to the primitive simplicity and inclusive- 
ness of the First Church, at the opening of the nine- 
teenth century, than D' Kendall. He was a man 
of generous and dispassionate judgment, of inflexible 
integrity, of gentle and kindly affections. His very 
presence rebuked passion and disarmed prejudice, 
and opponents might challenge his opinions, but 
could not dispute his Christian character. His 
preaching and pastoral work won for him the es- 
teem and love of his own people, and of others not 


The First Church in Plymouth 

of that fold. He became identified with the best life 
of the town, and endeared himself to citizens gener- 
ally, by his readiness to serve them in any capacity 
within his power. 

After he had been pastor for thirty-eight years, 
the congregation, with that kindness and courtesy 
which always marked the treatment of its minis- 
ters, persuaded him to accept the aid of an associate 
pastor. The Rev George W. Briggs, of Fall River, 
a graduate of Brown University, and a young minis- 
ter of great promise, was invited to take this posi- 
tion. He accepted the call, and 
George W. Briggs was installed on the 24*'' of 
18^8 May 1838. The appointment 

was satisfactory, since there was 
very much in common between the two ministers. 
For fifteen years, they worked together in brotherly 
harmony, the elder always giving his full sympathy 
and support to the younger, and the latter regarding 
his senior with something like filial respect and affec- 
tion. " I look back through all those years " said 
D"' Briggs, in 1859, "to find my memory thronged 
with precious and beautiful remembrances of un- 
varying kindness. I can recall no word or look ; I 
do not believe that he could recall a thought, which 
was not worthy of a father's love towards an unduly 
valued child. I relied upon his loving interest as 
upon the daily sunlight. In that relation, at least, 
he seemed incapable of a selfish or jealous thought. 
He turned the hearts of his people toward me, and 
never held them back." * In 1853, D' Briggs re- 

* Sermon o»Dr Kendall, March 20th, 1859. 

Back to the Past 

signed his pastorate to take charge of the First Con- 
gregational Society in Salem. His resignation was 
accepted with deep regret by the parish, which em- 
bodied its feeling in a resolution containing the fol- 
lowing words " We shall ever cherish a grateful 
recollection of the harmonious relations which have 
existed between yourself and the parish for fifteen 
years, and our best wishes and prayers attend you in 
your new field." 

The effort to find a suitable successor to D' 
Briggs was not an easy matter. M' Henry S. 
Myrick, a graduate of Harvard was appointed May 
the 19* 1853, but the connection was dissolved 
April 8* 1855. The Rev. G. S. Ball was installed 
on March i'^ 1856, but his relation with the parish 
ceased in April 1857. 

At last, the Church was fortunate enough to 
secure the services of the Rev. Edward H. Hall, 
son of Rev. E. B. Hall D.D. of Providence, and 
a graduate of Harvard. He accepted the call in 
December 1858, and was duly installed. 

His ministry opened at a time 
Edward H. Hall when the anti-slavery forces 
18^8 were gathering for battle. The 

war of words which had pro- 
ceeded with increasing bitterness for some years 
was about to ripen into a momentous conflict. 
Lincoln and Douglas were champions in opposite 
camps, and their debates, which were both numer- 
ous and ably conducted, prepared the way for a 
clear understanding of the issues which were being 

[91] ■' 

The First Church in Plymouth 

forced upon the country. " There is no way " said 
Lincoln " of putting an end to the slavery agitation 
amongst us, but to put it back upon the basis 
where our fathers placed it, — no way but to keep 
it out of our new territories — to restrict it forever 
to the old States where it now exists. Then the 
public mind will rest in the belief that it is in the 
course of ultimate extinction." * The other way 
was to recognize slavery as part of the economic 
and industrial order, to allow it to remain where it 
was, and to prevent its extension over other States. 

In the midst of this agitation, the venerable pas- 
tor who for nearly sixty years had been a tower of 
strength to the church, and had gone in and out 
among his people as a beloved friend and helper, was 
called to his rest. He died on the 17'^ of March 
1859, in the 90'^ year of his age. During twenty- 
one years of his ministry, there had been several 
associate pastors, but he preached occasionally, until 
the last year of his life, and preserved unimpaired 
the confidence and affection, which had sustained 
him through an exceptionally long and pleasant 
pastorate. " The funeral services were held in the 
Church, on the afternoon of Sunday the 20"", and 
all the churches and places of business of the town 
were closed, in token of the general feeling of re- 
spect and affection throughout the community." t 

National events were moving with great rapidity, 
and converging to a crisis; and when in April 1862, 

* Lincoln-Douglas Debates, page 155. 
t Records of the First Church. 


Back to the Past 

in consequence of the open Rebelhon of the Southern 
States against the United States Government, lovers 
of union and Hberty gathered around the national 
flag, the First Church and its minister, were as loyal 
as their predecessors had been in Revolutionary times. 
Minister and people threw themselves heartily into 
the conflict. On the 28'^ of August 1862, M^ 
Hall announced that he had been elected Chaplain 
of the 44* Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, 
and had resolved to accept the appointment. " At 
this time," he wrote, " when all our duties lie in one 
direction, and when each one is called upon to render 
what service he is able, to the great cause, I feel sure 
that you will approve of my decision to accept the 

An informal meeting of the Parish was held at 
the church, on the 31'^ of August, and the follow- 
ing resolutions were adopted unanimously : — 

" That it gives us sincere regret, that the minis- 
terial relations of our pastor with this people are dis- 
turbed, and that we are to lose the ministrations of 
one so able, devoted, and affectionate, and whose 
labours have for us, been so valuable and inter- 

That we appreciate the motives, and respect the 
convictions of duty, which prompt him to devote 
his strength and best efforts to the sacred cause of 
our country, at this season of affliction and peril. 

That it is the unanimous desire of the Parish, that 
the pastoral relations of M' Hall with the people 
shall remain unbroken ; and that the Parish Com- 


The First Church in Plymouth 

mittee be instructed to request him to withdraw his 
resignation, and to offer him leave of absence for 
nine months." 

The resignation was withdrawn, and arrangements 
were made for the supply of the pulpit, during the 
absence of the minister. Throughout six months 
of this absence the pulpit was supplied by the Rev: 
Charles W. Buck. 

In answer to the call of duty, the pews were in 
no respect behind the pulpit. Then, and afterwards, 
quite a number of the young men of the church, 
volunteered to serve their country in the war, 
and upheld the traditions of the community. 

On June the 28* 1 863, the pastor resumed his con- 
nection with the church, and received an enthusiastic 
welcome from his parishioners and friends. 

It will be remembered, that at different periods 
in the history of the church, attempts were made to 
modify the original covenant, to meet the fluctua- 
tions of changing opinion. Not one of the changes 
made, was in any respect an improvement upon the 
original, and it is a remarkable illustration of the 
liberality and foresight of the ancient fathers, that 
more than 250 years after the first covenant was 
formed, the church should hark back to it, as to the 
ideal bond of Christian fellowship. A church 
meeting vv^as held, to consider this matter, on Sunday 
Dec: 20* 1863, and it was unanimously resolved, 
to go back to the primitive covenant of the church, 
(vide Church Records Vol. I page 4). 

It may be worth while to notice at this point, 


Back to the Past 

the slow and imperceptible change, which at this 
time was creeping over the churches, in no way 
affecting the fundamental principles of Congrega- 
tionalism, but tending more and more to make 
membership a simple question of owning or renting 
pews. The ruling elder and his authority had long 
since ceased to be. Deacons were rapidly giving 
way to parish committees. Baptism and the Lord's 
Supper, the observance of which was once so indis- 
pensable to communion, and the neglect of which 
was accompanied with reproofs and penalties, had 
become optional, like attendance at public worship. 
The era of ecclesiastical authority in Congregation- 
alism was drawing to a close. The churches were 
in the way of becoming democratic corporations 
consisting of groups of people, with little in com- 
mon as to religious belief, and owning pews or sit- 
tings, which might be occupied by the proprietors 
themselves, or rented to others, and which were 
sometimes owned by absentees who had become 
members of other churches, or had given up going 
to church altogether, but apparently enjoyed the 
right to a voice and a vote in the affairs of a church, 
in which they had ceased to have any other interest. 
Congregationalism was making its appeal to the re- 
ligious instincts of its adherents, to the honour and 
enthusiasm of its people, and was willing to do so, 
despite the fact that its principles were liable in the 
hands of non-religious men to misuse and abuse. 

The First Church harmonized the largest liberty 
with the warmest religious enthusiasm, and its affairs 


The First Church in Plymouth 

continued, as of old, to be directed by men who re- 
mained in its fellowship, and attended its services, 
because they enjoyed its religious privileges, for 
themselves and their families. 

On Saturday June i'^ 1867 the Rev: E. H. Hall 
resigned the pulpit, and shortly after settled in 
Worcester. His resignation was accepted with sin- 
cere expressions of regret. 

In October 1869, a call was given to the Rev: 
Frederick N. Knapp, who graduated from Harvard 
College in 1843, ^^ enter the Divinity School, and 
afterwards settled at Brook- 
Frederick N. Knapp line. He left Brookline in 
1860 ^^^SS-) ^^"^ account of ill- 

health. On the 21'^ of July 
1 86 1, he joined the Sanitary Commission, becom- 
ing Assistant Secretary to the Eastern Division, and 
Superintendent of the Special Relief Department. 
" He was the personal friend of General Grant and 
President Lincoln, and when Grant visited Plym- 
outh, he made M' Knapp's house his stopping-place. 
While in the Sanitary Commission, fifty thousand 
wounded and sick soldiers passed through his hands, 
and received aid from him. After the war, he de- 
voted a year to writing a history of the Special Re- 
lief Department of the Commission, and its war 
work. In 1866, he became principal of a military 
School at Eagleswood, N.J." * His ministry in 
Plymouth afforded scope for his scholarly attain- 
ments, and for the manifestation of a generous and 

*In Memoriam Frederick N. Knapp i88q. 

Back to the Past 

kindly disposition. His experience on the Sanitary 
Commission had brought him into close touch with 
suffering in all its forms, and gave to his work in a 
country parish, a wide range of personal sympathy 
and tender helpfulness. He was accessible to every- 
body needing friendly counsel or help, regardless of 
church or creed. Nature had endowed him with a 
bright, cheerful, happy disposition, which became 
contagious wherever he moved. He never ceased 
to think and act for others, and countless deeds of 
thoughtful kindness still serve to keep his memory 
fresh in the hearts of those who loved him. His 
Christianity was not confined to the pulpit, or to 
pastoral cares, but pervaded his social duties, and the 
obligations of citizenship. There was no institution 
in the town, educational, philanthropic, social, in 
which he did not feel a close personal interest. He 
was strongly identified with the education of the 
young, and during the five years of his ministrv, 
and until his death in 1889, he conducted a success- 
ful school for boys. He was also Chairman of the 
School Committee for several years. The Grand 
Army departed from its usual custom in his case, 
and conferred upon him the unique distinction of 
being the only honorary member in the country. 

His position as pastor of the First Church was 
relinquished in October 1874, but he retained a 
warm affection for the church, and attended its 
ministrations to the close of his life. His death 
came suddenly on January 12* 1889, i" ^is sixty- 
eighth year. He died as he had lived, cheerfully, 


The First Church in Plymouth 

peacefully, hopefully, leaving behind him a wife, 
who shared his spirit, and supported him loyally, in 
all his varied labors, and a family of children, who 
cherish their father's memory as a rich inheritance. 
On the day of the funeral, factories shut down, the 
public schools were dismissed at an early hour, at 
eleven o'clock all places of business were closed, and 
i:he church bells tolled. There was a private ser- 
vice at the home, conducted by his friends the Rev^ 
C. P. Lombard, R. N. Bellows, of Walpole, and 
George W. Briggs D.D. of Cambridge. This was 
followed by a service in the Church, which was at- 
tended by a throng of personal friends, and repre- 
sentatives of the various military and benevolent 
associations, and conducted by the Rev' C. P. Lom- 
bard, C. Y. De Normandie, George E. Ellis D.D., 
Thomas Hill D.D., and George W. Briggs D.D. 
Such tributes of popular esteem had not been given 
to any minister in the town, since the death of the 
venerable D' Kendall, who like M"" Knapp, was 
everybody's friend. 

On the 22^^^^ of June 1878, M"" E. Q, S. Osgood 
was invited to take charge of the parish. He was 
then a student at the Divinity 
E. ^ S. Osgood School, Cambridge. On the 11^^ 
l8y8 of July, he accepted the call, and 

was ordained on the 10* of Octo- 
ber following. He brought to his work the fresh- 
ness and enthusiasm of early manhood, and de- 
voted himself assiduously to the Sunday School, and 
work among the young people. Himself, the son 


Back to the Past 

of a clergyman, the venerable D' Osgood, of Co- 
hasset, he was not unacquainted with the duties and 
responsibilities of a minister's life, and by his dili- 
gence and benevolent activity, he soon won for 
himself, the esteem and affection of his people. 
The women of the church, always loyal and faithful 
friends of the ministers, were among his willing and 
energetic supporters. At a Fair, held in the month 
of August 1879, they raised $1000 for the benefit 
of the parish. In 1880, M' Osgood's health de- 
clined, and that made rest and change essential to 
the further continuance of his labours, and in April 

1 88 1, leave of absence was given to him, and he 
went to Europe as tutor of a private pupil, and 
with the sincere good wishes of his parishioners. 

During the minister's absence, the Rev: John H. 
Hey wood, formerly of Louisville, Kentucky, occu- 
pied the pulpit and discharged pastoral duties, in 
such a way, as to make his services memorable to 
the church, and the community. 

M' Osgood returned to Plymouth in September 

1882, and resumed his duties. 

In the Spring of 1885, a branch of the Women's 
Auxiliary Conference was established in the church, 
for the purpose of elevating and strengthening the 
interest of women in parish work, and in mission- 
ary enterprise. Committees were formed for the 
study of the Liberal Faith, for the development 
of intellectual interest in its beliefs and history, 
and for the cultivation of social and philanthropic 


The First Church in Plymouth 

The Rev M' Osgood closed his pastorate Octo- 
ber ii""^ 1885, and from that time until April 1887, 
the pulpit was supplied by various ministers, with- 
out regular settlement. 

On the 18*^ of January 1888, the Hon. Arthur 
Lord, chairman of the Parish Committee, com- 
municated the desire of the congregation, to the 
Rev: Charles P. Lombard minister of the Second 
Congregational Society, at Athol, Mass: that he 
should become their minister, for three years. The 
call was accepted, and M' Lombard entered upon 
his duties on April i^' 1888. He commended him- 
self to the confidence and affection of the church, 
and on the 21^* of November 
Charles P Lombard 1890, at the Annual Parish 
1888 Meeting, he was confirmed in 

his office as settled minister 
of the church. He laboured faithfully and earnestly 
for the good of the parish and community, and by his 
courtesy and good-will, did much towards develop- 
ing friendly relations between the various religious 
bodies in the town, encouraging closer intercourse 
where that was possible, and exchange of hospitality. 
Union Thanksgiving Services were established 
among the Protestant sects, and sometimes union 
services were held for the development of a stronger, 
and more enthusiastic religious life, in the whole 

In the summer of 1892, the second session of the 
school of AppHed Ethics was held m the town, and 
the following clergymen and laymen delivered ser- 

Back to the Past 

mons or addresses, in the church, on Sundays, — July 
17*^, Professor C. H. Toy, of Cambridge; the 24^^, 
M' Bernard Bosanquet, of London ; August 7*, Rev. 
W. H. Johnson, of Wihnington ; the 14''', D"" 
Emil G. Hirsch, Jewish Rabbi, of Chicago. The 
church which had stood for about sixty years, was 
very much in need of repairs, and the sum of $2,500 
was raised for that purpose, and the work was begun 
in September. When it was nearly finished, and 
the church was almost ready for the re-opening 
services, the fine old building took fire, and was 
burned to the ground, on Tuesday evening, Nov- 
ember the 2 2"^^ 1 892. There was universal sympathy 
with the parish, not merely in the town, and imme- 
diate neighbourhood, but throughout New England. 
Not only was a familiar landmark removed, but a 
church home had gone, around which many historic 
associations clustered, and in which, many per- 
sonal and family memories were centred. From 
its impressive tower, the old Paul Revere bell had 
daily recorded the flying hours. Within its walls 
the voices of statesmen, poets, preachers, men of 
letters had been heard, men, who on special occa- 
sions, such as forefathers day, had delivered speeches 
and orations, in commemoration of historic events, 
of more than local interest. It was, moreover, the 
shrine of Pilgrim history, to which the faithful of 
our own land, and sympathetic visitors from abroad, 
gathered to do reverence to the only existing symbol 
of a great historic past. The ground on which it 
stood, was hallowed by the prayers of many genera- 


The First Church in Plymouth 

tions, sanctified by the joys and sorrows of more 
than two centuries of worshippers. The old church 
was thus like a sentinel standing day and night at 
the foot of Burial Hill, to guard the honoured dust 
of the forefathers. 



Liberty and Progress. 

WHEN the first shock of surprise and 
sorrow had passed, the congregation 
quickly determined that the fifth edifice 
should soon be reared, to perpetuate Pilgrim history. 
A voice came to them from the past, speaking in 
language their hearts well understood, 

" If, as some have done 
Ye grope tear-blinded in a desert place, 
And touch but tombs — look up! Those tears will run 
Soon in long rivers down the lifted face. 
And leave the vision clear for stars and sun." 

In the meantime, the churches of different denom- 
inations — Universalist, Baptist, Congregationalist, 
Methodist — kindly offered the temporary use of 
their edifices, to the homeless parish. The first 
service, after the fire, was held in the Universalist 
Church, on the afternoon of Sunday December the 
4'^ On the 19*, a parish meeting was held in 
Standish Hall, and the first five thousand dollars 
was subscribed, towards the building of a new 
church. The movement was taken up with en- 
thusiasm, by young and old, and every society in 
the parish applied all its resources, towards acquiring 
funds for the erection of a new house. The whole 
church v/as dominated by one purpose, that of rais- 
ing enough money to rear an edifice of stone, strong 

The First Church in Plymouth 

and durable, a fitting temple for the liberal faith, 
and an enduring monument to the ancient fathers, 
and the brave days of old. 

On the 19* of June 1893, ^ parish meeting was 
held, to consider plans of the proposed new church. 
After several meetings, and much discussion, it was 
decided to accept those of Mess'^ Hartwell, Rich- 
ardson, and Driver, of Boston. The architecture 
is of the English-Norman type, and bears some 
resemblance to the ancient church at Scrooby. At 
its front is a central tower, the entrance to which is 
through a series of receding arches, leading to a 
memorial vestibule, in which will be placed windows 
and tablets. The tower contains a belfry, in which 
the town bell cast by Paul Revere in 1801, is placed, 
and which hung in the old church, ringing the nine 
o'clock curfew for three generations, and on the night 
of the fire, sounding the alarm, just before it fell 
among the burning ruins. The main edifice is built 
of seam-faced granite, with Ohio sandstone trim- 
mings. In the lower part of the building, under the 
church, are a vestry and Sunday School. A memo- 
rial window was presented by the Society of May- 
flower descendants of New York, to be placed in 
the chancel of the church, representing the " Sign- 
ing of the Compact " in the cabin of the Mayflower ; 
and later on, another memorial window was placed 
in the north end, by a sister of M' Edward G. 
Walker, representing " John Robinson delivering 
his farewell address to the departing pilgrims," — 
appropriate and handsome memorials. The New 


Liberty and Progress 

England Society, in the city of New York, gave 
its cordial support to the movement. The Hon: 
Elihu Root, the president, in his address Decem- 
ber 22"*^ 1894, said "We have set our hands to 
another and somewhat different work, somewhat 
graver in its responsibility and more lasting in its 
results, than words which vanish into air. As you 
all know, in the winter before the last, the First 
Church in Plymouth was destroyed by fire, the 
church of the first congregation in New England, 
of the Society which was organized in Holland, and 
gathered in the cabin of the " Mayflower," and 
with prayer and faith endured the hardships of that 
first cold long winter — the church of Brewster, 
and Bradford, and Winslow and Carver. A new 
building is to be erected. It will stand where the 
old one stood, on the slope of Burial Hill. Faith- 
ful sons of New England have resolved, that the 
new edifice shall be a fitting memorial, of the noble 
hearts, and great events, for which it will stand; 
that it shall be shaped by that perfect art, which 
best comports with grave simplicity, and that it 
shall express, in form more enduring than the 
words of countless banquets, the fidelity of the 
sons of the Pilgrims to the memory of their fathers. 
This Society in its annual meeting has authorized 
its President to appoint a Committee to take charge 
of our part of this labour of affection and venera- 
tion, and I now announce the members of that 
Committee : Cornelius N. Bliss, J. Pierpont Mor- 
gan, Joseph H. Choate, Horace Russell, and the 

The First Church in Plymouth 

The Building Committee held large views of the 
proposed structure, and resolved that the memorial, 
about to be reared, should be in keeping with the 
noble history and traditions of the Church, even if 
it had to be built by slow degrees. They ventured 
upon a great trust, and as it happened nobly. The 
Hon: Arthur Lord, M""- William S. Kyle, and M" 
F. B. Davis attended a meeting of the National Con- 
ference of Unitarian and other Christian Churches 
held in Saratoga September 1894, and presented the 
claims of the Plymouth Church. A resolution was 
adopted at the Conference commending the Church 
to the general public, and appointing a Committee 
to raise funds. 

The corner-stone of the new edifice was laid on 
Monday June 29* 1896, with suitable ceremonies, 
and in the presence of a throng of glad and grateful 
friends, who rejoiced to see the opening fulfilment 
of their heart's desire. The Hon: Arthur Lord, 
President of the Pilgrim Society, and chairman of the 
Parish Committee, commenced the proceedings with 
an address, in which he said : — 

" On this hill-side, rich in memories, associations 
and history, we meet today, to lay the corner stone 
of the First Church in Plymouth, and the first 
church in America. Behind us, rises the hill, where 
rest in peace the dead of by-gone generations ; be- 
fore us stretches, the first street of the Pilgrims, 
once bordered by their simple dwellings, once echo- 
ing to the tread of their weary feet ; and beyond, 
lies the sea, now sparkling in the sunlight of June, 


Liberty and Progress 

but whose dark waters in that stormy December 
reflects the white sail of the Mayflower. All 
around us is historic ground. It witnessed the 
humble beginnings of a great people. It was the 
cradle of a mighty nation ; the rude yet tender 
home of civil and religious liberty, which, elsewhere, 
seemed but a scholar's idle dream. 

The inestimable privilege of such environment 
comes not alone. By its side, there ever stands 
the graver forms of duty and responsibility, and 
sometimes in their silent train, there comes in the 
lifetime of a generation, the great opportunity, not 
bidden perchance, but ever welcomed. Another 
generation, three quarters of a century ago, entered 
upon the work of commemorating the great events 
of Pilgrim History, of marking and adorning the 
localities peculiarly interesting to every American, 
of collecting and preserving each memento of the 
Pilgrims, which the hand of time had spared. Mon- 
ument and statue, hall and rock, attest their labours. 

To this generation, came the duty and the oppor- 
tunity to erect upon the ruins of the old church, a 
memorial, simple yet enduring, to the religious life 
of its founders, the last and best of the great me- 
morials to the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Built of gran- 
ite from the rocky hillsides of Massachusetts, of 
stone from the quarries of that other Massachusetts 
on the banks of the Ohio, it is no less firm and 
enduring than they. In its stately tower shall hang 
the bell which Revere cast, whose tones, as in other 
days, again will mark the fleeting hour, will call to 


The First Church in Plymouth 

duty, and will sound the dread alarm. The carved 
tablets in its open vestibule shall tell the Pilgrim 
name and story to the thousands as they pass. The 
rays of the setting sun falling softly through its 
stained windows, shall gild with a new radiance the 
pictured forms and faces of the leaders of the Pilgrim 

Of such a memorial, more appropriate, interest- 
ing, and suggestive than any other, we lay the 
corner stone. Long may it stand, sustaining, ele- 
vating, and inspiring the life and thought of this 
community, its portals ever open to the " new light 
yet to come." Long may it stand, to impress upon 
the minds and hearts of the generations yet unborn, 
the lesson of the lives and labours and faith, of its 
Pilgrim founders ; those lives heroic, those labours 
triumphant, that faith sublime, which lifted them 
above every doubt, sustained them in every peril, 
and under whose benign influence the sea lost its 
terrors, the wilderness its fears, and sickness and 
death could not their souls dismay." This address 
was followed by a speech from M'- Edwin D. Mead, 
Editor of the New England Magazine, and after the 
singing of a hymn the Hon: Charles Francis Adams, 
President of the Massachusetts Historical Society, was 
introduced. He said, among other things, bearing 
upon the occasion : — 

" We are so accustomed to look upon all things 
American, as new, that it requires some forcible 
reminder, such as this, to make us realize what 
an antiquity has gathered upon Plymouth. Yet 


Liberty and Progress 

the fact is, as I have stated. When the church, 
the unbroken succession of which you are, first 
gathered at Scrooby, and again at Delfthaven on 
the deck of the Speedwell, of the two most widely 
read books in all English Literature, our King 
James' Bible, had been only nine years issued 
from the press, while the other, the precious first 
quarto of Shakespeare, did not see the light until 
three years later. Of this Society, therefore, Amer- 
ican though it be, it may truthfully be said, that it 
antedates not only the literature, theology, science, 
and law, of the modern world, but it has outlived 
most of the philosophies and dynasties, and not a 
few of the nationalities, which existed at its birth. 
It is among the world-venerable things. When 
John Robinson addressed his farewell discourse to 
the little band of Pilgrims, on that day of solemn 
humiliation in July 1620, Kepler, Galileo, Bacon, 
Harvey, Milton, Descartes, were either still doing 
their work, or, as yet, unheard of in the world ; the 
house of Stuart was freshly seated on the English 
throne ; Oliver Cromwell, a youth of twenty-one, 
had not yet undergone his change of heart ; Gus- 
tavus Adolphus had won no name in arms ; Riche- 
lieu was not a Cardinal, nor a very potter at his 
wheel, had he begun his momentous work on 
plastic France. Poland was still a power, and the 
barrier of civilization against the Turk. We re- 
gard that famous victory won by Sobieski under 
the walls of Vienna, which marked the culmination 
and decline of the Ottoman Empire, as so remote, 


The First Church in Plymouth 

that it seems of another world than ours ; yet it 
happened more that sixty years after the unnoticed 
Speedwell weighed its anchor at Delfthaven ; and 
John Robinson had already been four years in his 
grave, before Sobieski was born. Thus, as I have 
said, this church has seen dynasties, philosophies, 
theologies and nations, decay and disappear, and yet 
others rise to take their place. 

" The drift of the maker is dark ; an Isis hid by the veil, 
Who knows the ways of the world, how God will bring 
them about ? " 

These names I have mentioned, are names great 
in the world's annals ; the events, I have referred 
to, are indisputably memorable. It seems strange 
to compare this religious society — a simple church 
in a provincial Massachusetts town — it seems 
strange, I say, to weigh the formation of this so- 
ciety in the scale of human events, against such 
names and such events, as I have recalled. So 
doing is suggestive of exaggeration, of hyperbole, 
almost of bathos. And yet in truth, as a factor in 
human events, it outweighs that among them, 
which is to be reckoned most and greatest. When 
the society which is met here today, first gathered 
on the Speedwell's narrow deck, its great mission 
was to bear to a new continent, and there implant, 
the germs of civil and religious liberty. In all 
seriousness I ask, was the passage ot the Red Sea, 
by the children of Israel ; was the founding of 
Rome by Romulus and Remus : was the crossing 


Liberty and Progress 

of the Atlantic by Columbus, was any one of these, 
a human event more pregnant with great conse- 
quence ? 

Centuries have rolled by since your society was 
organized. Your pastors and teachers exhorted you 
in mid-Atlantic, in Provincetown, and in yonder 
bay, from the deck of the Mayflower; again they 
preached the word in " the first house for common 
use" the erection of which was begun on the 4"' of 
January 1621 ; again, in the old Fort, with the 
cannon on its roof, on Burial Hill ; again in the 
Meeting-House of 1648, from which a bell first 
here knoll'd to church ; again, in the second house 
of 1683 5 ^"^> y^^ again, in the third, of 1744. It 
is an honourable succession — Brewster, Reyner, 
Cotton, Little, Leonard, Robbins, Kendall, Hall, 
Knapp, Osgood, and Lombard — and that the line 
will long stretch out admits not of question in the 
mind of any descendant of the Pilgrims. Here 
shall the church edifice stand, and here let it con- 
tinue to stand, looking out at that distant sea-line 
from which nearly three centuries ago, the May- 
flower slowly loomed up in December, and under 
which its white sails as slowly disappeared in the 
following April ; but whether this, the fifth and most 
elaborate of its edifices, continues to shelter the 
church, or in turn gives way to another, the church 
itself will, like the poet's brook, go on forever ; 
and so long as it goes on, it will stand in far greater 
degree than any other association in the land, for 
those principles of civil and religious freedom, which 


The First Church in Plymouth 

it was its mission to bring to America. And truly 
the seed it has sown did not fall by the way- 
side, nor among the thorns, nor upon stony ground 
where it was scorched, nor did the fowls of the air 
come and devour it; but it fell on good ground, 
and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased, 
not thirty-fold, nor sixty, nor yet a hundred, but by 
the thousand and myriad, until it has multiplied and 
covered the land as with a mantle of snow." 

After Prayer by the Rev: Charles P. Lombard, 
pastor of the church, a hymn was sung, and the 
proceedings came to an end. 

The first service in the New Kendall Hall was 
held on April 2^^^ 1897, ^"<^ Sunday services con- 
tinued to be held there until the dedication of the 
Church on Thursday December 21^* 1899. After 
several years of patient wait- 
T6e Fifth Meeting- ing, labour, anxiety, incessant 
Mouse l8gg and unremitting activity, in 

which the officers of the 
Church, Mess"-^ Arthur Lord, William S. Kyle, 
W. W. Brewster and James D. Thurber, and 
all the Committees of men and women took 
part, the completed church building was in im- 
mediate prospect. D' Hale, the Hon: John D. 
Long, and the Hon : Winslow Warren had issued 
a circular letter to friends of the cause, that the 
money to pay for the completion of the building 
might be obtained before the work was done, and 
when at a social gathering in Kendall Hall, Febru- 
ary 24*'' 1899, it was announced that a friend who 

Liberty and Progress 

did not wish to have his name disclosed, had given 
^15000 to the building fund, the audience rejoiced, 
and sang the doxology. The work went on, and 
was finished, and glad eyes and grateful hearts were 
delighted, when the doors were flung wide open for 
the service of dedication. The order of exercises 
was as follows : — 

Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah ....... Handel 


The breaking waves dashed high Mrs Hemans 

Rev: Charles P. Lombard, Pastor 

Rev: Eugene R. Shippen, First Parish Dorchester (1630) 

Rev: Edward Everett Hale D.D. 


Written for the dedication of the Fourth Meeting-House December 14th 18 ji 
by Rev : John Pierpont. 

1 . The winds and waves were roaring : 

The Pilgrims met for prayer ; 
And here their God adoring. 

They stood, in open air. 
When breaking day they greeted. 

And when its close was calm. 
The leafless woods repeated 

The music of their psalm. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

2. Not thus, O God, to praise Thee, 

Do we, their children, throng : 
The temple's arch we raise thee 

Gives back our choral song. 
Yet, on the winds that bore Thee 

Their worship and their prayers. 
May ours come up before Thee 

From hearts as true as theirs! 

3. What have we. Lord, to bind us 

To this, the Pilgrims' shore ! — 
Their hill of graves behind us. 

Their watery way before. 
The wintry surge, that dashes 

Against the rocks they trod. 
Their memory, and their ashes — 

Be Thou their guard, O God ! 

4. We would not. Holy Father, 

Forsake this hallowed spot. 
Till on that shore we gather 

Where graves and griefs are not : 
The shore where true devotion 

Shall rear no pillared shrine. 
And see no other ocean 

Than that of love divine. — 

Read by Rev. E. J. Prescott, First Church, Salem {162Q) 

Minister and People 

«* I have surely built thee an house " . . . JV. O. Wilkinson 


His Excellency, Roger Wolcott, LL.D. Governor of the 



Liberty and Progress 


Rev : Francis G. Peabody, D.D., Harvard University 


By Mr. I. F. Botume 

The Lord is my Light Alitson 

Rev : James Eells, First Church Boston (1630) 


Rev : James De Normandie, D.D., First Religious Society in 

RoxBURY (163 i) 

Rev : S. A. Eliot, Secretary American Unitarian Association 


Written for this service. 

Let the organ roll its music, and the song of praise arise. 
Unto God who crowns endeavor, and rewardeth sacrifice. 
Who has poured His holy spirit into mighty men and wise. 
Whose souls are marching on. 

Glory, glory, hallelujah. 
Glory, glory, hallelujah. 
Glory, glory, hallelujah, 
Their souls are marching on. 

Let us sing the Faith triumphant that has ruled the raging sea. 
That has swept upon the storm-wind to a land of liberty. 
That has bowed the gloomy forests and has reared a nation free. 
Whose soul is marching on. 

Chorus : 

With the Mighty Dead behind us, and a waiting world before, 
Let us lift the torch they carried to the God whom we adore, 
To His holy name be praises and the glory evermore, 
Whose power is marching on. 


The First Church in Plymouth 

Glory, glory, hallelujah. 
Glory, glory, hallelujah. 
Glory, glory, hallelujah, 
His power is marching on. 


On July I** 1900, the Rev: Charles P. Lombard 
resigned his position as minister of the Parish, to 
take effect in September. He had served the 
church diligently and faithfully for more than 
twelve years, and was respected and beloved 
throughout the community ; but the state of his 
health compelled him to seek rest and change. A 
farewell reception was given to him, and to his wife, 
on September 27% when their parishioners and 
friends expressed appreciation of their past services 
and good wishes for the future, accompanied with a 
gift of $700. M' and M'^ Lombard sailed for Italy 
on the 6* of October, to remain abroad a year. 

To the great regret of the congregation M' James 
D. Thurber, who for more than twenty-five years 
had acted as clerk of the Parish declined to be re- 
nominated, feeling that the time had come when 
someone else should have an opportunity of render- 
ing special service to the church, and carrying on 
with energy and enthusiasm the work which had 
been so freely given in the past. 

Although the building itself was complete, its 
equipment was not quite perfect. A beautiful organ 
had been provided, but the chancel was unfurnished. 
A communion table and chairs and a baptismal font, 


Liberty and Progress 

were greatly needed. Two handsome carved oak 
chairs were presented by a lineal descendant of 
Elder Brewster. A massive oak table to match the 
chairs, and a piece of the step of the ancient church 
at Delfthaven were also given. M' Chandler 
Robbins of New York gave two bronze tablets in 
memory of D' Robbins and D' Kendall, which were 
placed near the gallery at the north end of the 
church. A legacy of $250 was bequeathed which 
was applied to the purchase of suitable stair-railings. 
Two bronze tablets were attached to the buttress of 
the tower near the front entrance to the church, one 
of which bears the following incription. " The 
Church of Scrooby, Leyden and the Mayflower 
gathered on this hill-side in 1620, has ever since 
preserved unbroken records and maintained a con- 
tinuous ministry, its first covenant being still the 
basis of its fellowship. In reverent memory of its 
Pilgrim Founders this Fifth Meeting-House was 
erected AD, MDCCCXCVII." 

Provision was made in the vestibule for placing 
on the marble wall, the First Covenant of the 
Church, and other historic records deserving special 
remembrance, and in due time the generosity of 
friends will no doubt permit the carrying out of 
these and other plans, which will serve as mile 
stones to mark the way along which the Pilgrims 
and their descendants have travelled. 

My work is now done. Without entering too 
fully into the religious history of the Pilgrim 
Fathers, I have endeavored to trace their steps, and 


The First Church in Plymouth 

to bring into convenient compass, the record of a 
church, which is without parallel in its loyalty to 
truth and liberality of view, and to show that the 
after history of the church was the logical sequence of 
the principle which forbade persecution, and incul- 
cated the Protestant doctrines of liberty of thought 
and the rights of conscience. That, for which the 
Pilgrims stood, the church still stands, viz. (i) loy- 
alty to truth, hostility to every kind of mental tort- 
ure and oppression ; (2) fealty to conscience, be 
the consequences what they may; (3) aversion to 
creeds and articles as tests of Christian fellowship, 
and the enjoyment of Christian ordinances, on the 
ground that an honest man cannot make himself 
believe anything he pleases ; that it is therefore 
wicked to drive him by threats and penalties, actual 
or implied, to dissemble his thoughts and disguise 
his opinions ; (4) the identity of righteousness with 
salvation, intellectual righteousness which cares su- 
premely for the simple truth, and moral righteous- 
ness which will not parley with sin. The world 
never reared a set of men more conscientious and 
fearless in their doings, more hardy, simple, unos- 
tentatious in their manners. May their fortitude 
continue to rebuke our cowardice ; their thrift re- 
proach our effeminate luxury ; their hardihood con- 
demn our supineness and lassitude ; their breadth 
and catholicity of religious sentiment put to scorn 
the petty narrowness and littleness of our day. It 
is a proud thing to be their spiritual heirs, to possess 
their principles, and to cherish their heroic deeds as 
our best inheritance. 


c^.n /