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  49

CAP. 7. Answering Obiections against the maine bodie of the worke.


ALl experience is against the hope and good * successe of Colonies; much money, and many mens lives have beene spent upon Virginia, St. Christophers, New-found-land, &c. with no pro∣portionable successe, and what reason have wee to expect other event of this?


To speake nothing of particulars, which per∣haps might occasion some distaste, I denie not but the ends which they proposed may be good and warrantable; men may set before themselves civill respects, as advancement of the Nation, and hope and expectation of gaine, which per∣haps hath either wholly set on, or strongly sway∣ed these lately undertaken Colonies: But I con∣ceive where the service of the Church, and re∣spect unto the advancement of the Gospell is predominant, we may with greater assurance de∣pend upon Gods engagement in the worke, and consequently expect a prosperous successe from his hand. Besides, why may not English Planta∣tions thrive as well as Dutch? Where and when have their Colonies failed? To speake nothing of the East-Indies, even this which they have set∣led in New-England upon Hudsons River with no

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Page  52 would be no question of a flourishing State there in convenient time by the concurrence of Gods ordinary blessing. In this dutie if we be wanting unto them, there will be great cause to suspect, that the exception against the worke, for the in∣supportable butthen of the charge, is but a faire pretext to colour our feare of our owne purses, which many are more faithfull unto, than unto the service of God and of his Church.


But the pretended end of winning the Hea∣then to the knowledge of God and embracing of the faith of Christ, is a meere fantasie, and a worke not onely of uncertaine but unlikely suc∣cesse, as appeares by our fruitlesse endeavours that way, both in Virginia and New-England, where New-Plimmouth men inhabiting now these ten yeares, are not able to give account of any one man converted to Christianity.


And no marvell, unlesse God should worke by miracle; neither can it be expected that worke should take effect untill we may be more perfect∣ly acquainted with their language, and they with ours. Indeede it is true, both the Natives and English understand so much of one anothers lan∣guage, as may enable them to trade one with an∣other, and fit them for conference about things that are subject to outward sense; and so they understand our use in keeping the Sabbath day, Page  53 observe our reverence in the worship of God, are somewhat acquainted with the morall precepts; know that adultery, theft, murther and lying are forbidden, which nature teacheth, because these things are outward, and may bee under∣stood almost by sense: But how shall a man ex∣presse unto them things meerely spirituall, which have no affinity with sense, unlesse wee were throughly acquainted with their language, and they with ours? neither can we in theirs, or they in our tongue utter any continued speech, be∣cause neither we nor they understand the moods, tenses, cases, numbers, praepositions, adverbes, &c. which make coherence in words, and ex∣presse a perfect sense. Besides, it hath beene inti∣mated that wee hardly have found a brutish peo∣ple wonne before they had beene taught civi∣lity. So wee must endeavour and expect to worke that in them first, and Religion after∣wards. Amongst such as have beene brought over into England from Virginia there was one Nanawack, a youth sent over by the Lo. De La∣ware, when hee was Governour there, who comming over and living here a yeare or two in houses where hee heard not much of Religion, but saw and heard many times examples of drin∣king, swearing, and like evills, remained as hee was a meere Pagan; but after removed into a godly family, hee was strangely altered, grew to understand the principles of Religion, lear∣ned to reade, delighted in the Scriptures, Ser∣mons, Prayers, and other Christian duties, Page  54 wonderfully bewailed the state of his Country∣men, especially his brethren, and gave such te∣stimonies of his love to the truth, that hee was thought fit to be baptised: but being prevented by death, left behinde such testimonies of his desire of Gods favour, that it mooved such god∣ly Christians as knew him, to conceive well of his condition; neither is there any cause to doubt but time may bring on in others, as well as it did in him, that which wee expect upon a so∣daine in vaine.


But some conceive the Inhabitants of New-England to be Chams posterity, and consequent∣ly shut out from grace by Noahs curse, till the conversion of the Iewes be past at least.


How doe they appeare to be Chams posterity? whose sonnes by the agreement of Writers, tooke up their dwellings together in Canaan, Palesti∣na, and the parts adjoyning in Arabia, Egypt, Mauritania, Lybia, and other bordering parts of Africke, and consequently for any footsteps of their descents appearing unto us, might bee as farre from peopling the West Indies, as any other part of the posteritie of Noahs sonnes. Neither doe mens conjectures agree, (for wee have no certainties to build on) whence these Countries of the parts of America towards New-England might most probably be peopled. But admit the Inhabitants to be Chams posteritie doth not the Prophet Esay foretell the conversion of Page  55Chams posterity in Egypt, performed in the Pri∣mitive times, all histories witnessing that the E∣gyptians had amongst them a Church of eminent note, governed by divers Bishops under the Pa∣tharen of Alexandria? And who knowes not the numerous Churches of Africke, wherein were above 160 Bishops in St. Austins time, go∣verning sundry Nations, all of them of Chams posteritie? But what testimonie of Scripture, or ground of reason from Scripture, layes such a fearefull curse upon all Chams posteritie? Noahs curse reacheth but to one branch, to Canaan, and as Interpreters conceive, with especiall relation to the extirpation of that part of his issue which inhabited Iudea, by the children of Israel. It is too much boldnesse then to curse where God hath not cursed, and shut out those from the meanes of grace, whom God hath not exclu∣ded.


But admit the English might be thought fit to plant a Colony in New-England, yet this time is unfit, in this troubled condition of the Church; it were more convenient for men to keepe close together, than to scatter abroad, that so they might be the more able to resist the common e∣nemie. This withdrawing of our selves in time of so great hazard betrayes weaknesse of heart, and proclaimes our despaire of the cause of Re∣ligion, which the godly entertaine with sad hearts, and the Iesuites with smiling countenan∣ces.

Page  56


It is reported that when Annshal lay before Rome, it discouraged him much in his hopes of taking the Citty, that at the same instant there marched out of the Citty at contrary gates un∣der their colours an Armie of souldiers towards the sea, to be shipped & sent over for a supply into Spaine; for it argued the Romans feared him not, that durst spare a supplie of men to a Countrie so farre distant when the enemie lay at the gates: And it seemes to argue courage rather than feare, when in the weakest condition of the Church men testifie their hope and expectation of the enlargement of that Kingdome of Christ which wicked men and his enemies glorie that they have as good as conquered and subdued. I con∣ceive those that engage themselves in this adven∣ture are not so void of Religion as to conceive the scourge of God cannot reach them in New-England; or of reason, as to thinke New-England safer than olde. But they scatter and withdraw themselves in a time of neede? Suppose the [ 1] State were in such needed as is pretended in this objection, yet in such a popular Land, such a number as is employed in this worke is not very considerable; for I thinke no man conceives a thousand or two thousand men are of any great weight to sway the ballance, when so many great stones lie in the skales. Againe, that wherein [ 2] they seeme to be most usefull to us is their pray∣ers, which (according to their profession and promise) they will performe in absence, as if they, Page  57 were present with us. And if any other way their service be required, as they holde them∣selves bound, so will they at all times doe their uttermost for the discharge of their dutie to this their native Country. And lastly, by that time all the particulars of this Treatise are wel weigh∣ed, [ 3] it will be found that their employment there for the present is not inconvenient, and for the future may prove beneficiall to this State.


It may be, passing over of two thousand or three thousand persons will be of no great mo∣ment, and so many might be spared; but some mens examples drawing on others, and there be∣ing no stint or limits set unto mens itching hu∣mours after this new worke, we know not where to expect any end; and what consequents may follow the issuing out of great multitudes, espe∣cially on a sodaine, it is easie to conjecture.


If that should be a true and reall feare, and not a pretence, I should much wonder that any man should have so little insight into the disposition of his owne Country-men. Howsoever some men are content to remove from their dwellings, and to leave their beloved Countrie and friends, let no man conceive we shall finde over-many of that humour: We are knowne too well to the world to love the smoake of our owne chimneyes so well, that hopes of great advantages are not like∣ly Page  58 to draw many of us from home: And that e∣vidently appeares by the different habits and af∣fections of the mindes of men unto this voyage. Some pittie the exposing of their friends, or such unto whom for the report of their honestie and religion they wish well, unto so many dangers and inconveniences; others and the most part scoffe at their folly; a third sort murmure and grudge that they are abandoned and forsaken by them: and good men dispute the warrant of their undertaking this worke, and will not be convin∣ced. It may be, private interests may prevaile with some; One brother may draw over ano∣ther, a sonne the father, and perhaps some man his inward acquaintance; but let no man feare the over-hasty removall of multitudes of any of estate or abilitie. As for the poorer sort it is true, many of them that want meanes to maintaine them at home, would be glad to passe over into New-England to finde a better condition there; but by what meanes will they be transported, or provided of necessaries for so chargeable a jour∣ney? and without such provisions they will be found very unwelcome to such as are alreadie planted there. Besides, it cannot be doubted but the State will be so watchfull as not to suffer any prejudice unto it selfe, if the numbers of those that leave her should increase too fast. If the State should be slacke, even those that now al∣low the passing over of some good and usefull men, when the number is growen to an indiffe∣rent proportion will of themselves be carefull to Page  59 restraine the rest as farre as their counsell and ad∣vice can prevaile. The truth is when some 800 or 1000 families are seated there, the Colonie will be best filled up with youthes and girles, which must be continually drawne over to sup∣ply the roomes of men-servants and maid-ser∣vants, which will marry away daily, and leave their Masters destitute. But it may be justly ad∣mired, what the cause should be that men of con∣trary mindes should so strangely concurre in the jealousies and dislikes of this worke, neither op∣posing any of the former Colonies, whereof the least (I meane Virginia, Barmudas, and St. Chri∣stophers) drew away two for one of those which are yet passed over to New-England; unlesse it be that the best workes finde commonly worst en∣tertainment amongst men.


It is objected by some, that religion indeede and the colour thereof is the cloake of this work, but under it is secretly harboured faction and se∣paration from the Church. Men of ill affected mindes (they conceive) unwilling to joyne any longer with our assemblies, meane to draw them∣selves apart, and to unite into a body of their owne, and to make that place a nursery of facti∣on and rebellion, disclaiming and renouncing our Church as a limbe of Antichrist.


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.