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John Winthrop,


A Modell of Christian Charity
John Winthrop
1630


Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society
(Boston, 1838), 3rd series 7:31-48.)


WRITTEN ON BOARD THE ARBELLA, ON THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.
[Page 33] By the Hon. John Winthrop Esqr. In his passage (with a great company
of Religious people, of which Christian tribes he was the Brave Leader and
famous Governor;) from the Island of Great Brittaine to New-England in the North
America. Anno 1630.

CHRISTIAN CHARITIE.

A Modell hereof.

GOD ALMIGHTY in his most holy and wise providence, hath soe disposed of the
condition of' mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some poore, some high
and eminent in power and dignitie; others mean and in submission.
The Reason hereof.

1 Reas. First to hold conformity with the rest of his world, being delighted to
show forth the glory of his wisdom in the variety and difference of the
creatures, and the glory of his power in ordering all these differences for the
preservation and good of the whole; and the glory of his greatness, that as it
is the glory of princes to have many officers, soe this great king will haue
many stewards, Counting himself more honoured in dispensing his gifts to man by
man, than if he did it by his owne immediate hands.

2 Reas. Secondly that he might haue the more occasion to manifest the work of
his Spirit: first upon the wicked in [Page 34] moderating and restraining them:
soe that the riche and mighty should not eate upp the poore nor the poore and
dispised rise upp against and shake off theire yoake. 2ly In the regenerate, in
exerciseing his graces in them, as in the grate ones, theire love, mercy,
gentleness, temperance &c., in the poore and inferior sorte, theire faithe,
patience, obedience &c.

3 Reas. Thirdly, that every man might have need of others, and from hence they
might be all knitt more nearly together in the Bonds of brotherly affection.
From hence it appears plainly that noe man is made more honourable than another
or more wealthy &c., out of any particular and singular respect to himselfe, but
for the glory of his creator and the common good of the creature, man. Therefore
God still reserves the propperty of these gifts to himself as Ezek. 16. 17. he
there calls wealthe, his gold and his silver, and Prov. 3. 9. he claims theire
service as his due, honor the Lord with thy riches &c.--All men being thus (by
divine providence) ranked into two sorts, riche and poore; under the first are
comprehended all such as are able to live comfortably by their own meanes duely
improved; and all others are poore according to the former distribution. There
are two rules whereby we are to walk one towards another: Justice and Mercy.
These are always distinguished in their act and in their object, yet may they
both concurre in the same subject in eache respect; as sometimes there may be an
occasion of showing mercy to a rich man in some sudden danger or distresse, and
alsoe doeing of meere justice to a poor man in regard of some perticular
contract &c. There is likewise a double Lawe by which wee are regulated in our
conversation towardes another; in both the former respects, the lawe of nature
and the lawe of grace, or the morrall lawe or the lawe of the gospell, to omitt
the rule of justice as not propperly belonging to this purpose otherwise than it
may fall into consideration in some perticular cases. By the first of these
lawes man as he was enabled soe withall is commanded to love his neighbour as
himself. Upon this ground stands all the precepts of the morrall lawe, which
concernes our dealings with men. To apply this to the works of mercy; this lawe
requires two things. First that every man afford his help to another in every
[Page 35] want or distresse. Secondly, that hee performe this out of the same
affection which makes him carefull of his owne goods, according to that of our
Savior, (Math.) Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you. This was
practised by Abraham and Lot in entertaining the angells and the old man of
Gibea. The lawe of Grace or of the Gospell hath some difference from the former;
as in these respects, First the lawe of nature was given to man in the estate of
innocency; this of the Gospell in the estate of regeneracy. 2ly, the former
propounds one man to another, as the same flesh and image of God; this as a
brother in Christ allsoe, and in the communion of the same Spirit, and soe
teacheth to put a difference between christians and others. Doe good to all,
especially to the household of faith; upon this ground the Israelites were to
putt a difference betweene the brethren of such as were strangers though not of
the Canaanites.

3ly. The Lawe of nature would give no rules for dealing with enemies, for all
are to be considered as friends in the state of innocency, but the Gospell
commands loue to an enemy. Proofe. If thine Enemy hunger, feed him; Love your
Enemies, doe good to them that hate you. Math. 5. 44.
This lawe of the Gospell propounds likewise a difference of seasons and
occasions. There is a time when a christian must sell all and give to the poor,
as they did in the Apostles times. There is a time allsoe when christians
(though they give not all yet) must give beyond their abillity, as they of
Macedonia, Cor. 2, 6. Likewise community of perills calls for extraordinary
liberality, and soe doth community in some speciall service for the churche.
Lastly, when there is no other means whereby our christian brother may be
relieved in his distress, we must help him beyond our ability rather than tempt
God in putting him upon help by miraculous or extraordinary meanes.
This duty of mercy is exercised in the kinds, Giueving, lending and forgiving.--

Quest. What rule shall a man observe in giueving in respect of the measure?
Ans. If the time and occasion be ordinary he is to giue out of his abundance.
Let him lay aside as God hath blessed him. If the time and occasion be
extraordinary, [Page 36] he must be ruled by them; taking this withall, that
then a man cannot likely doe too much, especially if he may leave himselfe and
his family under probable means of comfortable subsistence.
Object. A man must lay upp for posterity, the fathers lay upp for posterity and
children, and he is worse than an infidell that provideth not for his owne.
Ans. For the first, it is plaine that it being spoken by way of comparison, it
must be meant of the ordinary and usuall course of fathers, and cannot extend to
times and occasions extraordinary. For the other place the Apostle speaks
against such as walked inordinately, and it is without question, that he is
worse than an infidell who through his owne sloathe and voluptuousness shall
neglect to provide for his family.--

Object. The wise man's Eies are in his head, saith Solomon, and foreseeth the
plague; therefore he must forecast and lay upp against evill times when hee or
his may stand in need of all he can gather.

Ans. This very Argument Solomon useth to persuade to liberallity, Eccle.: Cast
thy bread upon the waters, and for thou knowest not what evill may come upon the
land. Luke 26. Make you friends of the riches of iniquity; you will ask how this
shall be? very well. For first he that giues to the poore, lends to the lord and
he will repay him even in this life an hundredfold to him or his.-- The
righteous is ever mercifull and lendeth and his seed enjoyeth the blessing; and
besides wee know what advantage it will be to us in the day of account when many
such witnesses shall stand forth for us to witnesse the improvement of our
tallent. And I would know of those whoe pleade soe much for laying up for time
to come, whether they holde that to be Gospell, Math. 16. 19. Lay not upp for
yourselves Treasures upon Earth &c. If they acknowledge it, what extent will
they allowe it? if only to those primitive times, let them consider the reason
whereopon our Saviour groundes it. The first is that they are subject to the
moathe, the rust, tbe theife. Secondly, They will steale away the hearte; where
the treasure is there will ye heart be allsoe. The reasons are of like force at
all times. Therefore the exhortation must be generall and perpetuall,
withallwayes in respect of the love and affection [Page 37] to riches and in
regard of the things themselves when any speciall seruice for the churche or
perticular Distresse of our brother doe call for the use of them; otherwise it
is not only lawfull but necessary to lay upp as Joseph did to haue ready uppon
such occasions, as the Lord (whose stewards wee are of them) shall call for them
from us; Christ giues us an Instance of the first, when hee sent his disciples
for the Ass, and bidds them answer the owner thus, the Lord hath need of him:
soe when the Tabernacle was to be built, he sends to his people to call for
their silver and gold, &c; and yeildes noe other reason but that it was for his
worke. When Elisha comes to the widow of Sareptah and findes her preparing to
make ready her pittance for herselfe and family, he bids her first provide for
him, he challengeth first God's parte which she must first give before shee must
serve her owne family. All these teache us that the Lord lookes that when hee is
pleased to call for his right in any thing wee haue, our owne interest wee haue,
must stand aside till his turne be served. For the other, wee need looke noe
further then to that of John 1. he whoe hath this world's goodes and seeth his
brother to neede and shutts upp his compassion from him, how dwelleth the loue
of God in him, which comes punctually to this conclusion; if thy brother be in
want and thou canst help him, thou needst not make doubt, what thou shouldst
doe; if thou louest God thou must help him.

Quest. What rule must wee observe in lending?

Ans. Thou must observe whether thy brother hath present or probable or possible
means of repaying thee, if there be none of those, thou must give him according
to his necessity, rather then lend him as he requires; if he hath present means
of repaying thee, thou art to look at him not as an act of mercy, but by way of
Commerce, wherein thou arte to walk by the rule of justice; but if his means of
repaying thee be only probable or possible, then is hee an object of thy mercy,
thou must lend him, though there be danger of losing it, Deut. 15. 7. If any of
thy brethren be poore &c., thou shalt lend him sufficient. That men might not
shift off this duty by the apparent hazzard, he tells them that though the yeare
of Jubile were at hand (when he must remitt it, if hee were not able to [Page
38] repay it before) yet he must lend him and that chearefully. It may not
greive thee to give him (saith hee) and because some might object, why soe I
should soone impoverishe myself and my family, he adds with all thy worke &c;
for our Saviour, Math. 5. 42. From him that would borrow of thee turne not away.

Quest. What rule must we observe in forgiuing?

Ans. Whether thou didst lend by way of commerce or in mercy, if he hath nothing
to pay thee, must forgive, (except in cause where thou hast a surety or a
lawfull pleadge) Deut. 15. 2. Every seaventh yeare the Creditor was to quitt
that which he lent to his brother if he were poore as appears ver. 8. Save when
there shall be no poore with thee. In all these and like cases, Christ was a
generall rule, Math. 7. 22. Whatsoever ye would that men should doe to you, doe
yee the same to them allsoe.

Quest. What rule must wee observe and walke by in cause of community of perill?
Ans. The same as before, but with more enlargement towards others and lesse
respect towards ourselves and our owne right. Hence it was that in the primitive
Churche they sold all, had all things in common, neither did any man say that
which he possessed was his owne. Likewise in theire returne out of the
captivity, because the worke was greate for the restoring of the church and the
danger of enemies was common to all, Nehemiah directs the Jews to liberallity
and readiness in remitting theire debts to theire brethren, and disposing
liberally to such as wanted, and stand not upon their owne dues which they might
have demanded of them. Thus did some of our Forefathers in times of persecution
in England, and soe did many of the faithful of other churches, whereof wee
keepe an honorable remembrance of them; and it is to be observed that both in
Scriptures and latter stories of the churches that such as have beene most
bountifull to the poore saintes, especially in those extraordinary times and
occasions, God hath left them highly commended to posterity, as Zacheus,
Cornelius, Dorcas, Bishop Hooper, the Cuttler of Brussells and divers others.
Observe againe that the Scripture gives noe caussion to restraine any from being
over liberall this way; but all men to the liberall and cherefull practise
hereof by the sweeter promises; as [Page 39] to instance one for many, Isaiah
58. 6. Is not this the fast I have chosen to loose the bonds of wickedness, to
take off the heavy burdens, to lett the oppressed go free and to breake every
yoake, to deale thy bread to the hungry and to bring the poore that wander into
thy house, when thou seest the naked to cover them; and then shall thy light
brake forth as the morning and thy healthe shall growe speedily, thy
righteousness shall goe before God, and the glory of the Lord shalt embrace
thee; then thou shall call and the Lord shall answer thee &c., Ch. 2. 10. If
thou power out thy soule to the hungry, then shall thy light spring out in
darkness, and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfie thy soule in
draught, and make falt thy bones, thou shalt be like a watered garden, and they
shalt be of thee that shall build the old wast places &c. On the contrary most
heavy cursses are layed upon such as are straightened towards the Lord and his
people, Judg. 5. Cursse the Meroshe because he came not to help the Lord. Hee
whoe shutteth his eares from hearing the cry of the poore, he shall cry and
shall not be heard; Math. 25. Goe ye curssed into everlasting fire &c. I was
hungry and ye fedd mee not, Cor. 2. 9. 16. He that soweth sparingly shall reape
sparingly. Haveing already sett forth the practice of mercy according to the
rule of God's lawe, it will be useful to lay open the groundes of it allsoe,
being the other parte of the Commandment and that is the affection from which
this exercise of mercy must arise, the Apostle tells us that this love is the
fullfilling of the lawe, not that it is enough to loue our brother and soe noe
further; but in regard of the excellency of his partes giueing any motion to the
other as the soule to the body and the power it hath to sett all the faculties
on worke in the outward exercise of this duty; as when wee bid one make the
clocke strike, he doth not lay hand on the hammer, which is the immediate
instrument of the sound, but setts on worke the first mouer or maine wheele;
knoweing that will certainely produce the sound which he intends. Soe the way to
drawe men to the workes of mercy, is not by force of Argument from the goodness
or necessity of the worke; for though this cause may enforce, a rationall minde
to some present act of mercy, as is frequent in experience, yet it cannot worke
such a habit in [Page 40] a soule, as shall make it prompt upon all occasions to
produce the same effect, but by frameing these affections of loue in the hearte
which will as naturally bring forthe the other, as any cause doth produce the
effect.

The deffinition which the Scripture giues us of loue is this. Love is the bond
of perfection, first it is a bond or ligament. 2ly it makes the worke perfect.
There is noe body but consists of partes and that which knitts these partes
together, giues the body its perfection, because it makes eache parte soe
contiguous to others as thereby they doe mutually participate with each other,
both in strengthe and infirmity, in pleasure and paine. To instance in the most
perfect of all bodies; Christ and his Church make one body; the severall partes
of this body considered a parte before they were united, were as
disproportionate and as much disordering as soe many contrary quallities or
elements, but when Christ comes, and by his spirit and loue knitts all these
partes to himselfe and each to other, it is become the most perfect and best
proportioned body in the world, Eph. 4. 16. Christ, by whome all the body being
knitt together by every joint for the furniture thereof, according to the
effectuall power which is in the measure of every perfection of partes, a
glorious body without spott or wrinkle; the ligaments hereof being Christ, or
his love, for Christ is love, 1 John 4. 8. Soe this definition is right. Love is
the bond of perfection.

[Page 40] From hence we may frame these conclusions. 1. First of all, true
Christians are of one body in Christ, 1 Cor. 12. 12. 13. 17. Ye are the body of
Christ and members of their parte. All the partes of this body being thus vnited
are made soe contiguous in a speciall relation as they must needes partake of
each other's strength and infirmity; joy and sorrowe, weale and woe. 1 Cor. 12.
26. If one member suffers, all suffer with it, if one be in honor, all rejoyce
with it. 2ly. The ligaments of this body which knitt together are loue. 3ly. Noe
body can be perfect which wants its proper ligament. 5ly. This sensibleness and
sympathy of each other's conditions will necessarily infuse into each parte a
native desire and endeavour, to strengthen, defend, preserve and comfort the
other. To insist a little on this conclusion being the product of all the
former, the truthe hereof will appeare both by precept [Page 41] and patterne. 1
John 3. 10. Yee ought to lay doune your lives for the brethren. Gal. 6. 2. beare
ye one another's burthen's and soe fulfill the lawe of Christ. For patterns wee
haue that first of our Saviour whoe out of his good will in obedience to his
father, becomeing a parte of this body and being knitt with it in the bond of
loue, found such a natiue sensibleness of our infirmities and sorrowes as he
willingly yielded himselfe to deathe to ease the infirmities of the rest of his
body, and soe healed theire sorrowes. From the like sympathy of partes did the
Apostles and many thousands of the Saintes lay doune theire lives for Christ.
Againe the like wee may see in the members of this body among themselves. 1 Rom.
9. Paule could have been contented to have been separated from Christ, that the
Jewes might not be cutt off from the body. It is very observable what hee
professeth of his affectionate partaking with every member; whoe is weake (saith
hee) and I am not weake? whoe is offended and I burne not; and againe, 2 Cor. 7.
13. therefore wee are comforted because yee were comforted. Of Epaphroditus he
speaketh, Phil. 2. 30. that he regarded not his owne life to do him service. Soe
Phebe and others are called the servants of the churche. Now it is apparent that
they served not for wages, or by constrainte, but out of loue. The like we shall
finde in the histories of the churche, in all ages; the sweete sympathie of
affections which was in the members of this body one towards another; theire
chearfullness in serueing and suffering together; how liberall they were without
repineing, harbourers without grudgeing, and helpfull without reproaching; and
all from hence, because they had feruent loue amongst them; which onely makes
the practise of mercy constant and easie.

The next consideration is how this loue comes to be wrought. Adam in his first
estate was a perfect modell of mankinde in all their generations, and in him
this loue was perfected in regard of the habit. But Adam, rent himselfe from his
Creator, rent all his posterity allsoe one from another; whence it comes that
every man is borne with this principle in him to loue and seeke himselfe onely,
and thus a man continueth till Christ comes and takes possession of the soule
and infuseth another principle, loue to God and our brother, and this latter
haueing continuall [Page 42] supply from Christ, as the head and roote by which
he is vnited, gets the predomining in the soule, soe by little and little
expells the former. 1 John 4. 7. loue cometh of God and every one that loueth is
borne of God, soe that this loue is the fruite of the new birthe, and none can
have it but the new creature. Now when this quallity is thus formed in the
soules of men, it workes like the Spirit upon the drie bones. Ezek. 39. bone
came to bone. It gathers together the scattered bones, or perfect old man Adam,
and knitts them into one body againe in Christ, whereby a man is become againe a
living soule.

The third consideration is concerning the exercise of this loue, which is
twofold, inward or outward. The outward hath beene handled in the former preface
of this discourse. From unfolding the other wee must take in our way that maxime
of philosophy. Simile simili gaudet, or like will to like; for as of things
which are turned with disaffection to eache other, the ground of it is from a
dissimilitude or ariseing from the contrary or different nature of the things
themselves; for the ground of loue is an apprehension of some resemblance in the
things loued to that which affects it. This is the cause why the Lord loues the
creature, soe farre as it hathe any of his Image in it; he loues his elect
because they are like himselfe, he beholds them in his beloued sonne. So a
mother loues her childe, because shee throughly conceives a resemblance of
herselfe in it. Thus it is betweene the members of Christ; eache discernes, by
the worke of the Spirit, his oune Image and resemblance in another, and
therefore cannot but loue him as he loues himself. Now when the soule, which is
of a sociable nature, findes anything like to itselfe, it is like Adam when Eve
was brought to him. She must be one with himselfe. This is flesh of my flesh
(saith he) and bone of my bone. Soe the soule conceives a greate delighte in it;
therefore shee desires nearness and familiarity with it. Shee hath a greate
propensity to doe it good and receiues such content in it, as fearing the
miscarriage of her beloved, shee bestowes it in the inmost closett of her heart.
Shee will not endure that it shall want any good which shee can giue it. If by
occasion shee be withdrawne from the company of it, shee is still looking
towardes the place where shee left her beloved. If shee heard it groane, shee
[Page 43] is with it presently. If shee finde it sadd and disconsolate, shee
sighes and moanes with it. Shee hath noe such joy as to see her beloved merry
and thriving. If shee see it wronged, shee cannot hear it without passion. Shee
setts noe boundes to her affections, nor hath any thought of reward. Shee findes
recompense enough in the exercise of her loue towardes it. Wee may see this
acted to life in Jonathan and David. Jonathan a valiant man endued with the
spirit of love, soe soone as he discovered the same spirit in David had
presently his hearte knitt to him by this ligament of loue; soe that it is said
he loued him as his owne soule, he takes soe great pleasure in him, that hee
stripps himselfe to adorne his beloved. His father's kingdome was not soe
precious to him as his beloved David, David shall haue it with all his hearte.
Himself desires noe more but that hee may be neare to him to rejoyce in his
good. Hee chooseth to converse with him in the wildernesse even to the hazzard
of his oune life, rather than with the greate Courtiers in his father's Pallace.
When hee sees danger towards him, hee spares neither rare paines nor perill to
direct it. When injury was offered his beloued David, hee would not beare it,
though from his oune father. And when they must parte for a season onely, they
thought theire heartes would have broake for sorrowe, had not theire affections
found vent by abundance of teares. Other instances might be brought to showe the
nature of this affection; as of Ruthe and Naomi, and many others; but this
truthe is cleared enough. If any shall object that it is not possible that loue
shall he bred or upheld without hope of requitall, it is graunted; but that is
not our cause; for this loue is alluayes vnder reward. It never giues, but it
alluayes receives with advantage; First in regard that among the members of the
same body, loue and affection are reciprocall in a most equall and sweete kinde
of cornmerce.

2nly. In regard of the pleasure and content that the exercise of loue carries
with it, as wee may see in the naturall body. The mouth is at all the paines to
receive and mince the foode which serves for the nourishment of all the other
partes of the body; yet it hath noe cause to complaine; for first the other
partes send backe, by severall passages, a due proportion of the same
nourishment, in a better forme [Page 44] for the strengthening and comforting
the mouthe. 2ly the laboure of the mouthe is accompanied with such pleasure and
content as farre exceedes the paines it takes. Soe is it in all the labour of
love among Christians. The partie louing, reapes loue again, as was showed
before, which the soule covetts more then all the wealthe in the world. 3ly.
Nothing yeildes more pleasure and content to the soule then when it findes that
which it may loue fervently; for to love and live beloved is the soule's
paradise both here and in heaven. In the State of wedlock there be many comforts
to learne out of the troubles of that Condition; but let such as have tryed the
most, say if there be any sweetness in that Condition comparable to the exercise
of mutuall loue.

From the former Considerations arise these Conclusions.--1. First, This loue
among Christians is a reall thing, not imaginarie. 2ly. This loue is as
absolutely necessary to the being of the body of Christ, as the sinews and other
ligaments of a naturall body are to the being of that body. 3ly. This loue is a
divine, spirituall, nature; free, active, strong, couragious, permanent;
undervaluing all things beneathe its propper object and of all the graces, this
makes us nearer to resemble the virtues of our heavenly father. 4thly It rests
in the loue and wellfare of its beloued. For the full certain knowledge of those
truthes concerning the nature, use, and excellency of this grace, that which the
holy ghost hath left recorded, 1 Cor. 13, may give full satisfaction, which is
needful for every true member of this louely body of the Lord Jesus, to worke
upon theire heartes by prayer, meditation continuall exercise at least of the
speciall [influence] of this grace, till Christ be formed in them and they in
him, all in eache other, knitt together by this bond of loue.

It rests now to make some application of this discourse, by the present designe,
which gaue the occasion of writing of it. Herein are 4 things to he propounded;
first the persons, 2ly the worke, 3ly the end, 4thly the meanes. 1. For the
persons. Wee are a company professing ourselves fellow members of Christ, in
which respect onely though wee were absent from each other many miles, and had
our imployments as farre distant, yet wee ought to account ourselves knitt
together by this bond of loue, and, [Page 45] live in the exercise of it, if wee
would have comforte of our being in Christ. This was notorious in the practise
of the Christians in former times; as is testified of the Waldenses, from the
mouth of one of the adversaries Aeneas Sylvius "mutuo ament pere antequam
norunt," they use to loue any of theire owne religion even before they were
acquainted with them. 2nly for the worke wee have in hand. It is by a mutuall
consent, through a speciall overvaluing providence and a more than an ordinary
approbation of the Churches of Christ, to seeke out a place of cohabitation and
Consorteshipp under a due forme of Government both ciuill and ecclesiasticall.
In such cases as this, the care of the publique must oversway all private
respects, by which, not only conscience, but meare civill pollicy, dothe binde
us. For it is a true rule that particular Estates cannot subsist in the ruin of
the publique. 3ly The end is to improve our lives to doe more service to the
Lord; the comforte and encrease of the body of Christe, whereof we are members;
that ourselves and posterity may be the better preserved from the common
corruptions of this evill world, to serve the Lord and worke out our Salvation
under the power and purity of his holy ordinances. 4thly for the meanes whereby
this must be effected. They are twofold, a conformity with the worke and end wee
aime at. These wee see are extraordinary, therefore wee must not content
ourselves with usuall ordinary meanes. Whatsoever wee did, or ought to have,
done, when wee liued in England, the same must wee doe, and more allsoe, where
wee goe. That which the most in theire churches mainetaine as truthe in
profession onely, wee must bring into familiar and constant practise; as in this
duty of loue, wee must loue brotherly without dissimulation, wee must loue one
another with a pure hearte fervently. Wee must beare one anothers burthens. We
must not looke onely on our owne things, but allsoe on the things of our
brethren. Neither must wee thinke that the Lord will beare with such faileings
at our hands as he dothe from those among whome wee have lived; and that for
these 3 Reasons; 1. In regard of the more neare bond of mariage between him and
us, wherein hee hath taken us to be his, after a most [Page 46] strickt and
peculiar manner, which will make them the more jealous of our loue and
obedience. Soe he tells the people of Israell, you onely have I knowne of all
the families of the Earthe, therefore will I punishe you for your
Transgressions. 2ly, because the Lord will be sanctified in them that come neare
him. We know that there were many that corrupted the service of the Lord; some
setting upp altars before his owne; others offering both strange fire and
strange sacrifices allsoe; yet there came noe fire from heaven, or other sudden
judgement upon them, as did upon Nadab and Abihu, whoe yet wee may think did not
sinne presumptuously. 31y When God gives a speciall commission he lookes to have
it strictly observed in every article; When he gave Saule a commission to
destroy Amaleck, Hee indented with him upon certain articles, and because hee
failed in one of the least, and that upon a faire pretense, it lost him the
kingdom, which should have beene his reward, if hee had observed his commission.
Thus stands the cause betweene God and us. We are entered into Covenant with Him
for this worke. Wee haue taken out a commission. The Lord hath given us leave to
drawe our own articles. Wee haue professed to enterprise these and those
accounts, upon these and those ends. Wee have hereupon besought Him of favour
and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to heare us, and bring us in peace to
the place we desire, then hath hee ratified this covenant and sealed our
Commission, and will expect a strict performance of the articles contained in
it; but if wee shall neglect the observation of these articles which are the
ends wee have propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace
this present world and prosecute our carnall intentions, seeking greate things
for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely breake out in wrathe
against us; be revenged of such a [sinful] people and make us knowe the price of
the breache of such a covenant.

Now the onely way to avoyde this shipwracke, and to provide for our posterity,
is to followe the counsell of Micah, to doe justly, to love mercy, to walk
humbly with our God. For this end, wee must be knitt together, in this worke, as
one man. Wee must entertaine each other in brotherly [Page 47] affection. Wee
must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the supply of
other's necessities. Wee must uphold a familiar commerce together in all
meekeness, gentlenes, patience and liberality. Wee must delight in eache other;
make other's conditions our oune; rejoice together, mourne together, labour and
suffer together, allwayes haueving before our eyes our commission and community
in the worke, as members of the same body. Soe shall wee keepe the unitie of the
spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell
among us, as his oune people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our
wayes. Soe that wee shall see much more of his wisdome, power, goodness and
truthe, than formerly wee haue been acquainted with. Wee shall finde that the
God of Israell is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of
our enemies; when hee shall make us a prayse and glory that men shall say of
succeeding plantations, "the Lord make it likely that of New England." For wee
must consider that wee shall be as a citty upon a hill. The eies of all people
are uppon us. Soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our God in this worke wee
haue undertaken, and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee
shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. Wee shall open the
mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of God, and all professors for
God's sake. Wee shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and
cause theire prayers to be turned into curses upon us till wee be consumed out
of the good land whither wee are a goeing.

I shall shutt upp this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithfull
servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israell, Deut. 30. Beloued there is
now sett before us life and good, Death and evill, in that wee are commanded
this day to loue the Lord our God, and to loue one another, to walke in his
wayes and to keepe his Commandements and his Ordinance and his lawes, and the
articles of our Covenant with him, that wee may liue and be multiplied, and that
the Lord our God may blesse us in the land whither wee goe to possesse it. But
if our heartes shall turne away, soe that wee will not obey, but shall be
seduced, and worshipp and serue other Gods, our pleasure and proffitts, and
serue them; it is [Page 48] propounded unto us this day, wee shall surely
perishe out of the good land whither wee passe over this vast sea to possesse
it;

Therefore lett us choose life
that wee, and our seede
may liue, by obeyeing His
voyce and cleaveing to Him,
for Hee is our life and
our prosperity.







 

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