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Massachusetts people at Southampton. Said Robinson: " There will be no difference between the unconformable [Nonconformist] Ministers and you, when they come to the practise of the Ordinances out of the Kingdome: And so advised us by all meanes to endeavour to close with the godly party of the Kingdome of England, and rather to study union than division.” This point is emphasized by Winslow, whose purpose in his whole plea, written " at the request of some well-willers to the peace and good agreement of the godly, so distracted at present about the settling of Church-government in the Kingdom of England,” is to show both sides “ what this poor despised Church of Christ now at New Plymouth in New England, but formerly at Leyden in Holland, was and is, how far they were and still are from separation from the Churches of Christ, especially those that are Reformed.” Cotton, in his farewell sermon, said nothing about the relation of Nonconformists, such as those whom he addressed were, to Separatists, such as the Plymouth people were popularly reputed to be ; but in another comection at Southampton he seems to have made this the subject of express counsel. This we learn from the letter of Samuel Fuller of the Plymouth colony to Bradford in 1630, preserved in Bradford's History at the proper place (see page 279), and also in completer form in Bradford's Letter-book (see Mass. Hist. Collections, iii. 75). Fuller was at that time visiting Winthrop's people, who had just arrived ; and, speaking of the entrance of Winthrop and others into church covenant, he says: “ Here is a gentleman, one Mr. Cottington (Coddington), a Boston man, who told me that Mr. Cotton's charge at Hampton was, that they should take advice of them at Plymouth and should do nothing to offend them.” He adds assurances of the warm feeling of the Massachusetts men toward those of Plymouth; and Bradford, seeing in all a witness to the growing influence of the Plymouth principles, comments : “Thus out of smalle beginnings greater things have been prodused by his hand y' made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so ye light here kindled hath shone to many, yea in some sorte to our whole nation; let yo glorious name of Jehova have all yo praise.” And it is surely a notable thing that the followers of Winthrop, leaving England with the warmest protestations of love for the Church of England as their mother, had hardly landed in New England before they separated themselves from the Church of England quite as completely as they of Plymouth; and that John Cotton, whose farewell charge was that they should fellowship the Plymouth people, as Robinson's farewell charge was that these should study union with the Nonconformists, became in a few years the most eminent champion of Congregationalism in New England.
John Cotton's position among the New England ministers and people during the twenty years (1633-1652) that he was teacher of the First Church in Boston was supreme. Professor Moses Coit Tyler, the most thorough student in our time of Cotton's life and work, has spoken of his ascendency as “more sovereign, probably, than any other American clergyman has ever reached.”
“He was the unmitred pope of a pope-hating commonwealth." He had held a most brilliant position in England before he came to share the hardships of this wilder
He had had the highest reputation as a Cambridge scholar; and as rector of the famous St. Botolph's Church in Old Boston, had become renowned as one of the leading Puritan preachers in England. He was the revered friend and counsellor of Winthrop, Johnson, and many of the founders of the colony, not a few of whom had been his parishioners. The persecution which he suffered when Laud became primate in 1633 gave him new honor in the eyes of the Massachusetts people; and his arrival in Boston in the autumn of that year, and his iinmediate installation in the principal pulpit of the little town, was a notable event in the history of the colony. Some of the old writers say — perhaps without warrant – that Boston had been named Boston as a compliment and perhaps an invitation to him : “ with respect to Mr. Cotton,” are Hubbard's words, where he tells of the naming of the town. From the hour of his coming till his death," he wielded with strong and brilliant mastership the fierce theocracy of New England. Laymen and clergymen alike recognized his supremacy, and rejoiced in it.” “I hold myself not worthy to wipe his slippers," said Nathaniel Ward. Roger Williams wrote that some people in Massachusetts “could hardly believe that God would suffer Mr. Cotton to err.” Hubbard says that whatever John Cotton “ delivered in the pulpit was soon put into an order of court, or set up as a practice in the church.” When he died,
he was given, Mather tells us, “the most grievous and solemn funeral that was ever known perhaps upon the American strand"; and it was commonly believed that the heavens themselves took note of the event. “ About the time of his sickness," says Nathaniel Morton, “there appeared in the heavens over New England a comet giving a dim light, and so waxed dimmer and dimmer until it became quite extinct and went out; which time of its being extinct was soon after tbe time of the period of his life: it being a very signal testimony that God had then removed a bright star, a burning and a shining light out of the heaven of his church here, unto celestial glory above.”
I do not propose here to speak in general of Cotton's life. Its significant chapters - bis brilliant university career, the long ministry at Old Boston, the persecution, the flight, the powerful influence here as preacher and as author, the Roger Williams controversy, the Anne Hutchinson controversy - are well known. His life was written by his friend, Samuel Whiting, the minister of Lynn, by Cotton Mather, his grandson, and by John Norton, his successor, and has been written by more modern men, although we have not to-day any adequate biography or critical study of the man and his writings and his unique influence in New England. He has almost never been the subject of articles in the magazines and reviews. Francis Parkman wrote upon him in the North American Review for 1834; but the article is not an important one. Far more important is the article by Rev. George E. Ellis, in the International Review for 1880, on John Cotton in Church and State.” The lecture on Cotton, given by Rev. John Cotton Brooks, in the Old South course on the Founders of New England, in 1894, was published in the New England Magazine, with many illustrations, constituting probably the best popular account of the life and work of the great minister of Boston.
Cotton was a voluminous writer, the author, it is said, of nearly fifty books, all of which were sent to London for publication. A list of his principal works may be seen in Rev. William Emerson's History of the First Church in Boston," page 85, in the Prince Library Catalogue, prepared by Justin Winsor, and in the valuable chapter on Cotton in Professor Tyler's “ History of American Literature." Cotton Mather says that he was indeed a most universal scholar, and a living system of the liberal arts, and a walking library”; and this is sufficiently apparent from the range of his published works. His “ Way of the Churches of Christ in New England” is one of the ablest seventeenth-century expositions of Congregationalism; the influence of its cardinal ideas upon Vane, who during his stay in Boston lived for a time under Cotton's roof, and upon the men of Cromwell's army, is brought out in such books as Borgeaud's “Rise of Modern Democracy in England and New England.” His “ Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven” expounds his theocratic ideas of government. His “ Milk for Babes, drawn out of the Breasts of both Testaments, chiefly for the Spiritual Nourishment of Boston Babes in either England, but may be of use for any Children,” was a famous catechism in its day, and was translated for the Indians. His “ Bloody Tenent Washed and Made White in the Blood of the Lamb” is his principal work in opposition to Roger Williams.
It is extraordinary that such a man, held in such esteem, should have preached such a sermon as that which we here consider, on such an occasion, going from Boston to Southampton to do it, and that the fact should have passed unnoticed by his biographers and by all the chroniclers of his much writing and bewritten generation, and should have remained unnoticed in all the later popular histories, finding mention simply in two or three obscure antiquarian notes. Whiting, Mather, Norton, and McClure, Cotton's biographers, do not even mention this farewell visit to the Massachusetts company at Southampton. Mather was aware of the sermon's existence, but he merely names it in his list of Cotton's published works : “ There are also of his abroad sermons on the thirteenth of the Revelations, and on the vials, and on Rev. xx, 5, 6, and 2 Sam. vii., last in quarto.” McClure even assigns the sermon to the period of Cotton's residence in Boston. The reading of the sermon itself should have prevented such a mistake, as its character is apparent. McClure was doubtless misled by the date, 1634, of the London edition from which the American edition was reprinted. But this was not the first London edition. There is a copy of the 1630 edition in the library of the Massachusetts Historical Society, as there are doubtless copies in other collections.
Johnson, Hubbard, Neal, Hutchinson, Barry, Palfrey — in none of these historians of Massachusetts do we find Cotton's farewell sermon noticed ; nor in Bancroft and the general histories of the United States. Palfrey, in his glance at Cotton's earlier career, at the point where he notices his arrival in Boston, observes that “ at the departure of Winthrop's colony, he made a journey to take leave of them at Southampton”; and in a note he refers, as his authority for the statement, to Scottow, with whose “ Narrative” Barry also shows himself acquainted. But nowhere do the farewell sermon and the memorable occasion of its delivery, of which Scottow gives explicit information, receive any attention.
We naturally turn to Winthrop's Journal as the contemporary writing in which we should chiefly expect mention of Cotton's visit to Southampton and the farewell sermon. But when the Journal opens, “ Anno Domini, 1630, March 29, Easter Monday," the Governor is already riding at the Cowes, near the Isle of Wight, in the Arbella”; and the sermon had probably been preached at Southampton just before that date, before the embarkation. If it was preached after the embarkation, it is still possible, of course, that it might not have found mention, as the famous farewell address to their brethren of the Church of England, drawn up by the company, a week or more after that, while anchored at Yarmouth, does not find mention; but undoubtedly the sermon was preached before the Journal opens. In Winthrop's letters from Southampton, however, we should certainly expect reference to this matter. Cotton was Winthrop's friend, and there was probably no other minister in England whom he held in such reverence. Cotton had probably paid a visit to the Groton home only four months before. On November 24, 1629, Winthrop writes from London to his wife: “ It may be Mr. Cotton of Boston will come see thee on thursdaye or fridaye. Gett him to stay a night if thou canst.” No person in England could have come to Southampton to bid him and his company godspeed whose coming would have meant more. Yet there is no reference whatever to it in any word of Winthrop's which has come down to us.
This strange omission is remarked upon by Robert C. Winthrop in his life of the Governor. “In neither of the letters from Southampton," he says, " is there any allusion to the presence of John Cotton, or to the sermon which he is said