« AnteriorContinuar »
tablishment of the most important ci-|| became convinced that many of the orvil and religious institutions. The fa- || dinances and ceremonies of the church thers of that colony, therefore, for were unsupported by divine precept, their zeal and indefatigable labors, and inconsistent with the word of God. will always be held in thc most grate-Finding that rites of human invention ful remembrance; while their prac- were maintained and enforced with as tical wisdom and rational piety can much pertinacity as any of the express never cease to be revered. The em- precepts or ordinances of Christ, that inent characters of that colony, may, he was denied the privilege of conscivery justly, be the subject of our first entious omission of forms and cereattention.
monies confessedly unessential, Mr. The most distinguished person of Robinson determined, at the hazard of that extraordinary company, who all temporal good, to separate from made the settlement of Plymouth, and the established church. commenced the first colony, which in About the year 1580, a sect of violent its early state had the appearance of separatists arose in England, the principermanency, within the present limits pal leader of whom was Robert Brown, of the United States, was their vener- from whom the sect was denominated able Minister, the Rev. John Robin-| Brownists. These absolutely disownson. Through the interesting vicissi-ed the church of England as a church tudes of about twenty years, he was of Christ, and held it to be unlawful their leader, their shield, and the only to hold any communion with that common bond which gave a unity to church. Mr. Robinson, on a discoveall their pursuits.
ry of the numerous factitious rites Mr. Robinson was born in the East which were imposed by the church, of England, about the year 1575. Pos- of the arbitrary measures and high usessed of a strong and discriminating surpations of the hierarchy, fell into mind, under the advantages of a liber-| the same mistaken sentiments, and al education, he made an early and disconnected himself with the Brownists. tinguished progress in those branches The sentiments which he embraced of science which were the principal and publicly maintained, were genersubjects of learning in that day. Hav- ally adopted by his congregation.ing been early inducted into the work Enlightened by his luminous mind, of the gospel ministry, he applied allured by his ardent piety, attached with great diligence to the study of|| by his unfeigned mouth, the congrethe scriptures, and to the constitutiongation ever adhered to their faithful, and character of the national church. beloved pastor.' Mr. Robinson pubOf that church he was a member, hav-|| lished some small tracts in vindication ing received episcopal ordination, and of the lawfulness of separation, and in was settled over a small congregation opposition to many of the ordinances near Yarmouth. He entered upon the of the ecclesiastical establishment.-work of the ministry about the time Many of the Brownists, unable to enwhen the debates, between the advo- dure the persecuting zeal of Archbishcates of high episcopacy and the Puri-| op Whitgift and his successor Bancroft tans, managed by those able champi-| fled to Holland and set up several churons Whitgift and Cartright, were carri-ches. Those churches enjoyed the ed on with the utmost vigor. The labors of several excellent divines minds of all men were affected with whose names are still eminent in the those discussions, and such as were of departments of divinity and science.--an inquisitve turn, necessarily examin-Mr. Robinson and his people made : ed those subjects which so greatly ag-many efforts to enjoy and perform the itated the nation. From a careful at-pure worship and ordinances of the tention to the existing order of the re- gospel, in a private manner, without ligious establishment, Mr. Robinson I giving offence to those who sought to
enforce a general uniformity. But with the most of the Reformed churclix the zeal of the ecclesiastical courtses they agreed in the essential princiand the vigilance of the pursuivants|ples of doctrine and practice. They rendering this impracticable, they held it lawful to unite with the Church were compelled to look for an asylum of England in Christian intercourse in foreign countries. The removal of and divine worship, but not to comMr. Robinson and his congregation to mune with them, in their then existing Amsterdam, in the year 1607, and in state, in sealing ordinances. This acthe year following to Leyden, was count is taken from a Confession of particularly described in our third Faith and a general account of that Number.
first Independent church drawn by Mr. Mr. Robinson was a man of an inde-Robinson, with great ability and learn pendent mind, who made truth and ing, and published at Leyden in latin, duty his great objects of pursuit, and in the year 1619. It is entitled An was not to be governed by the preju- Apology for the English exiles, who dices of a sect. On a more near ac are vulgarly called Brownists. In this quaintance with the principles and Confession it is stated, “ We hold the practices of the Brownists than he Reformed Churches to be true and could obtain in his native country, ai- genuine, we profess communion with ded by the light of the holy scriptures | them in the sacraments of God, and, as and an intercourse with some eminent far as we are able, cultivate their felParitan divines, he became sensible lowship.” Dr. Mosheim observes, “ Inof the unreasonable bigotry and many stead of differing from all other Chriserrors of the Brownists, and undertook tian societies, it may rather be said it to effect a reformation in their senti- | the independents, that they were perments and churches. In this important fectly agreed with by far the greatest undertaking, he was eminently suc-| part of the Reformed churches.” The cessful. Many of the Brownists grad- religious sentiments, in doctrine and ually came into his sentiments, and, practice, which were received by Mr. that they might be distinguished from Robinson's church at Leyden, under those who tenaciously adhered to the the instruction of that great man, and sentiments of Brown and went even afterwards brought to America, were greater lengths in error, they were dis- remarkably coincident with those tinguished by the name of independents. which have since been so ably vindiThe leading principles on which Mr. cated by Dr. Hopkins in his incomparRobinson's church in Leyden was es- | able System ; a work which will be tablished, were these: They acknowl-admired in the latest periods of the edged the doctrinal Articles of the church, notwithstanding the censures church of England to contain the es- it now receives from many by whome sential doctrines of the gospel; they it was never read. The sentiments held that, that was a true church of of Mr. Robinson which have been Christ, and as such to be venerated mentioned, which were adopted by and esteemed; that every individual his people, afford a satisfactory reason ehurch had received authority from for an extraordinary remark of that Christ to enjoy all the privileges, to acụte historian Mr. Hume. He says, exercise all the rights which he has of the independents,“ Of all Christian appointed for his visible people; and sects, this was the first, which during that such a church is not amenabie to its prosperity, as well as its adversity, any external or superior ecclesiastical | always adopted the principle of tolerauthority. They held a cordial com-ation." munion with the churches of Holland, At the time that Mr. Robinson rewith the churches of Geneva, with || moved to Leyden, the celebrated Arthe French Protestants who were reg: minius was professor of divinity in the slated by the Walloon Confession, and eminent university of that city, and
publicly inculcated his peculiar reli- || of the necessary preparations, it was i gious sentiments. After his death in found that the whole company could
1609, he was succeeded in the divinity not remove at one time, and it was achair by Episcopius, who maintained greed that tbe pastor should attend the the religious sentiments of his prede- greater number. At the time of the cessor with great ability and learning. first emigration, the greater number An occurrence during his professorate remained in Holland, with wirom Mr.
deserves a particular mention in this Robinson continued. He remained, i place. It is related in an historical however, in the full expectation of re
tract of Governor Bradford. “ Episco- | moving, with the residue of his people pius, the Arminian professor, put forth to America. This confident expecthis best strength and set forth sundry | ation was never relinquished till his theses, which by public dispute he death. would defend against all men. Now When the first emigrants were prePoliander, the other professor, and the pared for their embarcation, the conchief preachers of the city desired Mr. gregation observed, with great solemRobinson to dispute against him; but nity, a day of fasting and prayer. Af he was loth, being a stranger: yet the ter preaching from Ezra viii
. 21. Mr. other did importune him and told him Robinson addressed the adventurers that such was the abilities and nimble-l in the following manner: ness of the adversary, that the truth
Brethren, would suffer if he did not help them ; “ We are now quickly to part from so that he condescended and prepared one another, and whether I may ever himself against the time, and when the live to see your faces on earth any day came, the Lord did so help him more, the God of heaven only knows; to defend the truth and foil his adver-li but whether the Lord has appointed sary as he put him to an apparent non- that or no, I charge you before God plus in this great and public audience, and his blessed angels, that you follow and so he did a second and a third me no farther than you have seen me time upon such like occasions, which follow the Lord Jesus Christ. procured him much honor and res “ If God reveal any thing to you, pect.”
by any other instrument of his, be as Mr. Robinson appears to have had ready to receive it as ever you were no less influence with his people in the to receive any truth by my ministry; regulation of their moral conduct, than for I am verily persuaded the Lord has in the direction of their religious sen- more truth yet to break forth out of his tirnents. A little previous to their re- holy word. -For my part, I cannot moval to America, the Magistrates of sutiiciently bewail the condition of the the city of Leyden, in a public address reformed churches, who are come to to the members of the French church a period in religion, and will go at in that city, observe, “ These English present no farther than the instruments have lived among us these twelve of their reformation. The Lutherans years, and yet we never had any suit cannot be drawn to go beyond what or accusation come against any of Luther saw; whatever part of his will them; but your strifes and quarrels are our God has revealed to Calvin, they vontinual.”
will rather die than embrace it; and The plan of a removal to America, the Calvinists, you see, stick fast where projected by the congregation at Ley- they were left by that great man of den, met with the cordial approbation God, who yet saw not all things. of their reverend pastor. He consid " This is a misery much to be la ered the reasons for a removal sufli- | mented, for though they were burning cient, and resolved to accompany his and shining lights in their times, yet beloved flock to the western wilder- they penetrated not into the whole Hess. After attending to the naturel council of God, but were they now
living, would be as willing to embrace || Robinson wrote and sent to them a further light as that which they first re- most affectionate and judicious pastoceived. I beseech you remember, it|ral letter, which was preserved by is an article of your church covenant, them with the tenderest remembrance, that you be ready to receive whatever and was of great benefit to them truth shall be made known to you from through the residue of their lives.
In the written word of God. Remember this, he counselled them, above all that, and every other article of your things else, to make their peace with sacred covenant. But I must here- | God, and their own consciences, by a withall exhort you to take heed what sincere repentance of all sin, and a you receive as truth, examine it, con- life of faithful obedience to the divine sider it, and compare it with other commands. As the next most importscriptures of truth, before you receive | ant duty, he exhorted them to live in it; for it is not possible the Christianpeace with one another. To be very world should come so lately out of cautious of giving offence, and equally such thick antichristian darkness, and cautious of indulging an irritable temthat perfection of knowledge should per, whereby they would be liable to break forth at once."
take offence from others. He observes, " I must also advise you to aban- “ In my own experience, few or none don, avoid and shake off the name of have been found that sooner give of BROWNISTS; it is a mere nick-name, fence, than those that easily take it ; and a brand for the making religion, neither have they ever proved sound and the professors of it, odious to the and profitable members of society, Christian world."
who have nourished this touchy huThe company who were to sail for mour.” He warns them, with great America, being composed of the youn- || earnestness, against the indulgence of ger part of the congregation, Mr. a private, selfish spirit, whereby any Robinson and their elder brethren ac-one should be seeking exclusively, his companied them to Delfthaven, where own personal interest. He reminds they embarked, July 2d, 1620. Hav- || them that they are the house of God, ing spent the preceding night in Chris- and cautions them not to be shaken tian converse and social worship, in with unprofitable novelties and innothe morning, after exchanging the en-vations. dearments of a mutual affection, which For a few succeeding years, Mr. Ronothing less than common sufferings binson continded with a part of his in a strange land could have produced, congreg tion remainir in Holland, the beloved pastor kneeled down on enjoyiug ws : utmost cunfidence of his the sea-shore, and with a fervent pray- own people, and rising continually in er, committed the adventurers to the the esteem and affection to all of whom care and mercy of heaven. The pil- he was known. In 1621, and 1623, grims stepped on board, he gave them small companies of emigrants removhis blessing—that voice to which they ed from the congregation to join their had always listened with delight, they friends in Plymouth. So many obstawere not to hear again, till they hear|cles were thrown in the way of the emit in the heavenly praises of redeem-igration of the principal part of the ing love.
company, by the Plymouth Company The emigrants were to make some in England, who liked not the relistay in England, before their final de-gious sentiments of the Puritans, that parture for the western continent. Af-their removal, the object of their earnter they had sailed from Holland, Mr. est and constant hope, was delayed
* Had Judge Marshall been favored with from year to year. sufficient time for the compilation of his His In the year 1625, the providence of tory, he would not have stated that the first God cast a sudden gloom upon all their settlers of Plymouth were Brownists. prospects, by removing their beloved
of his age.
pastor to his eternal rest. This event, || receive the truth which God in his . which threw the company in both mercy should lay before them. And continents into the deepest mourning, expresses his confidence that much rewas communicated to Plymouth in a mains to be exhibited. letter from Leyden, of which the fol A certain Mr. Jacob, an English dilowing is an extract; “It has pleased vine, compelled like many others to the Lord to take out of this vale of leave his own country, after residing tears, your and our loving pastor, Mr. several years in Holland, fully imbibed Robinson. He fell sick, Saturday the sentiments of Mr: Robinson, returnmorning, Feb. 22d, next day taught usted to England in 1616, and established twice, on the week grew weaker every the first independent church in that day, feeling little or no sensible pain country. In a few years, they increased to the fast. Departed this life the 1štto a great number. The venerable Syof March. Had a continual ague. nod who composed the Savoy ConfegAll his friends came freely to him. sion in 1658, which has since been acAnd if prayers, tears or means could knowledged by conventions of the have saved his life, he had not gone churches in Massachusetts and Couherice. We will still hold close innecticut, were Independents. peace, wishing that you and we were An English historian, who was a together.” He died in the fiftieth year great enemy to all non-conformists, ob
66 Mr. Robinson was a man of Mr. Robinson was a man of great dig- excellent parts, and the most learned, nity of manners, of a very grave de- polished, and modest spirit that ever portment, and possessed in an emi- separated from the church of England. nent degree, that solemn piety which The apologies he wrote were very was charicteristic of the distinguished handsome. By his connection with Puritans of his time. He had a singu- Dr. Amés and Mr. Parker, he was bro't Jar talent at securing the affections to a greater moderation than he at first and commanding the minds of men. expressed. He ruined the rigid sepaVery few of his friends or followers|ration by allowing the lawfulness of ever forsook him, for every additional communing with the church of Eng knowledge of his character increased land in the word and prayer, thougłı their attachment and confidence. Such | not in the sacraments and discipline. * was his acquaintance with the human character and such his knowledge of|ted Professorat the University of Franequer,
* Dr. Ames, here mentioned, was a celebratruth, that he seldom failed of the ac- and author of the Medulla Theologiæ. He complishment of his purposes. He
was one that fled from the persecution of possessed the rarest talent in polemical writers, a candor of mind, which al- Arch-bishop Bancroft, and found an honoraways bowed to the force of truth.
ble asylum in Holland. His friendship was
of Sensible of his own'imperfections, he
great advantage to Mr. Robinson, as he believed that much additional light
helped to convince him of the errors of the réspecting divine truth reinained in Brownists, and afforded him much assistance the sacred volume, to be sought out
in establishing the order of the Leyden hereafter, by those that fear the Lord. church. He intended to have removed to AI apprehend that the history of the merica, but was prevented by death, which church furnishes not another instance took place in 1633. His widow and children in which the founder of an extensive removed to New-England, and brought his religious denomination has delivered library, which was of great value. He possuch sentiments as we have in Mr.sessed a very acute mind and extensive leartea Robinson's farewell address to the em-ing, and was one of the ablest ministers of igrants for America. He requires his time in opposition to the sentiments of the them not to make his opinions their Arminians. A lineal descendent from him, standard, but to be always ready to was that great ornament of our country, the G YOL. 2
lato Fisher Ames.