« PreviousContinue »
resting-place for the reformed church." This great man, speaking of the miseries of the exiles, while they had been under the English hierarchy, says, "The mountain of ice lying then upon them was now broken, by the opening of a retreat into a wilderness." Thus wrote that great observer of divine Providence, Dr. Mather, upon this flight of our fathers. He adds, "198 ships were employed in their passing the perils of the seas, in the accomplishment of this renowned settlement; and but one miscarried."
An early writer in New-England says, the charter obtained by the pilgrims here, soon after their arrival, seems to say to the pious in old lands, "Desert your seats; flee your country!" And concerning the many who did thus, he says, "Gentlemen of ancient and most honourable families, ministers of the gospel, merchants, artificers, and husbandmen, to the amount of some thousands, for twelve years, carried on the transplantation." "And it was a banishment," he adds, " rather than a removal."
To men of education, and of property, it was afflictive. Their hazard was of an extraordinary nature. And nothing less than a strange and strong impression from Heaven could have produced such movements. God seemed to have served a summons upon the spirits of these his people in England, stirring up thousands, who had never seen each other, with a most unanimous inclination to leave all the pleasant accommodations of their native land, and to pass a terrible ocean, into a more terrible desert, for the pure enjoyment of divine ordi
*In Dwight's Travels, we have the following, in his remarks on Plymouth, and the pilgrims: "When I call to mind the history of their sufferings on both sides of the Atlantic; when I remember their pre-eminent patience; their unspotted piety; their immoveable fortitude; their undaunted resolution; their love to each other; their justice and humanity to the savages; and their freedom from all those stains which elsewhere have spotted the character even of companions in affliction; I cannot but view those illustrious brothers, as claiming the veneration of all their posterity. The institutions, civil, literary, and religious, by which New-England is distinguished, here began. Here the manner of holding lands in free socage, now universal in this country, commenced. Here the right of suffrage was imparted to every citizen, not dis
8. Let the language of the pilgrims themselves be heard in testimony. Stating the reasons of their flight to America, they say, "It will be a service to the church, of great consequence, to carry the gospel into those parts of the world, and raise a bulwark against the kingdom of Antichrist, which the Jesuits labour to raise up in all parts of the world. All other churches in Europe have been brought under desolation. And it may be feared, that the like judgment is coming upon us. And who knows but God has provided America to be a refuge for many, whom he means to save from the general destruction? The whole earth is the Lord's garden, given to be tilled and improved. Why then should we stand starving here? Why should we suffer whole regions to lie waste? What can be a nobler work, than to erect and support a reformed church? If any, known to be godly, who are rich and prosperous, should unite with this reformed church at the hazard that must attend; the example would be of vast benefit, and would add vigor to faith and prayer in behalf of the new and remote plantation." Thus ample is the evidence, that this flight of the pilgrim fathers fulfilled the prediction in our text.
This transportation is noted, in the text, as being on "two wings of a great eagle." God said to Israel, relative to their flight from Egypt to Canaan; "I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself." Exod. xix. 4. This proverbial speech might arise from the fact, that eagles are said to bear their young on their wings just before they are able themselves to fly. And hence arose the promise, Isa. xl. 31; "They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles !"*
qualified by poverty and vice. Here was formed the first establishment of the local legislature called town meetings, and of the peculiar town executive, styled the select-men. Here the first parochial school was set up, and the system for communicating to every child in the community the knowledge of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Here was the first building (in our country) erected for the public worship of God. The first religious assembly of New England, was here gathered; and the first minister called and settled by the voice of the church and congregation. On these simple foundations has since been erected our structure of good order, peace, liberty, knowledge, morals and religion."
* If it be true, as is attempted to be shown in my view of the Hebrews, that the address of the prophet Isaiah, in chapter xviii., is to
As there is a beauty and strength in the figure of God's bearing Israel on wings of eagles, in their transit from Egypt to Canaan; there is no less beauty in the applica tion of it to our pilgrim fathers. And their being planted in this land may be viewed as having a special interest in the following sublime passage, alluding primarily to Israel, as planted in Canaan; but ultimately to us, in our pilgrim fathers: "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt; thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it; thou preparedst room before it; and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it; and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea; and her branches unto the rivers." The pious in our states may read this passage with the same interest as did ancient Israel. It may be viewed as having been no less really fulfilled in our case (as to the peopling of this new world) than in theirs.
Such is the evidence that our first settlement of NewEngland was in fulfilment of that second flight of the woman, in the Revelation.
Great, then, is our debt of gratitude to God, which should be most deeply felt by the descendants of the pilgrims. Such rich blessings call loudly for equal improvement and praise. What other people on earth are under so great the good people of our United States "Ho, land shadowing with wings, &c."-this prophecy may reflect light on the "two wings of a great eagle," in our text. The appellation of "land shadowing with wings," may allude to the figure of our continent; or to the protecting form of our government, or both. The figure of North and South America is like the two wings of a great eagle; as the map of them will show. And the form of our government, as well as our distance from the tyrannies of old lands, may well suggest the two wings of a great eagle, as our most fit national emblem, or coat-of-arms.
The following sentiment has been expressed upon the floor of Congress, as well as felt in the civilized world; "Our government was the first successful effort among men to establish rational liberty. Our fathers instituted, upon the broad principles of equity, the system of equal representation; trial by jury; freedom of speech; freedom of the press; and religious toleration. And, to this hour, the system stands a proud example to the world, unpassed, unequalled. As ours was the first, so it may be the last hope of civil liberty. No other considerable place remains on the globe where a second effort can be made under like auspices."-(Committee of Congress.)
obligations to God? Surely, then, they ought to attempt, by prayers, alms, and all their talents and influence, great things in behalf of the kingdom of the Redeemer. Great things are to be accomplished for the conversion of the world. And great should be the zeal, piety, faithfulness, and perseverance of the seed of the woman here, to have a most exalted agency in the great work of salvation at this momentous period. The people of God here,-being exalted to heaven in privileges, should, in heart, tongue, and life, utter this song, sung in our context upon the Reformation: "Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the glory of his Christ." If this song befitted the Protestants three hundred years ago: it as well befits the present children of the pilgrims, borne hither, as on the wings of a great eagle, by divine grace. The church in our nation is indeed as a city set on ahill ;a standard high upon a mountain, that overlooks the world. It is a light to shine to the ends of the earth. May its rays fall propitious, not only upon the remote heathen world, but upon the remnant of the natives of our continent; and upon the ignorant and wretched among ourselves. May it thus prove a fact, that we are destined to hold a high rank among the means of converting the world. Let this be our motto, "Arise, and build; and the Lord be with thee." May our agency bear as conspicuous a part in the introduction of the Millennium, as our origin (in the text) has done among the wonder of the last days,
Ver. 15. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
When the dragon saw that the woman was thus safely conveyed to her new and distant retreat, he with new rage commenced furious efforts of opposition. He no doubt clearly perceived that the influence of her civil and religious institutions would not only fill her own vast region, but also would endanger his kingdom of popery and despotism in old lands, and even his dominion of the vast pagan world. Something, the devil now saw, must be done to prevent this; or all was lost.
There was now therefore produced in his infernal courts that masterpiece of infidelity, first known to the world under the name of Illuminism. This was an improvement made upon the code of the Jesuits, which had been the vast annoyance of the Protestant cause, till the Jesuits were banished from the courts of Europe, as a murderous band. This new system of boasted philosophy was conceived and brought into operation by Voltaire, the noted infidel philosopher of France, who combined in this impious design a group of infidel philosophers, and a number of crowned heads in Europe. His first and sworn object was the destruction of the Christian religion. His scheme, after it was conceived and brought into operation, was improved and brought to a kind of perfection by the celebrated Wheishaupt, of Germany, as a system of light. And it was propagated and carried into effect in those despotic countries under the cover of speculative masonry.
This new system was by far the most subtle, deep, and efficient of any which ever was devised among men; and it