A Model of Christian
By Governor John Winthrop
Redacted and introduced by John Beardsley.
This is Winthrops most famous thesis, written
on board the Arbella, 1630. We love to imagine the occasion when he
personally spoke this oration to some large portion of the Winthrop
fleet passengers during or just before their passage.
In an age not long past, when the Puritan founders
were still respected by the educational establishment, this was required
reading in many courses of American history and literature. However,
it was often abridged to just the first and last few paragraphs. This
left the overture of the piece sounding unkind and fatalistic, and the
finale rather sternly zealous. A common misrepresentation of the Puritan
Winthrops genius was logical reasoning combined
with a sympathetic nature. To remove this works central arguments
about love and relationships is to completely lose the sense of the
whole. Therefore we present it here in its well-balanced entirety. The
biblical quotations are as Winthrop wrote them, and remain sometimes
at slight variance from the King James version. This editor has corrected
the chapter and verse citations to correspond to the King James text,
assuming that the modern reader will wish to conveniently refer to that
most popular English version of the Bible, as the Governor lays out
his argument for charity and decent human behavior in the community.
Winthrops intent was to prepare the people
for planting a new society in a perilous environment, but his practical
wisdom is timeless.
ALMIGHTY in His most holy and wise providence, hath so disposed
of the condition of mankind, as in all times some must be rich, some
poor, some high and eminent in power and dignity; others mean and in
The Reason hereof:
First to hold conformity with the rest of His world, being delighted
to show forth the glory of his wisdom in the variety and difference
of the creatures, and the glory of His power in ordering all these
differences for the preservation and good of the whole, and the glory
of His greatness, that as it is the glory of princes to have many
officers, so this great king will have many stewards, counting himself
more honored in dispensing his gifts to man by man, than if he did
it by his own immediate hands.
Secondly, that He might have the more occasion to manifest the work
of his Spirit: first upon the wicked in moderating and restraining
them, so that the rich and mighty should not eat up the poor, nor
the poor and despised rise up against and shake off their yoke. Secondly,
in the regenerate, in exercising His graces in them, as in the great
ones, their love, mercy, gentleness, temperance etc., and in the poor
and inferior sort, their faith, patience, obedience etc.
Thirdly, that every man might have need of others, and from hence
they might be all knit more nearly together in the bonds of brotherly
affection. From hence it appears plainly that no man is made more
honorable than another or more wealthy etc., out of any particular
and singular respect to himself, but for the glory of his Creator
and the common good of the creature, Man. Therefore God still reserves
the property of these gifts to Himself as Ezek. 16:17, He there calls
wealth, His gold and His silver, and Prov. 3:9, He claims their service
as His due, "Honor the Lord with thy riches," etc. --- All
men being thus (by divine providence) ranked into two sorts, rich
and poor; under the first are comprehended all such as are able to
live comfortably by their own means duly improved; and all others
are poor according to the former distribution.
There are two rules whereby we are to walk one towards another: Justice
and Mercy. These are always distinguished in their act and in their
object, yet may they both concur in the same subject in each respect;
as sometimes there may be an occasion of showing mercy to a rich man
in some sudden danger or distress, and also doing of mere justice to
a poor man in regard of some particular contract, etc.
There is likewise a double Law by which we are regulated in our conversation
towards another. In both the former respects, the Law of Nature and
the Law of Grace (that is, the moral law or the law of the gospel) to
omit the rule of justice as not properly belonging to this purpose otherwise
than it may fall into consideration in some particular cases. By the
first of these laws, Man as he was enabled so withal is commanded to
love his neighbor as himself. Upon this ground stands all the precepts
of the moral law, which concerns our dealings with men. To apply this
to the works of mercy, this law requires two things. First, that every
man afford his help to another in every want or distress.
Secondly, that he perform this out of the same affection which makes
him careful of his own goods, according to the words of our Savior (from
Matthew 7:12), whatsoever ye would that men should do to you. This was
practiced by Abraham and Lot in entertaining the angels and the old
man of Gibea. The law of Grace or of the Gospel hath some difference
from the former (the law of nature), as in these respects: First, the
law of nature was given to Man in the estate of innocence. This of the
Gospel in the estate of regeneracy. Secondly, the former propounds one
man to another, as the same flesh and image of God. This as a brother
in Christ also, and in the communion of the same Spirit, and so teacheth
to put a difference between Christians and others. Do good to all, especially
to the household of faith. Upon this ground the Israelites were to put
a difference between the brethren of such as were strangers, though
not of the Canaanites.
Thirdly, the Law of Nature would give no rules for dealing with enemies,
for all are to be considered as friends in the state of innocence, but
the Gospel commands love to an enemy. Proof: If thine enemy hunger,
feed him; "Love your enemies... Do good to them that hate you"
This law of the Gospel propounds likewise a difference of seasons and
occasions. There is a time when a Christian must sell all and give to
the poor, as they did in the Apostles times. There is a time also
when Christians (though they give not all yet) must give beyond their
ability, as they of Macedonia (2 Cor. 8). Likewise, community of perils
calls for extraordinary liberality, and so doth community in some special
service for the church.
Lastly, when there is no other means whereby our Christian brother
may be relieved in his distress, we must help him beyond our ability
rather than tempt God in putting him upon help by miraculous or extraordinary
means. This duty of mercy is exercised in the kinds: giving, lending
and forgiving (of a debt).
Question: What rule shall a man observe in giving in respect of
If the time and occasion be ordinary he is to give out of his abundance.
Let him lay aside as God hath blessed him. If the time and occasion
be extraordinary, he must be ruled by them; taking this withal, that
then a man cannot likely do too much, especially if he may leave himself
and his family under probable means of comfortable subsistence.
A man must lay up for posterity, the fathers lay up for posterity
and children, and he is worse than an infidel that provideth not for
For the first, it is plain that it being spoken by way of comparison,
it must be meant of the ordinary and usual course of fathers, and
cannot extend to times and occasions extraordinary. For the other
place the Apostle speaks against such as walked inordinately, and
it is without question, that he is worse than an infidel who through
his own sloth and voluptuousness shall neglect to provide for his
"The wise man's eyes are in his head," saith Solomon, "and
foreseeth the plague;" therefore he must forecast and lay up
against evil times when he or his may stand in need of all he can
This very Argument Solomon useth to persuade to liberality (Eccle.
11), "Cast thy bread upon the waters...for thou knowest not what
evil may come upon the land." Luke 16:9, "Make you friends
of the riches of iniquity..." You will ask how this shall be?
Very well. For first he that gives to the poor, lends to the Lord
and He will repay him even in this life an hundredfold to him or his.
The righteous is ever merciful and lendeth, and his seed enjoyeth
the blessing; and besides we know what advantage it will be to us
in the day of account when many such witnesses shall stand forth for
us to witness the improvement of our talent. And I would know of those
who plead so much for laying up for time to come, whether they hold
that to be Gospel Matthew 6:19, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures
upon earth," etc. If they acknowledge it, what extent will they
allow it? If only to those primitive times, let them consider the
reason whereupon our Savior grounds it. The first is that they are
subject to the moth, the rust, the thief. Secondly, they will steal
away the heart: "where the treasure is there will your heart
The reasons are of like force at all times. Therefore the exhortation
must be general and perpetual, with always in respect of the love and
affection to riches and in regard of the things themselves when any
special service for the church or particular distress of our brother
do call for the use of them; otherwise it is not only lawful but necessary
to lay up as Joseph did to have ready upon such occasions, as the Lord
(whose stewards we are of them) shall call for them from us. Christ
gives us an instance of the first, when he sent his disciples for the
donkey, and bids them answer the owner thus, "the Lord hath need
of him." So when the Tabernacle was to be built, He sends to His
people to call for their silver and gold, etc., and yields no other
reason but that it was for His work. When Elisha comes to the widow
of Sareptah and finds her preparing to make ready her pittance for herself
and family, he bids her first provide for him, he challenges first God's
part which she must first give before she must serve her own family.
All these teach us that the Lord looks that when He is pleased to call
for His right in any thing we have, our own interest we have must stand
aside till His turn be served. For the other, we need look no further
then to that of 1 John 3:17, "He who hath this world's goods and
seeth his brother to need and shuts up his compassion from him, how
dwelleth the love of God in him?" Which comes punctually to this
conclusion: If thy brother be in want and thou canst help him, thou
needst not make doubt of what thou shouldst do; if thou lovest God thou
must help him.
Question: What rule must we observe in lending?
Thou must observe whether thy brother hath present or probable or
possible means of repaying thee, if there be none of those, thou must
give him according to his necessity, rather then lend him as he requires
(requests). If he hath present means of repaying thee, thou art to
look at him not as an act of mercy, but by way of commerce, wherein
thou art to walk by the rule of justice; but if his means of repaying
thee be only probable or possible, then he is an object of thy mercy,
thou must lend him, though there be danger of losing it. (Deut. 15:7-8):
"If any of thy brethren be poor ... thou shalt lend him sufficient."
That men might not shift off this duty by the apparent hazard, He
tells them that though the year of Jubilee were at hand (when he must
remit it, if he were not able to repay it before), yet he must lend
him, and that cheerfully. It may not grieve thee to give him, saith
He. And because some might object, why so I should soon impoverish
myself and my family, he adds, with all thy work, etc., for our Savior
said (Matt. 5:42), "From him that would borrow of thee turn not
Question: What rule must we observe in forgiving (a debt)?
Whether thou didst lend by way of commerce or in mercy, if he hath
nothing to pay thee, thou must forgive, (except in cause where thou
hast a surety or a lawful pledge). Deut. 15:1-2 --- Every seventh
year the creditor was to quit that which he lent to his brother if
he were poor, as appears in verse 4. "Save when there shall be
no poor with thee." In all these and like cases, Christ gives
a general rule (Matt. 7:12), "Whatsoever ye would that men should
do to you, do ye the same to them."
Question: What rule must we observe and walk by in cause of community
The same as before, but with more enlargement towards others and
less respect towards ourselves and our own right. Hence it was that
in the primitive Church they sold all, had all things in common, neither
did any man say that which he possessed was his own. Likewise in their
return out of the captivity, because the work was great for the restoring
of the church and the danger of enemies was common to all, Nehemiah
directs the Jews to liberality and readiness in remitting their debts
to their brethren, and disposing liberally to such as wanted, and
stand not upon their own dues which they might have demanded of them.
Thus did some of our forefathers in times of persecution in England,
and so did many of the faithful of other churches, whereof we keep
an honorable remembrance of them; and it is to be observed that both
in Scriptures and latter stories of the churches that such as have
been most bountiful to the poor saints, especially in those extraordinary
times and occasions, God hath left them highly commended to posterity,
as Zaccheus, Cornelius, Dorcas, Bishop Hooper, the Cutler of Brussels
and divers others. Observe again that the Scripture gives no caution
to restrain any from being over liberal this way; but all men to the
liberal and cheerful practice hereof by the sweeter promises; as to
instance one for many (Isaiah 58:6-9) "Is not this the fast I
have chosen to loose the bonds of wickedness, to take off the heavy
burdens, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke ...
to deal thy bread to the hungry and to bring the poor that wander
into thy house, when thou seest the naked to cover them ... and then
shall thy light brake forth as the morning and thy health shall grow
speedily, thy righteousness shall go before God, and the glory of
the Lord shalt embrace thee; then thou shall call and the Lord shall
answer thee," etc. And from Ch. 2:10 (??) "If thou pour
out thy soul to the hungry, then shall thy light spring out in darkness,
and the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in
draught, and make fat thy bones, thou shalt be like a watered garden,
and they shalt be of thee that shall build the old waste places,"
etc. On the contrary most heavy curses are laid upon such as are straightened
towards the Lord and his people (Judg. 5:23), "Curse ye Meroshe
... because they came not to help the Lord." He who shutteth
his ears from hearing the cry of the poor, he shall cry and shall
not be heard." (Matt. 25) "Go ye cursed into everlasting
fire," etc. "I was hungry and ye fed me not." (2 Cor.
9:6) "He that soweth sparingly shall reap sparingly."
Having already set forth the practice of mercy according to the rule
of God's law, it will be useful to lay open the grounds of it also,
being the other part of the Commandment and that is the affection from
which this exercise of mercy must arise, the Apostle tells us that this
love is the fulfilling of the law, not that it is enough to love our
brother and so no further; but in regard of the excellency of his parts
giving any motion to the other as the soul to the body and the power
it hath to set all the faculties at work in the outward exercise of
this duty; as when we bid one make the clock strike, he doth not lay
hand on the hammer, which is the immediate instrument of the sound,
but sets on work the first mover or main wheel; knowing that will certainly
produce the sound which he intends. So the way to draw men to the works
of mercy, is not by force of Argument from the goodness or necessity
of the work; for though this cause may enforce, a rational mind to some
present act of mercy, as is frequent in experience, yet it cannot work
such a habit in a soul, as shall make it prompt upon all occasions to
produce the same effect, but by framing these affections of love in
the heart which will as naturally bring forth the other, as any cause
doth produce the effect.
The definition which the Scripture gives us of love is this: Love is
the bond of perfection. First it is a bond or ligament. Secondly, it
makes the work perfect. There is no body but consists of parts and that
which knits these parts together, gives the body its perfection, because
it makes each part so contiguous to others as thereby they do mutually
participate with each other, both in strength and infirmity, in pleasure
and pain. To instance in the most perfect of all bodies: Christ and
his Church make one body. The several parts of this body considered
a part before they were united, were as disproportionate and as much
disordering as so many contrary qualities or elements, but when Christ
comes, and by his spirit and love knits all these parts to himself and
each to other, it is become the most perfect and best proportioned body
in the world (Eph. 4:15-16). Christ, by whom all the body being knit
together by every joint for the furniture thereof, according to the
effectual power which is in the measure of every perfection of parts,
a glorious body without spot or wrinkle; the ligaments hereof being
Christ, or his love, for Christ is love (1 John 4:8). So this definition
is right. Love is the bond of perfection.
From hence we may frame these conclusions:
First of all, true Christians are of one body in Christ (1 Cor. 12).
Ye are the body of Christ and members of their part. All the parts of
this body being thus united are made so contiguous in a special relation
as they must needs partake of each other's strength and infirmity; joy
and sorrow, weal and woe. If one member suffers, all suffer with it,
if one be in honor, all rejoice with it.
Secondly, the ligaments of this body which knit together are love.
Thirdly, no body can be perfect which wants its proper ligament.
Fourthly, All the parts of this body being thus united are made so
contiguous in a special relation as they must needs partake of each
others strength and infirmity, joy and sorrow, weal and woe. (1
Cor. 12:26) If one member suffers, all suffer with it; if one be in
honor, all rejoice with it.
Fifthly, this sensitivity and sympathy of each other's conditions will
necessarily infuse into each part a native desire and endeavor, to strengthen,
defend, preserve and comfort the other. To insist a little on this conclusion
being the product of all the former, the truth hereof will appear both
by precept and pattern. 1 John 3:16, "We ought to lay down our
lives for the brethren." Gal. 6:2, "Bear ye one another's
burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."
For patterns we have that first of our Savior who, out of his good
will in obedience to his father, becoming a part of this body and being
knit with it in the bond of love, found such a native sensitivity of
our infirmities and sorrows as he willingly yielded himself to death
to ease the infirmities of the rest of his body, and so healed their
sorrows. From the like sympathy of parts did the Apostles and many thousands
of the Saints lay down their lives for Christ. Again the like we may
see in the members of this body among themselves. Rom. 9 --- Paul could
have been contented to have been separated from Christ, that the Jews
might not be cut off from the body. It is very observable what he professeth
of his affectionate partaking with every member; "Who is weak (saith
he) and I am not weak? Who is offended and I burn not?" And again
(2 Cor. 7:13), "Therefore we are comforted because ye were comforted."
Of Epaphroditus he speaketh (Phil. 2:25-30) that he regarded not his
own life to do him service. So Phoebe and others are called the servants
of the church. Now it is apparent that they served not for wages, or
by constraint, but out of love. The like we shall find in the histories
of the church, in all ages; the sweet sympathy of affections which was
in the members of this body one towards another; their cheerfulness
in serving and suffering together; how liberal they were without repining,
harborers without grudging, and helpful without reproaching; and all
from hence, because they had fervent love amongst them; which only makes
the practice of mercy constant and easy.
The next consideration is how this love comes to be wrought. Adam in
his first estate was a perfect model of mankind in all their generations,
and in him this love was perfected in regard of the habit. But Adam,
himself rent from his Creator, rent all his posterity also one from
another; whence it comes that every man is born with this principle
in him to love and seek himself only, and thus a Man continueth till
Christ comes and takes possession of the soul and infuseth another principle,
love to God and our brother, and this latter having continual supply
from Christ, as the head and root by which he is united, gets predominant
in the soul, so by little and little expels the former. 1 John 4:7 ---
Love cometh of God and every one that loveth is born of God, so that
this love is the fruit of the new birth, and none can have it but the
new creature. Now when this quality is thus formed in the souls of men,
it works like the Spirit upon the dry bones. Ezek. 37:7 --- "Bone
came to bone." It gathers together the scattered bones, or perfect
old man Adam, and knits them into one body again in Christ, whereby
a man is become again a living soul.
The third consideration is concerning the exercise of this love, which
is twofold, inward or outward. The outward hath been handled in the
former preface of this discourse. From unfolding the other we must take
in our way that maxim of philosophy, "simile simili gaudet,"
or like will to like; for as of things which are turned with disaffection
to each other, the ground of it is from a dissimilitude or arising from
the contrary or different nature of the things themselves; for the ground
of love is an apprehension of some resemblance in the things loved to
that which affects it. This is the cause why the Lord loves the creature,
so far as it hath any of his Image in it; He loves his elect because
they are like Himself, He beholds them in His beloved son.
So a mother loves her child, because she thoroughly conceives a resemblance
of herself in it. Thus it is between the members of Christ; each discerns,
by the work of the Spirit, his own Image and resemblance in another,
and therefore cannot but love him as he loves himself. Now when the
soul, which is of a sociable nature, finds anything like to itself,
it is like Adam when Eve was brought to him. She must be one with himself.
This is flesh of my flesh (saith he) and bone of my bone. So the soul
conceives a great delight in it; therefore she desires nearness and
familiarity with it. She hath a great propensity to do it good and receives
such content in it, as fearing the miscarriage of her beloved, she bestows
it in the inmost closet of her heart. She will not endure that it shall
want any good which she can give it. If by occasion she be withdrawn
from the company of it, she is still looking towards the place where
she left her beloved. If she heard it groan, she is with it presently.
If she find it sad and disconsolate, she sighs and moans with it. She
hath no such joy as to see her beloved merry and thriving. If she see
it wronged, she cannot hear it without passion. She sets no bounds to
her affections, nor hath any thought of reward. She finds recompense
enough in the exercise of her love towards it.
We may see this acted to life in Jonathan and David. Jonathan a valiant
man endued with the spirit of love, so soon as he discovered the same
spirit in David had presently his heart knit to him by this ligament
of love; so that it is said he loved him as his own soul, he takes so
great pleasure in him, that he strips himself to adorn his beloved.
His father's kingdom was not so precious to him as his beloved David,
David shall have it with all his heart. Himself desires no more but
that he may be near to him to rejoice in his good. He chooseth to converse
with him in the wilderness even to the hazard of his own life, rather
than with the great Courtiers in his father's Palace. When he sees danger
towards him, he spares neither rare pains nor peril to direct it. When
injury was offered his beloved David, he would not bear it, though from
his own father. And when they must part for a season only, they thought
their hearts would have broke for sorrow, had not their affections found
vent by abundance of tears. Other instances might be brought to show
the nature of this affection; as of Ruth and Naomi, and many others;
but this truth is cleared enough. If any shall object that it is not
possible that love shall be bred or upheld without hope of requital,
it is granted; but that is not our cause; for this love is always under
reward. It never gives, but it always receives with advantage:
First in regard that among the members of the same body, love and affection
are reciprocal in a most equal and sweet kind of commerce.
Secondly, in regard of the pleasure and content that the exercise of
love carries with it, as we may see in the natural body. The mouth is
at all the pains to receive and mince the food which serves for the
nourishment of all the other parts of the body; yet it hath no cause
to complain; for first the other parts send back, by several passages,
a due proportion of the same nourishment, in a better form for the strengthening
and comforting the mouth. Secondly, the labor of the mouth is accompanied
with such pleasure and content as far exceeds the pains it takes. So
is it in all the labor of love among Christians. The party loving, reaps
love again, as was showed before, which the soul covets more then all
the wealth in the world.
Thirdly, nothing yields more pleasure and content to the soul then
when it finds that which it may love fervently; for to love and live
beloved is the souls paradise both here and in heaven. In the
State of wedlock there be many comforts to learn out of the troubles
of that condition; but let such as have tried the most, say if there
be any sweetness in that condition comparable to the exercise of mutual
From the former considerations arise these conclusions:
First, this love among Christians is a real thing, not imaginary.
Secondly, this love is as absolutely necessary to the being of the
body of Christ, as the sinews and other ligaments of a natural body
are to the being of that body.
Thirdly, this love is a divine, spiritual, nature; free, active, strong,
courageous, permanent; undervaluing all things beneath its proper object
and of all the graces, this makes us nearer to resemble the virtues
of our heavenly father.
Fourthly, it rests in the love and welfare of its beloved. For the
full certain knowledge of those truths concerning the nature, use, and
excellency of this grace, that which the holy ghost hath left recorded,
1 Cor. 13, may give full satisfaction, which is needful for every true
member of this lovely body of the Lord Jesus, to work upon their hearts
by prayer, meditation continual exercise at least of the special influence
of this grace, till Christ be formed in them and they in him, all in
each other, knit together by this bond of love.
It rests now to make some application of this discourse, by the present
design, which gave the occasion of writing of it. Herein are four things
to be propounded; first the persons, secondly, the work, thirdly the
end, fourthly the means.
First, for the persons. We are a company professing ourselves fellow
members of Christ, in which respect only, though we were absent from
each other many miles, and had our employments as far distant, yet we
ought to account ourselves knit together by this bond of love and live
in the exercise of it, if we would have comfort of our being in Christ.
This was notorious in the practice of the Christians in former times;
as is testified of the Waldenses, from the mouth of one of the adversaries
Aeneas Sylvius "mutuo ament pene antequam norunt" --- they
use to love any of their own religion even before they were acquainted
Secondly for the work we have in hand. It is by a mutual consent, through
a special overvaluing providence and a more than an ordinary approbation
of the churches of Christ, to seek out a place of cohabitation and consortship
under a due form of government both civil and ecclesiastical. In such
cases as this, the care of the public must oversway all private respects,
by which, not only conscience, but mere civil policy, doth bind us.
For it is a true rule that particular estates cannot subsist in the
ruin of the public.
Thirdly, the end is to improve our lives to do more service to the
Lord; the comfort and increase of the body of Christ, whereof we are
members, that ourselves and posterity may be the better preserved from
the common corruptions of this evil world, to serve the Lord and work
out our salvation under the power and purity of his holy ordinances.
Fourthly, for the means whereby this must be effected. They are twofold,
a conformity with the work and end we aim at. These we see are extraordinary,
therefore we must not content ourselves with usual ordinary means. Whatsoever
we did, or ought to have done, when we lived in England, the same must
we do, and more also, where we go. That which the most in their churches
maintain as truth in profession only, we must bring into familiar and
constant practice; as in this duty of love, we must love brotherly without
dissimulation, we must love one another with a pure heart fervently.
We must bear one anothers burdens. We must not look only on our
own things, but also on the things of our brethren.
Neither must we think that the Lord will bear with such failings at
our hands as he doth from those among whom we have lived; and that for
these three reasons:
First, in regard of the more near bond of marriage between Him and
us, wherein He hath taken us to be His, after a most strict and peculiar
manner, which will make Him the more jealous of our love and obedience.
So He tells the people of Israel, you only have I known of all the families
of the earth, therefore will I punish you for your transgressions.
Secondly, because the Lord will be sanctified in them that come near
Him. We know that there were many that corrupted the service of the
Lord; some setting up altars before his own; others offering both strange
fire and strange sacrifices also; yet there came no fire from heaven,
or other sudden judgment upon them, as did upon Nadab and Abihu, whom
yet we may think did not sin presumptuously.
Thirdly, when God gives a special commission He looks to have it strictly
observed in every article; When He gave Saul a commission to destroy
Amaleck, He indented with him upon certain articles, and because he
failed in one of the least, and that upon a fair pretense, it lost him
the kingdom, which should have been his reward, if he had observed his
Thus stands the cause between God and us. We are entered into covenant
with Him for this work. We have taken out a commission. The Lord hath
given us leave to draw our own articles. We have professed to enterprise
these and those accounts, upon these and those ends. We have hereupon
besought Him of favor and blessing. Now if the Lord shall please to
hear us, and bring us in peace to the place we desire, then hath He
ratified this covenant and sealed our commission, and will expect a
strict performance of the articles contained in it; but if we shall
neglect the observation of these articles which are the ends we have
propounded, and, dissembling with our God, shall fall to embrace this
present world and prosecute our carnal intentions, seeking great things
for ourselves and our posterity, the Lord will surely break out in wrath
against us, and be revenged of such a people, and make us know the price
of the breach of such a covenant.
Now the only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity,
is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk
humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this
work, as one man. We must entertain each other in brotherly affection.
We must be willing to abridge ourselves of our superfluities, for the
supply of others necessities. We must uphold a familiar commerce
together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality. We must
delight in each other; make others conditions our own; rejoice
together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before
our eyes our commission and community in the work, as members of the
same body. So shall we keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.
The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own
people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that
we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than
formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of
Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand
of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall
say of succeeding plantations, "may the Lord make it like that
of New England." For we must consider that we shall be as a
city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So that if we
shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and
so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made
a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths
of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for
God's sake. We shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants,
and cause their prayers to be turned into curses upon us till we be
consumed out of the good land whither we are going.
And to shut this discourse with that exhortation of Moses, that faithful
servant of the Lord, in his last farewell to Israel, Deut. 30. "Beloved,
there is now set before us life and death, good and evil," in that
we are commanded this day to love the Lord our God, and to love one
another, to walk in his ways and to keep his Commandments and his ordinance
and his laws, and the articles of our Covenant with Him, that we may
live and be multiplied, and that the Lord our God may bless us in the
land whither we go to possess it. But if our hearts shall turn away,
so that we will not obey, but shall be seduced, and worship other Gods,
our pleasure and profits, and serve them; it is propounded unto us this
day, we shall surely perish out of the good land whither we pass over
this vast sea to possess it.
Therefore let us choose life,
that we and our seed may live,
by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him,
for He is our life and our prosperity.
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