History of New England - Vol. 1

By John Gorham Palfrey | Go to book overview
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YEARS had passed since the severity of the government had overcome the Separatists, forcing them either to disband their congregations, or flee from the kingdom. From the time when Bishop Williams was made Keeper of the Great Seal, four years before the death of King James, the High-Commission Court again became active, and the condition of Puritans in the Church was day by day more uneasy. While some among them looked for relief to a happy issue of the struggle which had been going on in Parliament, and resigned themselves to await and aid the slow progress of a political and religious reformation in the kingdom, numbers, less confident or less patient, pondered on exile as their best resource, and turned their view to a new home on the Western continent. There was yet a third class, who, through feeble resolution or a lingering hope of better things, deferred the sacrifices which they scarce­ly flattered themselves that they should ultimately escape, and, if they were clergymen, retained their preferments by a reluctant obedience to the canons.1 The coquetry of Buckingham with the Puritans, inspiring false hopes, was not without effect to excuse indecision, and hinder a combined and energetic action.

Position of Puritans in the Church. 1621.

We have feared a judgment a long time. But yet we are safe. Therefore it were better to stay till it come. And either we may fly then, or, if we be overtaken in it, we may well be content to suffer with such a Church as ours is." Such was one of the "Objections" replied to in a paper, which was circulated in England in 1629, and was probably from the pen of Winthrop. It is printed in Dr. Young "Chronicles of Massachusetts,"271. It contains pregnant hints as to the object of the emigration proposed in it. Of course, to publish the plan in plain language, and in its full extent would have been to defeat it.


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History of New England - Vol. 1


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