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- Anne Bradstreet and Her Time - 50/59 -
that which might be so many steps to draw men to God in consideration of his bounty towards them, but have driven them the further from him, that they are ready to say, we are lords, we will come no more at thee. If outward blessings be not as wings to help us mount upwards, they will Certainly prove Clogs and waights that will pull us lower downward.
All the Comforts of this life may be compared to the gourd of Jonah, that notwithstanding we take great delight for a season in them, and find their Shadow very comfortable, yet their is some worm or other of discontent, of feare, or greife that lyes at root, which in great part withers the pleasure which else we should take in them; and well it is that we perceive a decay in their greennes, for were earthly comforts permanent, who would look for heavenly?
All men are truly sayd to be tenants at will, and it may as truly be sayd, that all have a lease of their lives--some longer, some shorter--as it pleases our great landlord to let. All have their bounds set, over which they cannot passe, and till the expiration of that time, no dangers, no sicknes, no paines nor troubles, shall put a period to our dayes; the certainty that that time will come, together with the uncertainty how, where, and when, should make us so to number our days as to apply our hearts to wisedome, that when wee are put out of these houses of clay, we may be sure of an everlasting habitation that fades not away.
All weak and diseased bodys have hourly mementos of their mortality. But the soundest of men have likewise their nightly monitor by the embleam of death, which is their sleep (for so is death often called), and not only their death, but their grave is lively represented before their eyes, by beholding their bed; the morning may mind them of the resurrection; and the sun approaching, of the appearing of the sun of righteousnes, at whose comeing they shall all rise out of their beds, the long night shall fly away, and the day of eternity shall never end: seeing these things must be, what manner of persons ought we to be, in all good conversation?
As the brands of a fire, if once feverered, will of themselves goe out, altho you use no other meanes to extinguish them, so distance of place, together with length of time (if there be no intercourse) will cool the affectiones of intimate friends, though tjere should be no displeasance between them.
A Good name is as a precious oyntment, and it is a great favor to have a good repute among good men; yet it is not that which Commends us to God, for by his ballance we must be weighed, and by his Judgment we must be tryed, and, as he passes the sentence, So shall we stand.
Well doth the Apostle call riches deceitfull riches, and they may truely be compared to deceitfull friends who speake faire, and promise much, but perform nothing, and so leave those in the lurch that most relyed on them: so is it with the wealth, honours, and pleasures of this world, which miserably delude men, and make them put great confidence in them, but when death threatens, and distresse lays hold upon them, they prove like the reeds of Egipt that peirce instead of supporting, like empty wells in the time of drought, that those that go to finde water in them, return with their empty pitchers ashamed.
It is admirable to consider the power of faith, by which all things are (almost) possible to be done; it can remove mountaines (if need were) it hath stayd the course of the sun, raised the dead, cast out divels, reversed the order of nature, quenched the violence of the fire, made the water become firme footing for Peter to walk on; nay more than all these, it hath overcome the Omnipotent himself, as when Moses intercedes for the people, God sath to him, let me alone that I may destroy them, as if Moses had been able, by the hand of faith, to hold the everlasting arms of the mighty God of Jacob; yea, Jacob himself, when he wrestled with God face to face in Peniel: let me go! sath that Angell. I will not let thee go, replys Jacob, till thou blesse me, faith is not only thus potent, but it is so necessary that without faith there is no salvation, therefore, with all our seekings and gettings, let us above all seek to obtain this pearle of prise.
Some Christians do by their lusts and Corruptions as the Isralits did by the Canaanites, not destroy them, but put them under tribute, for that they could do (as they thought) with lesse hazard, and more profit; but what was the Issue? They became a snare unto them, prickes in their eyes, and thornes in their sides, and at last overcame them, and kept them under slavery; so it is most certain that those that are disobedient to the Commandment of God, and endeavour not to the utmost to drive out all their accursed inmates, but make a league with them, they shall at last fall into perpetuall bondage under them, unlesse the great deliverer, Christ Jesus come to their rescue.
God hath by his providence so ordered, that no one country hath all Commoditys within itself, but what it wants, another shall supply, that so there may be a mutuall Commerce through the world. As it is with countrys so it is with men, there was never yet any one man that had all excellences, let his parts, naturall and acquired, spirituall and morall, be never so large, yet he stands in need of something which another man hath, (perhaps meaner than himself,) which shows us perfection is not below, as also, that God will have us beholden one to another.
THE PURITAN REIGN OF TERROR.
The ten years which followed the death of Governor Winthrop early in 1649, were years of steady outward prosperity, yet causes were at work, which gradually complicated the political situation and prepared the necessity for the explanation which the mother country at last peremptorily demanded, Simon Bradstreet being selected as one of the men most capable of suitable reply. So long as Winthrop lived, his even and sagacious course hindered many complications which every circumstance fostered. Even in the fierce dissensions over Anne Hutchinson and her theories, he had still been able to retain the personal friendship of those whom as a magistrate he had most severely judged. Wheelwright and Coddington, who had suffered many losses; Sir Harry Vane, who had returned to England sore and deeply indignant at the colonial action; Clark and Williams, bitter as they might be against Massachusetts principles, had only affection for the gracious and humane governor, who gave himself as freely as he gave his fortune, and whose theories, however impracticable they may at times have seemed, have all justified themselves in later years. Through the early privations and the attempts of some to escape the obligations laid upon them, by the mere fact of having come together to the unknown country, he set his face steadily against all division, and there is no more characteristic passage in his Journal than that in which he gives the reasons which should bind them to common and united action. Various disaffected and uneasy souls had wandered off to other points, and Winthrop gives the results, at first quietly and judicially, but rising at the close to a noble indignation.
"Others who went to other places, upon like grounds, succeeded no better. They fled for fear of want, and many of them fell into it, even to extremity, as if they had hastened into the misery which they feared and fled from, besides the depriving themselves of the ordinances and church fellowship, and those civil liberties which they enjoyed here; whereas, such as staid in their places kept their peace and ease, and enjoyed still the blessing of the ordinances, and never tasted of those troubles and miseries, which they heard to have befallen those who departed. Much disputation there was about liberty of removing for outward advantages, and all ways were sought for an open door to get out at; but it is to be feared many crept out at a broken wall. For such as come together into a wilderness, where are nothing but wild beasts and beast-like men, and there confederate together in civil and church estate, whereby they do, implicitly at least, bind themselves to support each other, and all of them that society, whether civil or sacred, whereof they are members, how they can break from this without free consent, is hard to find, so as may satisfy a tender or good conscience in time of trial. Ask thy conscience, if thou wouldst have plucked up thy stakes, and brought thy family 3000 miles, if thou hadst expected that all, or most, would have forsaken thee there. Ask again, what liberty thou hast towards others, which thou likest not to allow others towards thyself; for if one may go, another may, and so the greater part, and so church and commonwealth may be left destitute in a wilderness, exposed to misery and reproach, and all for thy ease and pleasure, whereas these all, being now thy brethren, as near to thee as the Israelites were to Moses, it were much safer for thee after his example, to choose rather to suffer affliction with thy brethren than to enlarge thy ease and pleasure by furthering the occasion of their ruin."
What he demanded of others he gave freely himself, and no long time was required to prove to all, that union was their only salvation.
He had lived to see the spirit of co-operation active in many ways. Churches were quietly doing their work with as little wrangling over small doctrinal differences as could be expected from an age in which wrangling was the chief symptom of vitality. Education had settled upon a basis it has always retained, that of "universal knowledge at the public cost"; the College was doing its work so effectually that students came from England itself to share in her privileges, and justice gave as impartial and even- handed results as conscientious magistrates knew how to furnish. The strenuous needs and sacrifices of the early days were over. A
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