The United Colonies of New England, 1643-90

By Harry M. Ward | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XVI
A Legacy for America

The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the noon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.

Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.

A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time.1

Several generations had passed since the Children of Israel came to the rocky shores of the new Canaan. Through hardship and peril they had hewn a home out of the wilderness. The Lord had blessed them: He had led them to the Promised Land; in time of want He had given them succor; and He had delivered their enemies into their hands. To the New England Union of their fathers they owed the preservation of their lives, liberty, and their institutions. Harken then unto the glad tidings of Zion!

As the prophet of old spoke of the rising of a "strong nation" from small beginnings, so has been the lesson of history. The early settlers of New England came to the New World to escape persecution and to build for themselves a new home in the land of milk and honey. For the most part they were not disappointed; the opportunities for fisheries, trade, and abundant lands were there for the asking. Like the early Israelites they could now worship together as they had longed to do without restraint; yet they would not tolerate any corruption of their pure religion --the ideal state was a rule of church elders, though there was no actual fusion of church and state. But the theocratic system could not hold a people in check, who themselves were escaping the fetters of authoritarianism. A peculiar mixture, therefore, was the result of the efforts to establish a Bible Commonwealth in the New World. On the one hand was the attempt to pre

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