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.


A man might justly hope that the letter sub-

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Page  62 I conceive we doe and ought to put a great dif∣ference betweene Separation, and Non-confor∣mity; the first we judge as evill in it selfe, so that whosoever shall denie us to be a Church, either of our owne men, or strangers of another Nation, we cannot be are it: but other Churches that con∣forme not to our orders and ceremonies we dis∣like not, onely we suffer it not in our owne; not that we adjudge the disusing of ceremonies sim∣ply evill, but onely evill in our owne men, be∣cause wee conceive it is joyned with some con∣tempt of our authority, and may tend to a rent in the Church: But yet neither can this imputation be charged justly on our New-England Colonie; If the men were well scanned, I conceive it may be with good assurance maintained, that at least three parts of foure of the men there planted, are able to justifie themselves to have lived in a con∣stant course of conformity unto our Church go∣vernment and orders. Yea but they are weary of them now, and goe over with an intention to cast them off? Intentions are secret, who can disco∣ver them; but what have they done to manifest such an intention? What intelligence have they held one with another to such purpose? There passed away about 140 persons out of the western parts from Plimmouth, of which I conceive there were not sixe knowne either by face or fame to any of the rest. What subscription or solemne agreement haue they made before hand to binde themselves unto such a resolution? If that were forborne for feare of discovery, yet it concer∣ned Page  63 those who had such an intention to be well assured of a Governour that might effectually further their purposes: Mr. 10. Winthrop, whom they have all chosen, (and that not the multitude, but all the men of best account amongst them) is sufficiently knowne in the place where he long lived, a publicke person, and consequently of the more observation to have been every way regu∣lar and conformable in the whole course of his practise. Yea but they have taken Ministers with them that are knowne to be unconformable, and they are the men that will sway in the orders of the Church? Neither all nor the greatest part of the Ministers are unconformable. But how shall they prevent it? What Minister among us well seated in a good living, or in faire expectance of one, will be content to leave a certaine mainte∣nance, to expose himselfe to the manifold hazards of so long a journey, to rest upon the providence of God, when all is done, for provision for him∣selfe and his family? Pardon them if they take such Ministers as they may have, rather than none at all. Hath any conformable Minister of worth, and fit for that employment, tendred his service, whom they have rejected? No man can affirme they have taken such out of choise rather than necessity, unlesse it be manifested where they have refused others whom they might have had. But there are some unconformable men amongst them, yea and men of worse condition too? And if there were no drunkards nor covetous persons nor vicious any way, it would and might justly Page  64 move all the world to admiration. But there is great oddes betweene peaceable men, who out of tendernesse of heart forbeare the use of some ce∣remonies of the Church, (whom this State in some things thinkes fit to winke at, and it may be would doc more if it were assured of their temper) and men of fiery and turbulent spirits, that walke in a crosse way out of distemper of minde. Now suppose some of those men that (knowing the disposition of their owne mindes, how unable they are to bring their hearts to answer the course of our Churches practise in all things) consider that their contrary practise gives distaste to go∣vernment, and occasions some disturbance unto the Churches peace, upon that ground withdraw themselves for quietnesse sake: Would not such dispositions be cherished with great tendernesse? And surely, as farre as guesse by circumstances may leade us, we have more cause to thinke that they are so minded than otherwise; because this will certainely be the consequent of their going out from amongst us, which they cannot but foresee: and if they had meant otherwise, their way had beene to remaine in the midst of us as thornes in our eyes, and prickes in our sides, and not to depart from us: seeing wee know it is the remaining of the thorne in the midst of the flesh which torments; the plucking it out, and casting it away breedes ease and quietnesse.

I should be very unwilling to hide any thing I thinke might be fit to discover the uttermost of the intentions of our Planters in their voyage Page  65 to New-England, and therefore shall make bold to manifest not onely what I know, but what I guesse concerning their purpose. As it were absurd to conceive they have all one minde, so were it more ridiculous to imagine they have all one scope. Necessitie may presse some; Noveltie draw on o∣thers; hopes of gaine in time to come may prevaile with a third sort: but that the most and most sincere and godly part have the advancement of the Gospil for their maine scope I am cōfident. That of them, some may entertaine hope and expectation of en∣joying greater libertie there than here in the use of some orders and Ceremonies of our Church it seemes very probable. Nay more then that, it is not improbable, that partly for their sakes, and partly for respect to some Germans that are gone o∣uer with them, and more that intend to follow af∣ter, euen those which otherwise would not much desire innovation of themselves, yet for the main∣taining of peace and unitie, (the onely 〈◊〉 of a weake unsetled body will) be wonne to consent to some variation from the formes & customes of our Church. Nay I see not how we can expect from them a correspondence in all things to our State civill or Ecclesiasticall: Wants and necessities can∣not but cause many changes. The Churches in the Apostles & in the setled times of peace afterwards were much different in many outward formes. In the maine of their carriage two things may moue them to vary much from us: Respect to the Heathen, before whom it concernes them to shew much pietie, sobrietie, and austeritie; and the con∣sideration Page  66 of their owne necessities will certainely enforce them to take away many things that we admit, and to introduce many things that wee re∣ject, which perhaps will minister much matter of sport and scorne unto such as have Relations of these things, and that represented unto them with such additions as same usually weaves into all re∣ports at the second and third hands. The like by this their varying in ciuill Conversation, wee may expect of the alteration of some things in Church affayres. It were bootlesse to expect that all things will or can be at the first forming of a rude and in∣cohaerent body, as they may be found in time to come; and it were strange and a thing that never yet happened, if wee should heare a true report of all things as they are. But that men are farre enough from projecting the erecting of this Co∣lony for a Nursery of Schismatickes, will appeare by the ensuing faithfull and unpartiall Narration of the first occasions, beginning, and progresse of the whole worke, layd before the eyes of all that desire to receive satisfaction, by such as have beene privie to the very first conceiving and con∣triving of this project of planting this Colony, and to the severall passages that have happened since, who also in that they relate, consider they have the searcher of all hearts and observer of all mens wayes witnesse of the truth and falsehood that they deliver.

About ten yeares since a company of English, part out of the Low-Countryes, and some out of Page  67London, and other parts, associating themselves into one body, with an intention to plant in Vir∣ginia: in their passage thither being taken short by the winde, in the depth of Winter the whole ground being under Snow, were forced with their provisions to land themselves in New-Eng∣land upon a small Bay beyond Mattachusets, in the place which they now inhabit and call by the name of New-Plinmouth. The ground being co∣vered a foote thicke with snow, and they being without shelter, and having amongst them divers Women and Children, no marvell if, they lost some of their company, it may bee wondered how they saved the rest. But notwithstanding this sharpe encounter at the first, and some mis∣carriages afterward, yet, (conceiving GODS providence had directed them unto that place, and finding great charge and difficultie in remo∣ving) they resolved to fixe themselves there; and being assisted by some of their friends in LONDON, having passed over most of the grea∣test difficulties that usually encounter new Plan∣ters, they beganne to subsist at length in a rea∣sonable comfortable manner: being notwith∣standing men but of meane and weake estates of themselves. And after a yeares experience or two of the Soyle and Inhabitants, sent home tydings of both, and of their well-being there, which occasioned other men to take know∣ledge of the place, and to take it into conside∣ration.

Page  68 About the yeare 1623. some Westerne Mar∣chants (who had continued a trade of fishing for Cod and bartering for Furres in those parts for di∣vers yeares before) conceiving that a Colony plan∣ted on the Coast might further them in those em∣ployments, bethought themselves how they might bring that project to effect, and communicated their purpose to others, alledging the conveniency of compassing their proiect with a small charge, by the opportunitie of their fishing trade, in which they accustomed to double-man their Ships, that (by the helpe of many hands) they might dispatch their Voyage, and lade their Ship with Fish while the fishing season lasted, which could not be done with a bare sayling company. Now it was con∣ceived, that the fishing being ended the spare men that were above their necessary saylers, might be left behind with provisions for a yeare; and when that Ship returned the next yeare, they might as∣sist them in fishing, as they had done the former yeare; and, in the meane time, might employ them∣selves in building, and planting Corne, which with the provisions of Fish, Foule, and Venison, that the Land yeelded, would affoord them the chiefe of their foode. This Proposition of theirs tooke so well, that it drew on divers persons, to joyne with them in this project, the rather because it was conceived that not onely their owne Fisher∣men, but the rest of our Nation that went thither on the same errand, might be much advantaged, not onely by fresh victuall, which that Colony might spare them in time, but withall, and more, Page  69 by the benefit of their Ministers labours, which they might enjoy during the fishing season; where∣as otherwise being usually upon those Voyages nine or ten moneths in the yeare, they were left all the while without any meanes of instruction at all. Compassion towards the Fishermen, and partly some expectation of gaine, prevailed so farre that for the planting of a Colony in New-England there was raised a Stocke of more then three thousand pounds, intended to be payd in in fiue yeares, but afterwards disbursed in a shorter time.

How this Stocke was employed, and by what errours and over-sights it was wasted, is I confesse not much pertinent to this subject in hand: Not∣withstanding, because the knowledge thereof may be of use for other mens direction, let me crave leave in a short Digression to present vnto the Rea∣ders view, the whole order of the managing of such monies as were collected, with the successe and issue of the businesse vndertaken.