The 4[th] Chapter

Showing the reasons, & causes of their


After they had lived in this city about some ^11 or^1 12 years (which is the more observable, being the whole time of that famous truce between that state, & the Spaniards),2 And sundry of them were taken away by death; & many others began to be well stricken in years (the grave mistress Experience having taught them many things). [15(2)]3 Those ^prudent^4 governours, with sundry of the sagest members began both deeply to apprehend their present dangers, & wisely to foresee the future, & think of timely remedy. In the agitation of their thoughts, and much discourse of things hereabout; at length they began to incline to this conclusion, of removal to some other place. Not out of any newfangledness, or other such-like giddy humor, by which men are oftentimes transported to their great hurt, & danger. But for sundry weighty, and solid reasons; some of the chief of which, I will here briefly touch. And first they saw, & found by Experience, the hardness of the place, & country to be such; as few in comparison would come to them; and fewer that would bide it out, and continue with them. For many that came to them, and many more that desired to be with them; could not endure that great labor, and hard fare, with other Inconveniences, which they underwent, & were contented with. But though they loved their persons, approved their cause, and honoured their sufferings; yet they left them, as it were weeping, as Orpah did her mother-in-law Naomi;5 or as those Romans did Cato in Utica, who desired to be Excused, & borne with, though they could not all be Catos.6 For many, though they desired to Enjoy the ordinances of God in their purity, and the liberty of the Gospel with them; yet (alas) they admitted of bondage, with danger of conscience; rather than to Endure these hardships, yea some preferred, & chose the prisons in England, rather than this liberty in Holland, with these afflictions. But it was thought that If a better, and Easier place of living could be had; It would draw many, & take away these discouragements. Yea their pastor would often say, that many of those that Both wrote, & preached now against them, If they were in a place, where they might have liberty, and live comfortably; they would then practise as they did.

2ly, They saw, that though the people generally, bore all these difficulties very cheerfully, & with a resolute courage, being in the best, & strength of their years; yet old age began to steal on many of them (and their great, & continual labours, with other crosses, and sorrows, hastened it before the time), so as it was not only probably thought, but apparently seen, that within a few years more, they would be in danger to scatter (by necessities pressing them) or sink under their burdens, or both. And therefore according to the divine proverb, that a wise man “seeth the plague” when it cometh, “& hideth himself,” Pro. 22:3, so they like skillful & beaten7 soldiers were fearful, either to be entrapped, or surrounded by their Enemies; so as they should neither be able to fight, nor fly. And therefore thought it better to dislodge betimes, to some place of better advantage, & less danger, If any such could be found. [16]

Thirdly, as necessity was a taskmaster over them, so they were forced to be such, not only to their servants, (but in a sort) to their dearest children; the which as it did not a little wound the tender hearts of many a loving father, & mother; so it produced likewise sundry sad, & sorrowful effects. For many of their Children, that were of best dispositions, and gracious Inclinations (having learnt to bear the yoke in their youth)8 and willing to bear part of their parents’ burden, were (oftentimes) so oppressed with their heavy labours; that though their minds were free and willing, yet their bodies bowed under the weight of the same, and became decrepit in their Early youth; the vigor of nature being consumed in the very bud as it were. But that which was more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne; was that many of their children, by these occasions (and the great licentiousness of youth in that country) and the manifold Temptations of the place, were drawn away by Evil examples into Extravagant, & dangerous courses, getting the reins off their necks, & departing from ^their^ parents. Some became soldiers, others took upon them far voyages by Sea; and other-some9 worse courses, tending to dissoluteness, & the danger of their souls; to the great grief of their parents, and dishonour of God. So that they saw their posterity would be in danger ^to^10 degenerate, & be corrupted.

Lastly (and which was not least) a great hope, & Inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation (or at least to make some way thereunto) for the propagating & advancing the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world, yea though they ^should^11 be but even as stepping stones, unto others for the performing of so great a work.

These, & some other like reasons moved them to undertake this resolution of their removal; the which they afterward prosecuted with so great difficulties, as by the sequel will appear.12

The place they had thoughts on, was some of those vast, & unpeopled Countries of America, which are fruitful, & fit for habitation;13 being devoid of all civil Inhabitants; where there are only savage, & brutish men, which range up, and down, little otherwise than the wild beasts of the same.14 This proposition being made public, and coming to the scanning of all; It raised many variable opinions amongst men, and caused many fears, & doubts amongst themselves. Some from their reasons, and hopes conceived; laboured to stir up & Encourage the rest to undertake, & prosecute the same; others again out of their fears, objected against it, & sought to divert from it; alleging many things, and those neither unreasonable, nor unprobable. As that it was a great design, and subject to many unconceiveable perils, & dangers, ^as^ (besides the casualties of the seas, which none can be freed from) the length of the voyage was such, as the weak bodies of women, and other persons worn out with age, & travail (as many of them were) could never be able to endure. And yet if they should, the miseries of the land, which they should [17] be Exposed unto, would be too hard to be borne; and likely some, or all of them together, to consume, & utterly to ruinate them. For there they should be liable to famine, and nakedness, & the want in a manner of all things. The change of air, diet, & drinking of water,15 would Infect their bodies with sore sicknesses, and grievous diseases. And also those which should Escape, or overcome these difficulties, should yet be in continual dangers of the savage people; who are cruel, barbarous, & most treacherous, being most furious in their rage, and merciless where they overcome; not being content only to kill, & take away life, but delight to torment men in the most bloody manner that may be; flaying some alive with the shells of fishes, cutting off the members, & Joints of others by piecemeal; and broiling on the coals eat the Collops of their flesh in their ^sight^16 whilst they live, with other cruelties horrible to be related.17 And surely It could not be thought but the very hearing of these things, could not but move the very bowels of men to grate within them, and make the weak to quake, & tremble. It was furder objected, that it would require greater sums of money to furnish such a voyage (and to fit them with necessaries) than their consumed estates would amount to; and yet they must as well look to be seconded with supplies, as presently to be transported. Also many precedents of ill success, & lamentable miseries befallen others,18 in the like designs, were Easy to be found, and not forgotten to be alleged. Besides their own experience, in their former troubles, & hardships, in their removal into Holland; and how hard a thing it was for them to live in that strange place, though it was a neighbour country, & a Civil and rich commonwealth.

It was answered, that all great, & honourable actions, are accompanied with great difficulties; and must be, both enterprised, and overcome with answerable courages. It was granted the dangers were great, but not desperate; the difficulties were many, but not Invincible. For though there were many of them likely, yet they were not certain; It might be sundry of the things feared, might never befall; others by provident care & the use of good means (might in a great measure[)] be prevented; and all of them (through the help of God) by fortitude, and patience, might either be borne, or overcome. True it was that such attempts were not to be made, and undertaken without good ground, & reason; not rashly, or lightly as many have done for curiosity, or hope of gain, &c. But their condition was not ordinary; their ends were good & honourable; their calling lawful, & urgent; and therefore they might Expect the blessing of God in their proceeding. Yea though they should lose their lives in this action, yet might they have comfort in the same, and their endeavors would ^be^19 honourable. They lived here But as men in Exile, & in a poor condition; and as great miseries might possibly Befall them in this place; for the 12 years of truce were now out, & there was nothing but beating of drums, and preparing for war, the events whereof are all way uncertain;20 the Spaniard might prove as cruel, as [18] The savages of America; and the famine, and pestilence, as sore here, as there; & their liberty less to look out for remedy. After many other particular things answered, & alleged on both sides; It was fully concluded by the major part, to put this design in Execution; and to prosecute it, by the best means they could.