WRITTEN ON BOARD THE ARBELLA, ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.
[p.33] By the Hon. John Winthrop Esqr. In his passage (with a great company of Religious people, of which Christian tribes he was the Brave Leader and famous Governor;) from the Island of Great Brittaine to New-England in the North America. Anno 1630.
A Modell hereof.
GOD ALMIGHTY in his most holy and wise providence, hath soe disposed of the condition of' mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poore, some high and eminent in power and dignitie; others mean and in submission.
The Reason hereof.
1 Reas. First to hold conformity with the rest of his world, being delighted to show forth the glory of his wisdom in the variety and difference of the creatures, and the glory of his power in ordering all these differences for the preservation and good of the whole; and the glory of his greatness, that as it is the glory of princes to have many officers, soe this great king will haue many stewards, Counting himself more honoured in dispensing his gifts to man by man, than if he did it by his owne immediate hands.
2 Reas. Secondly that he might haue the more occasion to manifest the work of his Spirit: first upon the wicked in [p.34] moderating and restraining them: soe that the riche and mighty should not eate upp the poore nor the poore and dispised rise upp against and shake off theire yoake. 2ly In the regenerate, in exerciseing his graces in them, as in the grate ones, theire love, mercy, gentleness, temperance &c., in the poore and inferior sorte, theire faithe, patience, obedience &c.
3 Reas. Thirdly, that every man might have need of others, and from hence they might be all knitt more nearly together in the Bonds of brotherly affection. From hence it appears plainly that noe man is made more honourable than another or more wealthy &c., out of any particular and singular respect to himselfe, but for the glory of his creator and the common good of the creature, man. Therefore God still reserves the propperty of these gifts to himself as Ezek. 16. 17. he there calls wealthe, his gold and his silver, and Prov. 3. 9. he claims theire service as his due, honor the Lord with thy riches &c.--All men being thus (by divine providence) ranked into two sorts, riche and poore; under the first are comprehended all such as are able to live comfortably by their own meanes duely improved; and all others are poore according to the former distribution. There are two rules whereby we are to walk one towards another: Justice and Mercy. These are always distinguished in their act and in their object, yet may they both concurre in the same subject in eache respect; as sometimes there may be an occasion of showing mercy to a rich man in some sudden danger or distresse, and alsoe doeing of meere justice to a poor man in regard of some perticular contract &c. There is likewise a double Lawe by which wee are regulated in our conversation towardes another; in both the former respects, the lawe of nature and the lawe of grace, or the morrall lawe or the lawe of the gospell, to omitt the rule of justice as not propperly belonging to this purpose otherwise than it may fall into consideration in some perticular cases. By the first of these lawes man as he was enabled soe withall is commanded to love his neighbour as himself. Upon this ground stands all the precepts of the morrall lawe, which concernes our dealings with men. To apply this to the works of mercy; this lawe requires two things. First that every man afford his help to another in every [p.35] want or distresse. Secondly, that hee performe this out of the same affection which makes him carefull of his owne goods, according to that of our Savior, (Math.) Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you. This was practised by Abraham and Lot in entertaining the angells and the old man of Gibea. The lawe of Grace or of the Gospell hath some difference from the former; as in these respects, First the lawe of nature was given to man in the estate of innocency; this of the Gospell in the estate of regeneracy. 2ly, the former propounds one man to another, as the same flesh and image of God; this as a brother in Christ allsoe, and in the communion of the same Spirit, and soe teacheth to put a difference between christians and others. Doe good to all, especially to the household of faith; upon this ground the Israelites were to putt a difference betweene the brethren of such as were strangers though not of the Canaanites.
3ly. The Lawe of nature would give no rules for dealing with enemies, for all are to be considered as friends in the state of innocency, but the Gospell commands loue to an enemy. Proofe. If thine Enemy hunger, feed him; Love your Enemies, doe good to them that hate you. Math. 5. 44.
This lawe of the Gospell propounds likewise a difference of seasons and occasions. There is a time when a christian must sell all and give to the poor, as they did in the Apostles times. There is a time allsoe when christians (though they give not all yet) must give beyond their abillity, as they of Macedonia, Cor. 2, 6. Likewise community of perills calls for extraordinary liberality, and soe doth community in some speciall service for the churche. Lastly, when there is no other means whereby our christian brother may be relieved in his distress, we must help him beyond our ability rather than tempt God in putting him upon help by miraculous or extraordinary meanes. . . .
The deffinition which the Scripture giues us of loue is this. Love is the bond of perfection, first it is a bond or ligament. 2ly it makes the worke perfect. There is noe body but consists of partes and that which knitts these partes together, giues the body its perfection, because it makes eache parte soe contiguous to others as thereby they doe mutually participate with each other, both in strengthe and infirmity, in pleasure and paine. To instance in the most perfect of all bodies; Christ and his Church make one body; the severall partes of this body considered a parte before they were united, were as disproportionate and as much disordering as soe many contrary quallities or elements, but when Christ comes, and by his spirit and loue knitts all these partes to himselfe and each to other, it is become the most perfect and best proportioned body in the world, Eph. 4. 16. Christ, by whome all the body being knitt together by every joint for the furniture thereof, according to the effectuall power which is in the measure of every perfection of partes, a glorious body without spott or wrinkle; the ligaments hereof being Christ, or his love, for Christ is love, 1 John 4. 8. Soe this definition is right. Love is the bond of perfection.
[p.40] From hence we may frame these conclusions. 1. First of all, true Christians are of one body in Christ, 1 Cor. 12. 12. 13. 17. Ye are the body of Christ and members of their parte. All the partes of this body being thus vnited are made soe contiguous in a speciall relation as they must needes partake of each other's strength and infirmity; joy and sorrowe, weale and woe. 1 Cor. 12. 26. If one member suffers, all suffer with it, if one be in honor, all rejoyce with it. 2ly. The ligaments of this body which knitt together are loue. 3ly. Noe body can be perfect which wants its proper ligament. 5ly. This sensibleness and sympathy of each other's conditions will necessarily infuse into each parte a native desire and endeavour, to strengthen, defend, preserve and comfort the other. To insist a little on this conclusion being the product of all the former, the truthe hereof will appeare both by precept [p.41] and patterne. 1 John 3. 10. Yee ought to lay doune your lives for the brethren. Gal. 6. 2. beare ye one another's burthen's and soe fulfill the lawe of Christ. For patterns wee haue that first of our Saviour whoe out of his good will in obedience to his father, becomeing a parte of this body and being knitt with it in the bond of loue, found such a natiue sensibleness of our infirmities and sorrowes as he willingly yielded himselfe to deathe to ease the infirmities of the rest of his body, and soe healed theire sorrowes. From the like sympathy of partes did the Apostles and many thousands of the Saintes lay doune theire lives for Christ. Againe the like wee may see in the members of this body among themselves. 1 Rom. 9. Paule could have been contented to have been separated from Christ, that the Jewes might not be cutt off from the body. It is very observable what hee professeth of his affectionate partaking with every member; whoe is weake (saith hee) and I am not weake? whoe is offended and I burne not; and againe, 2 Cor. 7. 13. therefore wee are comforted because yee were comforted. Of Epaphroditus he speaketh, Phil. 2. 30. that he regarded not his owne life to do him service. Soe Phebe and others are called the servants of the churche. Now it is apparent that they served not for wages, or by constrainte, but out of loue. The like we shall finde in the histories of the churche, in all ages; the sweete sympathie of affections which was in the members of this body one towards another; theire chearfullness in serueing and suffering together; how liberall they were without repineing, harbourers without grudgeing, and helpfull without reproaching; and all from hence, because they had feruent loue amongst them; which onely makes the practise of mercy constant and easie.
The next consideration is how this loue comes to be wrought. Adam in his first estate was a perfect modell of mankinde in all their generations, and in him this loue was perfected in regard of the habit. But Adam, rent himselfe from his Creator, rent all his posterity allsoe one from another; whence it comes that every man is borne with this principle in him to loue and seeke himselfe onely, and thus a man continueth till Christ comes and takes possession of the soule and infuseth another principle, loue to God and our brother, and this latter haueing continuall [p.42] supply from Christ, as the head and roote by which he is vnited, gets the predomining in the soule, soe by little and little expells the former. 1 John 4. 7. loue cometh of God and every one that loueth is borne of God, soe that this loue is the fruite of the new birthe, and none can have it but the new creature. Now when this quallity is thus formed in the soules of men, it workes like the Spirit upon the drie bones. Ezek. 39. bone came to bone. It gathers together the scattered bones, or perfect old man Adam, and knitts them into one body againe in Christ, whereby a man is become againe a living soule. . . .
From the former Considerations arise these Conclusions.--1. First, This loue among Christians is a reall thing, not imaginarie. 2ly. This loue is as absolutely necessary to the being of the body of Christ, as the sinews and other ligaments of a naturall body are to the being of that body. 3ly. This loue is a divine, spirituall, nature; free, active, strong, couragious, permanent; undervaluing all things beneathe its propper object and of all the graces, this makes us nearer to resemble the virtues of our heavenly father. 4thly It rests in the loue and wellfare of its beloued. For the full certain knowledge of those truthes concerning the nature, use, and excellency of this grace, that which the holy ghost hath left recorded, 1 Cor. 13, may give full satisfaction, which is needful for every true member of this louely body of the Lord Jesus, to worke upon theire heartes by prayer, meditation continuall exercise at least of the speciall [influence] of this grace, till Christ be formed in them and they in him, all in eache other, knitt together by this bond of loue.
It rests now to make some application of this discourse, by the present designe, which gaue the occasion of writing of it. Herein are 4 things to he propounded; first the persons, 2ly the worke, 3ly the end, 4thly the meanes.
1. For the persons. Wee are a company professing ourselves fellow members of Christ, in which respect onely though wee were absent from each other many miles, and had our imployments as farre distant, yet wee ought to account ourselves knitt together by this bond of loue, and, [p.45] live in the exercise of it, if wee would have comforte of our being in Christ. This was notorious in the practise of the Christians in former times; as is testified of the Waldenses, from the mouth of one of the adversaries Aeneas Sylvius "mutuo ament pere antequam norunt," they use to loue any of theire owne religion even before they were acquainted with them.
2nly for the worke wee have in hand. It is by a mutuall consent, through a speciall overvaluing providence and a more than an ordinary approbation of the Churches of Christ, to seeke out a place of cohabitation and Consorteshipp under a due forme of Government both ciuill and ecclesiasticall. In such cases as this, the care of the publique must oversway all private respects, by which, not only conscience, but meare civill pollicy, dothe binde us. For it is a true rule that particular Estates cannot subsist in the ruin of the publique.
3ly The end is to improve our lives to doe more service to the Lord; the comforte and encrease of the body of Christe, whereof we are members; that ourselves and posterity may be the better preserved from the common corruptions of this evill world, to serve the Lord and worke out our Salvation under the power and purity of his holy ordinances.
4thly for the meanes whereby this must be effected. They are twofold, a conformity with the worke and end wee aime at. These wee see are extraordinary, therefore wee must not content ourselves with usuall ordinary meanes. Whatsoever wee did, or ought to have, done, when wee liued in England, the same must wee doe, and more allsoe, where wee goe. That which the most in theire churches mainetaine as truthe in profession onely, wee must bring into familiar and constant practise; as in this duty of loue, wee must loue brotherly without dissimulation, wee must loue one another with a pure hearte fervently. Wee must beare one anothers burthens. We must not looke onely on our owne things, but allsoe on the things of our brethren.
Neither must wee thinke that the Lord will beare with such faileings at our hands as he dothe from those among whome wee have lived; and that for these 3 Reasons; 1. In regard of the more neare bond of mariage between him and us, wherein hee hath taken us to be his, after a most [p.46] strickt and peculiar manner, which will make them the more jealous of our loue and obedience. Soe he tells the people of Israell, you onely have I knowne of all the families of the Earthe, therefore will I punishe you for your Transgressions. 2ly, because the Lord will be sanctified in them that come neare him. We know that there were many that corrupted the service of the Lord; some setting upp altars before his owne; others offering both strange fire and strange sacrifices allsoe; yet there came noe fire from heaven, or other sudden judgement upon them, as did upon Nadab and Abihu, whoe yet wee may think did not sinne presumptuously. 31y When God gives a speciall commission he lookes to have it strictly observed in every article; When he gave Saule a commission to destroy Amaleck, Hee indented with him upon certain articles, and because hee failed in one of the least, and that upon a faire pretense, it lost him the kingdom, which should have beene his reward, if hee had observed his commission. Thus stands the cause betweene God and us. We are entered into Covenant with Him for this worke. Wee haue taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to drawe our own articles. Wee haue professed to enterprise these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. Wee have hereupon besought Him of favour and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to heare us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath hee ratified this covenant and sealed our Commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if wee shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends wee have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this present world and prosecute our carnall intentions, seeking greate things for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely breake out in wrathe against us; be revenged of such a [sinful] people and make us knowe the price of the breache of such a covenant.
Now the onely way to avoyde this shipwracke, and to provide for our posterity, is to followe the counsell of Micah, to doe justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, wee must be knitt together, in this worke, as one man. Wee must entertaine each other in brotherly [p.47] affection. Wee must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of other's necessities. Wee must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekeness, gentlenes, patience and liberality. Wee must delight in eache other; make other's conditions our oune; rejoice together, mourne together, labour and suffer together, allwayes haueving before our eyes our commission and community in the worke, as members of the same body. Soe shall wee keepe the unitie of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as his oune people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our wayes. Soe that wee shall see much more of his wisdome, power, goodness and truthe, than formerly wee haue been acquainted with. Wee shall finde that the God of Israell is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when hee shall make us a prayse and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, "the Lord make it likely that of New England." For wee must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people are uppon us. Soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our God in this worke wee haue undertaken, and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. Wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of God, and all professors for God's sake. Wee shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into curses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whither wee are a goeing.
I shall shutt upp this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithfull servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israell, Deut. 30. Beloued there is now sett before us life and good, Death and evill, in that wee are commanded this day to loue the Lord our God, and to loue one another, to walke in his wayes and to keepe his Commandements and his Ordinance and his lawes, and the articles of our Covenant with him, that wee may liue and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may blesse us in the land whither wee goe to possesse it. But if our heartes shall turne away, soe that wee will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worshipp and serue other Gods, our pleasure and proffitts, and serue them; it is [p.48] propounded unto us this day, wee shall surely perishe out of the good land whither wee passe over this vast sea to possesse it;
Therefore lett us choose life
that wee, and our seede
may liue, by obeyeing His
voyce and cleaveing to Him,
for Hee is our life and
Excerpts from the Original Electronic Text at the web site the Douglass Archives of American Public Address.
Editor's note: Occasion: Winthrop's acquittal speech before the General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The speech, however, has become more important for the principles espoused within it than the particular grievances against Winthrop. According to 19th-century historian James Grahame, "[t]he circumstances in which this address was delivered . . . recall the most interesting scenes of Greek and Roman history; while, in the wisdom, piety, and dignity that it breathes, it resembles the magnanimous vindication of a judge of Israel. Winthrop was not only acquitted by the sentence of the court and the voice of the public, but recommended so prevailingly to the esteem of his fellow-citizens by this and all the other indications of his character that he was chosen Governor of Massachusetts every year after as long as he lived." Old South Leaflets (Boston: Directors of the Old South Work), vol. 3, no. 66, p. 16.
I suppose something may be expected from me upon this charge that is befallen me, which moves me to speak now to you; yet I intend not to intermeddle in the proceedings of the court, or with any of the persons concerned therein. Only I bless God that I see an issue of this troublesome business. I also acknowledge the justice of the court, and, for mine own part, I am well satisfied, I was publicly charged, and I am publicly and legally acquitted, which is all I did expect or desire. And though this be sufficient for my justification before men, yet not so before the God who hath seen so much amiss in my dispensations (and even in this affair) as calls me to be humble. For to be publicly and criminally charged in this court is matter of humiliation (and I desire to make a right use of it), notwithstanding I be thus acquitted. If her father had spit in her face (saith the Lord concerning Miriam), should she not have been ashamed seven days? Shame had lien upon her, whatever the occasion had been. I am unwilling to stay you from your urgent affairs, yet give me leave (upon this special occasion) to speak a little more to this assembly. It may be of some good use to inform and rectify the judgments of some of the people, and may prevent such distempers as have arisen amongst us. The great questions that have troubled the country are about the authority of the magistrates and the liberty of the people. It is yourselves who have called us to this office, and, being called by you, we have our authority from God, in way of an ordinance, such as hath the image of God eminently stamped upon it, the contempt and violation whereof hath been vindicated with examples of divine vengeance. I entreat you to consider that, when you choose magistrates, you take them from among yourselves, men subject to like passions as you are. Therefore, when you see infirmities in us, you should reflect upon your own, and that would make you bear the more with us, and not be severe censurers of the failings of your magistrates, when you have continual experience of the like infirmities in yourselves and others. We account him a good servant who breaks not his covenant. The covenant between you and us is the oath you have taken of us, which is to this purpose, that we shall govern you and judge your causes by the rules of God's laws and our own, according to our best skill. When you agree with a workman to build you a ship or house, etc., he undertakes as well for his skill as for his faithfulness; for it is his profession, and you pay him for both. But, when you call one to be a magistrate, he doth not profess nor undertake to have sufficient skill for that office, nor can you furnish him with gifts, etc., therefore you must run the hazard of his skill and ability. But if he fail in faithfulness, which by his oath he is bound unto, that he must answer for. If it fall out that the case be clear to common apprehension, and the rule clear also, if he transgress here, the error is not in the skill, but in the evil of the will: it must be required of him. But if the case be doubtful, or the rule doubtful, to men of such understanding and parts as your magistrates are, if your magistrates should err here, yourselves must bear it.
"If you stand for your natural corrupt liberties . . . you will not endure the least weight of authority"
For the other point concerning liberty, I observe a great mistake in the
country about that. There is a twofold liberty, natural (I mean as our nature is
now corrupt) and civil or federal. The first is common to man with beasts and
other creatures. By this, man as he stands in relation to man simply, hath
liberty to do what he lists: it is a liberty to evil as well as to good. This liberty
is incompatible and inconsistent with authority, and cannot endure the least
restraint of the most just authority. The exercise and maintaining of this
liberty makes men grow more evil, and in time to be worse than brute beasts:
omnes sumus licentia deteriores. This is that great enemy of truth and
peace, that wild beast, which all the ordinances of God are bent against, to
restrain and subdue it. The other kind of liberty I call civil or federal; it may
also be termed moral, in reference to the covenant between God and man, in
the moral law, and the politic covenants and constitutions, amongst men
themselves. This liberty is the proper end and object of authority, and cannot
subsist without it; and it is a liberty to that only which is good, just, and
honest. This liberty you are to stand for, with the hazard (not only of your
goods, but) of your lives, if need be. Whatsoever crosseth this is not
authority, but a distemper thereof. This liberty is maintained and exercised in
a way of subjection to authority; it is of the same kind of liberty wherewith
Christ hath made us free. The woman's own choice makes such a man her
husband; yet, being so chosen, he is her lord, and she is to be subject to
him, yet in a way of liberty, not of bondage; and a true wife accounts her
subjection her honor and freedom, and would not think her condition safe and
free but in her subjection to her husband's authority. Such is the liberty of the
church under the authority of Christ, her king and husband; his yoke is so
easy and sweet to her as a bride's ornaments; and if through frowardness or
wantonness, etc., she shake it off, at any time, she is at no rest in her spirit
until she take it up again; and whether her lord smiles upon her, and
embraceth her in his arms, or whether he frowns, or rebukes, or smites her,
she apprehends the sweetness of his love in all, and is refreshed, supported,
and instructed by every such dispensation of his authority over her. On the
other side, ye know who they are that complain of this yoke and say, let us
break their bands, etc., we will not have this man to rule over us. Even so,
brethren, it will be between you and your magistrates. If you stand for your
natural corrupt liberties, and will do what is good in your own eyes, you will
not endure the least weight of authority, but will murmur, and oppose, and be
always striving to shake off that yoke; but if you will be satisfied to enjoy
such civil and lawful liberties, such as Christ allows you, then will you quietly
and cheerfully submit unto that authority which is set over you, in all the
administrations of it, for your good. Wherein, if we fail at any time, we hope
we shall be willing (by God's assistance) to hearken to good advice from any
of you, or in any other way of God; so shall your liberties be preserved, in
upholding the honor and power of authority amongst you.