The planters plea· Or The grounds of plantations examined, and vsuall objections answered Together with a manifestation of the causes mooving such as have lately vndertaken a plantation in Nevv-England: for the satisfaction of those that question the lawfulnesse of the action.
White, John, 1575-1648.
Page  41

CHAP. VI. What warrant particular men-may have to en∣gage their persons, and estates in this imploy∣ment of planting Colonies.

TO give a cleare Resolution to this Proposition, is a matter of no small difficultie: I shall declare mine owne opinion, and leave it to the censure of the godly wise. It is the con∣ceit of some men, that no man may undertake this taske without an extraordina∣ry warrant, such as Abraham had from God, to call him out of Mesopotamia to Canaan; their o∣pinion seemes to rest upon a ground that will hardly be made good, sc. That the planting of Colonies is an extraordinarie worke. Which if it be granted, then the argument hath a strong, and for ought I know, a necessary inference: That therefore those that undertake it, must have an ex∣traordinary Call. But that Proposition, That planting of Colonies is an extraordinary worke, will not easily be granted. This Argument lyes strongly against it.

That Duty that is commanded by a perpetuall Law, cannot be accounted extraordinary.Page  42But the sending out of Colonies is commanded by a perpetuall Law.

Therefore it is no extraordinary duty.

Now that the commandement is perpetuall, hath beene proved. First, because it was given to mankind; and secondly, because it hath a ground which is perpetuall, sc. the emptinesse of the earth, which either is so, or may be so while the world endures; for even those places which are full, may be emptied by warres, or sicknesse; and then an ar∣gument presseth as strongly the contrary way. The undertaking of an ordinary duty needs no o∣ther then an ordinary warrant; but such is plan∣ting of a Colony, as being undertaken by vertue of a perpetuall law; therefore the undertaking to plant a Colony, needs no extraordinary warrant. Indeed Abrahams undertaking was extraordinary in many things, and therefore needed an immedi∣ate direction from God.

1, He was to goe alone with his family and brethren.

2, To such a certaine place far distant.

3, Possessed already by the Canaanites.

4, To receive it wholy appropriated to himselfe, and his Issue.

5, Not to plant it at present, but onely sojourne in it, and walke through it for a time.

Now none of these circumstances fit our ordi∣nary Colonies; and consequently Abrahams exam∣ple is nothing to this purpose, because the case is different, though in some other things alike.

Page  43 Others conceive, that though men may adven∣ture upon the worke upon an ordinary warrant, yet none can give that but the State; therefore they require a command from the highest autho∣ritie unto such as ingage themselves in this af∣faire. Indeed that the State hath power over all her members, to command and dispose of them within the bounds of justice, is more evident, then can be denyed: but this power she executes diver∣sly; sometime by command, sometimes by per∣mission: as in preparations to warre, sometimes men are compelled to serve, sometimes they are permitted to goe voluntaries that will.

Againe, somtimes the Supreme power takes care of the whole businesse; sometimes (as in Mu∣sters) commits it to delegates. If the power of State then proclaime liberty to such as will, to ga∣ther and unite into the body of a Colony, and commit the care to some persons that offer them∣selves, to associate to them whom they thinke fit, and to order them according to discretion; no man can deny but that the State hath given a suf∣ficient warrant. Neither doth it appeare, that ever any State did more; The Romans use was to proclaime that they intended to plant a Colony of such a number in such a place, and as many as would give in their names should receive so ma∣ny acres of Ground, and enjoy such other privi∣ledges as they thought fit to grant them, which they then expressed: Those which gave in their names were inrolled till the number was full, Page  44 and then had they certaine Commissioners ap∣pointed by the State of see all things ordered and directed accordingly, and to put every man into possession of his inheritance; neither did the State interpose their authority in assigning, and choosing out the men, but left it free and vo∣luntary to every man to take or leave.

Seeing nothing can beare out the hazzards, and inconveniences of such toylesome and dif∣ficult undertakings, as is the planting of Colonies, but a willing minde: Men can digest any thing that themselves choose or desire; but a comman∣dement makes pleasant things harsh, how much more harsh things intolerable?

But to come somewhat nearer unto the grounds of this resolution. In undertaking an new inploy∣ment two things must be taken into consideratiō, upon which a mans warrant must be grounded.

1, His ingagement unto his present condition in which he is setled.

2, The tender and offer of the new service unto which he is called.

In both it must be first granted, that Callings are employments in which we serve one another through love, Gal. 5. 13. in something that is good, Ephes. 4. 28. not seeking our owne, but other mens profit, 1 Cor. 10. 24.

In furthering other mens good our ingage∣ments are,

1, To the Church in generall.

2, To that particular State of which wee are Page  45 members, either wholy, or any branch of it.

3, To our friends.

And these as they have interest in our labours of love in that order that is set downe, so they have power to require them in the same order, and that two wayes, either by their expresse; com∣mand, or by the manifestation of their necessity, or speciall good proposed. The Church in gene∣rall rarely layes any command but mostly chalen∣geth our service by the discovery of her need, and use of our labours for her good. The particular State, besides the pleading of her necessity; inter∣poseth her authority; and that either immediate∣ly, as in deputing men to publike offices; or medi∣ately by our parents, or other governours whom she authorizeth to direct and setle us in such par∣ticular callings and imployments as may bee for her use and service. The State then by any publike intimation, proclaming free liberty to men to remove and plant themselves else-where, dis∣chargeth these persons of the obligation wherein by her power and authority they stand bound to their particular calling wherein they are placed, and ought otherwise to continue. So that now particular persons stand no longer bound by the States authoritie, but by the manifestation of her necessities, which crave their ayde and service for their publike good and safety.

The next thing then to bee taken into conside∣ration, is the advantages or benefits, which may be Page  46 gained by our service either to the Church, State, or friends to whom wee have relation by private interest. In all these the first respect must be had to necessity, and the next to conveniency. How much is to bee yeelded to necessity, it hath pleased God to manifest; by dispensing with his owne worship and service, in cases of necessity, not only upon our owne persons: but upon our goods or cattell. It must therefore be duly waighed whe∣ther we may be more serviceable to the Church in the State where wee live, or in that wee desire to erect: and againe, whether service is of more necessity: and whether appeares to be greater, that must carry us, unlesse some pressing wants of private friends challenge our service from them both, which in matters of moment & importance, to them must be conceived to be cast in by God, as a discharge from any other employment. As for example, The furthering of the Gospell in New-England, seemes to bee of more pressing ne∣cessity, and consequently by a stronger band to call mee on to that worke, then the State at home to my continuance here; for here though I may doe something for the advancing of Religion, yet my labours that way are not so needfull in the land, because many others may put too their hands to the same work. In New-England there are none to undergo the task: but in this case if the preserva∣tion of my fathers life or estate required my stay, that is a discharge unto me from this call to New-England;Page  47 not because his life or estate is of greater weight then the Churches good, but because his necessity is greater; for no body can procure my fathers safety but my selfe, other men besides my selfe may doe the Church this service. Thus men that are free from engagement may see what weights are allowed to bee cast into the ballance to determine their stay or removall.

All the difficulty that remaines, is, who shall cast the scales (that is) who shall determine which benefit or necessity is the greater? No question that which conscience well informed, assures mee to be so: but who shall informe my conscience, or by what rule shall my conscience judge? It is out of peradventure that God must informe the conscience. But how shall I discover what God adviseth? It is as certaine that if the word, by scanning the grounds which it proposeth, can give a Seer resolution, it must be followed. The things that are revealed belong unto us and our children that we may doe them, Deut. 29. 29. But many rules of Scripture though cleere in themselves, yet are doubtfull and ambiguous in the application, be∣cause they cannot determine particulars. In this case then wee must have recourse to Christian wisdome; assisted: First, By the advise and counsell of godly wise friends. Secondly, By the observati∣on of the concurrence of opportunities, Occasiones sunt Dei nutus. Thirdly, By and consideration of the inclination of the heart proposing a right end Page  48 scope after frequent and earnest prayer. A resolu∣tion taken after all these meanes used, as in Gods presence, without prejudice, with a sincere de∣sire to know and bee informed of Gods will, and obey it, may be taken for the voice of God at pre∣sent, and ought to direct the practise, though it binde not the conscience to embrace the things resolved for an infallible and onely the most pro∣bable direction. And the truth is, that unlesse this advise and resolution by Christian wisedome, ap∣plying the generall rules of Gods word to our owne particular case after wee have sought coun∣sell of God, and our Christian friends may be ad∣mitted for a rule to direct our practise, I know not what rule to prescribe to bee followed. Sup∣pose I would marry a wife, nothing but Christian wisedome so assisted, as is expressed before, can shew mee which is the woman.