The Preface to the READER.
BOna domus in ipso veistbulo debetagnosci saith* Austin, the portall commonly promiseth some∣what of the house it self, and prefaces be as doors that let in the Reader to the Booke, and be∣speake much of the intention of the writer; you are in some measure prepared already by the foregoing Epistle, with the forefront, and first page: Marsilius Fi∣cinus said of his booke De triplici Vita. Esca tituli tam suavis quam plurimos alliciet ad gustandum, The title will invite some*to further enquiry; it is in mans nature to be well pleased with novelties, thence later times have had good leave to correct for∣mer mistakes. It was written with confidence long since, that the shee Beares did licke their informe litter into fashion, that the young Viper thrusts its Dam out of the world to bring it selfe into it, and that the Swan sings its owne dirige at his dying, all which*be sufficiently confuted by after experiences, famous varieties of this sort be daily produced to view, those are curious enquiries into common errors by Doctor Browne. It was said of one contort in body, but of a fine spirit, Animus Galbae malè ha∣bitat, It was a bad house for so good an Inhabitant; many thought so and worse of Richard the third, King of England, till*those late endeavours to rectifie him and his readers. that Geo∣graphia Sacra is an exact and accurate worke, in respect of the subject and materials, the scattering of Nations at the buil∣ding Page [unnumbered] of Babel, and it may puzzle some mens thoughts, that hee should know so well the places of their dispersion so long since, and yet wee continue ignorant what is become of Gods owne first peo∣ple, which shall be recovered to him againe, and have not been missing so many yeeres. The Trojans, though now no Nation, live yet in the ambitious desire of other people, clayming from them their descent: The Jewes, once the Lords owne peculiar people, are now the scomme and scorne of the world; Florus calls*their glory the Temple, Impiae gentis arcanum; Democritus another Historian said they worshipped an Asses head, every third yeere sacrificed a man, &c. Others speake spightfull things of them, and their pettigree; only the Lacedemonian King, in that Letter whereof you have a copy, 1 Macab. 12. 20. &c. tells Oni∣as the High Priest. It is found in writing that the Spartans and Jewes are Brethren, and come out of the generation of Abra∣ham. The originall indeed of the Jewes is assuredly knowne to themselves and all Christians; Wee have no such evidence for any other people that have now a being; there is nothing more in the darke to the inhabitants of the severall parts of this earth, then their owne beginnings, and tis thus in Countries of along time knowne to each other, and yet in such disquisition they cannot affoord one another almost any light or help; no wonder therefore that the Originall of the Americans is in such uncertaine obscu∣rity, for their very name hath not been heard of much more than one hundred and fifty yeares, tis a wonder rather that so great a part of the world should be till then Terra incognita, notwithstan∣ding the ambition, curiosity, and avarice of mankind carried him into a greedy inquisition after all places and corners where men and beasts abode, or any commodity was to be found: Hie∣ronimus Benzo in his Nova novi orbis Historia, so often hereaf∣ter mentioned, professeth, that above all things concerning the Americans, his great designe was to finde out what thoughts*they had of Christians; touching the Countrey it selfe in the To∣pography and other particulars, besides divers mentioned in the following discourse; some have of late done excellently that way: that tis no part of my businesse, which, next to the desire of their conversion to Christ, was, and is, to aske whence they came; and that they be Judaicall, I have laid together severall conjectures Page [unnumbered] as they occu••… in reading and observing, to stirre up and awa∣ken more able inquisitors, to looke after the beginning, nature, civilizing, and Gospellizing those people, and to cast in my poore mite towards the encouragement of our Countreymen in such their pious undertaking; and though some men have spoken meane things of them in reference to their labours that way, as if they had been negligent therein, such men consider not I feare, how long their Countreymen have been wrastling with divers difficul∣ties, and busily employing their minds and time in providing out∣ward accommodations for themselves in a strange land, they re∣member not the naturall perversenesse of all mankind to spirituall things, nor with what counterworkes Satan doth oppose the un∣derminers of his Principalities, nor how he hath broken the language of the Natives into severall tongues and dialects to im∣pede their conversion, nor how the Novangles have themselves been broken into divers ruptures, lest they should be at leasure to further the enlargement of Christs Kingdome upon the spoiles and diminution of his; this was in the purpose of their hearts at first, and now to their comfort they do abundantly see that the Na∣tives are a docible people, who for their contempt of gold & silver, and for some other reasons, have been deemed bruitish, and almost irrationall; but to what is after written it may be mentioned in this place, that in Mexico they were observed to be wise and politique in*government, to the admiration of Christians, yea they were not ig∣norant in those parts of letters and writing, though in a different fashion from others: Acosta did observe, the Jewes write from the right hand to the left, others from the left to the right, the Chinois or East-Indians write from the top to the bottom, & the Mexicans*from the bottome to the top, the Reformed Dominican in his new survey of the West-Indies, tells of a Town as he travelled, called A∣mat * Titlan, a Towne of Letters, and of very curious Artifices of*their Citizens, of Goldsmiths worke and otherwise, their inge∣nuity, cunning and courage is marvelously manifest in their lea∣ding*a Whale as big as a mountaine, with a cord, and vanqui∣shing him in this manner; by the helpe of their Canoes or little Boats, they come neare to the broad side of that huge creature, oand with great dexterity leape upon his necke, there they ride as on horsebacke, and thrust a sharpe stake into his nosthrill, so they Page [unnumbered] call the hole or vent by which they breathe, he beats it in with ano∣ther stake as forcibly as hee can, the furious Whale in the meane time raiseth Mountaines of waters, and runnes into the deep with great violence and paine, the Indian still sits firme, driving in a∣nother stake in o that other passage, so stopping his breath, then hee goes againe to his Canoe, which with a cord hee had tied to the Whales side, and so he paesseth to land; the Whale running a∣way with the cord, leaps from place to place in much pame till hee gets to shoare, and being on ground, hee cannot move his huge body, then a great number of Indians come to the conquerer, they kill the Whale, cut his flesh in pieces, they dry it, and make use of it for food, which lasts them long, thus plainely verifying that expression, Psal. 74. 14. Thou breakest the heads of Le∣viathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people in∣habiting the Wildernesse: When, or where, or by whom is this thus done, but by these? who will not now desire, and willingly lend his helpe to cover their naked bodies, and cloath their more naked soules with the Gospel, who, and who alone have so litte∣rally fulfilled that Scripture of our God? But let me commend three other things to thy consideration, that thy affections may bee warmed towards thy Countreymen, and they receive encourage∣ment in the planting of themselves, and the Gospel among the Na∣tives.
First, they may be preparing an hiding place for thy selfe, who∣ever, whatever now thou art, thou mayst be overtaken by a tempest, and stand in need of a shelter, and where canst thou be*better for sweetnesse of aire and water, with the fertility of the soile, giving two wheate harvests in one yeare in severall places, yea in some, three, saith P. Martyr, and Books generally speake of that*Land as of a second Canaan: and for New-England you may believe the relation of a very friend there to his like here, who mutually agreed upon a private character, that the truth might be discovered without deceit or glozing, and thus he wrote to him whom he entirely loved. The aire of this Countrey is very*sweet and healthfull, the daies two houres shorter in Summer, and two houres longer in Winter then they be with you, the Sum∣mer is a little hotter, and the Winter, a little colder, our grounds are very good and fruitfull for all kind of corne, both English and Page [unnumbered] Indian, our cattell thrive much better here then in Old England, Fowle encrease with us exceedingly, wee have many sweet and ex∣cellent springs, and fresh Rivers, with abundance of good Fish in them; of a very truth, I believe verily, it will be within a few yeares the plentifullest place in the whole world, &c. I might proclaime, saith Lerius, the Inhabitants of that Land happy, mea∣ning*the Natives, if they had knowledge of the Creator; so that as parents intending to marry their Daughters well, extend them∣selves in what they may to encrease their portion, and make way for their preferment, our heavenly Father hath dealt thus with these Americans, enriching them with Gold, Silver, good aire, good water, and all other accommodations for use and delight, that they might be the more earnestly wooed and sought after.
And yet further, as he commended his house offered to sale, that it had good neighbours, if thou beest driven thither, goe cheare∣fully,*for thou goest to thine owne Countreymen, from one Eng∣land to another, New England indeed, witnesse that experi∣mented asseveration of him worthy of credit, who having lived in a Colony there of many thousand English almost twelve yeares,*and was held a very sociable man, speaketh considerately, I never heard but one oath sworne, never saw one man drunke, nor ever heard of three women adulteresses, if these sinnes be among us privily, the Lord heale us, I would not be understood to boast of our innocency, there is no cause I should, our hearts may be bad enough, and our lives much better. And yet they have more a∣bundantly testified their pious integrity in serious endeavours to propogate Gospel-holinesse, even to those that be without, their godly labours Christianizing the Natives must be remembred to their praise, they have had long and longing preparative thoughts and purposes that way, and as Saint Paul once to his Corinthians, 2. 6. 11. they have seemed to say O Americans, our mouth is opened unto you, our heart is enlarged, you are not straightned in us, be not straightned in your owne bowels, and now for a recompence of all our endeavours to preach Christ unto you, we aske no more, but be ye also enlarged with gladnesse to receive the Lord Jesus Christ: their active industry in this kind with the successe is now famously visible in severall discourses, which whosoever shall read will be sufficiently contented in his spirituall Page [unnumbered] and outward well-wishings to his friends, both of this Nation and the Natives, for the Gospel runs there and is glorified: and here I crave leave to speake a word or two to the Military Reader, the late English American traveller, dedicating his observations up∣on*his journeys of three thousand three hundred miles within the maine Land of America, to the Lord Fairefax, speakes knowing∣ly to his Excellency, that with the same paines and charge that the English have been at in planting one of the petty Islands, they might have conquered so many great Cities, and large territories on the Continent as might very well merit the title of a Kingdom; he shewes further, that the Natives have not onely just right to the Land, and may transferre it to whom they please, but that it may easily be wonne from the Spaniards, and that for these three*reasons among the rest. 1. The Spaniards themselves are but few and thinne. 2. The Indians and Blackamoores will turne a∣gainst them, and so will 3. The Criolians, that is, the Spani∣ards borne in America, whom they will not suffer to beare office in Church or state; Looke Westward then yee men of Warre, thence you may behold a rising Sunne of glory, with riches and much honour, and not onely for your selves, but for Christ, whom you say you desire above all, and are delighted to honour: In yon∣der Countries, that the following leaves speake of, non cedunt arma togae, the pen yeelds to the pike, the first place of honour is given to the profession of armes, and therefore in Mexico the No∣blemen*were the chiefe souldiers; thus you may enlarge not onely your owne renowne, but the borders of the Nation, yea the King∣dome of the King of Saints. We have all made covenants and pro∣fessions of reformation at home, with promises to propagate the Gospell of our deare Lord among those that remaine in great and miserable blindnesse, how happy were it for them and us, if this England were in such a posture of holinesse and tranquility, that all opportunities might be imbraced to advance its territories a∣broad; In the interim I could wish with the most passionate, and compassionate of all the holy Prophets, Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountaine of teares, that I might weep day and night for the sinnes, and for the slaine of the daughter of my people, Oh that I had in the wildernesse, &c. Ier. 9. 1. 2. Our Countrey is justly called our mother, whose heavy groanes Page [unnumbered] under multiplied miseries be heard from all places, whose bowels doe not sympathize with her, and yerne over her, who is not un∣willing or ashamed to gather riches or honour from her rents and ruine; the Heathen Orator spake affectionately, our parents are*dear to us, and so be our children, alliances and familiars, but the love of our countrey, comprehends in it and with it all other dear∣nesses whatsoever; and in another place, Omnes qui patriam con∣serverunt, * adjuverunt, auxerunt, certum est esse in caelo, tis cer∣taine they are all in heaven that have been lovers and conservators of their Countrey; and when heathenish Babylon was the place of Israels exile, they are commanded by God himselfe, to seeke the peace of the City whether they were carried, and pray unto the Lord for it, Jer. 29. 7. It is recorded to the honour of Mordecai, that he sought the wealth of his people, Esth. 10. 3. the contra∣ry to this entailes ignominy to men and their posterity, by the book of Gods own heral dry, Esa. 14. 20. Thou shalt not be joyned with them in buriall, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slaine thy people, the seed of evill doers shall never be renowned; for that Judge judged righteously: In a civill warre there is no*true victory, in asmuch as he that prevaileth is also a loser. But I returne, and reinvite to peruse these probabilities, and if they like not, because they are no more but guesses and conjectures, yet the requests I hope shall be listened unto, for they aime at Gods glory and mans salvation, and nothing else; and surely the poore Natives will not be a little encouraged to looke after the glorious Gospel of Christ, when they shall understand that not onely the English among them, but wee all here are daily sutors for them at the throne of grace, so that we may say as Paul to the Romans, 1. 9. God is our witnesse, whom wee serve with our spirit in the Gospel of his Sonne, that without ceasing wee make men∣tion of them alwaies in our prayers; Mr. Elliot whose praise is now through all our Churches, 2 Cor. 8. 18. deserves publique encouragement from hence, besides those sprinklings of an Aposto∣licall spirit received from heaven, by which in an high and holy ambition he preacheth the Gospell where Christ had not been named, Rom. 15. 20. such another〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, like-min∣ded soule-lover is not readily to be found, that naturally careth for their matters, Phil. 2. 20. regarding the Indians as if they were his owne charge and children, and as God hath furnished Page [unnumbered] him with ministeriall and spirituall abilities for the worke. I wish that he and his com-Presbyters and companions in that labour, might be supplyed with all externall accommodations, to further the civilizing, and Gospellizing of the Americans.
And now me thinks I heare thee say also, Oh that the day brea∣king of the Gospel there, might be the way of Saints, even the path of the just, as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day, Pro. 4. 18. and oh that all our Nation here and there, would forbeare all other strivings, being asha∣med and afraid lest their woefull quarrels be told in Gath, and published in the streets of Askalon, to the prejudice of the Gospels progresse here and there and every where; Erasmus felt what he said of the differences in his time, Tragaediae Luthera∣nae * mihi ipsi etiam calculo molestiores, and who laments not the wofull tearings of our Nation? who bewailes not to see the brea∣kings of the sheepfold? who mournes not to heare the strange bleeting of the flocks? and what soule is not grieved for the great divisions of England? and let me wish once more, Oh that all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, would study to speake the same things, and that all would be perfectly joyned together in the same minde, and in the same judgement, 1 Cor. 1. 10. conver∣ting all their tongue-combats, and pen-contentions into an earnest contending, that the faith once delivered to the Saints (Jud. 3.) might be preserved whole, holy, and entire among themselves, and be with like holinesse and integrity communicated to the In∣dians, that doe now so much hunger and thirst after that righte∣ousnesse of our most deare Lord and Master Christ; let us all with our tongues, purses, pens, counsels, and prayers, promote this worke of God with one shoulder and consent: there be among us here that have had this in their daily devotions more then twenty yeares, which is mentioned to no other end but from desire to call in thy helpe also; I will take leave by commending to thy practice the imitation of learned and holy Theod. Beza in his daily prayer for the Iewes, Lord Iesus thou dost justly avenge the contempt of thy selfe, and that ingratefull people is worthy*of thy most severe indignation; but, Lord, remember thy covenant, and for thy names sake be favourable to those miserable wretches, and to us the most unwor∣thy of all men, unto whom thou hast vouchsafed thy mercy, bestow this goodnesse also, that we may grow in thy grace, that we be not instruments of thy wrath against them, but rather, both by the knowledg of thy word, and by the examples of holy life, we may, by the assistance and vertue of thy holy Spirit, reduce them into the right way, that thou maist once be glorified of all Nations and people for ever,