Maria et Terras, Coelumque profundum, Quippe ferant Rapidi, secum vertantque per Auras;many at the church of Boston, who were then that way too much inclined, most earnestly solicited the elders of that church, whereof the governour was a member, to call him forth as an offender, for passing of that sentence. The elders were unwilling to do any such thing; but the governour undertanding the ferment among the people took that occasion to make a speech in the congregation to this effect:
“BRETHREN: Understanding that some of you have desired that I should answer for an offence lately taken among you; had I been called upon so to do, I would, first, have advised with the ministers of the country, whether the church had power to call in question the civil court ; and I would, secondly, have advised with the rest of the court, whether I might discover their counsels unto the church. But though I know that the reverend elders of this church, and some others, do very well apprehend that the church cannot enquire into the proceedings of the court; yet, for the satisfaction of the weaker, who do not apprehend it, I will declare my mind concerning it. If the church have any such power, they have it from the Lord Jesus Christ; but the Lord Jesus Christ hath disclaimed it, not only by practice, but also by precept, which we have in his gospel, Matt. xx. 25, 26. It is true, indeed, that magistrates, as they are church- members, are accountable unto the church for their failings; but that is when they are out of their calling. When Uzziah would go offer incense in the temple, the officers of the church called him to an account, and vithstood him, but when Asa put the prophet in prison, the officers of the church did not call him to an recount for that. If the magistrate shall in a private way wrong any man, the church may call him to an account for it; but if he be in pursuance of a course of justice, though the thing that he does be unjust, yet he is not accountable for it before the church. As for my self, I did nothing in the causes of any of the brethren but by the advice of the elders of the church. Moreover, in the oath which 1 have taken there is this clause: “In all cases wherein you are to give your vote, you shall do as in your judgment and conscience you shall see to be just, and for the publick good.” And I am satisfied, it is most for the glory of God, and the publick good, that there has been such a sentence passed ; yea, those brethren are so divided from the rest of the country in their opinions and practices, that it cannot sland with the publick peace for them to continue with us ; Abraham saw that Hagar and Ishmael must be sent away.”By such a speech he marvellously convinced, satisfied and mollified the uneasie brethren of the church; Sic cunctus Pelagi cecidit Fragor9 And after a little patient waiting, the differences all so wore away, that the church, meerly as a token of respect unto the governour when he had newly met with some lossesin his estate, sent him a present of several hundreds of pounds. Once more there was a time when some active spirits among the deputies of the colony, by their endeavours not only to make themselves a Court of Judicature, but also to take away the negatlve by which the magistrates might check their votes, had like by over-driving to have run the whole government into something too democratical. And if there were a town in Spain undermined by coneys, another town in Thrace destroyed by moles, a third in Greece ranversed by frogs, a fourth in Germany subverted by rats; I must on this occasion add, that there was a country in America like to be confounded by a swine. A certain stray sow being found, was claimed by two several persons with a claim so equally maintained on both sides, that after six or seven years’ hunting the business from one court unto another, it was brought at last into the General Court, where the final determination was, “that it was impossible to proceed unto any judgment in the case.” However, in the debate of this matter, the negative of the upper-house upon the lower in that Court was brought upon the stage ; and agitated with so hot a zeal, that a little more, and all had been in the fire. In these agitations, the governour was informed that an offence had been taken by some eminent persons at certain passages in a discourse by him written thereabout ; whereupon, with his usual condescendency, when he next came into the General Court, he made a speech of this import:
“I understand that some have taken offence at something that I have lately written; which offence I desire to remove now, and begin this year in a reconciled state with you all. As for the matter of my writing, I kind the concurrence of my brethren; it is a point of judg ment which is not at my own disposing. I have examined it over and over again by such light as God has given me, from the rules of religion, reason and custom; and I see no cause to retract any thing of it: wherefore I must enjoy my liberty in that, as you do your selves. But for the manner, this, and all that was blame-worthy in it, was wholly my own; and whatsoever I might alledge for my own justification therein before men, I wave it, as now setting my self before another Judgment seat. However, what I wrote was upon great provocation, and to vindicate my self and others from great aspersion ; yet that was no sufficient warrant tor me to allow any distemper of spirit in my self; and I doubt I have been too prodigal of my brethren’s reputation; I might have maintained my cause without casting any blemish upon others, when I made that my conclusion, ‘And now let religion and sound reason give judgment in the ease;’ it looked as if I arrogated too much unto my self, and too little to others. And when I made that profession, ‘That I would maintain what I wrote before all the world,’ though such words might modestly be spoken, yet I perceive an unbeseeming pride of my own heart breathing in them. For these failings, I ask pardon of God and man.”
Sic ait, et dicto citius Tumida Aequora placat, Collectasque fugat Nubes, Solemque reducit.This acknowledging disposition in the governour made them all acknowledge, that he was truly “a man of an excellent spirit.” In fine, the victories of an Alexander, an Hannibal, or a C‘sar over other men, were not so glorious as the victories of this great man over himself; which also at last proved victories over other men. But the stormiest of all the trials that ever befel this gentleman, was in the year 1645, when he was, in title, no more than Deputy-governour of the colony. If the famous Cato were forty-four times called into judgment, but as often acquitted ; let it not be wondred, and if our famous Winthrop were one time so. There happing certain seditious and mutinous practices in the town of Elingham, the Deputy-governour, as legally as prudently, interposed his authority for the checking of them: whereupon there followed such an enchantment upon the minds of the deputies in the General Court, that upon a scandalous petition of the delinquents unto them, wherein a pretended invasion made upon the liberties of the people was complained of, the Deputy-governour was most irregularly called forth unto an ignominious hearing before them in a vast assembly ; whereto with a sagacious humilitude he consented, although he shewed them how he might have refused it. The result of that hearing was, that notwithstanding the touchy jealousie of the people about their liberties lay at the bottom of all this prosecution, yet Mr. Winthrop was publickly acquitted, and the offenders were severally fined and censured. But Mr. Winthrop then resuming the place of Deputy-governour on the bench, saw cause to speak unto the root of the matter after this manner:
“I shall not now speak any thing about the past proceedings of this Court, or the person therein concerned. Only I bless God that I see an issue of this troublesome affair. I am well satisfied that I was publickly accused, and that I am now publickly acquitted. But though I am justified before men, yet it may be the Lord hath seen so much amiss in my administrations, as calls me to be humbled; and indeed for me to have been thus charged by men, is it self a matter of humiliation, whereof I desire to make a right use before the Lord. If Miriam’s father spit in her face, she is to be ashamed. But give me leave, before you go, to say something that may rectifie the opinions of many people, from whence the distempers have risen that have lately prevailed upon the body of this people. The questions that have troubled the country have been about the authority of the magistracy, and the liberty of the people. It is you who have called us unto this office; but being thus called we have our authority from God; it is the ordinance of God, and it hath the image of God stamped upon it ; and the contempt of it has been vindicated by God with terrible examples ot his vengeance. I entreat you to consider, that when you chuse magistrates, you take them from among your selves, ‘men subject unto like passions with your selves.’ If you see our infirmities, reflect on your own, and you will not be so severe censurers of ours. We count him a good servant who breaks not his covenant: the covenant between us and you, is the oath you have taken of us, which is to this purpose, ‘that we shall govern you, and judge your causes, according to God’s laws, and our own, according to our best skill.’ As for our skill, you must run the hazard of it; and if there be an error, not in the will, but only in skill, it becomes you to bear it. Nor would I have you to mistake in the point of your own liberty. There is a liberty of corrupt nature, which is affected both by men and beasts to do what they list ; and this liberty is inconsistent with authority, impatient of all restraint; by this liberty, Sumus Omnes Deteriores;11 ’tis the grand enemy of truth and peace, and all the ordinances of God are bent against it. But there is a civil, a moral, a federal liberty which is the proper end and object of authority; it is a liberty for that only which is just and good; for this liberty you are to stand with the hazard of your very lives; and what ever crosses it is not authority, but a distemper thereof. This liberty is maintained in way of subjection to authority; and the authority set over you will in all administration for your good be quietly submitted unto, by all but such as have a disposition to shake off the yoke, and lose their true liberty, by their murmuring at the honour and power of authority.”The spell that was upon the eyes of the people being thus dissolved, their distorted and enraged notions of things all vanished; and the people would not afterwards entrust the helm of the weather-beaten bark in any other hands but Mr. Winthrop’s until he died. Indeed, such was the mixture of distant qualities in him, as to make a most admirable temper; and his having a certain greatness of soul, which rendered him grave, generous, courageous, resolved, well-applied, and every way a gentleman in his demeanour, did not hinder him from taking sometimes the old Roman’s way to avoid confusions, namely Cedendo;12 or from discouraging some things which are agreeable enough to most that wear the name of gentlemen. Hereof I will give no instances, but only oppose two passages of his life. In the year 1632, the governour, with his pastor, Mr. Wilson, and some other gentlemen, to settle a good understanding between the two colonies travelled as far as Plymouth, more than forty miles, through an howling wilderness, no better accommodated in those early days than the princes that in Solomon’s time saw “servants on horseback,” or than genus and species in the old epigram, “going on foot.” The difficulty of the walk, was abundantly compensated by the honourable, first reception, and then dismission, which they found from the rulers of Plymouth: and by the good correspondence thus established between the new colonies, who were dike the floating bottels wearing this motto: Si Collidimur Frangimur.13 But there were at this time in Plymouth two ministers, leavened so far with the humours of the rigid separation, that they insisted vehemently upon the uulawfulness of calling any unregenerate man by the name of “good-man such an one,” until by their indiscreet urging of this whimsey, the place began to be disquieted. The wiser people being troubled at these trifles, they took the opportunity of Governour Winthrop’s being there, to have the thing publickly propounded in the congregation: who in answer “hereunto, distinguished between a theological and a moral goodness; adding, that when Juries were first used in England, it was usual for the crier, after the names of persons fit for that service were called over, to bid them all, “Attend, good men and true; whence it grew to be a civil custom in the English nation, for neighbours living by one another, to call one another ” good man such an one ;” and it was pity now to make a stir about a civil custom, so innocently introduced. And that speech of Mr. Winthrop’s put a lasting stop to th l¡ttle, idle, whimsical conceits, then beginning to grow obstreperous. Nevertheless, there was one civil custom used in (and in few but) the English nation, which this gentleman did endeavour to abolish in this country; and that was, the usage of drinking to one another. For although by drinking to one another, no more is meant than an act of courtesie, when one going to drink, does invite another to do so too, for the same ends with himself; nevertheless the governour (not altogether unlike to Cleomenes, of whom ’tis reported by Plutarch, (greek) Nolenti poculum nunquam proebuit,)14 considered the impertinency and insignifcancy of this usage, as to any of those ends that are usually pretended for it ; and that indeed it ordinarily served for no ends at all, but only to provoke persons unto, unseasonable and perhaps unreasonable drinking, and at last produce that abominable health-drinking, which the fathers of old so severely rebuked in the Pagans, and which the Papists themselves do condemn, when their casuists pronounce it, Peccatum mortale, provocare ad aequales calices, et Nefas Respondere.15 Wherefore in his own most hospitable house he left it off; not out of any silly or stingy fancy, but meerly that by his example a greater temperance, with liberty of drinking, might be recommended, and sundry inconveniences in drinking avoided; and his example accordingly began to be much followed by the sober people in this country, as it now also begins among persons of the highest rank in the English nation it self; until an order of court came to be made against that ceremony in drinking, and then, the old wontviolently returned, with a Nitimur in Vetitum. Many were the afflictions of this righteous man! He lost much of his estate in a ship, and in an house, quickly after his coming to NewEngland, besides the prodigious expence of it in the difficulties of his first coming hither. Afterwards his assiduous application unto the publick affairs, (wherein Ipse se non habuit, postquam Respublica eum (Gubernatorem habere coepit)17 made him so much to neglect his own private interests, that an unjust steward ran him œ2,500 in debt before.he was aware; for the payment whereof he was forced, many years before his decease, to sell the most of what he had left unto him in the country. Albeit, by the observable blessings of God upon the posterity of this liberal man, his children all of them came to fair estates, and lived in good fashion and credit. M¢reover, he successively buried three wives; the first of which was the daughter and heiress of Mr. Forth; of Much-Stambridge in Essex, by whom he had “wisdom with an inheritance;” and an excellent son. The second was the daughter of Mr. William Clopton, of London, who died with her child, within a very little while. The third was the daughter of the truly worshipful Sir John Tyndal, who made it her whole care to please, first God, and then her husband ; and by whom he had four sons, which survived and honoured their father. And unto all these, the addition of the distempers, ever now and then raised in the country, procured unto him a very singular share of trouble; yea, so hard was the measure which he found even among pious men, in the temptations of a wilderness, that when the thunder and lightning had smitten a wind-mill whereof he was owner, some had such things in their heads as publickly to reproach this charitablest of men as if the voice of the Almighty had rebuked, I know not what oppression, which they judged him guilty of; which things I would not have mentioned, but that the instances may fortifie the expectations of my best readers for such afflictions. He that had been for his attainments, as they said of the blessed Macarius, a (greek) (an old man, while a young one,) and that had in his young days met with many of those ill days, whereof he could say, he had “little pleasure in them;” now found old age in its infirmities advancing earlier upon him, than it came upon his much longer-lived progenitors. While he was yet seven years off of that which we call “the grandl climacterical,” he felt the approaches of his dissolution ; and finding he could say,
Non Ilabitus, non ipse Color, non Gressus Euntis, Non species Eadem, quoe fuit ante, manet;Be then wrote this account of himself: “Age now comes upon me, and infirmities therewithal, which makes me apprehend, that the time of my departure out of this world is not far off. However, our times are all in the Lord’s hand, so as we need not trouble our thoughts how long or short they may be, but how we may be found faithful when we are called for.” But at last when that year came, he took a cold which turned into a fever, whereof he lay sick about a month, and in that sickness, as it hath been observed, that there was allowed unto the serpent the “bruising of the heel;” and accordingly at the heel or the close of our lives the old serpent will be nibbling more than ever in our lives before; and when the devil sees that we shall shortly be “where the wicked cease from troubling,” that wicked one will trouble us more than ever; so this eminent saint now underwent sharp con¡licts with the tempter, whose wrath grew great, as the time to exert it grew short; and he was buffeted with the disconsolate thoughts of black and sore desertions, wherein he could use that sad representation of his own condition:
Nuper eram Judex; Jam Judicor; Ante Tribunal Subsistens paveo; Judicor ipse modo.But it was not long before those clouds were dispelled, and he enjoyed in his holy soul the great consolations of God! While he thus lay ripening for heaven, he did out of obedience unto the ordinance of our Lord, send for the elders of the church to pray with him; yea, they and the whole church fasted as well asprayed for him; and in that fast the venerable Cotton preached on Psal. xxxv. 13,14: “When they were sick, I humbled my self with fasting; I behaved my self as though he had been my friend or brother; I bowed down heavily as one that mourned for his mother:” from whence I find him raising that observation, “The sickness of one that is to us as a friend, a brother, a mother, is a just occasion of deep humbling our souls with fasting and prayer;” and making this application.
“Upon this occasion we are now to attend this duty for a governour, who has been to us as a friend in his counsel for all things, and help for our bodies by physick, for our estates by law, and of whom there was no fear of his becoming an enemy, like the friends of David: a governour who has been unto us as a brother; not usurping authority over the church; often speaking his advice, and often contradicted, even by young men, and some of low degree; yet not replying, but offering satisfaction also when any supposed offences have arisen; a governour who has been unto us as a mother, parent like distributing his goods to brethren and neighbours at his first coming; and gently bearing our infirmities without taking notice of them.”Such a governour, after he had been more than ten several times by the people chosen their governour, was New-England now to lose ; who having, like Jacob, first left his council and blessing with his children gathered about his bed-side; and, like David, “served his generation by the will of God,” he “gave up the ghost,” and fell asleep on March 26, 1649. Having, like the dying Emperour Valentinian, this above all his other victories for his triumphs, His overcoming of himself. The words of Josephus about Nehemiah, the governour of Israel, we will now use upon this governour of New-England, as his