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There is no doubt a great overruling power in all human affairs : but our concern is with second causes, and it is to be believed that we often deceive ourselves when we attempt to recover general principles from which things remarkable in the acts of men have arisen. 15 In this instance we should probably be nearest to
the truth if we attributed this strong Accident of several Puri- Puritan feeling chiefly to the apparently tan ministers
accidental circumstance of the residence in
vo. Basset- Lawe, and the parts immediately contiguous, of several clergymen whose private studies had led them to take extreme views, and who, by a zealous, and perhaps eloquent style of address, had acquired a great influence over the many around them: and this influence became the stronger in consequence of the measures of severity by which the authorities in the church sought to arrest the impending schism. If a simple, honest, and religious mind finds itself beneficially wrought upon by any ministry,
15 Worksop one of the few market towns of Basset-Lawe, and within a short distance of Scrooby, had been visited in the very early days of the Reformation by a Dutchman named Van Baller, who preached to the people the doctrines of Luther, in the Priory church or under the shadow of its walls.
it is hard to convince it that the mouth of the minister ought to be closed, and that he should be cast out to waste himself in silence and indigence: and so it is that religious persecution usually defeats its own purpose, and so it seems to have been in the present instance. Bradford, one of the most strenuous members of the Scrooby Church, puts it thus :-“When, by the travail and diligence of some godly Bradford's
account of the and zealous preachers, and God's blessing state of reli
gious feeling on their labours, as in other places of the about Scrooby land, so in the north part, many became enlightened by the word of God, and had their ignorance and sins discovered by the word of God's grace, and began, by his grace, to reform their lives, and make conscience of their ways, the work of God was no sooner manifest in them, but presently they were both scoffed and scorned by the profane multitude, and the ministers urged with the yoke of subscription, or else must be silenced; and the poor people were so urged with apparitors, and pursuivants, and the Commission Courts, as truly their affliction was not small. Which, notwithstanding, they bare sundry years with much patience, until they were occasioned, by the continuance and increase of these troubles, and other means
which the Lord raised up in those days, to see further into these things by the light of the word of God; how that not only those base, beggarly ceremonies were unlawful, but also that the lordly tyrannous power of the prelates ought not to be submitted to, which those, contrary to the freedom of the Gospel, would load and burden men's consciences with, and by their compulsive power make a profane mixture of persons and things in the worship of God; and that their offices and callings, courts and canons, &c., were unlawful and anti-Christian, being such as have no warrant in the word of God, but the same that were used in Popery and still retained. .... So many therefore of those professors as saw the evil of these things, in these parts, and whose hearts the Lord had touched with heavenly zeal for his truth, --and of the they shook off this yoke of anti-Christian to which it led. bondage, and as the Lord's free people, joined themselves, by a covenant of the Lord, into a church estate, in the fellowship of the Gospel, to walk in all his ways, made known, or to be made known unto them according to their best endeavours, whatsoever it should cost them.”16
16 Young, pp. 19-21.
This is the spirit in which Bradford a native of Austerfield, a village a few miles from His excellent Scrooby and an early member of the church, of knowledge. writes in all the historical tracts which we owe to him. We shall say more of him hereafter, but now it may be proper to observe, that no one understood better than he what the people had thought, and done, and suffered, while in England, or what was their condition while in Holland, and after they had become permanently settled on the American continent. He was the governor of the New Plymouth colony for many years17 while Brewster was the elder, but uniting in himself also the offices of pastor and teacher till a minister became settled among them. Their residence in Holland was for one year at Amsterdam, and eleven years at Leyden, whence they began to remove to America in 1620.
Governor Bradford, as I have before observed, too much avoids specialties in what he has Ministersnamed
by him as zeawritten, and perhaps he would have dis- Tous Puritans.
17 Not the first Governor, for Carver held the office for a short time, but after him with few intermissions every year till his death. Hence it is that when Bradford is spoken of it is as Governor Bradford, and when Brewster is named it is as Elder Brewster.
charged the duty of an historian better had he told us more. Two ministers he especially names as those who had the greatest influence in alienating men's minds from the church, and with less definiteness he speaks of . others concerning whom a few particulars will be found hereafter. There are also others not named by him who are to be classed with the ministerial fathers of Basset-Lawe nonconformity. The person whom Bradford places first among the
..., ministers, who was a separatist himself, John Smith.
and who made others separatists, is JOHN Smith, a name so general in England as almost to preclude the possibility of recovering any circumstance that can be said to belong to him without great chance of attributing to him what may belong to another. I add that I wish we had a person to deal with at this beginning of the nonconformist roll of ministers, on whom the mind could dwell in a more calm and discriminating approbation. Bradford's estimate of him is, that he was “ a man of able gifts and a good preacher,”18 and in another of his writings, the interesting and instructive “ Dialogue,” that “ he was an eminent man in his time, and a good preacher and of
18 Young, p. 22.