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and the rights of man. Suppose them entering on the flight, and by the signal protection of Heaven, safely reaching that far distant continent. Suppose God there protects them, increases them, and causes them to become a great and renowned nation ; established in the enjoyment of the rights of conscience and of civil liberty, and on a political eminence which overlooks the old world, and causes the thrones of tyrants there to tremble. Suppose their descendants soon to multiply into a great nation, to become the
of all other nations, and to bid fair to be the great means of the conversion and bliss of the world. Suppose the church of Christ there to flourish far beyond all other churches on earth, and to form there a seat for the commencement of the special showers of the Spirit of grace in the last days, and to seem to be clearly destined to give a new and correct model to the whole militant church of Christ. Let these things be supposed; and then let the question be asked, What and whither is the second flight of the woman in the Revelation ? Would you not immediately point to this new region of the church, and say, thither was her flight, and there is her gracious lodgment, assigned by propitious Heaven? This is all reality, as the American church can testify. The thing was transacted by our pilgrim fathers. As this exposition of the text is wholly new, and as it gives an interpretation of great interest to the church on earth, if correct; I shall here adduce my arguments in favour of the correctness of it.
1. The time of the flight of our pilgrim fathers to this continent accords with the flight in our text. The latter was, after the dragon saw that he was cast out from his papal height of impositions by the light of the Reformation in the 16th century; and after his subsequent persecutions of the church of Christ. And this was the very time of the flight of our pilgrim fathers to this western continent.
2. The occasion of the flight of our pilgrim fathers hither, most fully accords with the occasion of the flight in our text. About the commencement of the seventeenth century, numbers of devout Protestants in Britain, being deeply pained with the relics of popery, which they found to be still held in the established English church, entered into covenant with each other that they would take the liberty to regulate their faith and religion only by the word
of God. Several large churches thus united under their own pious pastors. But this liberty taken, so offended the established English church, that a spirit of persecution soon rose upon these dissenters with fury, which did not content itself with cruel mockings merely, but it proceeded to cruel prosecutions and imprisonments. Some of these pious people were now forced to flee, and leave their families and means of living; and new scenes of persecutions commenced. It would be affecting, and much to my purpose, to give here a full history of the trials, emigrations, and perplexities of the Puritans in Britain, which led the way to the flight of this people to America ; but this would exceed my proposed limits. I will content myself then just to notice, in the old well-known track, their removal to Holland, and thence over the Atlantic.
The trials and vexations of these our fathers, before they left their native land and continent, were such, as were kindly designed of God to lead them to “cease from man, and trust in him alone. They were especially calculated and designed to lead the Puritans to the knowledge of the civil and religious rights of man. Of this rich benefit they would have failed, had their various entreaties for some degree of lenity been listened to by their oppressors; even as Luther (the great reformer) would have failed of accomplishing the designs of Heaven in the Reformation, had the pope listened to his proposals for accommodation. But, as in the case of Luther, the Most High designed to make thorough work in reformation, and hence permitted not the pope to comply with Luther's conciliatory proposals; so, in the case of the Puritans, whom God was preparing for a flight to America, he designed effectually to shake them off from all papal superstition, and to bring them to a new and distant retreat; that a cradle might here be formed for the knowledge and enjoyment of the rights of conscience, and of civil liberty. Such was the cruel conduct of the persecutors of these Puritans, that they were driven to determine on fleeing their country. After much prayer and consultation, they resolved to escape to Holland. But the English government forbade their departure, and barred the vessels of their harbours against them. They however found means to get on board a vessel for Holland; but the captain betrayed them. And, after being robbed of their clothing, and their females being
insulted, they were forced back, and some of them were imprisoned. Such horrid barbarities increased, instead of diminishing their numbers. They were again attempting to enter on board a ship for Holland; when a British armed force was seen rushing upon them. The captain of the vessel, with some on board, slipped away, as the wind was favourable, and was gone. Some husbands had got on board without their wives and children, as the latter were up a creek at a little distance. All on shore fell into the hands of this armed force, who brandished their swords over the heads of this defenceless band with savage voices. This furious armed band led off these helpless captives, hurrying them from place to place, and delivering them from one officer to another, till their fury was allayed.
But these persecuted Puritans found means to flee from their cruel country: and they arrived in Holland. In Leyden they found floods of vice, and soon learned that this was not their home, that they must seek another region. After twelve years' residence there; they mutually conceived a strong desire to seek a home in a remote part of the world; and, with much prayer and mutual counsel, they resolved to brave the Atlantic, and to fly to the new continent, then lately discovered in the west. Says a noted writer, “ They became satisfied that they had as real an indication of the Divine will, that they should thus do, as had Abraham that he should leave his Chaldean territory, for the land of promise.”
3. The character of this band of the worshippers of God who fled to America, was such as fully to accord with the sublime figure in our text. They may be said to have been selected of God from the mass of even the Protestant multitudes, to people a new world, and to commence what was divinely determined here to be done ; even as a husbandman selects and cleanses his best wheat, to seed a new and peculiar field. They were most barbarously slandered; but were the very best of people. The evidence of this is full, and is given in a periodical publication in the following description of our pilgrim fathers : “ They were the most remarkable body of men the world ever knew. For many years they were the theme of unmeasurable invective and derision. They were exposed to the utmost licentiousness of the press and of the
stage, at a time when the press and the stage were licentious. The public would not take them under their protection, but they were abandoned without reserve to satirists and dramatists. The Puritans were men whose minds had derived a peculiar character from their contemplation of eternal things. Not content with acknowledging, in general terms, an overruling Providence; they ascribed every event to the will of that Being for whose power nothing is too vast, and for whose inspection nothing is too minute. To know, serve, and enjoy him was with them the great end of existence. The ceremonious homage which too many substitute for the pure worship of the heart, they rejected. Instead of being content with occasional glimpses of God; they aspired to gaze fully on his brightness, and to commune with him, as it were, face to face. The difference between the greatest and the least of mankind, seemed with them to vanish. They despised all the dignitaries of this world. If they were unacquainted with many works of philosophers; they were deep read in the oracles of God. If their names were not found in the registers of heralds; they believed them to'be recorded in the book of life. If their steps were not accompanied with splendid trains of servants ; legions of ministering angels had charge of them. Their palace was a house not made with hands. Their diadems were crowns of glory. On the rich, on nobles, and on priests (so called) they looked down with pity; while they deemed themselves to be richer in more precious treasures; eloquent in a language more exalted ; nobles by the right of grace; and priests by the imposition of mightier hands. The meanest intelligent was, in their view, a being to whose destiny a trembling importance belonged ; and on whose slightest actions the spirits of light and darkness looked with anxious interest. Events which short-sighted mortals ascribe to earthly causes, had in their view been ordained from above. The same Puritan seemed to be made up of two different sorts of men; the one, all selfabasement, penitence, gratitude, and love; the other, inflexible, sagacious. The one could prostrate himself in the dust before God; the other feared not to set his foot on the neck of a týrant. In devout retirements the Puritan prayed with groans and tears, and seemed to hear the lyre of angels, and the tempting whispers of fiends, But
when the same Puritan took his seat in council, or girded on his armour for war,—how changed ! People who knew nothing of these godly men, but their plain visages, might laugh. But they had little reason to laugh, when encountering them in the hall of debate, or on the field of battle. These fanatics,-falsely so called, -brought to their civil and military affairs, a 'coolness of judgment, and an immutability of purpose, which some people thought inconsistent with religion, but which in fact were the fruit of it. The intensity of their piety made them tranquil to every thing else. This their ruling sentiment had subjected to itself hatred, ambition, and worldly fear. With them, death had lost its terrors, and pleasure its charms. They had indeed their smiles and their tears, but not for things earthly!"
Such were our pilgrim fathers, who fled from dire oppression for righteousness' sake, across the Atlantic, and peopled New-England. No people on earth, if the Jews be excepted, ever had equal reason, with us, to venerate and to rejoice in the character of their ancestors. Happy are those of their descendants who possess the mantle of their evangelical spirit !
4. The trials of our pilgrim fathers, even after those which have been noted as occasioning their flight to those wilds of America, were such as well to accord with the figure in our text, of their flight being into a wilderness ! They set forth for their distant retreat. But they must be made to feel, at the outset, that they were indeed entering on trials; such trials as we can perceive were well denoted by the figure of a wilderness state. Though their coming hither has proved to have been of such vast importance to the church, and to the world; yet almost every thing seemed to withstand the event. One of their vessels, soon after their voyage was commenced, sprang a leak; and they must return from sea, to refit. In a second attempt of the voyage, they must be driven back from sea by a tempest. They put to sea a third time; and another tempest seemed to dispute their passage; insomuch, that they began devoutly to fear that Heaven was against them; and that they must relinquish their enterprise. But God meant not so. He designed to try them indeed, and to a degree, which should bear some proportion to the importance of the occasion, and of the state, on which they were