« ZurückWeiter »
to have preached there; but such an omission is by no means conclusive evidence that Winthrop was not among the edified listeners to that memorable discourse. His letters from there are very brief; and he says, as an excuse for not writing more fully, · Here I meet with so much company and business, as I am forced to borrow of my sleep for this.' And so we will still trust that his heart was encouraged by hearing the faithful minister of Old Boston, who was so soon to become his companion and pastor in New Boston, deliver “God's Promise to his Plantation,' and follow it with his prayers and benedictions."
Referring to Scottow's “ Narrative " as the principal authority for the statement that the sermon was delivered before the Massachusetts company at Southampton, Mr. Winthrop calls attention to the contemporaneous testimony, which so far as I know has been noticed by him alone, found in the following passage from the Diary of John Rous, a Suffolk man, under date of 1630 : “Some little while since, the Company went to New England under Mr. Winthrop. Mr. Cotton, of Boston in Lincolnshire, went to their departure about Gravesend, & preached to them, as we heare, out of 2 Samuel, vii, 10. It is said that he is prohibited fro preaching any more in England than until June 24 next now coming.
With reference to this mention of Gravesend as the place where the sermon was preached, it is to be said that the ships for the expedition were fitted out at London, and probably lay for some time in the Thames. Many of the company may have congregated there and embarked before the vessels proceeded to Southampton, where Winthrop and others went on board. It would have been quite possible, therefore, for all we know to the contrary, that such a sermon should have been preached to a gathering of the colonists at Gravesend. But Fuller's reference to “ Mr. Cotton's charge at Hampton” confirms Scottow's statement that it was at Southampton that Cotton parted from the company and preached his farewell sermon. The citation from Rous's Diary does have some value as indicating that Cotton was already under close watch, and that there may have been reasons why there should not have been much said about his sermon at that time in England ;
1 Diary of John Rous, Camden Society's Publications, No. 66, pp 53, 54.
although in view of what we know of him during the next two years, and the fact of the immediate publication of this sermon in London, we cannot attach great significance to this.
Mr. Winthrop and Charles Deane are the only ones of our historical writers whom I have found making any considerable reference to Cotton's sermon, both drawing upon Scottow's “ Narrative," although Mr. Deane, when he published his first critical note upon the sermon, had evidently not observed Scottow's own exact words upon the subject, but discovered them after his note was printed. His two notes were published in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, vol. ii., April and July, 1848, pp. 151 and 318, under the title of “God's Promise to his Plantation.” I give them both here, as being the only critical discussions of this notable address which I have been able to find :
I. “The first printed works relating to the settlement of the Massachusetts Colony appeared in 1630. Among them are the Planter's Plea,' New England Plantation,' and · God's Promise to his Plantation. The first is supposed to have been written by Rev. John White of Dorchester, England, who early manifested a great interest in the settlement of this colony. It is interesting and valuable, as it gives a minute account of the first commencement of the plantation. It is supposed to have been printed soon after the sailing of Winthrop's fleet. The second is a letter written from Salem to his friends in England, by Rev. Francis Higginson, who arrived here in June, 1629, with Mr. Skelton. It gives his experience of the country after a residence of about three months. There were three editions printed in 1630, the first of which is supposed to have appeared before the sailing of Winthrop's fleet. The last-named publication, which tells its own story in the title-page we have given above, is interesting, not as a historical document, but for the associations with which it is connected. It was preached shortly before the departure of Winthrop's company ;? and perhaps in the celebrated St. Botolph's Church, of wbich he was rector for many years. Some of his parishioners were about leaving him for a distant and almost unknown colony; but his heart was with them and their enterprise. No undertaking was attempted in those days without proving it by the touchstone of God's word.' And Cotton here draws largely from the Old Testament (from which our fathers drew the most of their theology as well as jurisprudence), in order to show what God has promised to his faithful people. I will uppoint a place for my people Israel, etc. The preface to this discourse, • To the Christian Reader,' was written by another hand, with initials I. H., and in our own copy we find the following query penned some few years since: 'May it not have been John Humpbry, who was one of the six original patentees from the council of Plymouth ?' Humphrey was chosen deputy governor with the view of coming over this year, but being prevented, Mr. Dudley was elected in his place. The writer of the preface says, ' Now because many may either not know, or doe not consider upon how full a ground and warrant out of the word of God that undertaking (which was the occasion of this sermon) hath hitherto proceeded, I thought good courteous Reader), leave being with some difficulty obtained of the Reverend Author, to present unto thy view and consideration that which may in part give thee satisfaction in this particular. Ere long (if God will) thou shalt see a longer declaration of the first rise & ends of this enterprise, & so cleare & full a justification of this designe, and also in respect of any other ground and circumstance of weight,' &c. This discourse is worthy of note as being the first printed work of which we have any record, of one who bore so prominent a part in the early period of the Massachusetts settlement. When we reflect that Cotton transferred his labors from Boston in Old England to Boston in New England, and that the latter was named in honor of him and his associates and friends who came from the former, and consider also the occasion on which this sermon was delivered, it will appear by no means insignificant or uninteresting. Its contents are by no means remarkable. As we said above, it possesses nothing historical. But it does contain some most excellent advice and exhibits the true principles which animated our Puritan Fathers. We give below a few extracts from it to introduce which we have trespassed thus far.” [Here follow extracts from the sermon.]
1 " There is a slight allusion, however, to this colony in Snith's Virginia, ed. 1629.
2 “ Thomson's History of Boston, England."
3 “It is uncertain whether this sermon was preached at Boston or at Southampton. We know he did preach a farewell sermon at the latter place.” – Scottow's Narrative, Prince's Annals.
II. “Since writing the notice of this sermon in the last number of the Register, I have met with the following MS. notes of Prince, the chronologist, in his own copy of this discourse now before me: By several passages in the sermon, it seems to be preached in England to a number of people about to remove to New England, and considering the history of his life,' and that he went to the Isle of Wight in Eng
1 " 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 Plymoulh and should do nothing to offend them.'
* By this only passage in Govr. Bradford's MS. History, we find that the Revd. and Famous Mr. Cotton went from Boston in Lincolnshire, to take his
land, in the spring of 1630, to see Govr. Winslow [he means Winthrop], Mr. Wilson and company, and take his farewell of them, as they were then bound for New England, it seems highly likely that he then preached this sermon to them.
“. After I had wrote the above,' he continues, 'I found in Joshua Scottoway Esq.'s narrative, that Mr. Cotton preached this sermon to Govr. Winthrop and company at the Isle of Wight, as they were preparing to sail for New England.'
“I give below the passages from Scottow referred to. Prince, however, should have put Southampton for the Isle of Wight.
“ « Some of their choice friends, as the Reverend Mr. Cotton and others, went along with them from Boston in Lincolnshire to Southampton, where they parted and he preached his farewell sermon.
""Not long after this, Mr. Cotton's farewell sermon (above mentioned) was printed at London, and since reprinted at Boston, entituled, God's Promise to his Plantation, wherein he exhorted them to remember England, their mother, and that they should not be like those ungrateful birds, who when they had swum over a stream or river, forgot the wing that had hatcht them.'
“ If Scottow is to be relied on, - and we have no reason to question his authority, as he was for a long period contemporary with many of Winthrop's company, and dedicates his book, referred to, to Bradstreet, then living, who also came over with Winthrop, then the question would seem to be settled as to the place where this sermon was preached, namely, at Southampton.'
Scottow's “ Narrative ” thus appears to be the sole distinct original authority concerning the delivery of Cotton's farewell sermon at Southampton. Joshua Scottow was an old man when he published his dolorous Jeremiad in 1694 ; but it is a clear and vigorous document, and there is no ground for questioning any of its statements of fact. Of the “ Narrative” as a whole it is impossible to speak here ; but it might well form a theme for special treatment, as it is so little known, and as it mentions incidentally many matters of historical interest besides Cotton's farewell sermon. Incidentally, I say, for Scottow's primary purpose was not to write history, but to wail. He felt, after the fashion of gray-haired men from the beginning who have looked back mournfully to the “ good old times,” that New England was going to perdition ; and he contrasts the time of the saintly Cotton and the rest with the leave of his departing friends at South Hampton.'" - Prince's Annals, vol. i. p. 245. Mass. Hist. Coll., vol. iii. p. 75.
ungodly present, for the sake of prophesying a still more disastrous decline. The title-page of his pamphlet indicates so well the character of his work that I give its contents :
“A Narrative of the Planting of the Massachusetts Colony Anno 1628. With the Lord's Signal Presence the First Thirty Years. Also a Caution from New England's Apostle, the great Cotton, how to Escape the Calamity, which might befall them or their Posterity. And Confirmed by the Evangelist Norton. With Prognosticks from the famous Dr. Owen, concerning the Fate of these Churches, and Animadversions upon the Anger of God, in sending of Evil Angels among
Published by Old Planters, the Authors of the Old Men's Tears. Psalm 78, 2, 3, 4. I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known and our Fathers have told us, &c. Jer. 6, 16. Thus saith the Lord, stand ye
and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, & walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls ; but they said, we will not walk herein. Boston Printed and sold by Benjamin Harris, at the sign of the Bible over against the BlewAnchor: 1694."
The entire work was reprinted in the Massachusetts Historical Society's Collections, fourth series, vol. iv., 1858. In the fourth volume of the second series, 1816, there is a brief memoir of Scottow - I think by James Savage. “The first mention of Joshua Scottow, traced by my inquiries," says the biographer, " is in the records of the Old Church, in the tenth page of which it is noted that, • Thomas Scottowe and Joshua Scottowe, the sonnes of our sister Thomasine Scottowe,' were admitted members on the 19th of the third month, 1639... He was probably the younger son, and brought from England by his mother, a widow, admitted of the same church, 21 September, 1634. He was well entitled, therefore, sixty years after, to call himself an Old Planter.” He became a merchant " of much respectability,” whose name frequently occurs in the affairs of the town. In 1691, three years before the publication of the “ Narrative,” he published another pamphlet, which like its successor was a lament over the degeneracy of the times. It was entitled : 6 Old Men's Tears for their own Declension, mixed with Fears of their and Posterities further falling off from New England's Primitive Constitution." Cotton's sermon as published in London was prefixed by an address to the Christian Reader,” signed by “I. H.”— probably meaning, says Prince, John Humphrey. Humphrey, of